Red Dwarf is back: Craig Charles and the cast talk series 12, working with Hitler and the show's critics

Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn and Danny John Jules look back at three decades of the classic space sitcom.

The Dwarf is back.

Series 12 of the classic British sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf premieres on Dave on Thursday, October 12th and the show is even funnier, sillier and out-of-this-world than ever before.

[Read more: Craig Charles sheds tears on John Bishop's chat show]

[10 must-watch shows on BT TV in October]

The old gang of Lister, Kryten, Rimmer and Cat are all back and they’ll be joined by some popular old faces and an impressive list of guest stars in the new episodes.

Ahead of the new series, Inbetweeners actor and Red Dwarf fan James Buckley interviewed the four Dwarfers Craig Charles, Danny John-Jules, Robert Llewellyn and Chris Barrie and got the lowdown on series 12.

[Read more: New shows on Netflix in October]

Red Dwarg XII

James Buckley: I’ve never seen Red Dwarf before (I have). What would you say to me apart from ‘watch Red Dwarf? Why should I watch it, and why should I start with Red Dwarf XII?

Robert Llewellyn: “I’ve explained it to a very old relative of mine who’d never seen it, and (then) she watched it. She said ‘I don’t think I’ll understand it’. Then she watched it and said ‘I didn’t understand it’.

Craig Charles: “When he says a very old relative he means his younger sister.”

Chris Barrie: “Some people say they didn’t understand it but they enjoyed it.”

Robert Llewellyn: “My auntie said that. She enjoyed it. She said “you’re all very good, I don’t know what it’s about'.”

Craig Charles: “The premise is quite simple, really. It’s like The Odd Couple or Porridge. It’s about four dysfunctional people and their relationships with each other – who don’t necessarily get on, stuck in a room, stuck in a situation, the situation just happens to be space."

Danny John Jules: “Rising Damp, stuck in one place, Steptoe...”

Craig Charles: “Instead of being on a couch or some chairs we’re in Starbug.”

Chris Barrie: “When I first auditioned for it, it was described as Steptoe & Son in space, which was Rimmer and Lister.”

Craig Charles: “I was the son. “

Danny John Jules: “Rimmer is very much like the Rigsby character in Rising Damp, who antagonises the rest of the guys in the house, and all that tradition."

Red Dwarf

OK, specifically about Red Dwarf XII, what’s the biggest difference between this series compared to the last one?

Craig Charles: “I think we upgraded the ship. We upgraded Starbug, we got new lights.”

Danny John Jules: “The costumes got more and more outrageous.”

Craig Charles: “We got some great guest stars. We got Johnny Vegas in it. We got you in it (James Buckley). You’re quite funny in it. Well done."

Red Dwarf

What else happens in the series?

Craig Charles: “I got to play guitar with Hitler.”

Danny John Jules:  “You try telling someone that!”

Craig Charles: “What did you do today, daddy? I played guitar with Hitler.”

Chris Barrie: “He was great, wasn’t he?"

Craig Charles: “Not Hitler! Ryan Gage, the guy who played him!"

Do you ever watch old episodes back?

Robert Llewellyn: “This is the only work on TV I’ve done that I can watch. I watch it and I enjoy what (the other three) are doing."

Craig Charles: “My young daughter’s recently discovered it, and watched it, and all I get is, ‘Dad, you were so young! Oh Dad, you were quite cute, weren’t you?"

Danny John Jules: “It is scary, seeing the old ones.”

Chris Barrie: “When I watch it with my eldest son he says ‘Dad, why’d you do it like that?’ My younger son glances in and says ‘still watching that? what happened to you, Dad?’ They say how everyone else is really good.”

Robert Llewellyn: “Your kids are the best reviewers. My daughter, she watched an old episode last year and when it finished she said ‘um, it’s not bad but Kryten used to be quite slim, didn’t he Dad?’ and walked out on that."

Craig Charles: “There’s a lot more software now, Bob. Upgrades.

Red Dwarf XII

It feels like Red Dwarf has been part of my life since birth - what does it feel like for you after all these years?

Danny John Jules: “We’re joined at the hip, man. And I actually can’t remember my life before Red Dwarf."

Robert Llewellyn: “We’ve been doing it for long enough now to feel it’s the same for us. I can’t remember life before Red Dwarf."

Chris Barrie: “We first met in 1986."

Craig Charles: “We did, yeah. We rehearsed in ’87 but then there was a strike."

"One of the good things about Red Dwarf I always find, is like, when we started doing it in the late 80s a lot of what was science fiction has now become science fact. And a lot of stuff that was in series XI and this new series, Red Dwarf XII, is science fiction now but one day will become science fact. It’s always nice to be ahead of the curve in that way."

Can you give us any examples?

Craig Charles: "Total immersion video games, we’re kind of virtually there now, things like that, and Better Than Life.

Robert Llewellyn: There’s also, every now and then I’ll see a weird astronomical observation fact – there was a white hole recently that’s spewing time into the universe – and all the astronomers and people all round the world going 'just like in Red Dwarf' and you think oh my God, White Hole was one of the ones we did.

It’s a gateway for idiots like me. So when they try and explain something like that, then they go 'just like on that episode of Red Dwarf;, and you go right, yeah, got it, thanks Red Dwarf for explaining it to me."

Craig Charles: "I do think that a lot of Red Dwarf XII’s science fiction will be science fact in the future, you know.
In Timewave the boys come across a ship where criticism is outlawed."

Have you guys ever had a favourite bit of criticism?

Craig Charles: "This is the voyage of the starship Red Dwarf whose mission is to go where many sitcoms have gone before; up its own arsehole. Very at home in this part of the television anatomy is Craig Charles. Where is this man from? Is he from a distant planet called Rent-a-Liverpudlian, or was he spontaneously generated by a TV screen? No matter. Charles and this series are heading for a sticky end…” twenty-nine years!"

Chris Barrie: "I tend to erase bad reviews – the good ones, you sort of get the highlighter out."

Craig Charles: “I used to remember the bad ones, they’d burn scar tissue onto my soul"

Chris Barrie: "But that episode again reflects maybe what’s happening today in the world."

Robert Lleweylln: "A critique of in a sense free speech and political correctness and all those things where you can’t say this, or you shouldn’t be saying that... and people getting offended at the tiniest little thing I don’t know why it’s suddenly cool to be offended by things and sort of trendy to get wound up over everything."

Craig Charles: "Most of the best comedy’s offensive, isn’t it? The joke’s got to be on someone."

Danny John Jules: "No one wants to be the butt of a joke anymore, that’s a fact. I don’t know why that is, it’s just a joke."

Craig Charles: "That’s why God invented Rimmer."

Rumour has it a certain ‘super-intelligent’ computer will be making a reappearance this year.

Craig Charles: “Yes, Norman (Lovett) is back (as Holly). When he comes back, remember that scene when it was first revealed? I could have gone and had dinner and come back and they would still have been laughing and cheering.”

Danny John Jules: “Mate, I did a full costume change during that applause.”

Craig Charles: “It went on for ever... and when you’re acting just against a screen, and you’ve got nothing to act to, you’ve got to kind of act your way through that kind of applause. Don’t let him know, but it was the biggest laugh of the series."

Describe Red Dwarf XII in three words?

Robert Lleweylln: "It is good."

Craig Charles: "It is funny."

Chris Barrie: "Hilarious and interesting."

Danny John Jules: "I am funny. Craig is funny. Chris is funny and Bobby is funny. …How many words is that?

Chris Barrie: "Twelve. Showing off that I’m quite good at maths."

Watch new episodes of Red Dwarf on Thursdays at 9pm on Dave from October 12th.

BT TV customers can watch episode one now on the UKTV Play app.

[The funniest stand-up shows on Netflix]

More from BT