Red Dwarf: Behind-the-Scenes Doc Shows Alternative Theme Song Lyrics

Lobsters and coconuts? Three-part doc Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years starts tonight on Dave and is filled with behind-the-scenes clips and fun facts including Howard Goodall’s unused theme song lyrics…

Red Dwarf cast
Photo: Dave

Hands up who’s been singing ‘Goldfish-ohs nibbling at my toes’ for the last 32 years. 

Not continuously. You’d be arrested. But on every occasion you’ve sung the Red Dwarf theme song in the past three decades – over the top of an episode’s opening credits, say, or alone, in the bath, you’ve sung that as the seventh line instead of the real lyric which is ‘Goldfish shoals’. 

Don’t feel bad about it. Probably, when you first heard the song at age eight, you didn’t know the word ‘shoal’, but you did, thanks to global consumerism and the virulence of 1980s America’s pop cultural hegemony, know what Cheerios were, so your brain did the rest. It’s not worth beating yourself up over. We’re all just doing the best we can.

The point is, according to Red Dwarf composer Howard Goodall, who also came up with the theme songs for Blackadder and Mr Bean, those aren’t even the original lyrics. In the first episode of a three-part Red Dwarf documentary series starting tonight on Dave, Goodall performs an alternative version of the famous theme.

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Here’s the broadcast version we all know, as performed by Jenna Russell (aka EastEnders‘ second Michelle Fowler):

And here are Goodall’s unused original lyrics: 

I want to taste

lobsters and coconuts

I want to swim


Get quite drunk

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In several wooden huts

Fun fun fun, in the

Sun sun sun!

I’d like to have

Red blotches on my face

Make a mess

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Of my nose

I’d love to peel

In every awkward place

Fun fun fun, in the

Sun sun sun!

Green lagoons, 

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Palm trees and cockatoos

Local rum with mango juice

Get things nicked and ruin all my shoes

Fun fun fun, in the 

Sun sun sun!

This isn’t news to hardcore Red Dwarf fans, of course. Goodall previously shared the above lyrics in 2004 behind-the-scenes doc Howard Goodall: Settling the Score included on the series VI DVD release. 

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The Dave documentary Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years is a fun watch including interviews with the main and guest cast, as well as talking heads from a few celebrity fans. It’s peppered with early behind-the-scenes footage, including side-by-side comparison clips with the never-broadcast first studio recording of episode one (reworked and partially reshot to inject more laughs after a lacklustre studio audience response), and packed with fun details about the show’s origins, journey to BBC Two and the famous faces who almost starred in it. Alan Rickman as Lister and Kathy Burke as Holly, anyone?  

Three-part documentary series Red Dwarf: The First Three Million Years starts on Thursday the 6th of August at 9pm on Dave in the UK.