"Back to Reality" is the sixth, and final, episode of science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf Series V and the 30th in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 26 March 1992. Written by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor and directed by Juliet May & Grant Naylor. The episode often tops polls or surveys as the best in the series runs. The plot features the crew waking up from a crash to discover that the last four years of their lives has been spent in a 'Red Dwarf Total Immersion Video Game'.
Instead of finding themselves in little pieces, they wake to discover that for four years they have been playing 'Red Dwarf - The Total Immersion Video Game'. Kryten is half-human Cybernautics Division Detective (traffic officer) Jake Bullet. Cat is dorky Duane Dibbley. Lister is Sebastian Doyle, the head of the secret police in a fascist state, and Rimmer is Billy Doyle, Lister's half brother and a tramp.
Only Kryten is pleased with his 'real' existence; however, when he is forced to take a human life in order to save a young girl, the mechanoid too begins to despair. The crew then become involved in a high-speed car chase with the police. Devastated by the implications of their "true" selves, they are about to commit group suicide when Holly finally manages to awaken them, revealing that Starbug's crash and 'reality' were just a group hallucination brought on by the toxic ink of the "despair squid".
Although the budget for the series had increased, certain sets were still able to double for different scenes. The corridors of the holoship, from the episode of the same name, were grunged down and made up for the Artificial Reality suite.
Several model shots of the Despair Squid were filmed but it was decided that they didn't work well. Instead a superimposed shadow was used to illustrate the squid closing in on Starbug.
The episode features Hattie Hayridge's last appearance in the series. The other cast got to play their despair induced alter egos; Danny John-Jules played Duane Dibbley, Craig Charles played Sebastian Doyle, Robert Llewellyn played Jake Bullet, while Chris Barrie played William Doyle, Sebastian's half-brother.
Lenny Von Dohlen, known as appearing in Twin Peaks, agreed to appear as the cop after speaking with former guest star Frances Barber (series III's Jenny Mutant). The episode also featured a new Red Dwarf crew for the new Artificial Reality game. Anastasia Hille played Kochanski, David Lemkin played The Cat, Julian Lyon played Rimmer, John Sharian played Lister and Scott Charles Bennett played Kryten. 'Red Dwarf Total Immersion Video Game' staff workers were Timothy Spall who played Andy and Marie McCarthy who played the Nurse.
At the end of 1992 the episode helped Series V gain a nomination for an International Emmy Award, and in 1995, following a BBC viewers vote, it was repeated on the 22 December 1995 as 'The Best Ever Red Dwarf'.
The episode had proved popular enough for the BBC to ignore the original running order and use the popular episodes from Series V to maximise sales of the video releases. The episode that featured on the other Series V video release being "Quarantine".