I am Robert Llewellyn. You probably know me as Kryten in Red Dwarf, that bloke off Scrapheap Challenge or the author of the News from...Trilogy .I’m also an electric car enthusiast, science geek and I write a blog about anything and everything.

I’m looking forward to see how this whole Reddit thing works and answer your questions, so ask away!

My Proof: http://imgur.com/oYrFpP8

Comments: 151 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

restlessllama22 karma

Which was your favourite successful scrapheap challenge, and which was your favourite commendable failure?

bobbyllew120 karma

Hate to pick favourites but the flight special we did in 2002 stays in the mind. 3 teams built 3 working airplanes in 2 days, and they all (just about) flew. Most commendable failure has to be the car trebuchet which collapsed very dramatically just before it did anything

Doghythe15 karma

Hi. Was doing an episode of Bottom with Rik and Ade a crazy experience?

bobbyllew123 karma

It's obviously come back to me a great deal recently with the sad passing of Rik. It was enormous fun, they were brilliant to work with, Rik was simply the master at big, brutal and hysterically funny physical gags and I did punch him during rehearsals. I didn't mean to, he asked me to get closer when I was whacking him about the head, unfortunately I got a bit too close. Sad loss

lizzyroses10 karma

You probably get asked what your favourite episode of Red Dwarf is a lot, so instead I'll ask which episode is your least favourite and why?

bobbyllew113 karma

Demons and Angels, not because it's a bad episode, in fact I think it's a brilliant idea and a very funny ep. However it was brutally hard to make, we all remember that one as a doozie.

Lisendral10 karma

What do you think the outcome will be from the release of the patents by Tesla Motors?

EDIT: And what, in your wildest dreams, would be the cherry on the knickerbocker for electric cars? Thanks for the AMA!

bobbyllew111 karma

I have still yet to fully digest what the implications are for the Tesla patent release, it strikes me as a brilliant move and I really hope other manufacturers take advantage. It's very hard not to be impressed with Tesla and indeed Mr Musk. Obviously, a continuous steady improvement in battery technology is going to make a huge difference and the good thing is, that's happening.

JohnQuigley10 karma

Rob, how do you feel about Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? To me, it's pretty much the same format as Carpool, but shorter.

Also... is Red Dwarf XI happening?

bobbyllew111 karma

I was a little surprised when I first saw it how closely 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' was to Carpool, but then again, lots of people have put cameras in cars and recorded conversations before Carpool, so I can't really 'copyright' the idea. I think there's room for both and I'm making new episodes of Carpool very soon.

simon76p10 karma

Hi Rob, what ever happened to the Red Dwarf movie and is there any new Red Dwarf in our future ?

bobbyllew118 karma

Red Dwarf movie was in pre-production in.... 2001. I can't see it happening but never say never. Red Dwarf XI is on the cards, as to exactly when we are all in a studio together and actually recording it is anyones guess but it is coming.

pjdavis10 karma

How was it filming the US pilot for Red Dwarf? Did you think it would take off in the US, or did you feel like it was going to be terrible from the get-go?

bobbyllew120 karma

I was kind of thrown in the deep end on the Red Dwarf pilot, it was back in 1992 so some of the events are a bit hazy now. I had no way of judging if it would succeed or fail, on the night of the 1st recording it felt pretty good, the audience loved it, but then it was mostly an audience of TV professionals and the producers. The whole thing was a very bizarre experience for a gormless Brit

DP_in_Space9 karma

Used to love Scrapheap Challenge, good Sunday night TV when I was at university. Any chance of a comeback?

EDIT: I suppose I should say "Hi Robert" and "thanks for the AMA" :)

bobbyllew118 karma

If it were up to me Scrapheap would still be running, most likely with another presenter because I'm a bit knackered. I did it for 10 years and loved every minute but I wanted to move on. It's a great shame there aren't more engineering/science shows on TV. I'm trying my best to get something on again, but currently I can't see scrapheap coming back.

KingRichard769 karma

Hey there Bobby :) How's it all going?

bobbyllew121 karma

It's all going very well, I've managed to get my lamb korma in the slow cooker before I sat down, dogs walked, kitchen clean, chickens shut away and it's not raining. All in all, not bad. Hope you are okay too :-)

bobbyllew18 karma

I'm exhausted now, if only I could write books as fast as I've been answering I'd be like Stephen King! Thanks so much for all the questions, I haven't been plugging but do check out my sci-fi trilogy, there is still time to order 1st editions (signed) of News from the Clouds, the final book in the series. It's on Unbound, you'll know how to find it, you are all clearly very clever

emptybag7 karma

Hi Robert! Looking beyond electric cars... What are your thoughts on self-driving cars?

bobbyllew110 karma

Having been in a few self driving cars, they take getting used to but clearly it's going to happen. I was in a self parking Volvo yesterday, it parked perfectly every time, no dents or scratches. Machines are very good at that kind of thing. It's clearly going to happen and it raises many moral questions but on the whole, I believe machines will be better at driving than 99% of humanoids

offerfoxache6 karma

Hi Robert, Two questions, if I may.

1) given that Scotland is the windiest country in Europe, how long will it be before we properly harness this form of green energy and have it supplying our needs?

2) how many Space Corps directives do you still remember?

bobbyllew120 karma

I'll answer the 2nd one first. No, I couldn't even remember them on the night. Wait, one has come back to me! 'No officer in the Space Corps with false teeth can perform oral sex in zero gravity.' 1st question. There is no question the entire (present) UK could generate all the electricity we need from wind. It would obviously require considerable investment but we are blessed with 40% of Europe's wind, we have huge coastal areas and the technology is improving all the time. On the other hand, with the current attitudes and pressure from existing power suppliers it's going to be a long slow increase.

kingzilch6 karma

Hi Rob! I loved your book Thin He Was And Filthy-Haired! Will you be writing anything more in that vein? And, of course, any more news on Red Dwarf XI?

bobbyllew14 karma

I am just starting to work on a kind of autobiography but not in the traditional sense of 'when I was 12 I went to school' more of a rumination on life and what I've learned as a bloke

Sneezingnow5 karma

Hello Mr Llewellyn, thank you for doing this!

If (when, please please please please please) Red Dwarf XI and beyond happen, will you add more chapters to The Man in the Rubber Mask?

bobbyllew14 karma

If and when we do Red Dwarf XI and it is on the cards, I suppose I will have to write another chapter in Man in the Rubber Mask :-)

maninsuitcase5 karma

I met you at a scrap heap special at beaulie which was a great day out. Was great to meet you.

Regarding electric cars what do you think can be done to help bring them to more home? Is it simply a case of cost still or is there a problem with education (range anxiety etc) or infrastructure?

bobbyllew110 karma

It's a bit of all those things. 'Range Anxiety' (a term coined by General Motors PR dept when they withdrew the EV1 and launched the civilian Hummer) lasts for about 1 week. After that you don't think about it unless the BBC does a report on electric cars and they ALWAYS bang on about it. Infrastructure is an issue but it is already fairly widespread, no doubt that if there were millions of electric cars we've barely scratched the surface regarding charge points, but it's growing all the time. Education is the hardest one, if you've never driven an EV and someone tells you it's no good, you'll get range anxiety, the batteries blow up, they run out, they need to be thrown in landfill, the electricity comes from burning coal, and on and on and so on, then you have no experience to tell you this is all nonsense. Maybe that's why I've been banging on about it for 5 years :-)

clammybadger5 karma

What piece of technology from Red Dwarf would you most like to see being invented?

bobbyllew112 karma

A flat pack self assembly Swedish rejuvenation shower, but I'd follow the instructions carefully

Lilstat883 karma

What's the weirdest request you have ever gotten from a fan?

bobbyllew118 karma

When Craig Charles and I were in Seattle signing autographs, a very pregnant woman asked us to sign her belly. We did so, she gave birth that night and her husband sent us a polaroid (this was in the days before phone cams) of our signatures all small and titchy. That was quite weird, and I know there is now a young man in Seattle whose middle names are Lister Rimmer Kryten Cat

executiverocker3 karma

How excited are you about Formula E?

bobbyllew111 karma

Formula E is incredible, it's ground breaking and exceptional. What the FIA are doing is jump starting a global understanding of what EV's are capable of. The technology already developed is a couple of years ahead of anything on the market currently. I've only briefly seen a Formula E car running at speed. They are FAST. Really looking forward to the season,

bacala2 karma

How would you convince someone to buy an electric car who loves driving, loves gear changing, loves the exhaust note?

bobbyllew16 karma

I wouldn't try, I'd say 'I drive an electric car so that there's more petrol left for you to change gear, make a lot of noise (and smoke) and be happy. However, if you do get the chance to have a go in an electric car, take it, you might be surprised.

Xandrian2 karma

Hi Rob! Which book did you find the most enjoyable to write and do research for out of the News from...Trilogy? Also, are you any closer to finishing News from the Clouds now it's been fully funded? I can't wait to find out what happens! Hope you're having a lovely day, and thanks very much for doing this AMA :)

bobbyllew13 karma

All three books pointed me in very different directions as far as research went, I'm an avid reader and I delved into all manner of esoteric subjects when I was writing them. I have finished the 1st draft of News from the Clouds, I'm about to start the hopefully minor re-writes after a meeting with my editor, however, she has just told me she thinks it's the best of the three which is very reassuring. So happy to hear you liked Gardenia and Squares, you are going to love Clouds.

Corabal2 karma

Hi Rob, Where do you see energy saving technology in 20 years time, more prominent and mainstream or still on the rise? A pleasure to speak to you, did want to see you at a con once but was too late and only managed a brief hello.

bobbyllew16 karma

I think the two things we are going to see really take off in the next 5-10 years are energy saving systems, low energy systems (electric cars being a good example) and energy storage. All this I believe will be small scale and widely distributed, widely owned and not centralised. We need to generate energy close to the end user, store energy locally while still linked to a national grid.

beardedian2 karma

How does it feel to have a blue plaque?

bobbyllew13 karma

I was very embarrassed but it was great fun. Ross Noble is mad as a cut snake but he's a lovely bloke. It was bonkers but great.

BobbyDavros2 karma

I know you have a keen eye on Formula E but what do you make of the changes F1 has made this year with it's Hybrid Petrol Electric engines and thermal and kinetic energy recovery?

bobbyllew13 karma

My scant knowledge of Formula 1 is that the changes they have made are brilliant. Having to complete the race without running out of fuel is genius, no refills! The engineering breakthroughs with the engines and management systems are incredible.

Trunk_z2 karma


Firstly, thank-you for Scrapheap challenge - I always used to look forward to that when I was younger! And, from my partner, thankyou for Red Dwarf (she can watch them over and over).

And from both of us, thank-you for your inspiring series about EVs in general, we have a test drive in a LEAF in Swindon next Saturday (really looking forward to it!) and, once we have moved house, we will be purchasing one!

But what colour shall we buy? We were thinking blue...

bobbyllew12 karma

The blue is good, I rather like the black but it does show the dirt

beardedian2 karma

Do you know what you are doing?.

bobbyllew13 karma


hailmattyhall2 karma

Do you think programmes like Scrapheap Challenge, Mythbusters etc increase the number of people getting into engineering, maths and science?

bobbyllew18 karma

I don't think they do, I know they do. We met a lot of lecturers, teachers from Universities and colleges who all said their intake had gone up since Scrapheap started. I've met loads of engineers who told me they decided on engineering after watching the show as kids.

jstanton88691 karma

Hi Robert, What's happening with Fully Charged? Still going?

bobbyllew16 karma

It will still be going, I am right in the middle of a very busy period filming stuff for ITV about Formula E and electric car tech and all sorts of techy goodness. I will certainly be doing more Fully Charged as soon as I can.

RamsesThePigeon1 karma


bobbyllew13 karma

Getting hungry, I've pre cooked supper, it smells gooood

por-nor-she1 karma

Hi Robert, great to see you on reddit!

What do you think will be the next hurdle to pass in regards to the UK adopting more electric cars? Is there something really obvious you see that the current government is missing? Also, any chance of an electric car scrap heap special?

Love your work, thanks!

bobbyllew13 karma

I've answered some of your question already, but I would love to do a one off Scrapheap Electric car special. I can't see it happening but if it did, I'd be hammering on the rusty gates to get in. Briefly, the more people who see electric cars on the road, know someone who drives on, try one out, the faster they will be adopted. The sales increase this year over last is huge, they are coming.

jstanton88691 karma

Are you thinking about doing a Fully Charged about the tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay? - amazing project

bobbyllew13 karma

Now you've reminded me about it yes, I have a long list of things I want to cover on Fully Charged, all down to time/budget but it's a brilliant project

handsthestrangler-7 karma

What do you think of the federal reserve? What do you think of the militarization of America's local police forces? What do you think of the 2nd and fourth amendment? What do you think are most important issue facing Americans today?

bobbyllew19 karma

I love these questions, I don't think I can answer any of them, I would say the Federal Reserve is very important, it's deeply sad that local police forces are being militarized, I have heard of the 2nd amendment but don't have a clue what the 4th is, but finally I'd say, like the rest of us, the future of our essential resources, water, food, energy. Any good?