Dave Lister (Craig Charles), Third Technician abord the mining ship Red Dwarf and the last human being alive, the descendant of his pet and a hologram of his dead superior, Arnold Rimmer (Chris Barrie, The Brittas Empire), are the last remanents of humanity lost in space somewhat three and a half million years from earth. Rimmer was selected to be resurected as a hologram by the ship's computer, because it can only sustain one hologram and he was the person who Lister exchanged most words with (although most of them were expletives).
Inspired by the 1974 film Dark Star the series creators, Doug Naylor and Rob Grant, take their viewers on a hilarious journey through deep space along with their protagonists. Aside from the humorous dialog the programme also cleverly and light-heartedly touches serious topics often found in science fiction, such as the paradoxes of time travel, identity, genetic engineering, afterlife, holograms, parallel universes, artificial intelligence and robot rights.
To avoid conflict with the BBC's code on using strong language in its programmes, Naylor and Grant came up with a fictional colloquial language of the future where words like Gimboid, Goit and Smeg-head are used to refer to persons acting idiotically. The word smeg is used as substitute for a common expletive with four letters beginning with "s". Interestingly Esperato seems to have become the lingua franca of the future and for example the decks of the ship are labeled Nivelo (level).
Famously BBC Visual Effects destroyed the only model of the ship Red Dwarf for a scene in the fifth series. Although it was made sure that all footage for the fifth series requiring the model was shot already, this posed a problem in the later sixth and seventh series. In series six this was used as a plot device, where the crew chases the allegedly stolen ship. The shots of the ship in the seventh series were taken from archive footage and it was not until series eight that a computer generated model was used.