Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

First there was the radio series, then came the books and then in 1981 the BBC television people finally realised that they really should get in on this galactic guidebook lark. 

For the most part they kept to the cast of the earlier radio play although both Ford Prefect (David Dixon for Geoffrey McGivern) and Trillion (Sandra Dickinson for Susan Sheridan) were recast.

It tells, as I'm sure you know, the story of Arthur Dent (Simon Jones) who, on the day the local council decide to demolish his house in order to build a bypass, discovers that not only is his friend Ford an alien from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of
Betelgeuse but that the Earth is also about to be destroyed in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

Instead of the little lie down he thinks he needs, Arthur finds himself rescued from the doomed Earth and catapaulted across space and time.  Along the way he discovers the importance of towels visits numerous planets and meets a whole host of people of various sizes, shapes, colours and configurations including a very nice girl that he had previously failed to get off with, the ex-Galactic President; the two headed, three armed hedonistic semi-cousin of Ford's called Zaphod Beeblebrox (Mark Wing-Davey), Marvin, a clinically depressed robot (Stephen Moore), a man with an unimportant name who designs fjords (Richard Vernon), the manifestations of a race of hyperintelligent pan-dimensional beings on an aeon long search for the Ultimate Question about life, the universe and everything and the officious and deeply unpleasant Vogons; all of which he does with a fish that disproves the existence of God in his ear.

To help him better understand where he's ended up Ford gives Arthur a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy an electronic and somewhat eccentric electronic book (voiced by Peter Jones) that via little animated entries provide him with snippets of information about the galaxy.

I was a bit too young to catch the radio play so this series was my first exposure to Hitchhiker's and is still my favourite.  From the cast and the acting, through the animation and Paddy Kingsland's incidental music to the wonderful and inventive script, I love it all.

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