With a peak audience of over 8 million viewers, as well as - for the first time - a Sunday repeat for each episode, the seventh series of Red Dwarf garnered by far the highest ratings to date.
Once again Valentines Day provided some (coincidental) inspiration, with Blue - the episode which featured that kiss - going out on that day. Previously, Camille (Kryten's love story) had gone out on the auspicious date, and Holoship (Rimmer's own romantic tale) had gone out shortly after it in 1992.
The filming of Red Dwarf VII had been - particularly in comparison to the last couple of series - very comfortable. Scripts were less late, production was better organised and the entire cast remained much happier about the demands the show placed of them. Given this, it was perhaps unsurprising that, even half-way through production, Chris Barrie decided to return for the next season.
In fact, he would return a great deal sooner than that. A video of Red Dwarf VII X-tended was mooted and an additional sequence - a version of Tikka to Ride's ending which had been scripted but discarded for time concerns - was filmed, along with introductions for the tape and Smeg Ups intros for the tenth anniversary special.
The X-tended tape allowed Doug to replace a great deal of footage that had to be removed to fit the allotted transmission time - not the least of which was Craig Charles's favourite moment, the 'Squeaky Gibson' story. Aside from several replaced dialogue sequences, a Voyager spoof effects sequence was returned, as well as title sequences for Ouroboros and Duct Soup - which had broadcast without them to cram in more story. Rather than add 'fake' laughs to the sequences not shown to an audience, the laughter track was removed entirely.
Back in front of a live studio audience, Red Dwarf Night was recorded at the end of 1997 to be shown in February '98. Interviews with key cast and crew (as well as celebrity fans such as Stephen Hawking, Terry Prachett and TV critic Gary Bushell) were filmed for inclusion - along with clips from the show and footage from the last Red Dwarf Weekend - in The Red Dwarf A-Z.
The 1997 Dimension Jump weekend provided inspiration for some of the fans included in the Universe Challenge quiz - sitting alongside fans Daryl Ball, Kaylee Nicholas and Pip Swallow were Quiz Book co-author Sharon Burnett, then Fan Club chairman Steve Rogers. They faced Chris, Craig, Danny, Robert and Chloë...as well as mascot Mr Flibble. The questions (following a pre-recorded Jeremy Paxman impersonation by Chris) were posed by original University Challenge host Bamber Gascoigne.
But before the quiz, the studio audience were treated to one of the weirdest combinations in TV history. Can't Smeg Won't Smeg returned host Ainsley Harriott - who was last seen in series VI as a hairy GELF - to the Red Dwarf fold. After scripted introductions, Chris, Craig, Robert, Danny and Chloë improvised in character as the helpless chef attempted to teach them to make a curry.
Red Dwarf Night was shown with CGI animations of a skutter and the BBC '2' logo falling in love, a collection of Smeg Ups and the broadcast of Emmy Award-winning episode Gunmen of the Apocalypse - all of which were introduced by Star Trek's Patrick Stewart.