Talkie tries desperately not to disappoint Rimmer's judgemental mother.

Name: Mrs Rimmer Mrs Rimmer
Occupation: Full time mother to four sons
Qualifications: I gave birth to the buggers, didn't I?!
Distinguishing Marks: Various love-bite scars. (Successfully kept secret from husband.)
Rimmer's Notes: Magnificent woman. Very prim, very proper, some say austere. Some people took her for cold, thought she was aloof. Not a bit of it. She just despised idiots, no time for fools. Tragic really, otherwise we would have got on famously.

Hello Mrs Rimmer - would you like some toast?

No thanks. Now you've got that out of the way can we get on? I'm extremely busy.

Certainly. Why don't we start with life at home with the Rimmers?

Well, as you know, we had three boys - John, Howard and Frank.

Mrs Rimmer

What about Arnold?

Hmmn? Oh, yes, I suppose. Sorry, I've sort of got into the habit of leaving him out when talking to company. Very well, four boys. Their father was extremely dedicated to making them all reach their potential, and to date they're all high-flyers in the Space Corps.

All of them?

Well, most of them... Seventy-five percent.

How was their father with them?

Strict. Some have said 'strict to the point of psychosis', as if it were a bad thing. I always remind them 'to the point of' is still, technically, normal - it's just on the edge, where all greatness comes from. Now, if he'd been 'strict beyond the point of psychosis'... well, then we'd have worried.

People forget that some of the strictest people in history have also been jolly good at getting results. Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Margaret Thatcher - all these people kept immaculate time, ran a tight ship, had well-organised sock drawers.

Mrs Rimmer

I'm beginning to see where Arnold gets it from...

We were just determined to see our boys succeed. Every morning - four children, only three breakfasts. They soon learnt that slugabeds lose out. It was the same with the dinner-time quizzes. Their father would pitch them questions on physics, aerodynamics, space corps regulations. Food became their motivation.

How did they cope with that? I heard Arnold nearly died of malnutrition...

Well, yes, okay, that's true. But let me tell you something, Mr Toaster. Three out of four children did not nearly die during those years. Let me remind you that that's a 75% success rate in the 'almost dead' stakes. A full three quarters of our brood suffered no ill effects from starvation. I'd say those were pretty good odds.

Did all the boys attend the same school?

Indeed. They all boarded at Io House, all joined the Space Scouts under Yakka Takka Tulla. They worked together and played together. I have very fond memories of watching them out the window, playing in the sand pit.

That's where they planted a landmine as a 'surprise' for Arnold?

What can I tell you? Boys will be boys.

It doesn't sound like the young Arnold Rimmer was too popular.

They were very close - used to play the Three Musketeers, with Arnold as the Queen of Spain. I'm not sure how wise it was to do this at school, though. In retrospect, putting Arnold in a dress and make-up in front of his classmates might have given them a small window of opportunity to make fun. But it was Arnold - I'm fairly sure they had plenty of ammunition already.

Didn't you used to holiday with Frank Rimmer, your brother-in-law?

Aah, Frank. What a remarkable man. Intelligent, witty, handsome. I have wonderful memories of visiting him and his family, the long conversations into the night, the huge, comfortable beds...

Sounds like you enjoyed his company.

Let's just say Frank was a very... giving host. Move on.

Actually, this is a subject I wanted to cover. Your, erm, close relationships with some of the men in your life.

What are you trying to imply?

Well I, er, I have it on good authority that you weren't just enjoying long, hard conversation. If you know what I mean...

How dare you! Just because a woman forms strong male friendships, just because she occasionally spends weeks away from her dribbling-insane husband and over-achieving brats, just because she's been arrested on nineteen occasions for acts of public indecency... just because of that, you judge her?

Actually, yes. Pretty much.

Change the subject. Right now.

Very well. Would you like some toast?

Not even if eating toast would make all my wildest dreams come true, create world peace and prevent the end of life as we know it.

What about a toasted teacake?

Get on with it.

Mrs Rimmer

Very well. When Arnold was 14 he divorced himself from his parents. How did that make you feel?

Well, let me put it this way. If you have a decent car with three good tyres and one that's punctured in seventeen places and flatter than a note sung by a Pop Idol auditionee, what do you do?

I want to say 'change the tyre', but it seems so obvious.

So, would you mind if the tyre filed for divorce from the car?

I dunno - it seems pretty far-fetched.

So does a talking toaster.

Fair point.

Losing Arnold made us stronger as a family. His father had suffered several strokes, but was still able to run out of a room when Arnold came in. It was a mercy not to have in the house a child whose main hobby was indexing the house bricks.

He was paid maintenance until he turned 18, lived at his boarding school. Once every four weekends he was granted access to the family dog - though we had to put a stop to that. Every time that weekend came around, the dog kept running off to the airport with its pet passport. One time he got to Venus before we caught him.

So when was the last time you saw Arnold?

His brother, Frank -

Frank? That's his uncle's name, too.


Oh, nothing.

What are you trying to imply?

Not a thing. Honestly. Amazing coincidence. That's all.

Frank married Janine. She was a model - beautiful girl. The wedding was a formal affair, dress uniform, all the top brass were there. Arnold showed up in his technician's uniform. Obviously, with so many important people, it would have been embarrassing for Frank, John and Howard if anyone had, you know, noticed him. So he listened to the wedding from the vestry.

Mrs Rimmer

That seems a little sad.

I'm sure he didn't mind. He knew that it wasn't meant cruelly, we were just embarrassed by him and generally didn't want to acknowledge his existence in any way. He heard most of what went on. We kept him out of the way until the photographs were taken, the reception was over and everyone had gone home, and then... Oh.


I've just remembered - we never told him we were finished. That explains why he was trying to call me the next morning.


The photographs were ruined anyway, by some ugly little Scouse oik. Frank had to give him quite the beating. It was shortly after that when we sent Arnold his father's camphor wood trunk. It was a lovely old antique, Javanese. It belonged to his father, passed down through generations of Rimmers.

What a lovely gesture!

It was supposed to go to Howard, of course. Their father had pretty much lost the plot by that point - couldn't even address a parcel correctly. We would have asked him to send it back, but on a technician's wage he'd never have been able to cover the postage. So we just bought Howard a Porsche instead.

We've stayed in touch, though. Arnold wrote to me regularly from Red Dwarf. I used to send the letters back with corrections to his spelling and grammar. Seems he'd done okay in the end. Certainly he took an awful lot of exams. He assures me he's been getting top marks. Who'd have thought - little "no brain" Arnold ending up as Rear Admiral Lieutenant General!

Mrs Rimmer

You must be very proud.

I am. If I ever see him again I'm going to rush right up to him and give him a huge handshake.

Most affectionate. Well, I think that's about all we have time for.

Are you sure? I've got a little time - maybe you'd like to take me for dinner? I know this fantastic hotel...

Thank you, Mrs Rimmer. One final question - would you like some toast?