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One of the series' highest accolades came in 1994, when an episode from the sixth series, "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", won an International Emmy Award in the Popular Arts category, and in the same year the series was also awarded "Best BBC Comedy Series" at the British Comedy Awards.In the first episode set sometime in the late 22nd century, an on-board radiation leak of cadmium II kills everyone except lowest-ranking technician Dave Lister, who is in suspended animation at the time, and his pregnant cat, Frankenstein, who is safe in the cargo hold.Having first written the pilot script in 1983, the former Spitting Image writers had hawked their unusual and original script around but it was rejected by everyone at the BBC, as it was believed a science fiction sitcom would not be popular.It was finally accepted by BBC North in 1986, a result of a spare budget being assigned for a second series of Happy Families that would never arise, and producer Paul Jackson's insistence that Red Dwarf should be filmed instead.Series VI was directed by Andy de Emmony, and Ed Bye returned to direct series VII and VIII.Series I, II and III were made by Paul Jackson Productions, with subsequent series produced by the writers' own company Grant Naylor Productions for BBC North. At the beginning of series IV, production moved from BBC North's New Broadcasting House in Manchester to Shepperton.Rimmer is again a hologram, Holly is offline, and Lister is mourning Kochanski, lost to him out of an airlock some time previously.
As their journey begins, the not-so-intrepid crew encounters such phenomena as time distortions, faster-than-light travel, mutant diseases and strange lifeforms that had developed in the intervening millions of years.
In the cliffhanger ending, Rimmer is left stranded alone to face Death (and promptly knees him in the groin and flees).
Nine years later, the four are once more the only beings on the ship.
His former bunkmate and immediate superior Arnold Judas Rimmer (a character plagued by failure) is resurrected by Holly as a hologram to keep Lister sane.
At the same time, a creature known only as Cat is the last member on board of Felis sapiens, a race of humanoid felines that evolved in the ship's hold from Lister's cat, Frankenstein, and her kittens during the 3 million years that Lister was in stasis.
The main characters are Dave Lister, the last known human alive, and Arnold Rimmer, a hologram of Lister's dead bunkmate.