It’s a common misconception among casual viewers and non-nerds that there are two Hollys in Red Dwarf. We scoff in the face of such idiocy.
For the truth is there has only ever been one Holly - he merely decided to assume a woman’s face for a while. The face, to be specific, of Hilly - his equivalent in a parallel universe. All of which explains why, despite having a somewhat prettier visage, the female Holly is every bit as gormless - and unhelpful to the crew - as the male Holly. And, just like Norman Lovett, Hattie Hayridge faffed about for years before making the plunge into comedy.
She started off her a career in the much less glamorous role, working in the civil service Her Majesty's Stationary Office. It sounds pretty flash, having Her Maj's approval and all that, but we reckon a career in comedy is much more exciting. After all, staplers are just staplers, even if they are the Queen's. (Note: we know the Stationary Office is about public information and not actual stationary – we were making an extremely poor joke, because it's our website and we can.)
Anyway, at long last Hattie went and made the transition to stand-up comedy. It’s all down to booze; while attending an open mike night in a club, she got loaded on Southern Comfort and improvised a riff about her life as a secretary. It led to her first gig, and within the year she was cast as Hilly on Parallel Universe.
Later, when Lovett decided to move on from the show, Hattie decided to try her hand at winning herself a coveted role on the Red Dwarf team. Luckily for her, Hattie won the role of Holly over other contenders including Kathy Burke, pretty impressive stuff for someone who never intended to be a comedian. Apart from having the most well-known disembodied female head in comedy, the show also allowed Hattie to prove she had the skills to be as vacant and dopey as her male predecessor, dutifully being absolutely useless to Lister, Rimmer and the rest of the gang.
While we all know her as a performer, Hattie's also lent her wit as a scribbler for other stand-ups. In fact, she's written gags for some of the biggest names in the business, including Rory Bremner, Jasper Carrott and Lee Evans. And if you think Red Dwarf was her sole bit of dabbling in sci-fi, then you'd be very much mistaken. Our Hattie was also in the fairly notorious and incredibly cultish series Lexx, noted as much for its peculiarly raunchy storylines as it is for its big spaceships. Even her character's name, Sub-Warden Heidi, sounds a bit kinky to our mucky minds.
More recently, Hattie joined forces with Phill Jupitus and Marcus Brigstocke to complete the UK tour of improvisational comedy show Totally Looped. The show involves comedians dubbing new dialogue over new movies they haven't seen before. It's like that bit in Mock the Week where Hugh Dennis does very amusing voiceovers to news footage, only with movies, and other comedians. If that makes it easier to understand.
Dangerously exciting Red Dwarf fans everywhere, Hattie also reunited with Kryten himself, Robert Llewellyn, for his show Carpool. where she left us this amazing anecdote. Apparently, as she was entering America one time, US Immigration forced her to tell a joke to prove her occupation really was a comedian. She replied, "The reason I'm here is I want to go to Disney Land. The nice bits obviously, not the touristy bits." Somehow we imagine he didn't get it...