"Epideme" is the seventh episode of science fiction comedy series Red Dwarf VII and the 43rd in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 28 February 1997. Written by Paul Alexander & Doug Naylor and directed by Ed Bye. The episode involves Lister contracting an intelligent, but deadly, virus.
The crew encounter an abandoned ship with the frozen body of one survivor - Caroline Carmen, one of Lister
's former crushes. She is taken on board the Starbug, but during the night she revives and infects Lister with the dreaded Epideme virus. The Epideme virus is an intelligent virus that is just trying to survive by using its victims body as a host. Lister will die, although the virus will remain dormant until the next victim comes along, unless something is done. He tries reasoning with Epideme directly through a communication link, but has no luck in convincing the virus to leave. Kochanski
comes up with the idea to coax the virus to move down towards Lister's hand and then cut off the hand, with virus and all. The plan eventually works, but Lister then has to deal with the fact that he's got one arm now.
For Paul Alexander's second script he used an old Jasper Carrot
joke for the premise of the plot - "What if your flu could talk to you? Wouldn't it just say that it was doing its job?" Again Naylor helped out with the script, tweaking it to conform to the Red Dwarf
An alternate ending was scripted and filmed for the episode - involving the dead arm, containing the Epideme virus, flying through space and then towards the camera - but it was decided to end the episode just before this scene.
Of the many new props needed for the new series was a laser bone-saw - use for the scenes of cutting the Epideme infected arm. For the scene Chloe Annet had taken several attempts to cut the arm off.
Voice artist Gary Martin played the talking virus Epideme. He was recommended by Danny John-Jules, his friend of many years standing, and had even been with Danny when he auditioned for the role of the Cat in the mid-eighties.
Nicky Leatherbarrow also appeared, in heavy make-up, as Caroline Carmen - the initial carrier of the Epideme virus.
Originally broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on the 28 February 1997 in the 9:00 pm evening slot, the television ratings were high. Although Series VII as a whole received a mixed response from fans and critics alike, this was considered one of the better episodes.