Funny Valentine 2

Part two of the story behind Red Dwarf's journey into love, romance and 'the other'.


Rimmer's sex life is a shorter story than Lister's. Certainly not a saga, not really a novel, barely even a pamphlet. Rimmer's entire experience could comfortably be written on the back of a bus ticket. A shame really - one would have thought there would have been some willing nerd at his wargamer society.

The only pre-demise loving Rimmer got - and therefore officially the only one we count, rather than open the 'necrophilia' can of worms - was with Yvonne McGruder. The ship's female boxing champion. Twelve minutes, including time to eat the pizza.

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Isn't it odd how our boys so swiftly condense their first experiences to brief descriptions, to bullet points? Rimmer and Lister aren't that different...

She'd been hit on the head with a winch and had concussion. She kept calling Rimmer 'Norman'. Now, that's the TV version. The version in the Last Human Red Dwarf novel is more interesting. Sick of Lister's teasing, Rimmer decides to prove to himself that what they had meant something. He wouldn't call her; he'd wait for her to call him. A little thing, but it would prove Lister wrong, it would show that she cared.

McGruder knew who he was, but - when the concussion she had suffered passed - she wasn't sure her fling with Rimmer had actually ever happened. Unsure if it was just her imagination, she elected to wait, to see if he called her. If he did... well, that meant it was true.

Their 'relationship' ended as a series of unsure looks as each passed the other along Red Dwarf's corridors.

It's another point of tragedy in a life that, frankly, was already quite tragic enough. (Though there's a peculiar happiness to this particular time fork, where Rimmer meets his and McGruder's son!) It's just another sorry state of love affairs for the man who, when he was 15, thought he'd got lucky with Fiona Barrington in her father's greenhouse only to discover that he'd had his hand in warm compost all along.

The memory he had of Lise Yates belonged, as it turned out, to Lister - though when it comes to sharing, it's more disturbing to realise that Lister was seeing Inflatable Ingrid behind Rimmer's back.

So, let's tentatively take a look at Rimmer's post-death successes (or lack of same). Skipping past an unfortunate attempt to impress three skeletons - and his virtual experiences with Yvonne McGruder in the Better Than Life game (which, for the record, wasn't the boundless joy it was meant to be, ultimately saddling Rimmer with a wife, kids and a mortgage) - as with Lister an early encounter was with the female version of himself.

Funny Valentine 2

Now, to be fair, Rimmer isn't used to women who watch his bottom wiggle 'provocatively' or who try to hypnotise him into sex. Usually that's his job. Still, breaking the habit of a lifetime he elected not to make love to himself. But seeing his attitude to women reflected back at him may have had an effect on him. 1001 Fabulous Chat-Up Lines stayed on the shelf afterwards, and the Mesma Stare became a memory.

Meeting Camille was a joy for Rimmer at first. A hologram of identical rank, with just as many problems with exam technique as himself - bliss. What's interesting to note here is that, as would become clear later, Rimmer is capable of being charming. Faced with his perfect mate (who, worryingly, is actually a dead ringer - no pun intended - for his sister-in-law, Janine), Rimmer finds himself able to flirt.

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Sure, it's a little sleazy, but once he gets past the usual lies and bravado - "the guys generally call me Duke" is just the same as wanting to be introduced to the Nova 5's skeletal crew as 'Ace' - Rimmer settles into a few moments of comfortable communication. The two find out what they have in common - admitting to failure so easily that it's easy to forget how Rimmer would usually protest that his exam results were caused by the bureaucracy keeping him down, or possibly the wrong type of pen.

(As a side note, it's worth mulling over the differences between this companion, who was the ideal mate because she was so like Rimmer, and the second Rimmer of Me2, whose similarities to the original were the source of so much aggravation.)

But maybe there's truth to the idea that the right companion can make you a 'better' person. When he's around Camille, Rimmer manages - within his limited range - to be charming. Which, of course, just makes it all the more unfortunate when she turned out to be a pleasure GELF, a creature designed to imitate anyone's perfect companion. But then, what were the odds of anybody else being quite so into Hammond organ music and telegraph poles?

Which brings us to Nirvanah Crane, a woman who, in many ways, was the utter opposite of Rimmer's ideal mate. Holograms both, Nirvanah was a talented over-achiever - confident, capable and professional. As much like Rimmer, in fact, as a giraffe is to a bowl of spaghetti. Still, maybe the idea that her society had caught up with his opinion that parents are disastrous for an individual's mental health helped narrow the divide.

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A vital team-member of the holoship Enlightenment, Nirvanah ultimately let herself be 'switched off' to give Rimmer a chance at the kind of job he always wanted. This gesture, which Rimmer ultimately refused, may be a first - a woman who was actually in love with Rimmer. Even the question of whether his mother loved him is open to debate.

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So we skip past the handmaidens Rimmer encountered in a landscape formed from his own mind, and the time he created female clones of himself on Rimmerworld - though it seems ever more likely that, over 600 years, the population of that planet mated with one another, but never let the hard-light hologram Rimmer get a look in - and head straight to the female officers of Back in the Red. Now, technically, these women were no more real than Lister's Wimbledon ball-girl - being computer simulations as they were - but what they lacked in tangibility they more than made up for in quantity. The poor guy had to inject anaesthetic into his groin in the end just to regain some self-control.

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And that's about it. Sure, he tried to get Kochanski on the springs when forward-thinking computer Cassandra predicted it; sure, he tried to get a big wet snog "with oodles of Tommy Tongue" from Talia Garrett before she turned out to be the captain's spiritual advisor (or possibly his bit on the side, depending on what universe you're in); but it's all for nothing compared to his multi-dimensional counterpart.

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Yes, Ace Rimmer had it all. Women wanted him. Men wanted to be him. Some men wanted him, too, but Ace just has that kind of effect on people. Whatever he gets up to, it's likely to involve a beautiful woman and a popular type of savoury sauce. No wonder Rimmer's so jealous.

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Let's get down to business with this one. Kryten's first moment of... romantic happiness was when he accidentally welded his groinal socket to a front-loading washing machine. Later we would learn that he had taken to naming the domestic appliances, as apparently they work better with an identity. The washing machine was named Frank.

Quite what this says about Kryten it's hard to say. It might not be the same machine, after all. But the mechanoid's gender ambiguity - he was designated female in prison due to his inability to write his name in the snow - has always been somewhat in question. All he has is plastic underpants and a trademark.

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Kryten's love life begins and ends with Camille, already something of a feature in this article, and, given Kryten's status, it's not at all surprising to learn that she is androgynous. The difference being that when the robot Camille - a GTi model with realistic toes and a slide-back sunroof head - revealed her true form - a large green blob with a frankly Freudian eye on a stalk - the love between them remained.

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It's somewhat tragic to know how hard it is for a pleasure GELF to be in love. Knowing that your original form rather puts off any chance of love at first site, and your 'on' form will be fine for the person you fancy, but will have all their friends flocking around you like insects around Lister's rubbish bin.

Of course, it couldn't last. Camille departed with her equally-androgynous partner Hector, leaving Kryten with a broken redistribution unit and a hankering for those 579 eyes with the 15 f-stop cornea. But then, he's not the only Dwarfer to learn about love and loss...


Holly was in love once. A Sinclair ZX81. But she was cheap, stupid, and she wouldn't load - not for him, anyway. No wonder everyone told him it wouldn't work. So he moved on... and eventually found romance with Hilly.

In many ways, Holly's head-only relationship with his female equivalent was the most successful of any of the Dwarfers'. Ignoring his protests that the lipstick marks were 'a computer rash', Holly and Hilly had a pretty good thing going there. So good, in fact, that he ultimately corrupted his image to hers, giving himself a head-swap sex-change.

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Holly's attitude became distinctly feminine after that. She fell for Ace - quite literally - and couldn't resist checking out Kryten's newly-human form (despite that whole 'last chicken in the shop' thing). Her screen went foggy when Camille showed up - which either meant she saw nothing, or that she saw something so marvellous that she steamed up...

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Since the nanobots fixed Holly's core programme, rendering him/her male again, there hasn't been much in the way of computer nookie for the senile computer. Still, that's probably for the best - you never know what kind of virus he might pick up.

( would like to apologise unreservedly for that final joke. It was an entirely unfair and unprovoked assault on the reader, and the author would like to offer his entrails on a spike in penance.)

Further reading: Funny Valentine Part 1

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