IT has taken Hong Kong seven years to get hold of Red Dwarf (Pearl, 6.20pm). The British comedy series was launched in 1988 and has since become a cult in Britain and the United States. Its success is less assured here, largely because viewers will need a thorough knowledge of contemporary British street slang if they are to get full value from it. It is unlikely you will find 'smeghead' and 'let's twat him' in any English-Chinese dictionary. Red Dwarf is an enormous spaceship, cruising around the moons of Saturn with a crew of 169 on board. Before the end of this evening's first episode, 168 of them are dead. The rest of the series takes place 168 million years into the future and it is all downhill from there on. The sole surviving member of the human race is Lister (Craig Charles), inventor of the fried-egg-and-chilli-pickle sandwich and the scruffiest, smelliest individual ever to grace the universe. Fortunately, for the sake of what little sanity he possesses, he is not alone - though he would probably like to be. Holly, the ship's computer (who undergoes a sex change later in the series) has just enough power left in her small brain to sustain a hologram. She chooses Rimmer (Chris Barrie), the twit who was responsible for the accident that killed the rest of the crew. He is the one with the 'H' on his forehead - for hologram. Then there is Cat, a cool creature with a cool wardrobe, the result of three million years of feline evolution inflicted on the original pet Lister smuggled aboard. The last member of this strange crew is Kryten, an android picked up en route. He has a head shaped like a novelty condom and a groinal socket into which he can plug household appliances. There are many splendid moments in Red Dwarf - enough to make it worth watching even if it proves linguistically challenging at times. It is, in point of fact, that rare thing: a cult comedy show which is actually funny. Look out along the way for a number of special guests (though there are none this evening). Among them: Ruby Wax, Koo Stark (former girlfriend of the Duke of York) and Emile Charles (Craig's younger brother). THE 1981 novel Red Dragon, by former crime reporter Thomas Harris, introduced readers to one of the most mesmerising villains in contemporary history: Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter. Dr Lecter later became the focus of Silence Of The Lambs, the gruesome thriller in which Lecter was played by Anthony Hopkins. You may remember that famous line, spoken by Lecter to FBI agent Jodie Foster: 'I do wish we could speak longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner.' Before Silence Of The Lambs came Manhunter (Pearl, 9.30pm), based on Harris' novel. William Peterson is the FBI agent who uses psychology to track down a killer. It is rough around the edges, but thoroughly enjoyable. THERE are no rough edges in Red Sorghum (World, 9.35pm), a Zhang Yimou and Gong Li special which is big on imagery and also on finesse. Li is the young woman who tries against the odds to make a go of her Chinese wine business. Red sorghum, take note, is the main ingredient in Khao Liang, that vodka-like Chinese wine that doubles as rocket fuel. FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: My Life (3.30pm). Michael Keaton is dying of cancer - will he or won't he get to see his unborn child? Sentimentality runs riot. This is the sort of New Age American film that turns every emotion into a therapy-wallow. Only You (7pm). Andrew McCarthy, dumped by his dishy girlfriend of-the-moment, meets sexy Kelly Preston and winds up taking her on a holiday jaunt to an idyllic beach resort. Here he meets a photographer (Helen Hunt) who turns out to be the true-blue love of his life. But what's he going to do with Preston? Friday Gigolo (11pm). Terry Tam (Simon Yam) is a gigolo who gets up to his neck in trouble when a murder is committed near his home. Also starring Yau Yuet-ching.