Actors Craig Charles (Lister) and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten) have confirmed that Red Dwarf will be returning for a new, six-part series. The new series will be recorded - again in front of a live studio audience if possible - between November and January and will air in mid-to-late 2012 on the UK satellite/cable channel Dave.
Red Dwarf's last full season, its eighth, aired in 1999. The producers subsequently spent a long period trying to develop a movie version which never materialised. Dave commissioned a new, three-part TV special called Back to Earth, which aired in 2009 to smash ratings (beating both BBC-2 and Channel 4, free-to-air channels). The success of the specials has now convinced Dave to develop a longer series in the spirit of the original series. Craig Charles has said that they're hoping to recapture the 'classic' Dwarf feel of around Season 5 of the original run. Llewellyn also confirms the hope to film the episodes live, but this may prove untenable if too much information leaks via the Internet.
It's been confirmed that the four central castmembers - including Danny John-Jules as the Cat and Chris Barrie as Rimmer - will return, with no decision made yet on other recurring characters from the original run. However, Norman Lovett, who played the ship's AI Holly, is unlikely to return given his recent criticisms of the show and his decision not to play the character again.
Red Dwarf was a classic series in its heyday, but I must admit this news fills me with trepidation. Back to Earth was terrible and Seasons 7-8 of the original run were very poor. If original writer Rob Grant (who left after Season 6) was to return as well that would restore a lot of confidence in this project. However, if Doug Naylor can find a good writing partner for the new series, it could turn out okay. I also hope Dave are putting a decent amount of money into the project, as Back to Earth suffered from its near-zero budget.