"This is the story of 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy', perhaps the most remarkable, certainly the most successful book ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor - more popular than 'The Celestial Home Care Omnibus', better selling than '53 Things to Do in Zero Gravity', and more controversial than Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of philosophical blockbusters: 'Where God Went Wrong', 'Some More of God's Greatest Mistakes' and 'Who is this God Person Anyway?'"

‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ is arguably one of the most original shows ever produced, and is both a comedy and a science-fiction milestone. It began life when a rather tall ape-descendent by the name of Douglas Adams was lying drunkenly in a field in Innsbruck while hitchhiking around Europe; looking up at the night sky in a state of happy intoxication, he wondered why no-one had ever written a Hitch-Hiker’s guide to the galaxy, and then promptly forgot all about it. Until, that is, in 1977, when a producer named Simon Brett decided to team up with Adams to come up with an idea for a new radio comedy science fiction series. Their first idea was ‘The Ends of the Earth’, in which each show would end with the Earth being destroyed in a different and interesting way, but this eventually turned into the version of ‘Hitch-Hiker's’ we know today. The radio series was first transmitted in 1978, ran for twelve episodes over two series and a Christmas special, and proved incredibly popular. Of particular note was the excellent casting: Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, Geoffrey McGivern as Ford Prefect and Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox, with Peter Jones giving a sublime performance as the Book itself.

Following the success of the radio show, there then came a succession of books: Adams novelised the first series in the first two, ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’, adding large amounts of new material along the way; he then completely ignored the Christmas special and second series, continuing the story in ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ (which was based on his unused script for a proposed ‘Doctor Who’ movie), ‘So Long and Thanks For All The Fish’, and ‘Mostly Harmless’; as well as this five-part trilogy, there was also a short story, ‘Young Zaphod Pulls It Off’ in a ‘Comic-Relief’ book. More spin-offs swiftly appeared: two records (‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’, largely based on the first two books); a stage play; a computer game; comic books; a towel (!); and even Marvin got in on the act, releasing two singles ‘Marvin’ (B-side ‘Metal Man’) and ‘Reasons To Be Miserable’ (B-side ‘Marvin I Love You’).

In 1980, the BBC began production on a television version, which combined elements of the radio series with bits of the first two books. Graced with a wonderful cast, brilliant scripts, and filled to bursting with special effects, the show is best known - and rightly so - for its amazing computer graphics, used to represent the entries of the Book. Which is quite remarkable, considering that they weren’t computer generated at all, but were actually made by animating reversed-out line drawings on acetate, using lighting gels for the colours. Apart from Zaphod’s second head (an expensive animatronic prop that cost more than the actor’s fee, but which continually broke down) the show still holds up well today, and is a tribute to the cast and crew’s hard work to make something original out of something so already well known.

The remaining books in the Hitch-Hiker 'trilogy' were later adapted as radio plays under the titles of 'The Tertiary Phase' (in 2004, from ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’), 'The Quandary Phase' (in 2005 from ‘So Long and Thanks For All The Fish’) and 'The Quintessential Phase' (in 2005 from ‘Mostly Harmless’); many of the original cast returned, while William Franklyn replaced Peter Jones as the Book in a somewhat disappointingly lacklustre performance. 2005 also saw the release of the first 'Hitch-Hiker's' movie – a relatively good effort that gave an entirely new spin on the well-known story, although it suffered from uninspired casting and a lack of focus (it’s not really the story of the ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, more a case of four-people-and-a-robot-get-mixed-up-in-a-Very-Big-Adventure).

Then, in 2012, ‘The Hitch-Hicker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ returned once more, this time performed live on stage by Simon Jones, Susan Sheridan, Geoff McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey and other original Hitchhiker's cast members under the direction of Dirk Maggs (Douglas's personal choice to complete the saga in its original medium). Touring across the U.K. from the 12th June to 21st July, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show, Live!’ was produced by Dirk Maggs and Simon Jones, and created anew the most enduring version of Douglas Adams’ masterwork in “a radio-style stage show filled with laughter, really wild sound effects and drinks with extremely silly names”!

Sadly, Douglas Adams passed away in 2001, but ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and the many other projects he created over his hugely-prolific career ensure that he will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of his fellow ape-descendants all across the world. Not bad for a man who once cleaned out chicken sheds for a living…

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Radio Series: Season 1
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Radio Series: Christmas Special
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Radio Series: Season 2
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Radio Series: Season 3
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Radio Series: Season 4
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Radio Series: Live
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Television Series
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Movies
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Novels
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Records
The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Computer Game

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Legal Bit: 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' is a registered trademark of BBC Worldwide. The 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' logos and all images from the television series are copyright The BBC unless otherwise stated; music is copyright the original composers and producers; no copyright infringement is intended. All specially created images and text are copyright © Clive Banks; please do not use these without my permission. All rights reserved. No profit is made from this website, and any revenue made from using the banner-links featured goes straight back into the costs of maintaining it, which comes out of my own pocket in the first place. No profit advertising is accepted. This website was created purely to entertain and amuse, and any references to persons living, dead, comatose, in suspended animation, regenerated, not born yet, or a figment of someone's imagination is purely coincidental. All opinions expressed are my own, so there...

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