It's all too easy to forget Holly. He keeps to himself, he does, always somewhere behind the action, a mere floating head on a screen. And yet... Holly gave us what is quite possibly the best bit in Red Dwarf history. Seriously, think right back. No, further than that. Right back to series one, episode one. Lister's just been released from stasis, after a three million year nap. At which point he's told, by Holly, that everybody's dead. By which he means... everybody. Everybody, Dave. They're all dead, everybody's dead, everybody is dead Dave.
Everything about Holly is summed up in that moment: his deadpan nature, his long-suffering reaction to everybody's idiocy, and his baffling inability to understand when things are looking very, very grim indeed. But then, as the man himself says, you've got to laugh. Especially when you're a ship's computer who once had an IQ of 6,000 but have now been rendered senile and generally peculiar by eons adrift in space. On the plus side, he can do an absolutely wicked moon impression by ducking a bit, and he's well versed in our Earth literature – especially Football, It's a Funny Old Game by Kevin Keegan.
Of course, being a bunch of ungrateful goits, the Dwarfers have tended to take Holly for granted. Why, they've even mocked him for being inept, useless and dangerously stupid – all of which is completely justified, but still. Holly took sweet revenge by pretending to replace himself with a new computer persona, Queeg, who made the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket look like Michaela Strachan. Queeg revealed some terrible truths about Holly – primarily that his IQ was not 6,000 but, er, 6. And that he got his entire knowledge of everything from the "Junior Encyclopaedia of Space". The one with pictures in it. Of course, the crew weren't best pleased when they realised they'd been had with Holly's "April, May, June, July and August Fool" and treated him with complete, overwhelming respect and affection ever since.
We may be exaggerating a little there. But Holly found ways of amusing himself, especially when he met his female alter-ego from a parallel universe, Hilly. Why, there was even a bit of sexy time between the two, in what was the single most perverse moment in computing history since someone accidentally tried to load a Commodore 64 game in a Sinclair Spectrum cassette player. In fact, Holly was so taken with Hilly that he decided to adopt her face as his own. This may come as a surprise to casual Red Dwarf viewers who always thought there were two Hollys. NO, GIMBOIDS. He merely assumed female form, for a BIT.
The "female" Holly had some advantages – not resembling a chronically depressed egg being one of them. She even had her genius restored in one episode, thanks to Kryten's tinkering, but with the slight drawback that it reduced her life expectancy to ohhh... three minutes. Albeit, three minutes with a really cool new haircut. Hair was very much beside the point before long, though, as Holly eventually reverted back to his old, bloke-faced self – this was after the Dwarf was stolen and screwed around with by those pesky nanobots. When the Dwarfers eventually got the ship back and were reunited with Holly, he actually managed the staggering feat of being even more fantastically useless than before – quite unlike the non-senile, scarily pointy-headed Holly who was resurrected along with the rest of the ship.
But what's happened to Holly since those crazy days? Last we knew, his circuits had been totally smegged up due to water damage (blame Lister for that one), so will we ever hear his immortal greeting call of "All right dudes?" ever again? Dunno, but here's a fun little fact from our Fun Little Fact book: in the rubbish US Red Dwarf remake, Holly was played by Daphne off Frasier. How's about that then?