“In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.
First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Introduction. Douglas Adams.
Originally a series of radio plays, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is arguably one of the greatest contemporary cult hits. Spawning a huge following and a franchise of galactic proportions, from towels to books to TV series and stage plays.
Written by Douglas Adams (1952-2001) in 1978 for BBC 4, the radio series took on a life of its own. The story follows Arthur Dent, whose house is scheduled for demolishing due to the need for a hyperspatial express route, as he escapes the destruction of earth and makes his way across the galaxy with fellow traveller Ford Prefect, as Prefect writes the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, an electronic guide. Romance and tongue in cheek seriousness pervade the story, bringing laughter and a gentle barrage of absurdity. The books, a five-part ‘trilogy’ begun in 1981, are some of the best-selling books of all time.
This wonderful journey is full of witty injunctions against commercialism, random questions about the nature of the universe, religion and time travel in a rambling quest to find the man who runs the universe itself, who, it turns out, lives in a remote rundown shack with a small pet cat.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide has pervaded many areas of pop culture, and there are at least two references to it in the tv series Dr Who. The fourth doctor is reading one of the novels, and the tenth doctor refers to himself as Arthur Dent, as he tries to save the universe Dent style, in his bathrobe and slippers.
This particular stage play stars the original cast of the radio series, with Simon Jones once again reprising the role of Arthur Dent, Geoff McGivern as Ford Prefect, Susan Sheridan as Trillian, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Stephen Moore providing the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android. Although Peter Jones who voice the booked is no longer with us there are various famous voice stepping in, which for Notts is Christopher Timothy who you may remember from his days as James Herriott in All Creatures Great and Small.
Though the stage adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide hasn’t had great success in the past, I have high hopes for Perfectly Normal Production's adaptation, using the popular radio broadcasts as their base rather than the book or films directly. My eager fan fingers are firmly crossed.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live plays at Nottingham's Royal Concert hall on Thursday 21 June 2012.