|Last:||"Only the Good..."|
|Portrayer:||Clare Grogan, Chloë Annett|
Kristine Z. Kochanski is a fictional character from the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. Kochanski was the first console officer in the navigation chamber onboard the spaceship Red Dwarf. As well as appearing in the television series, she is also a major character in the Red Dwarf novel Last Human.
After the publication of the first two Red Dwarf novels, Grant and Naylor took the opportunity to re-write several aspects of the back story. The crew of the Dwarf pre-accident increased by a thousand, the pre-accident setting moved from the 21st to the 23rd century, and Kristine Kochanski underwent her first major transformation.
In series one, Lister lusted after Kochanski, a perky working class girl made good, but never had a relationship with her. Indeed, he was said to have shared a total of 171 words with her, rating her below his potted plant in this respect.
In the first novel, she appeared to either be more of a social climber or (more likely) to have started further up the social ladder. She is learning Japanese and holds her own against arrogant young officers. Lister has a brief but intense relationship with her, spending most of the time in her quarters making love and watching It's a Wonderful Life, their favourite movie. Kochanski, however, reveals she is still hooked on her ex-and-future boyfriend Tim, a catering officer. She was dating Lister on the rebound, and goes back to Tim, leaving Lister heartbroken.
Although most of the alteration brought in after the books begin at series three, the first series after the publication of the first book, the onscreen depiction of Kochanski stayed the same. The same actress (Clare Grogan) portrayed her, and she remained the cheeky yet spunky Scottish lass of the first two series. The portrayal of Kochanski in the books is broadly compatible with both this portrayal and Chloë Annett's later portrayal.
In series seven, following the departure of Rob Grant who (as evidenced by the two books that the authors of the series wrote separately) was less enamored of Kochanski than Doug Naylor, and following the temporary departure of Rimmer actor Chris Barrie, the character of Kochanski was brought in to re-balance the cast and add some glamour. Clare Grogan was offered the part, but declined in order to focus on stage acting. Instead, Chloë Annett, best known for appearing in period dramas, took the role. The Kochanski portrayed in the books made the character more sedate, more middle class, and less of a "laddette". Annett's portrayal (and Naylor's writing) moved the character even further along the scale, a privileged (equivalent to a 20th century public school) upbringing, fastidious manners and classical taste. Apart from her name, this is a completely different personality from Clare Grogan's portrayal, though both are compatible with the Kochanski of the first two books.
Annett's Kochanski also dated Lister for a short time before leaving him for a catering officer called Tim.
In both the book and series seven versions, it is Kochanski's rejection of him that leads Lister to his plan with Frankenstein and the stasis booth.
The Kochanski played by Annett is introduced in the third episode of series seven. She arrives on Starbug, having accidentally crossed from a parallel universe. In her world, she discovered Frankenstein, the cat Lister smuggled on board, and hid her herself. She was discovered and frozen in stasis during the accident that wiped out the crew, as Lister was in our universe. Like Lister, she emerges from stasis millions of years later to find the crew wiped out and the ship far from home. Holly brings back her ex-boyfriend Lister as a hologram (as opposed to our world in which Rimmer was brought back with the express intent of providing Lister with conflict and thus keeping him sane). Initially a soft light hologram, this Lister is unable to touch, eat, or otherwise physically interact with his world. This apparently makes him mature, sensitive and cultured. When Lister gets a hard light drive (presumably from Legion, as Rimmer does in our universe), they rekindle their relationship.
Throughout series seven and eight, Kochanski remains with the crew, even when rejoined by Rimmer in series eight. After the halfway point of series seven, she seems to stop trying to find ways back to her own universe, and the entirety of series eight could be watched without gaining any hint she is from a parallel universe.
Liverpudlian actress Alexandra Pigg was originally cast in the role of Kochanski, but was unavailable for new recording dates following an electrician's strike, so the part then went to Clare Grogan.
In "The End", the first episode of Red Dwarf, Kochanski was played by Scottish actress and lead singer of the new wave band Altered Images, Clare Grogan. Grogan again appeared as Kochanski in the episode "Balance of Power", both in flashback and as a hologram when Rimmer briefly impersonates her.
Grogan also featured as Kochanski in the second series episode "Stasis Leak", this time in the flesh due to time travel. In this episode it was revealed that Lister and Kochanski will end up married in five years time from that episode, and will have their honeymoon at The Ganymede Holiday Inn, implying that the couple will somehow make it back to the Solar System within five years time. However it is unclear if this future will still come to pass as the timeline has been altered numerous times over the following series. Also, stage manager Dona DiStefano briefly portrays Kochanski near the end of this episode; producers had already sent Grogan home before realising that her character needed to appear in the scene. DiStefano has no lines, and her face is mostly obscured by the brim of a hat.
Lister's fantasy of his perfect companion in "Camille" was initially intended to be Kochanski (played by Clare Grogan once again), but it was felt that the inexplicable and implausible re-appearance of Lister's true love (or at least enduring obsession) would tip him off too early as to the true nature of the creature that Kryten rescued. The character was changed in clothing and attitude to more or less a female version of Lister, played by Suzanne Rhatigan, but the credits incorrectly identified her as "Kochanski Camille".
In the seventh and eighth series of Red Dwarf, an alternate version of Kochanski from another dimension played by Chloë Annett became a permanent member of the crew, after Arnold Rimmer left. The writers insist she was not intended to replace Rimmer, but that Chris Barrie had asked to take a leave of absence at the same time as a female lead was required for the cast to be retained in the proposed Hollywood movie. Series eight, the final series of Red Dwarf made so far, features both Kochanski and Rimmer.
In her universe, the alternate version of Kochanski discovered Lister's pregnant pet cat, Frankenstein, and confiscates her, but cannot bring herself to destroy her. As a result it is she, not Lister, who is sentenced to six months in stasis for bringing an unquarantined animal on board, and who therefore survives the radiation leak that killed the rest of the crew. In this alternate dimension, Holly brings Lister back as a hologram instead of Rimmer, and his intangible nature apparently leads to him becoming a near-stereotypical "ideal man". The unreconstructed Lister from the "main" universe comes as quite a shock. It is not clear what the Cat and Kryten are like in her universe, but we can assume they are more sophisticated, as the alternate Kochanski seems unimpressed with their alternatives as well.
After being trapped with the "Dwarfers" in their universe, the alternate Kochanski adds something of a new dynamic to the show. She is an upper-middle class female officer in what was a decidedly "laddish" environment. Much of the humour in her scenes comes from the difference between her frame of reference and that of the others. Although Annett lacks Grogan's Scottish accent, the series now reveals that she was from the Gorbals (apparently the trendiest part of 23rd century Glasgow), and had spent her childhood in "Cyberschool" with perfect computer-generated settings and perfect computer-generated friends and a pony named "Trumper" before entering Space Cadet School.
The addition of Kochanski as a regular character in the show was met with mixed reactions from the fans; some loved the idea, some hated it. In either case, times were changing, and with Chris Barrie wanting a much smaller part in the show due to other commitments (the writers had to agree at the risk of losing him completely), another main character was needed. The writers felt that a woman was an interesting addition to the environment, especially since Kochanski had already been a minor character in the Red Dwarf canon since the first series. In many circumstances, Kochanski was used by the writers to replace Kryten as the exposition character during the seventh and eighth series.
Originally, it was suggested that Lister had loved Kochanski from afar, but never found the courage to ask her out. This was changed to them having had a relationship that ended before the accident in the novel (she went back to her previous boyfriend Tim), and later episodes have followed that version.
It appears that Kochanski is also paradoxically Lister's mother, and Lister is his own father, due to an unlikely combination of in vitro fertilisation and time travel in the series seven episode "Ouroboros". ("You mean Krissie is me ex-girlfriend and me mum?") However, in later episodes, this does not deter Lister from trying to renew his relationship with her.
Kochanski also appears prominently in the Red Dwarf novel Last Human, written by Doug Naylor. As with all of the Red Dwarf novels, however, Last Human is not considered part of the television canon due to significant variations between the television and book continuities. Kochanski's role in the novel — as a new member of the crew — is similar to that of her role in the seventh and eighth series of the television series, with notable differences:
In the novel, following being reunited with Lister as an aged couple in a world where time runs backwards (following the death of Dave Lister in the 'real' universe), Kochanski and Lister have entered into a loving relationship with each other. Now part of the Red Dwarf crew, Kochanski is in a clear position of authority as the highest-ranking member of the crew — a fact that Rimmer clearly resents (having been robbed of what minuscule authority he could claim in that position), although the others either appreciate or at least do not mind her clear intelligence and competence. The novel ends with Kochanski and Lister, stranded on an idyllic world in an unknown parallel universe, attempting to start a family with help from the Luck virus.