Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – The Radio Series
A look at this earth-changing Radio Series, from the pen of Douglas Adams
Back in April 2005, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie opened in screens around the world, introducing the H2G2 phenomenon to a whole new generation (and incidentally taking £4.2 million in it’s first weekend at the box office).
Many may not realise that, far back in the mists of time and space, the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy first appeared as a BBC radio series, with the first episode being broadcast in March of 1978.
This page pays homage to the original radio series, and the newer series, that picks up (almost) where the first two series left off.
Ford & Arthur – Back for the Tertiary Phase on Radio 4
Thanks to Above the Title for the picture
2012 Hitchhikers Guide Live Radio Tour
The original radio show was out on tour in 2012. For more details, go to www.hitchhikerslive.com. Take a look at this short video clip to get a feel for what the 2012 had to offer!
|The ultimate collector’s set!This cube contains all of the dramatised, original radio cast episodes from Series 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. This contains 14 CDs (including a bonus disk), and the discs of the later series contain material not heard in the radio versions.|
The bonus disc contains two programmes from the BBC’s archives: Kaleidoscope from 1980 (behind the scenes of series 2) and Six Characters in Search of an Answer: Arthur Dent, from 2002
Hitchhiker’s Guide Radio Series:
Five series exist in total. Here’s our guide to the Hitchhiker’s Guide Radio Series:
|Series 1 – The Primary Phase||The definitive version, and where it all started. The original six episodes were first broadcast on the 8th March 1978. You’ll find versions of this available on cassette and CD from Amazon and the BBC Shop . Here’s what’s available:|
|Series 2- The Secondary Phase||The first episode, with Ford and Arthur struggling to escape from Earth, and Zaphod on a quest for Zarniwhoop, was a one-off Christmas special broadcast in November 1978. This episode then formed the start of Series 2, which started its run on the 21st January 1980.|
|Series 3 – The Tertiary Phase||Twenty-four years after the original series, there’s more. Series 3 (the Tertiary Phase) reunites many of the original series cast, and is based on Douglas’ third book, “The Restaurant at the end of the Universe” – Based on the Krikket wars.Sadly, Peter Jones (the Guide) and Richard Vernon (Slartifartfast) are no longer with us, so their parts are played by William Franklyn and Richard Griffiths.|
The series is an ‘Above the Title’ production – produced by Bruce Hyman & Helen Chattwell for BBC Radio 4 – It was adapted, directed and co-produced by Dirk Maggs. For more, see Radio 4’s Hitch-hikers page.
Here’s where to get episodes 13 to 18:
|Series 4 – The Quandary Phase||Based on Book 4… “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” – Arthur’s home, and in love with Fenchurch, a girl famous for her lunchtime experience in a café in Rickmansworth.|
Started transmission at 6:30pm May 3rd 2005 on BBC Radio 4. More on the BBC site.Some notes on this series:
Here’s where to get this series:
|Series 5 – The Quintessential Phase||Based on the last Hitchhiker’s book, “Mostly Harmless” – Sees Arthur meeting an unexpected relative, occupants of the planet Rupert, and catches up with Trillian’s TV career. Ford makes a visit to the Guide’s offices and meets the Guide Mark II. Abridged into just four episodes.First episode transmitted on 31st May 2005 on BBC Radio 4.|
Here’s where to get the final series:
Anything to add? Please drop us a mail
Hitchhikers Guide Radio Series Cast:
- Arthur Dent – Simon Jones
- Ford Prefect – Geoffrey McGivern
- Trillian – Susan Sheridan
- Zaphod Beeblebrox – Mark Wing-Davey
- Marvin The Paranoid Android – Stephen Moore
- The Book – Peter Jones (Series 1 & 2) / William Franklyn (Series 3 onwards)
Other H2G2 Radio Series resources:
|Series 1 & 2 Radio ScriptsWonderful to see this back in print, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – The Original Radio Scripts is a must for any fan on the radio series, the first incarnation of the series. This nearly-A4 publication of 260 pages commemorates the 25th anniversary of HHGG and has been updated with new material since the first publication back in 1985. New material includes a lost Hitchhiker’s script and a who’s who.|
The book is dedicated to all BBC Studio Managers, and includes a great insight into the series recording, including how Marvin’s effect loop kept getting lost and trodden on, how they made the choir of robots, and how the last episode nearly didn’t make it air at all. Each episode is listed with original direction notes and effects, plus notes on the recording techniques and problems they encountered during the making of the series. A must-have, and only £8 from Amazon.
|Series 3, 4 & 5 Radio ScriptsThe scripts of the radio dramatisation of the last three books, Life, The Universe And Everything; So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and Mostly Harmless, features Douglas Adams himself, thanks to the wonders of digital technology, and includes new material written by him specially for the radio sequels.|
Publication of the scriptbook ties-in with the radio series climax and became available from Amazon on 1st July 2005.
|Discovery of the year. Found this gem in a disused lavatory at the back of my local MVC store – I thought I’d discovered all of the sources of Hitch-Hiker’s “Making of” material, but this two-hour audio cassette had slipped through the sub-ether net. This BBC twin-cassette box, for about £8, contains interviews with Douglas, Simon Jones, radio producer Geoffrey Perkins, Stephen Moore (Marvin) and a host of others. It explains how the radio series was put together (and nearly didn’t make it to air!).Narrated by Peter Jones, this is a must-have! Presumably this is the extra material that’s now packaged with the MP3 CD (see below). It’s available by mail order from Amazon: Douglas Adams’s Guide to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”|
|Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (MP3-CD). This is a single CD containing 7 and a half hours of Hitchhikers – this includes 6 hours of the original radio series (all 12 episodes), but also included is Douglas Adams’s Guide to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a behind-the-scenes look at the show, a fascinating compilation of anecdotes and interviews. It also features a previously unbroadcast full-length interview with author Douglas Adams.Last seen available for under £20 from the BBC Online Shop|
The TV Series
|OK, so slightly out-of-place for our radio page, but the TV series gives you the option to visualise many of the original radio series cast.The reason for inclusion in this section, is that the DVD bonus disc has an extract from the making of the radio series at the BBC Paris Studio in London’s Lower Regent Street – this includes a very young looking Geoffrey Perkins (Mike Flex from Radio Active), trying to convince Douglas that 2 million robots singing the Share and Enjoy song just may not be do-able.|
The TV series is available on DVD.
Some other handy links:
- The BBC’s Hitch-Hikers Guide page
- Above the Title Productions – The production company responsible for the excellent Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases of the radio series (2004-2005). They’re also responsible for the radio serialisation of Douglas Adam’s other novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, on Radio 4 in 2007.
- Hitch-Hiker’s today – Douglas’ technology realised
- Audible.co.uk– Offering various Hitchhiker’s dramatisations for immediate download
- Merchandise, including DVDs, CDs and cassettes from the BBC Online Shop
- ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha – The Official fan club