Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is 42 years old!

4 minutes 55 seconds average read (983 words)


As I said in recent(ish) talk, The Hitchhiker's Guide to Progressive Web Apps.

At 10:30 pm on the 8th of March 1978 Douglas Adams invented the iPhone and Wikipedia.

It was not for a number of years until the world actually caught up with his mind. I feel that Steve Jobs totalled missed out on not naming the iPhone and/or the iPad, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I feel it would have been way more successful than it actually was.

The Radio Series

The radio series was the first incarnation of H2G2 and was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 22:30 8 March 1978.

The first series, now called the Primary Phase was in 6 parts, episodes or as it was actually Fits. I feel I know quite a lot about Hitchhiker's, but for the life of me I have no idea why the episodes were called fits. With help from my great friend and fellow Douglas-a-holic, I now know that the use of fits is a tribute to Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, where each chapter is called a Fit.

There have since been 4 more phases:

Although only the Primary Phase and Secondary Phase's were written by Douglas Adams. The Tertiary to Quintessential Phases released after he'd died in 2004

The Book

This is actually how I was first introduce to Hitchhiker's by my cousin Sandra, after all BBC Radio 4 10:30pm for 8 year old was a bit late and not the kind of late that Slartibartfast threatened Arthur with.

I loved this book so much, I read it and reread it. I still do to this day.

When I was at school I was terrible at English, many years later found out I have dyslexia. Due to the class I was in I got to fail my English O'Level 3 times before the age of 16. When I moved on to Sixth I had to carry on failing English. It wasn't until the sixth time that I actually passed. That sixth time, part of the exam I had to read a passage of text. The passage I was give was chapter 8 of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I asked the examiner: "Are you sure you want me to read this?". I'm positive that if it hadn't been that passage I'd still to this day be sitting my English exam.

The Vinyl LPs

The 2 LPs released in 1979 and 1980 were sections of the Radio Series edited into albums, totally new recordings of revised scripts from series 1. The great thing about this is that I've often sampled and mixed these into DJ sets and mixes and do so to this day.

The TV Series

The TV Series was launched on BBC2 in January and February 1981.

The work in making the book into a visual experience was an absolute delight. While it looks like it's all done with computer graphics, it is in fact completely hand drawn and then each line or letter exposed one by one.

The Towel

In the world of Hitchhiker's fans the Towel is quite possibly the most sort after version. It is not actually the book on a towel but The Book's definition of a Towel and how it is:

is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have.

The Video Game

The game will kill you frequently. It's a bit mean like that.

Released in 1984, this is the hardest game that has ever been created. You die and die and die and die and die, even if you know the story inside out.

The BBC now have an online version of this game where you yourself can die repeatedly.

The Film

Douglas tried many many time to get Hitchhiker's, made into a film. It eventually was but not until after his death.

There are few scenes in the film written by Douglas and they are by far the funniest of the whole film.

There is also a staircase in the film set that is based entirely on Douglas's nose.

The Stage Show

In the summer of 2012 the cast of the Original Radio Series was brought back together to perform a stage version. Each product a different person was brought in to play The Book. When I went to see this at Cambridge Corn Exchange, John Lloyd Narrated The Book.

But which is my favourite?

This is something that I've been asked/thought about many times. Really I don't have a favourite, they are all different, the most important thing is the work of Douglas. This is why the Film and Tertiary to Quintessential Phases, in my opinion don't live up to the rest.

Saying that I do have a favourite scene, sketch, part whatever it's called and that is the sudden formation of a sperm whale and bowl of petunias.

You've never experienced any form of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, then I can highly recommend it. Just do not blame me if you get hooked.

Currently BBC Radio 4 Extra has the Primary Phase available on catch up, you can also find it on the BBC Sounds App.


Many thanks to Cassie Evans for letting me use her Marvin Codepen for the Heading, try hovering over it.

Many thanks to Mike for the explanation of Fits and pointing out that the Vinyl LPs were actually rerecords from the original scripts.

Many thanks also to Douglas Adams, for pretty much every in the world.

So long and thanks for all the fish