|Airdate:||December 5, 1989|
|Writers:||Rob Grant & Doug Naylor|
"Bodyswap" is the fourth episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series III, and the sixteenth overall. It premiered on the British television channel BBC2 on 5 December 1989. Written by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, and directed by Ed Bye. This was the first episode to be recorded without a live studio audience. The plot has Rimmer suggesting that the perfect way to help Lister get "healthy" is swapping bodies. The episode was re-mastered, along with the rest of the first three series, in 1998.
A malfunctioning skutter runs amok and rewires Red Dwarf's ship circuitry, producing 2,000 wiring faults and making the whole ship a gigantic booby trap. When Lister (Craig Charles) orders a milk shake and a crispy bar from one of the snack machines, he inadvertently triggers off the ship's self destruct countdown. As the auto-destruct can only be over-ridden by a senior officer, who are all dead, Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) performs a mind-swap. The mind of Executive Officer Carol Brown is temporarily placed into Lister's body so she can voice-activate the shut-down procedure but the plan fails and the auto-destruct sequence continues. When the countdown reaches zero Lister's milk shake and Toffee Crispy bar are dispensed from the food machine.
After the crisis is resolved, it gives Rimmer (Chris Barrie) an idea. He convinces Lister to swap bodies with him. He will be able to enjoy the benefits of having a tangible body again for two weeks, while he exercises and gets Lister back into shape. However, he is unable to resist the pleasures he has been denied for so long, and eats, drinks, and smokes so much that Lister, appalled, demands his heavily abused body back after just one week.
Rimmer, enlisting Kryten's reluctant help, chloroforms Lister and reacquires his body. In Lister's body, Rimmer then absconds in Starbug with a full freight of junk food. Lister, with Cat (Danny John-Jules) and Kryten, give chase with Blue Midget causing Rimmer to lose concentration and crash into a rocky planet. Rimmer is forced again to give Lister's body back, but later Rimmer walks into Lister's sleeping quarters looking strange. It is Cat and he says that Rimmer has stolen his body. Just then Rimmer, in Cat's body, turns up carrying a heaping dinner plate and assures his crewmates that it will be for just one night... or maybe until Thursday.
This was the first episode to be recorded without the live studio audience. Technical difficulties of the actors playing other character's meant that the scenes would have to have been done twice. Instead the voices were dubbed over the scenes in post-production and trying to match up with lip movements caused much mirth while recording. Chris Barrie, being an impressionist, had no problems playing Lister, whereas Craig's portrayal as Rimmer was not as smooth. The final edit, with dubbed voices, was then played to a small audience to provide the laughter track.
The long chase sequence with Blue Midget and Starbug was overseen by effects supervisor Peter Wragg. Using his experience of working on shows such as Thunderbirds, he had the model ships of Starbug and White Midget flying on hidden wires over a scaled landscape, Starbug eventually crashing into it.
This episode has the only mention of the ship White Midget. This was a mistake on the part of the writers. In the Remastered version, Lister's voice is dubbed over so he says "The Midget" instead of "White Midget". Originally the new smaller ship that would be used was White Midget, a similar version of the Blue Midget, but then Starbug was created, which would be bigger and allow for more room to film inside.
Alfred Hitchcock is referenced by Rimmer when describing Lister's silhouette. While using the toilet with Lister's body, Rimmer hums the The Grand Old Duke of York tune to himself. It is from this experience that Rimmer references Star Treks Spock when describing Lister's urine. Rimmer also recites Clint Eastwood's line from Sudden Impact.
The episode was originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 5 December 1989 in the 9:00pm evening time slot. It wasn't as well received as the others, 'Reviews by Gravielle' stating that the story "doesn't work" and that "the swapped dialogue is not convincing..."
See also: Red Dwarf remastered.
The remastering of Series I to III was carried out during the late 1990s. General changes throughout the series included replacement of the opening credits, giving the picture a colour grade and filmizing, computer generated special effects of Red Dwarf and many more visual and audio enhancements.
Changes made specific to "Bodyswap" include the Starbug and Blue Midget chase scenes have been replaced with a CGI sequence. The scene with Rimmer, as Cat, playing around with food has been added to the ending.