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The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy All you'll ever
need to know!

From Cult Times #72

The Premise:
Arthur Dent's home is destroyed one Thursday morning, only for him to find his home destroyed on a larger scale when the Earth is demolished by a Vogon Construction Fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Luckily, he is saved from certain death by a friend of his named Ford Prefect who handily turns out not to be from Guildford at all. The pair then has a series of adventures in which, at one point or another, they are often faced with yet more certain death.

After the huge success of his Radio 4 series of the same name in 1978 (the second series appeared in 1979/1980), Douglas Adams developed his ideas for that show into a TV format, re-arranging some events and re-writing or eliminating others.

First Run:
The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy first thumbed a lift with the BBC on January 5th 1981.

Number of Episodes: Six. Plans were afoot for a second six-part effort for a long time, but nothing ever materialized. A Hollywood movie is still allegedly in development.

The Good Guys:
Arthur Dent (Simon Jones), an Earthman very much out of his depth when his planet is blown up; Ford Prefect (David Dixon), a man with a name chosen to blend in and who doesn't come from Earth at all, rather a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse; Zaphod Beeblebrox (Mark Wing-Davey), two-headed, three-armed and hoopy distant relative of Ford with a colossal ego; Trillian (Sandra Dickinson), a scientist from Earth saved by Zaphod who Arthur once met at a party and totally failed to get off with; Marvin (Stephen Moore), paranoid and depressed android. Oh, and The Book (Peter Jones), packed with useful advice.

The Bad Guys:
The ancient Magratheans, who fire missiles at our heroes and cause Arthur's arm to be bruised; two mice who want to dissect Arthur's brain; humane cops who want to kill Zaphod and co (although they'll agonize over it later) and the inhabitants of the Golgafrincham B-Ark, but they're more a danger to themselves and, ultimately, the Earth.

And Isn’t That...
Genre favourite and Doctor Who Black Guardian Valentine Dyall provides several voices and Peter Davison is heavily disguised as the Dish of the Day.

Overdone Clichés:
Oh, come on. One of the most original pieces of Sci-Fi comedy ever? Even the constant threats don't become a cliché.

Fashion Statements:
Slightly naff extra heads, dressing gowns and skimpy red numbers for Trillian. And towels.

Marvin: hating and loathing it

Life, The Universe And Everything...
Episode one is a work of genius, with plenty of outlandish ideas and a lot of plot crammed into a short time. It also contains Arthur's confrontation with the builders ("Mr Dent, have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?" "No, how much?" "None at all.") and the wonderful explanation of the Babelfish and Man's logical battle with God.

"Hate It or Loathe It, You Can't Like It"
The last episode is arguably the weakest, with a rather dull ending that doesn't work that well, no explanation for what happens to everyone except Arthur and Ford, and nowhere near enough Marvin.


BBC2 LogoThe Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy was recently aired on BBC2


Paul Spragg

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Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction.