back to article Grab a towel and pour yourself a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster because The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is 42

The weekend marked the 42nd anniversary of the first broadcast of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the hugely influential BBC radio show. 42 is a significant number for fans of the innovative series by Douglas Adams so (carefully) pour yourself a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, wrap yourself in a towel and join The Register …

  1. PeeKay

    And there I am just finishing all 5 books in time for the answer. Nice.

    1. Psion1k

      Technically, there are SIX books in the "trilogy", though only five by the man himself:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_Another_Thing..._(novel)

  2. Steven Raith

    Some further reading

    The Salmon of Doubt (ISBN 0-330-32312-1) is worth a look as well, as it contains about a third of the proposed third Dirk Gently novel, and also has loads of Adams' collected writings (early and later), memos to other people, musings on tech, and lots of generally very interesting, entertaining stuff.

    I've mislaid my copy. Must pick up another one some time soon.

    Steven "Someone Elses Problem" R

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Some further reading

      And indeed if those with access to iPlayer want some further listening, there was a whole series of programmes last night on BBC Radio 4 Extra celebrating this very anniversary:

      Click here for them.

      And certainly agree on Salmon of Doubt. Just a sad reminder of his passing and that the master will never finish the work though and what might have been. But then it would also have needed more hotel room lock-ins probably anyway.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    fun facts

    I owe both english and french versions of the series, the only books' serie I've read more than a dozen times.

    Here goes:

    - the french version's verso states "traduit par XXX, qui a beaucoup souffert", aka, "translated by XXX, who suffered a lot". Heck, as a native french, I'd have suffered a lot as well

    - Arthur Dent is Arthur Accroc in french (doesn't really makes sense), Ford Prefect is Ford Escort (makes sense since we never saw the Prefect, here), and Zaphod Beeblebrox is Zappy Bibicy (BBC) and Slarstiblarfast is Saloprilopette if I recall ...

    Anyway, best books I've ever read, really. I'll go read them again. Every time, I roll over the floor from laughter :)

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: fun facts

      I'm the same way with the Dune series, English and German books and the Audible series in German.

      I loved THHGTTG when I was growing up. I had the radio plays on cassette and listened to them on the bus every day going to college. I bought some anniversary version of the book (all parts in one bound edition). I also have the first part in German.

      The TV series was okay, but the film was a real disaster, and I'm not talking about Disaster Area here.

      I even had the Infocom adventure game for my Amstrad.

      1. el_oscuro

        Re: fun facts

        You can play the game now on BBC:

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1g84m0sXpnNCv84GpN2PLZG/the-game-30th-anniversary-edition

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        I remember drooling (well, not literally, nor a spilled coffee cup) over the tape boxset in the BBC shop in Belfast while a young teen.

        The £80 pricetag was rather steep I thought.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: fun facts

      The way some names are "translated" into various languages is sometimes astounding. For Dutch:

      Arthur Dent - Hugo Veld

      Ford Prefect - Amro Bank (yes, that bank, currently part of ABN AMRO)

      Zephod Beeblebrox - Zaphod Bijsterbuil

      Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster - Pangalaktische Huigvergruizer

      EDIT: And cricket was replaced by hockey as just about nobody in the Netherlands understands it, leave alone playing it.

      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        How do they translate "Gin and Tonic?"

        1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

          Re: fun facts

          Ouisghian Zodah

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: fun facts

          How do they translate "Gin and Tonic?"

          "Gin en tonic".

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        I don't know why the Dutch needed a translation when they speak better English than most English people.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: fun facts

          I first read it at the ripe old age of 12, when I was just starting on English. And contrary to popular believe (even here in the Netherlands), not all Dutch are fluent in English. It is however getting better in the younger generations.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: fun facts

            "And contrary to popular believe (even here in the Netherlands), not all Dutch are fluent in English."

            I belief you.

            1. scarletherring

              Re: fun facts

              > I belief you.

              Huh. Does it count as Muphry's law when it's deliberate?

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: fun facts

                The deliberate mispleling/typoe/fat figner when correcting someone is tradition, indicating that the writer acknowledges that he, too, is only human and also makes misteaks. Goes back to BBSes, before USENET.

                1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

                  Re: fun facts

                  Or to quote 1971's Monty Python's Big Red Book (which is blue):

                  "Can YOU spot the deliferate mistale?!"

                2. dajames Silver badge

                  Re: fun facts

                  The deliberate mispleling/typoe/fat figner when correcting someone is tradition, indicating that the writer acknowledges that he, too, is only human and also makes misteaks. Goes back to BBSes, before USENET.

                  ... and when it's not deliberate it's more properly known as Skitt's Law (Wikipedia link to Murphy's Law -- see second bullet point).

        2. Celeste Reinard

          Re: fun facts

          Since you got already 42 thumbs-up, I leave it at that.

      3. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        And cricket was replaced by hockey as just about nobody in the Netherlands understands it.

        The French version kept it as Krikkit. But since this sounds like 'krik-it', whereas in French we make 'cricket' rhyme with 'trumpet', it took me years to make the connection and I missed all the cricket related jokes (the Wikkit Gate, the pillars, the Ashes...).

        1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: in French we make 'cricket' rhyme with 'trumpet'

          Eh? Eating tea and crickets?

          eg, endless repetitions of all Enid Blyton's boys and girls having big adventures then coming safely home in the afternoon to Mother laying out a feast of tea and hot buttered crickets?

          No wonder you were confused. You may even have missed some of the books' cultural allusions or abogshuns.

      4. Dave559

        Re: fun facts

        It seems strange for them to translate Zaphod Beeblebrox, since it's an alien name to start with! ;-)

        (And cricket is even a slightly foreign concept if you are British, but not English... I guess we didn't acquire the right ancestral programming from the mice...)

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: fun facts

          Ahem, I live in Dundee every summer he thwack of leather on willow and cries of 'howzat?' float over the back fence. Forfarshire Cricket Club in fact.

          Perhaps that occasion recently when the Scotland cricket team beat England in Edinburgh has been expunged from your mind?

          1. Dr. G. Freeman

            Re: fun facts

            As a fellow Dundonian, (Who managed to escape North), the only time I knew of cricket was when one of my learned colleagues in the great learning establishment Whitfield High, acquired a cricket bat for our continued disagreements with, well every other school in the area.

            More leathering Willo than "leather on willow".

            Didn't stop me writing my Higher English report on Hitch-hikers'.

          2. Dave559

            Re: fun facts

            Of course I'm not saying that nobody in other parts of the UK plays cricket, but it is undeniably a very much less commonly played sport in the other countries of the UK than it is in England.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
              Angel

              Re: than it is in England O! that fabled England of hazy lazy long summer evenings' village cricket

              My favourite cricket team of englishness:

              The Hammer Bottom Butsers Cricket Club

              Both Butsers and Hammer Bottom are real places where I used to live in Engerland. Another local cricket club reviewed their appearance with: "They are however charming people and, on the day, deserved losers".

              They then embarked on a world tour (see link). Seriously. They had all sorts of scrapes and adventures, and met ever so many interesting people. And played jolly good cricket.

              Importantly, they lost heroically to Tikli Bottom.

              A sad day for their dry cleaners; a glorious day for English humour.

      5. smudge Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        EDIT: And cricket was replaced by hockey as just about nobody in the Netherlands understands it, leave alone playing it.

        And yet I can remember the Netherlands beating England in some international cricket tournament.

        I am sure that someone from the Barmy Army can remind us of when that was :)

      6. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        EDIT: And cricket was replaced by hockey as just about nobody in the Netherlands understands it, leave alone playing it

        This sentiment isn't entirely misplaced in the UK either... five days of play and still a "draw" on top of normal scoring requiring a deep background in statistics to try to begin to work out what the hell is going on.

        On the other hand... sunny days and beer. Can't complain about that side of it.

        1. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: fun facts

          What the hell is going on? Beers in the sunshine. You already know the answer, you just hadn't twigged.

      7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        And Slartibartfast was Magdiragdag, as I recall

        1. Tweetiepooh

          Re: fun facts

          According to the Radio Scripts book Slartibartfast's original name was ...

          Adams wanted to give him a name "anybody would be sad to have ... gross as it possibly could...broadcastable...started with something ... completely unbroadcastable...PHARTIPHUKBORLZ"

      8. IceC0ld Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        EDIT - and cricket replaced by hockey as just about nobody in the Netherlands understands it, leave alone playing it .........

        and you think WE do ???

        as far as I can tell, it's the English version of a rain dance, two teams descend onto a green arena, they prepare to 'battle' it out over five days ...................

        but it is generally stopped by rain, as even the gods have had enough after a couple of hours LOL

    3. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: fun facts

      Arthur Dent is Arthur Accroc in french (doesn't really makes sense)

      I think it does if you think of an "accroc" as a slight damage. Plus "croc" and "dent" both mean "tooth" in French, so you have another similarity.

      1. Celeste Reinard

        Re: fun facts

        An 'accroc' is also an 'addict'. On drugs, or a hobby. One just never knows wat goes on in the minds of translaters. ... from 'accrocher', hang up. Accroc is also a tear in vêtements, or a problem. Accrocher (now I am in the dic) also means 'collision'. 'Accrocher une voiture' - collide with a car. > Dent?

    4. Xiox

      Re: fun facts

      How do they translate Belgium?

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: fun facts

        My guess, They don't....

    5. Jeffrey Nonken

      Re: fun facts

      "Ford Prefect is Ford Escort (makes sense since we never saw the Prefect, here)"

      Nor did we ever see it here in America, and hardly anybody I know got the joke. Including me. Until a friend who'd spent some time stationed overseas explained the joke. I've passed it along when I can.

      ... But we still seem to have gotten the English version instead of the American version. :)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        I suppose Edsel would have been appropriate.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: fun facts

          It wouldn't, because the Edsel was never sold in the UK. I'm sorry, the US simply cannot be allowed to de-Anglicise everything.

          I did enjoy the Good Omens series, and making Heaven a particularly ghastly US corporation and Gabriel a CEO so like the one I used to work for that I found him actually hard to watch was inspired, but some imported elements would, I think, have grated even if you didn't know the original.

          1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

            Re: and Gabriel a CEO so like the one I used to work for that I found him actually hard to watch

            Likewise, I could never watch Gervais's The Office. That wasn't a comedy, it was a documentary.

      2. stiine Silver badge

        Re: fun facts

        I beg do differ. My grandparents, who lived in Florida, had a Ford Prefect in the late 1950's or very early 1960's.

      3. Liam Proven

        Re: fun facts

        There's one difference, AFAIK.

        In /The Restaurant at the End of the Universe/, a child calls Arthur "a jerk, a complete arsehole". (It's a callback to Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged.)

        In the US edition, this was changed to "a jerk, a complete knee-biter"... such a splendidly irrelevant and contrived epithet that some in the fan club adopted it forthwith.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: fun facts

          "In the US edition, this was changed to "a jerk, a complete knee-biter"... such a splendidly irrelevant and contrived epithet that some in the fan club adopted it forthwith."

          I do find how in broadcast media and print, the US seem to be so incredibly uptight about foul language and nudity, but are happy to splatter blood and mayhem all over the place. There does seem seem to be a major cognitive dissonance at work there.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: fun facts

            A cognitive dissonance that many have pointed out pretty much since the MPAA launched its neurotic ratings system (in 1968). Of course the MPAA had existing models such as the Comics Code Authority (from '54, I think?), though the CCA was a bit more even-handed with its overweening censorship.

            I still recall a mid-1970s article in Science Digest (a pop-science magazine, with the emphasis on pop, though it seemed somewhat more reliable than, say, Popular Mechanics) on "cinematic neurosis", discussing people traumatized by films like The Exorcist and Jaws - films which seem rather tame today - and lambasting the MPAA for its puritanical treatment of sex while doing little to shield children from violence or horror.

            The general opinion seems to be that the MPAA rating system exists primarily to tempt audiences with a suggestion of salaciousness, and to appease some of the dimmer bulbs among the culture warriors on the right.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: fun facts

            Check the 'Very Bad Words' podcast series

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fun facts

        'Hotblack Desato' (sp?) could have been 'Gascoigne Pees'

        (they are/were both estate agents(realtors) local to him... Gascoigne Pees is funnier, but I think Hotblack had more branches so more people would have got the joke)

    6. Liam Proven

      Re: fun facts

      There are 2 different French translations. I have both.

      The first, with Arthur Accroc, Zippy Bibicy, etc. are terrible, IMHO.

      The second, done 20 years or more later, are *much* better. I met the translator at a party (appropriately enough)...

      1. Benson's Cycle

        Re: fun facts

        But did all the underwear of the hostess suddenly travel 18 inches sideways?

  4. Marcelo Rodrigues
    Joke

    May the towel be with you!

    No, wait...

    1. AdamT

      Re: May the towel be with you!

      Actually I do still have my original Hitch Hiker towel. It's a decent sized bath/beach towel, not a tea-towel or something like that. It has the "towel bit" from the book on it...

      1. AdamT

        Re: May the towel be with you!

        like this one: https://images.app.goo.gl/z4Qv17G9wPBCMMgz9

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: May the towel be with you!

          Oh hell, I need one of those

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: May the towel be with you!

            Only one? The correct number (and answer) is 42!

        2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

          Re: May the towel be with you!

          I am so jealous my teeth are revolving.

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: May the towel be with you!

        @AdamT - I lost mine...

        1. AdamT

          Re: May the towel be with you!

          Wow - that's so irresponsible it's almost worth a downvote!

          But you seem contrite and have clearly learned your lesson so I shall upvote in sympathy!

      3. stuartnz

        Re: May the towel be with you!

        I got my towel around 1985 when my teenage self decided that joining ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha from the other side of the galaxy (NZ) was a hoopy idea. £25 plus intergalactic P&P when the exchange rate was $3NZ= 1£ meant that the effect on my budget was not unlike have my head smashed in by a slice of lemon, wrapped around a large gold brick. Still totally worth it, if only to be able to say with conviction that I always know where my towel is.

        1. Dapprman

          Re: May the towel be with you!

          I only joined ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha to buy the towel, though by then it was the Don't Panic one. Still use it as my travel towel.

      4. Duffy Moon

        Re: May the towel be with you!

        "Actually I do still have my original Hitch Hiker towel"

        I remember seeing one of those in the window of the old Forbidden Planet shop in Denmark Street. I couldn't afford it at the time (I bought the theme tune single instead), so I am quite jealous. I wonder if someone makes a reproduction...

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: May the towel be with you!

          A friend and I bought ours from Forbidden Planet in Brum, a tenner each around 1983 I think. I still have it, although my youngest child insists on taking it on school trips with him.

  5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Philistine

    I think I'm a philistine. I enjoyed the first book (& TV series and film) but I found the later books dull and boring.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Philistine

      What?

      The opening of the third book is brilliant.

      The bit about Arthur, alone on the prehistoric forests of Islington for five years suddenly meets up with Ford again. He's so glad to have human company again he could almost cry.

      Unfortunately, Ford is an immediately annoying person.

      Then there's the eddies in space time.

      'Eddies in the space time continuum'

      'Then please tell him to come and pick up his sofa'

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Fred Dibnah Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Philistine

      In that case I'm the Philistine's Philistine, because I didn't like the books and I hated the TV series (with a different Ford and Zaphod's rubbish rubber head #2). Film? Nah, the audio's all I need.

      Mine's the one with a set of CDs of original Fits 1-13 in the pocket.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Philistine

        Radio 4 Extra seem to be repeating them again and from what I've seen on the programme's site they have at least the 1st couple of series in the pipeline (plus currently also doing the Hexagonal Phase)

  6. g00ner

    Anyone seen my towel?

    1. JonP

      You mean you don't know where it is?!?!!

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        That frood is not hoopy.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Indeed, I am glad that I don't sass him. He's probably a fan of Vogon poetry.

          1. kventin

            and who isn't?

            (in alphabetical order, please. ask bowerick when he'll do you)

        2. dajames Silver badge
          Headmaster

          That frood is not hoopy.

          ITYM "That frood is not a hoopy".

          It's quite clear from the book that "hoopy" is intended to be a noun, meaning "really together guy":

          ... a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

          — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

          Cf. "Hey, you sass that bloke Ford Prefect, there's a frood who really knows where his towel is".

      2. AdamT

        I do. It's in my towel cupboard. And it's probably getting on for 30 years old now. Or more. Can't quite remember when they were produced.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Anyone seen my towel?

      42 ;)

    3. Celeste Reinard

      That depends. If it was white, I used it as a shroud for the cat of neighbour, Bernice. The blue one I ate (the bit with the maggots), I burned the rest to warm my cold hands and heart, and the green one I fed to the cat (which happened to become -- comatic, somehow... and to make sure, I smothered the poor fellow with a red one). The black one I used as a veil when I was getting married on Postal (Planet Postal, where scientients from all over the galaxy go to get get married for ... what passes for a posh yet highly illegal marriage, but explains a lot about 'Going Postal'. Otherwise I have no further information. Unless it was the brownish one, which had developped into something quite violent, and had to be put down (I clubbed it to death with the femur a smaller dinosaur)(I guess, it could also be the leg of a flying bedroom table) (That was before I got married to it (the table) (hence the veil).

  7. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Maida Vale Studios

    I used to live round the corner from these, and I'm pretty sure it's a converted roller-skating rink, not ice rink (unless the BBC occupies more than one converted rink in W9). Actually, I suppose a thawed-out ice rink is pretty much a roller-skating rink anyway.

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    If there is a Salmon of Doubt

    There should be a prawn of regret.

    In the seventies I was having too much of all kinds of fun to listen to the beeb, so I missed HHGTTG. Douglas Addans though not as prolific as the great Terry Pratchett has left a comparable legacy and I missed the start of it.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: If there is a Salmon of Doubt

      My first introduction to Terry Pratchett was watching him interview Douglas Adams at the Cheltenham literature festival.

      Or possibly my first introduction to Douglas Adams was watching him interview Terry Pratchett. It's been a while now, and my memory isn't what it was.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: If there is a Salmon of Doubt

        and my memory isn't what it was

        Whose is? Why, I remember when..

        What were we talking about again?

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: If there is a Salmon of Doubt

        It probably never was, what it isn't.

      3. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: If there is a Salmon of Doubt

        My first introduction to Adams was Dr Snuggles - a kids cartoon. I was off work with Bronchitis and guzzling Hills Bronchial Balsam and this cartoon cam on the telly and it was absolutely brilliant. I put it down to the morphine acetate in the afore mentioned balsam and only later discovered the H2G2 and even later that he had written some of Dr Snuggles.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: If there is a Salmon of Doubt

      "In the seventies I was having too much of all kinds of fun to listen to the beeb, so I missed HHGTTG."

      You probably missed the adaption of Asimovs Foundation too then. At least nowadays, shows can often be accessed via streaming or be recorded off-air by a timer. (I'm assuming that Sky and Freeview PVRs can record radio as well TV, just like the Virgin Media one can. BBC R4 abd R4Extra still have good drama and comedy most weeks, 4Extra still do the Seventh Dimension (named from when they were Radio 7)

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: If there is a Salmon of Doubt

        If not then get_iplayer certainly can grab radio as well, with a suitable IP address...

  9. Red Ted
    Go

    The explosion at the end of the first episode...

    ...is something I have always wanted to play on a Wembley Stadium sized PA, with the amps wound up to 11.

  10. Kane Silver badge
    Alien

    Anybody fancy a game of...

    ...Krikkit?

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

      Belgium! You actually went there!

      1. el_oscuro

        Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

        This post should be banned for abusive language.

    2. IareFlash

      Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

      I'd love to, then after can we flollop and vollue just for a lark?

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

      I prefer Brockian ultra cricket myself. Far more civilised.

      Ow! Who did that?

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

        "Ow! Who did that?"

        ……………………………………………………………………………..sorry!

    4. lybad

      Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

      Iirc, the Krikkit storyline was actually an unfinished Doctor Who story - and Dirk Gently was based on the infamous Doctor Who Shada story.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

        The Krikkit storyline was indeed a "Dr Who" story, but a fan-fic written when DNA was 14 IIRC, rather then when he was a script editor working on Dr Who. One of the greatest Dr Who stories was The Pirate Planet. It has so many Adamsesque gags in it... it's truly a work of art. Including the drone parrot that shits laser bolts. I kid you not.

        1. lybad

          Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

          And, depending on your take, Pirate Planet, Krikkit Men, Shada, etc have been novelised and published.

        2. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

          Oooh. I forget the name of the episode.

          But another Adams Doctor Who script that actually got made, and was also reused for Dirk Gently was that Tom Baker episode with Lala Ward as Romana set in Paris..

          I just remember Lala Ward in that Parisian schoolgirl outfit the entire episode.

          It's probably eclipsed all else.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

            "But another Adams Doctor Who script that actually got made, and was also reused for Dirk Gently was that Tom Baker episode with Lala Ward as Romana set in Paris..

            I just remember Lala Ward in that Parisian schoolgirl outfit the entire episode."

            Oooh Lalla!

            1. Liam Proven

              Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

              > Oooh Lalla!

              That's Mrs Richard Dawkins to you, peasant.

              1. Benson's Cycle

                Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

                The Hon. Sarah Ward has not been Mrs. Richard Dawkins for years, if indeed she ever used that title.

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

            City of Death. Exquisite. Simply exquisite.

            1. Mooseman Silver badge

              Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

              "Exquisite. Simply exquisite"

              That's art for you.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

                Yes, I see what you mean. Divorced from its function and seen purely as a piece of art, its structure of line and colour is curiously counterpointed by the redundant vestiges of its function. And since it has no call to be here, the art lies in the fact that it *IS* here.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

        Radio 4 Extra got Big Finish Productions to play around and produce a version of Shada. Wasn't that one of Adams' Doctor Who's killed by 70s strike action?

        I'm still amazed by the fact that someone thought it was a good idea to put Douglas Adams in charge of getting other writers to get their Dr Who scripts in on time. Particularly given that Simon Brett only got the script for the pilot of HHGTTG out of him by locking him in a hotel room!

        The radio Hitch Hikers is my favourite thing Adams did. After that, I think I prefer the Dirk Gently books, as they turned out, not as the Shada thing I heard done later on the radio. Although Radio 4 did do a rather brilliant adaptation of those too - with Harry Enfield in the title role.

        Radio 4 also did a nice program called The Workins' of Perkins on Geoffrey Perkins and the great stuff he produced. Listed in iPlayer, but not currently available sadly.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Anybody fancy a game of...

          The BBC finally released Shada as a part animated story. It was seriously camp but very very good.

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    The benefits of working for the company

    I had tapes of the every episode, recorded straight off the PCM feeds to Sutton Coldfield...

    When I worked in BBC News, we would occasionally play Moira Stewarts' continuity announcements to HHGTTG just before she went on air. Never managed to get her to giggle on air, though...

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The benefits of working for the company

      >I had tapes of the every episode, recorded straight off the PCM feeds to Sutton Coldfield...

      I assume that includes the entire live to air first series, (broadcasted on Radio 3 at 10pm on friday nights)?

      Memory says that they forgot to turn on the recorders on one episode which caused subsequent problems as with last minute (ie. minutes before spoken live by the actors) script changes and live sounds, recreating that episode for the replays was fraught.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: The benefits of working for the company

        The first series I acquired some months after transmission; I started work in July 78. The later series and odd filler episodes were from various colleagues working mostly in the presentation studios. H2G2 was very popular among the engineering staff.

        Sadly, my copies were stolen in a car break in many years later, and I was never able to replace them.

        Later published issues had minor changes in the scripts, and copyright issues prevented the use of some of the music, and it just wasn't the same somehow.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: The benefits of working for the company

          "my copies were stolen in a car break in"

          There's a special place in hell ...

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: The benefits of working for the company

      Stuart, Shirley ...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: The benefits of working for the company

        Stuart. My bad; and I worked with her for years... doh. Thanks, Jake.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: The benefits of working for the company

          This reminds me that Scottish spelling was variable until quite recently, and both Stuart and Stewart are variant spellings of "Steward", warden of the hall. It seems Mary, Queen of Scots, changed the spelling to "Stuart" so the French would pronounce it correctly. Sarah Ward, Moira Stuart, we are getting a bit aristocratic here.

          So: not really wrong. And indeed getting it wrong is evidence that you speak sooth, because of course if you hear a name but rarely see it written it is easy to get the variant spelling (which is closer to the original).

    3. Steve Kellett

      Re: The benefits of working for the company

      I had, maybe even "have" if I look hard enough, some second generation copies of the first series taken from the master tapes. A mate at University in '79 or '80 had a Dad who worked at the BBC, and whenever the periodically re-duplicated the master tapes of various radio series a bunch of other recorders would get shoved surreptitiously "on the bus".

      Unfortunately the shops had already shut on the day when his Dad came home from work and asked him if he had and spare cassettes, so all he could do was record over a bunch of beat up mix tapes.

      Still, it was better than the versions I had taken from the line out of a portable radio into the aux socket of a deeply iffy Grundig cassette recorder

  12. D@v3

    listening order

    I have the 13 CD box, which has made several long car journeys much more enjoyable.

    I have also found, that once ripped to your favourite format, shoved in a playlist and put on shuffle, it is still thoroughly entertaining, and only makes slightly less sense than in it's "correct" order, to the point where i have some of the best bits in music playlists, as they always put a smile on my face.

    1. Zarno Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: listening order

      Infinitely improbable they'll play in the "proper" order, for practical purposes.

      I'm too lax to do the math on that shuffle and get actual probability of that happening.

      Need to get another car towel...

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        I have done the calculation

        and can assure you that it is a finite probability.

        So there's no chance of you accidentally finding yourself on Magrathea though you may end up at your destination naked. (Your clothes will be in the boot).

        1. Zarno Bronze badge

          Re: I have done the calculation

          But if my clothes are in the boot, where is the snake going to live, under the bonnet?

          I'll see myself out...

  13. Sweeper

    The Radio Series and Only the Radio Series

    I listened to the first radio series when I was a brand new undergrad who had just discovered Radio 4 on Monday evening at 6.30pm. THHGTTG hit all the right notes, and in all the right order. The actors had great delivery and the whole package was funny and clever at once. Having listened to the series on the Radio, on Tape (both self-recorded and purchased) and CD I can still find new things to chuckle about on the tenth rerun. The first two series were great and series 3 to 5 were not bad either. And it is clear just how big an impact THHGTTG has made when the latest Ben Aaronovitch book starts of with "The Serious Cybernetic Corportation" and then wangles in various other elements. Still worth listening to even now that I live in another universe (Germany and the EU).

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: The Radio Series and Only the Radio Series

      I bought the albums and they are wonderful!

    2. Baroda

      Re: The Radio Series and Only the Radio Series

      I rarely looked at the Radio rather than TV pages of the 'Radio Times', but through sheer luck saw the entry for what I thought would be an interesting Astronomy programme. It was the first episode of HHGTTG broadcast. I was glued to the rest and recorded them. I loved the little additions after each episode which I think (am I right?) are lost from the episodes you can purchase. One that sticks was something like 'and you can hear a repeat of that episode through a wormhole in space on Radio 3 at 10:00pm on 11th March 1958'.

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: The Radio Series and Only the Radio Series

        The announcers' comments are certainly on the BBC CD edition that I have. They are very much part of the episodes as broadcast.

  14. Zebo-the-Fat

    42??

    42 years?? there must be some mistake, I'm not that old! (am I??)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 42??

      Depends on which number base is being used.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: 42??

        Depends on which number base is being used

        Apparently, my wife is currently 39 (more accurately 0x39..). Which is a complete mystery to me as I'm 55 and she's older than me!

      2. DBH

        Re: 42??

        I've chosen to alternate between 20 and 21, by changing the base every second year

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: 42??

          Did you start doing that when you were 203?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 42??

      "42 years?? there must be some mistake, I'm not that old! (am I??)"

      Yes, you are. 42 is also, not entirely but almost coincidentally, the age of the home computer. '77/'78 is arguably when the first ready to use out of the box home computers went on sale, the TRS-80 and Apple II in '77 and the Commodore PET in '78.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: 42??

        Arguably, the first real home computer WAS released in 1977[0], but it wasn't a toy like the TRS-80, Apple II and PET ... it was the Heath H11. A 16-bit PDP11 built for home use. Most of us bought them in kit form, but you could purchased a fully assembled, ready to run version.

        [0] Wiki says '78, but mine was my Xmas present to myself in '77. I have the invoice to prove it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is amazing how many phrases H2G2 introduced into the language. I wonder how many are still used?

    I occasionally make a reference to a problem being "a pink spaceship" or an "SEP" - and not everyone understands the inference. Our company found that problems were being reported - but not being resolved as no one was chasing them. So they decided that whoever reported a problem would own finding a solution. Overnight there were no more problems reported.

    Pots of geraniums and whales are not worth throwing in. "Brain as big as a planet" is a good verbal eyes-roll. Leopards and basements etc are always useful in the face of jobs-worth bureaucracy. Ditto "lemon scented tissues".

    1. Sweeper

      SEP is still a phrase I use a lot, and over the decades it still needs to be explained, but when the acronym is made clear, almost everyone nods their head.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Translation

        "SEP" is another one that got a creative translation as the literal translation would give a rather unwieldy TLA in Dutch, so the translator came up with "NOP" (Niet Ons Probleem - Not Our Problem). It took me ages to internalize the original "SEP" once my English was up to the necessary standard.

    2. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

      It's been so long I don't remember if I came up with SEP on my own or if I read/heard it from the original source (much delayed because not within BBC broadcast range).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Back in the 1960s, one of my Uncles was prone to admonishing us kids to "not make it Someone Else's Problem". You could hear the CAPS in the spoken words. According to him, he picked up the phrase in the Navy, so I suppose it may have originated as military slang.

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Sometimes I use "a whelk's chance in a supernova" or "not worth a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys". Quite often I encounter things which are almost, but not quite, entirely unlike "x".

      And of course last week there was an article on "the biggest bang since the Big One":

      https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51669384

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      A friend of mine is a kitchen designer / cabinet maker. Talking to a couple about what they wanted he said, "and this oak cupboard will go on this wall and hang in the air, just like bricks don't."

      Husband laughs - wife looks bemused, then complains that they're being silly. He should have painted it in Vogon constructor fleet yellowy-green.

  16. DCFusor Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    A code

    One of the many benefits of THHGTTG is that once you know it - and some friends do as well - you have a code, moderately secret, with which to communicate.

    We see it here on the Reg all the time - a fraction of a line from the series will bring a relevant response from all those clued in.

    Few works have had this wide power to transmit context with few bits. While there are some tag lines from popular movies that do the same - none have more than a couple of them that are useful - Hitchhiker's stands out as the most prolific by far (in my opinion).

    Friends and I (at least those who are hoopy froods) use this, Firesign Theatre, and some lines from popular movies in our banter to great amusement, and of course humorous confusion of those present but not in on it all.

    Thanks, Mr Adams!

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: A code

      Yes, and there's probably time for another bath as well.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: A code

      One of the many benefits of THHGTTG is that once you know it - and some friends do as well - you have a code, moderately secret, with which to communicate.

      We see it here on the Reg all the time - a fraction of a line from the series will bring a relevant response from all those clued in.

      Few works have had this wide power to transmit context with few bits. While there are some tag lines from popular movies that do the same - none have more than a couple of them that are useful - Hitchhiker's stands out as the most prolific by far (in my opinion).

      While I admit THHGTTG is pretty prolific, there are others. The reason you don't notice them is because you don't the code. And no, I am not going to tell you those because some of us would like to keep some codes secret. I hope you can grok that.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: A code

        because you don't know the code.

        Somehow that slipped past my editing skills.

      2. stiine Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: A code

        Yessir, Mr Smith.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: A code

        “Thou art god, I am god. All that groks is god.”

    3. Sweeper

      Re: A code

      In one of my earlier jobs back in the nineties myself and a guy who designed CHP plants using Lotus 123 (Excel at the time couldn't handle the vast number of rows he needed) used to spend a lot of time in the tiny kitchen conversing in THHGTTG code whilst making coffee. Everyone else just rolled their eyes as we rolled of goodly chunks of an episode.

    4. Evil Scot

      Re: A code

      You would think that only 1:1,000,000 people might get it. But the odds are more likely 9:10.

    5. Mike Timbers

      Re: A code

      I would argue that Monty Python and the works of Pterry have a similar code.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: A code

        Don't forget some (definitely not all) works of Robert Anson H.

  17. This is not a drill
    Coat

    Douglas Adams predicted the future.

    "New guidance has been issued aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus in Scotland's workplaces.

    The latest advice from Health Protection Scotland urges routine cleaning of phones and keypads."

    hxxps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-51798558

    See two thirds of the population could be wiped out by a virulent diesese caught from a dirty telephone.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

      Especially if the last person to use it was a Vogon.

    2. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

      Time to build those Arks!

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

        The Arks are ready but we're waiting for the sanitizers

        1. Blofeld's Cat

          Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

          "The Arks are ready but we're waiting for the sanitizers"

          And possibly some lemon-soaked paper napkins.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

        All right, wise-guy... you tell us what colour they should be?

        1. This is not a drill

          Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

          Sums up every marketing department ever.

          1. stiine Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

            Lined up neatly against the wall?

    3. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Douglas Adams predicted the future.

      "routine cleaning of phones and keypads"

      My halls of residence in my first year at university were directly opposite a building that proudly announced itself as a telephone sanitising company (in 1981). Always raised a laugh.

  18. dvd

    I was at school when the first series was broadcast. The trailers caused a buzz at school and people listened to it that had never previously even heard of radio 4.

    I was at Newcastle university when series 2 was broadcast. The only place in the halls of residence that we could get a good signal to listen to it was in one corner of the library of Havelock hall, so every week we had to smuggle a ghetto blaster in and surreptitiously record it. As it was in the library we couldn't listen to it real time so we had to take the tapes back to our rooms to listen to it after it was finished. I'd forgotten all about that till just now....

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      The only place in the halls of residence that we could get a good signal to listen to it was in one corner of the library of Havelock hall,

      I thought that all the libraries at Castle Leazes were practically underground in the quad in the middle of each hall?

      1. dvd

        Yeah they were - they were like nuclear bunkers. We couldn't understand it either, but there you go. Eight floors up in our rooms and the signal for radio 4 sucked balls. But practically underground surrounded by (presumably metal framed) buildings it was great.

  19. BitCoward

    I was 8, I remember the BBC hyping it up for ages beforehand. Loved every minute of it, including the wierder Lintilla episodes.

    1. Sweeper

      Nothing weird about Lintilla.

      1. NLCSGRV

        Which one?

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Come on! They're after us!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Who said that? Was it you Allitnil?

  20. TRT Silver badge

    I remember...

    tuning through the radio dial on my new clock radio, late at night after bed time anyway, and finding a crazy radio play about a flying tea cup. I was very young at the time. My physics teacher later introduced me to the series.

    1. Captain Hogwash

      Re: I remember...

      You'll be needing a flying tea pot to go with that cup.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: I remember...

        And, indeed, a flying saucer.

  21. HammerOn1024

    Ah yes...

    The five book trilogy... brilliance. All of it.

  22. Sweeper

    Time travel

    The very first episode - "Keep the change." "From a fiver?" A fiver for 6 pints, now that does take me back to when a pint was around 30p.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Time travel

      I do recall that beer was ten bob a pint when I got to London in 1978 - it was a shock after Yorkshire prices!

      1. Steve Kellett

        Re: Time travel

        Here I can speak with some authority:

        First Pint of bitter purchased under aged in around 1974 in the long gone United Kingdom Pub on Ropergate cost 13p. I reckon we got away with it as we were the only people in there under 60.

        By the time I went to University "daarn saarf" in '78 it had risen meteorically to in a range of 17p (Working Men's Club) to 21p (pseudo posh out of town country Pub).

        Down in Kent it was an astronomically high 26p to 28p a pint!

        It was all rapidly uphill from there. When did Tom Robinson write "Winter of '79"? Sometime in '77 or '78? "A pint of beer. Was still Ted Bob".

        Just like having "77" stenciled on the back of your donkey jacket, that was never going to age well.

        1. Duffy Moon

          Re: Time travel

          Adjusted for inflation, those prices would be (in 2019):

          £1.37 (13p in 1974)

          98p (17p in 1978)

          £1.21 (21p in 1978)

          £1.50 (26p in 1978)

          £1.62 (28p in 1978)

          so, far from rising meteorically, the prices were lower in real terms.

          A few weeks ago, I actually paid £8 for a pint of (admittedly very nice Beavertown Lupuloid IPA) beer!

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Time travel

            When I was a first year at uni, the pub local to the main station at a well-known south coast town was trying to flog off a barrel of Lancashire Mild that it found wasn't popular with the southern crowd. This was back in the days when mild and bitter were cheaper than lager anyway. 50p a pint compared to 85p for a bitter and 90p for a lager (not in the student bars where it was 70p and 80p respectively).

            I failed in my attempt to do them a favour and clear the barrel. But by God, I gave it a damn good go!

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Time travel

            "so, far from rising meteorically, the prices were lower in real terms."

            Duty has risen astronomically. The beer, sans duty, is probably the same price :-)

          3. Mooseman Silver badge

            Re: Time travel

            "Adjusted for inflation"

            Does your calculation include various government alchohol tax rises though?

    2. Mooseman Silver badge

      Re: Time travel

      25p a pint in my student days. You could have a proper night out for a fiver and still have enough left for chips on the way home.

  23. sawatts

    okay who couldn't resist adding a 43rd comment?

    Belgium!

  24. Ol'Peculier

    So was anybody at the British library event yesterday? A fun afternoon with a finale of the second episode been read by people who played on the original radio, TV, and stage shows (the rainbow and also the recent your) Was a fantastic way to spend the day. I'll do a proper review of required when I'm in front of a proper keyboard

  25. Ol'Peculier

    Was anybody at the event at the British library yesterday? Fantastic way to spend an afternoon in the company who knew and worked with Douglas, finishing with a cast reading of the second radio episode by people who had starred on the radio, TV and stage shows. Jon Culshaw was even wearing the original dressing gown!

  26. Marty McFly
    Pint

    Text adventure

    Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy from Infocom. Good times. Back when story writers had to be creative to make up for lack of technology. A strong reliance on the player's imagination to bring the story to life.

    Aaaaah... Trish McMillan, call be Trillian.

  27. Roger Varley

    Even now, when I periodically return to read HHGTTG for the nth time, it's still PeterJones voice I can hear in my head.

    1. Sweeper

      Yes, with his "I don't really have any clue what this is all about" tone of voice. Brilliant.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        That was Simon Jones.

        Simon Jones = Arthur Dent

        Peter Jones = The Book

  28. Eclectic Man

    That Robot ...

    .. can hum like Pink Floyd.

    I still have a, presumably illegal, recording of that scene on Magrathea, since deleted from the series as PF would not allow the BBC to use their music :o(

    Any otherwise law-abiding denizens of el Reg prepared to own up to it too?

    1. matthewdjb

      Re: That Robot ...

      I can own up to that.

    2. smudge Silver badge

      Re: That Robot ...

      Any otherwise law-abiding denizens of el Reg prepared to own up to it too?

      Used to have my own tapes of the broadcasts, but just have the official Beeb CDs now.

      IIRC, the name of the worst poet in the world also had to be changed, either to or from Paul Neil Milne Johnson (IIRC), because the real person named in the first version was not best pleased.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: That Robot ...

        In the books is Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings, iirc.

      2. BanburyBill

        Re: That Robot ...

        You RC. Paul Neil Milne Johnson had to be changed to Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings for exactly that reason. And yes, the real Mr Johnson did write poetry...

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: That Robot ...

          This reminds me of the tale of the two Civil War poets (forget their names) on different sides. The Roundhead one was captured, but the Cavalier one successfully petitioned the king not to have him executed "So that I do not become the worst poet in England."

          Some people just do not understand how publicity works.

  29. DJO Silver badge

    So it goes

    Heard the first episode on a crappy tranny radio

    Next day I bought a stereo tuner.

  30. Lazlo Woodbine Bronze badge

    About to be re-released on vinyl

    This year's Record Shop Day release list includes a brand new remastered vinyl release of the radio series amongst the array of naked cash ins designed solely to relieve hipsters of their cash...

    1. lybad

      Re: About to be re-released on vinyl

      No, it's not the radio series. It's a remaster of the LP that was released after the radio series iirc.

      1. Lazlo Woodbine Bronze badge

        Re: About to be re-released on vinyl

        Haha, thank you, I was misinformed, but this triple album does sound interesting as I've never heard the full cast album recording

        https://recordstoreday.co.uk/releases/rsd-2020/ost-hitchhikers-guide-to-the-galaxy/

        1. lybad

          Re: About to be re-released on vinyl

          I think I borrowed them from a library when I was a kid - probably taped them too, but no idea if I still have the cassette. And if I do, who knows what state it's in.

          The did a second album too, which was probably based on Restaurant, which I don't know if I ever found.

  31. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    I remember...

    Stumbling into this on Radio 4 when I was in my A-level years. Couldn't believe it- incredible mental picture of the universe. Recorded them all to compact cassette. As we were in our final A-level year and post exams, I took some into class to play in our "free" periods - and then found out from the puzzled expressions of my form mates that they really didnt get it.

    At all.

    Their loss.

    Recently downloaded them all again and they still sound great and they're still fresh. (Didn't like the TV series as the visuals didn't match my imagined universe). Also loved Steven Moore as Marvin. Just perfect

    Happy times.

  32. HildyJ Silver badge
    Pint

    Remember the Philosophers

    "What we demand is a total absence of solid facts!"

    Sounds like anyone you know?

    1. el_oscuro

      Re: Remember the Philosophers

      Which side of the pond? Both?

    2. Pseu Donyme

      Re: Remember the Philosophers

      I'm afraid it does; I take this opportunity to condemn the mice for having taken the piss by installing him in his current position.

      1. Sweeper

        Re: Remember the Philosophers

        Both of the "him".

  33. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Fake News Creates False Bases of Operations

    As for the concept itself, legend has it that Adams came up it with while lying tipsy in a field in Innsbruck, looking at the stars and pondering "if only there was a HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

    How very kind and PC but tripping in a field Innsbruck is virtually never like lying tipsy anywhere surely?

  34. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Paul Neil Millstone Jennings

    Or whatever his/her name was.

  35. cdilla

    Rarely does a day go by without a refernce to or memory of the works of DNA brightening up the day.

    42 years. My parents were right - the passing of time only accelerates as you get older.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      the passing of time only accelerates as you get older.

      I've long been convinced that ones perception of time is directly proportional to ones age, so a day for a 5 year old will seem 10 times as long as it would to a 50 years old.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        It is. The brain only bothers to record new stuff. When you are 5 the world is exciting and new and the brain has a great deal of work to do. When you are 50, you are mostly on autopilot. So your memory is that a great deal more happened in a day when you were 5.

  36. Richard Scratcher

    I remember stumbling across the Radio Times magazine's listing (with accompanying illustration) for the show in 1978, when I was a schoolboy. I thought it was going to be some sort of documentary science programme about space. I listened to it in bed that evening and it was so amazingly funny, I just had to go and wake my brother for fear he would miss it.

    Trying to explain the show to my school friends the next day was not easy.

    1. Benson's Cycle

      I was teaching at the time.

      I got to school the next day intending to tell the kids about it, but they wanted to tell me. And it was on late. I think one of the parents was involved in the production and spread the word round.

  37. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    I caught

    the end of the first series when broadcast on the radio... found the xmas special, but what really got me into it was this from the start of the 2nd series

    When Arthur and Ford ask the guide what to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground beneath a giant boulder you cant move with no hope of rescue

    "Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far, however if life hasn't been good to you so far in that you are stuck in a crack in the ground beneath a giant boulder you cant move with no hope of rescue, consider how lucky you are that life isn't going to be bothering you for much longer"

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simply one of best and funniest things ever… mostly

    Because it's interesting to compare different versions. The original radio series, plural, were pure genius. The sound design and music complemented the script beautifully, and I guess achieved just what DA intended. The books were just as good.

    But the TV series was terrible, imho. Never understood why so many people actually liked it. The comic timing, spot-on in the radio series, was weirdly off in the TV adaptation, which ruined it for me. It was made worse by the fact that the script was so close to the radio series, so you *really* noticed the difference.

    The film, on the other hand, was a decent stab at a screen adaptation, in part because it didn't try to stick so close to the radio series.

    And the recent new radio series, adapted from collected bits of DA's unpublished writings (as I recall), was really quite bad. Very disappointing riffs on a hitchhiker theme

    1. Duffy Moon

      "But the TV series was terrible"

      The amazing Rod Lord animations however, did bring a new dimension to the story.

      Personally, I can't bring myself to watch the film. To me, it's an abomination and should never have been made (if it hadn't, maybe Douglas would still be with us).

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        The TV series was pretty good, the animations were wonderful - there was an excited gaggle of programmers trying to work out how they did it all after the first episode, until someone realised it was animation. The film ( I refuse to say "movie") was dire, mostly because if you knew the story it left huge chunks out and made no sense, and if you didn't know the story it made even less sense.

        I remember going to see a play based on the first radio series, complete with a giant inflatable hagunenon (no idea of the spelling!). On a couple of occasions a cast member forgot his lines, the audience just said them for him :)

      2. zogster

        Fair point, the animation was indeed terrific. But it was otherwise a very poor adaptation, and that aspect didn't make up for its shortcomings. The pictures are always better on radio!

      3. stuartnz

        To be fair to the film, which REALLY wasn't great, DNA did die before it was finished, so his input was limited. It did have one strong point for me, the musical rendition of SLATFATF. Also, the shot of the Magrathean workshop 'floor' with a planet being formed as a bust of DNA's head was a nice tribute. Perhaps a kind assessment would be "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike" HHGTTG

    2. OrangeDog

      Most of the most recent series was adapted from And Another Thing, by Eoin Colfer.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        And Another Thing, by Eoin Colfer.

        I tried to read that, recently, but I gave up.

        Whereas Douglas' humour always felt natural and part of the narrative flow, Colfer's felt forced and at times deliberately overt, as if screaming "look at how funny I am!"

  39. ButlerInstitute
    Mushroom

    Studio Audience

    It's interesting the note in the article about not being able to make it with a studio audience.

    At the previous anniversary - not sure whether it was 2 or 7 years ago - there was a broadcast of a version of it done before a studio audience. It was surprisingly indifferent. Not sure whether that was because of a lack of properly mixed-in effects, or just the players' need to wait for the audience laughter to subside.

    Either way it emphasised how essential the lack of studio audience was to the quality of the original.

  40. ButlerInstitute
    Mushroom

    Post-DNA radio versions

    I find the post-DNA radio versions all a bit flat in comparison. DNA managed to instil a curious type of almost-science, and relentless logic, into it that sort of made sense, as well as being funny. The newer ones seem to be more focused on inventing characters whose names are generated in a way reminiscent of the originals. There's nothing like the SEP field, or Bistromathics, in the recent ones.

    1. Benson's Cycle

      Re: Post-DNA radio versions

      Or the reference to Don Cupitt, which I think he rather enjoyed ("Oolon Colluphid").

      The original HHGG was very much like what you would expect if a group of Cambridge undergraduates from a wide range of disciplines congregated around one of their number who had a great gift for picking up ideas and was a literary genius.

    2. Ian 55

      Re: Post-DNA radio versions

      A 'bit' flat? They're embarrassingly awful.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Post-DNA radio versions

        I think they gave them a good go. It's a very high bar they had to meet, after all.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Post-DNA radio versions

      "I find the post-DNA radio versions all a bit flat in comparison. DNA managed to instil a curious type of almost-science, and relentless logic, into it that sort of made sense,"

      Yes, the internal logic of the "world" in which the story is set must make sense. It's what lets down poor or inexperienced writers, especially in the SF and Fantasy fields. You can have wonderful new science, magic spells or whatever, but they have to make sense in the world of the story and not just appear out of nowhere to solve a plot point when the writer has written themselves into a corner. It doesn't matter if the science is silly, so long as it's all consistently silly :-)

  41. TeeCee Gold badge

    Forty-two bloody years??!!??

    I'll have you know I'm feeling terribly depressed.

    I missed the first two episodes and so wrote[1] to the BBC asking when it was to be repeated. I received by return a nice letter stating that there were no plans to do so, hotly pursued the following day be a postcard stating that, due to overwhelming demand[2], a repeat run was starting the following week.

    [1] Yes, we really did that sort of thing back then.

    [2] Yup, actual overwhelming demand caused by real people getting off their fat arses and making a proper effort, not sheep copying someone else's 140 character bleat.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "[2] Yup, actual overwhelming demand caused by real people getting off their fat arses and making a proper effort, not sheep copying someone else's 140 character bleat."

      IIRC it was generally accepted then when people took the time to write in about an issue, there were probably hundreds more who felt the same but for whatever reason, didn't write in. In the modern days of twitter, email and on-line petitions, I think it's generally accepted that for everyone who shows an interest, there may be one or two more like-minded people.

  42. PeteS46

    First Contact

    In 1978 I inhabited a computer-nerd collective called 'Galdor Computing'. (In Surbiton as unlikely as that seems.)

    One Sunday I was cooking late-lunch for the inhabitants (we didn't rise with the larks!) and turned the house radio on, BBC R4 of course, not knowing what was happening apart from it was too late for 'The Archers' (thank your own deity!) And there was something new on, interesting and funny. So I turned on the 'all stations' mode, so everyone in the house, office and mainframe room could hear.

    IIRC, Arthur and Ford were about to be thrown off their transport or have to suffer the Vogon Captain's poetry.

    Gradually the whole crew of Galdor accumulated in the house, to better hear the feed without the noise of the fans cooling several ancient mainframes. Anything that could capture the attention of a disparate crew of bright, technology obsessed nerds should't have been fascinating to the mundane world. But it was!

  43. bed

    From where I lived the nearest stereo transmitter was some way south so a large directional FM aerial was required to receive a signal suitable for both ears.

    Various key words have stuck within the family… brain the size of a planet, pain all down my left diodes, what is that coming towards me – I hope it is friendly, vase of petunias. However, the best one, because I was involved in digitising (using a BBC micro), from admiralty charts, the coastline of Norway, was something to do with crinkly bits and prizes.

    Quite a few years ago I had a 42nd birthday party – because that it was one did.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] the coastline of Norway, was something to do with crinkly bits [...]"

      Slartibartfast was obviously a student of Mandelbrot.

      1. lesession

        I did the Northern Lights coastal voyage last year, and Slartibartfast's work really is worth seeing

  44. zb

    Douglas Adams? Never heard of him. And take it from be that the pan-galactic gargle blaster is over-rated.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      It appears 3 people did not get the joke. Probably from the other ship.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a child in the 1950s it is surprising that I never read the Pooh Bear stories. In the 1980s a Finnish girlfriend introduced me to them as audio books. In return I sent her the BBC H2G2 CDs. She agreed that either Eeyor or Marvin was moonlighting.

  46. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Great times

    I remember my first introduction to the radio series.

    A certain Mouse Trainer was selling off plastic animation sheets from the book on the TV series. Got to see outtakes in Blackpool that were deleted forever a few months later. I'd never heard of the series at that point and so missed the opportunity to get Merch.

    First episode later that week for me was the one where they're inside that marble cup. I was hooked.

    Met Douglas himself a few months later doing book signing in Edinburgh. Only 3 of us there, so we got to ask lots of crazy questions. Later on, I was message boarding him on a London BBS. Sweet.

  47. ecofeco Silver badge

    God I'm old

    Don't panic!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: God I'm old

      I'm even older. That phrase still brings Corporal Jones to mind first and only a few seconds later does HHGTG come to mind.

  48. Blackjack

    Psss....

    The MP3s can de downloaded on archive.org. But keep this between us, okay? And don't forget to carry your towel. And if your towel is gone because Earth exploded, then get a new one.

  49. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    'Tis a pity writers like Adams and Pratchett so rare

    1. jake Silver badge

      If that kind of talent were normal ...

      ... we would undoubtedly find it boring. Or worse.

      1. Celeste Reinard

        Re: If that kind of talent were normal ...

        Being freakishly smart, getting bored is essential to come up with weird stuff and stay alife – or else getting nuts (after one develops a smart and fluffy tail and hang about the trees all day (like a diva on a sofa). ... As I read the comments of his Litterary Agent, I assume DNA was a 'gifted' person, i.e., had problems with focus and related problems... (the brain the size of...). ... It's a small ecology, that creates its own needs. And results. Getting bored with the universe (and its inhabitants) is one, inventing the gargleblaster is another one. (I'll have mine on the rocks, with a bit of napalm, and a little umbrella).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You may enjoy Tom Holt or Robert Rankin.

  50. Local Laddie

    The Game....

    Sigh - I remember the original game by Infocom - available on 5 ¼" floppy disks that you had to boot to play. Text based only and it nearly drove me insane trying to survive in the darkness on my IBM PC/XT with glowing green phosphor letters....

    42 Huh...? Where did the time go...?

  51. Dapprman

    I can thank Blue Peter or Tomorrows World for my love of the series

    Never really read books as a young kid, but either Blue Peter or Tomorrows World had a piece on Zaphod's head just before the TV series came out. I had it watch and an addiction, making more sense than the wearing of digital watches, started for me. First the TV series, then the books as they came out. Only encountered the radio series in the late 1980s when I saw the tape set in a sale (please do not lynch me) and bought them - still may favourite version.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: I can thank Blue Peter or Tomorrows World for my love of the series

      It was Tomorrow's World.

      At least the bit with the animatronic head was on there, with Peter Macann doing the piece if I remember correctly.

  52. cshore

    A schoolfriend and I made Geoffrey Perkins's acquaintance when RadioActive (remember them?) came to perform at our school theatre on their way to Edinburgh. He later organised for us a tour of Broadcasting House. We met him in an editing suite where he and an editor were frantically trying to edit the second series of HHGTTG before RadioActive flew to Australia for a tour the following morning. The floor was knee deep in tape offcuts (the days when all tape editing was done with a razor blade and sticky tape) and he wasn't sure whether they would finish it all in time. I believe they did.

    He did tell us that Douglas Adams suffered from terrible writer's block (fairly well known, I think) and would frequently turn up to recording sessions having written precisely nothing. He would sit in the next room with a stack of carbon paper, writing out the script by hand. It would be taken into the studio and recorded immediately the sheets were torn off the carbon pad. Sheer genius!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Is this the one where his office was a disused lavatory? And the Carbon paper used for script writing was able to run off several copies at once because it was incredibly thin and almost transparent, thus creating the illusion that the scripts were being written on loo roll?

  53. RockBurner

    I remember starting out with the books at school, aged about 12 or 13. 2 friends were pissing themselves with laughter in the library and I asked them to share the joke, never forgotten that. I think, oddly, H2G2 is what got me into science fiction and science in general, it sparked the interest where genuine facts couldn't.

  54. Drat

    Marvin

    When I was a kid my parents sent off for a pack so I could join the Marvin Depreciation Society. It came with a badge with a sad Marvin face on, and a grey Marvin jumper. Except in my pack, they sent a too large jumper with little note saying something like "We are sorry to say we have run out of small jumpers, so have had to send you a large one instead. If you are unhappy please send it back for a full refund". My parents sent it back, but I have always wondered if the wrong size jumper and the note where part of the joke..

    Is there anyone out there with inside information, I would love to know (it is something I ponder on once a year when the rotation of the earth makes my head spin)

  55. Ian 55

    Is there a recording of the first broadcasts somewhere?

    I heard it, and in every broadcast since the mice have sounded 'wrong', but there's been no way to prove it.

    Apparently they hadn't done all of the sound work before the first broadcast - thanks in part to Adams' attitude to deadlines - and the mice were reworked for the second broadcast.

  56. David Nash
    Thumb Up

    DNA in Birmingham

    I met Douglas in a bookshop in Birmingham when I was a student. He was there with co-author Mark Carwardine for a signing of Last Chance to See. A group of us from the RAG society heard he was there and decided to go down dressed in suitably menacing attire and flan him with a plate of shaving-foam, as was the habit back then, as part of the charity fund-raising we did.

    To his huge credit he was well up for it and afterwards signed my copy of the book "with deep hatred and resentment".

  57. RonL

    Floyd

    The PF excerpt is still on the broadcast version. It has only been removed from the CD version. The broadcast version is currently on BBC Sounds for the next 28 days. Note: may be only available in the UK.

    My personal experience of Hitchhikers is of tuning in by accident to episode 4 ( the one with the stupid cops ), and being mightily pissed that I'd missed the first 3 episodes. Fortunately the Beeb realised they were on to a winner, and started a rerun immediately the series finished.

    Ron.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    138 comments and nobody had edited Wikipedia?

    Just did. Anon so you don't get to link my Reg username, capish? :-)

  59. IceC0ld Silver badge

    with various actors shut up in cubicles to record their lines so that voice treatments could be applied later. Occasionally the crew would forget, and much later a plaintive "Can I come out now?" would echo through the control room.

    hmm, I believe this could be used today in several TV shows, bear with me here - Love Island / Big Brother/ I'm a Celebrity et al

    get the cast of those, locked away,and forget about them, ignore the 'plaintive' cries, and keep cameras rolling to record the sordid details to be shown on the next 'it'll be all right on the night' :o)

  60. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Alien

    The other records

    Aside from the original albums, does anyone also remember the Marvin singles?

    Came across them in my student uni days (at University Radio Nottingham) and might have even played them on the air a few times...

    Marvin, Metal Man, Marvin I Love You and Reasons to be Miserable iirc.

  61. wyrddboy

    Article forgot to mention that it was also a comic book series.

    I loved every incarnation of H2G2....including the movie. Loads of Easter eggs in that one. I had custom cricket jerseys made for me and some of my mates....with the BUCC patch, hitcher thumb and 42 prominently displayed on the back when I turned 42 years ago. I wear the Dent jersey. Trillain, Prefect, and Zaphod went to my mates and they about died when I handed it to them. Hitcher for life!

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Controversially I don't think it has stood up well over time at all, read the books recently and really struggled to finish them. I posit that generally the majority of people under 50 think its a bit shit but its "geek cool" to say its brilliant, so everyone does...

    *lights touchpaper and runs away*

  63. Celeste Reinard

    42, Towels, and the rest...

    I got married when I was 42. On planet Africa, that has strangely enough the shape of Rwanda, and tends to be frequented by a 1000 hills, in a little place called Kigali. The claim of Rwandan people being the prettiest people on earth might be an overestimation, but by a negligable percentage. They do speak the most beautiful language - a fact I never see mentioned anywhere (not even chez El Reg, that now being corrected).

    The negligable percentage of overestimation on prettieness explains why my future better half made up the excuse why I couldn't see my future mother-in-law before the wedding - for she was compensating on her own - I believe my better half was afraid about the source that had spawned [her] and I might get second thoughts. ... Thing is, my beloved loves Killing Joke (drums, Rwanda is great with that)... and other (violent) Pock-music, so any fears were redundant. (I don't care so much about my mother-in-law, being nice but truly horrid.)

    I know where my towel is - as I sit on top of it all day, it being draped over my lounge chair, behind my desk, at work as an editor chez Mano Sinistra Publications - the place from which I rule a unverse with 1 inhabitant (a calculation by The Greatest Writer (for being over 2 meters tall) shows that I am 10 to the minus 43 (or something about) devided over all planets, my universe is uninhabited, making it a quiet place without kids.). I don't know where [the towel] comes from, but it's colorful, with an aboriginal patterning, so maybe there's a clue - it originates from an Australia-shaped former prison island, some of my relatives were born - thou I am not sure, since they speak an incomprehensible tongue - what might be a clue. We do communicate telepathically, and thankfully Australia is mostly a desert - we are one.

    The rumour that I clubbed a towel to death with the leg of a table is gratutitous, and can be ignored. I love towels.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020