|Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
(1978) – (Left to right) Douglas Adams, Producer Geoffrey Perkins,
David Tate (Eddie, Benjy Mouse,…), Geoff Mc Guivern (Ford), Mark
Wing-Davey (Zaphod), Simon Jones (Arthur) and Alan Ford (Roos.)
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
is a cultural icon in science-fiction that spawned five books,
stage shows, a 1981 TV series, a computer game, comic books and a major
motion picture. But originally it was just a radio comedy series
written by Douglas Adams (and John Lloyd)
broadcast in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4 in 1978. Originally, it
was part of a proposal called “The Ends of the Earth” which was an anthology of episodes
“each of which would deal with the destruction of the Earth for a
completely different reason”. While writing, Douglas Adams realized he
needed a person on Earth for context and created Arthur Dent and Ford
While many have watched the show, read the books or comics, or saw the
movie many have never actually heard the original broadcast recordings.
While you can buy an excellent collection of the episodes by BBC Audiobooks America, Induced Dyslexia has them available as free MP3s! You can also listen to them streaming online at Radio Nouspace. As the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation says, “Share and enjoy.”
Here is a summary of the 12 episodes according to DouglasAdams.eu:
Episode 1 – “Fit the first” (8th March 1978)
One thursday morning, Arthur Dent, perfectly ordinary earthling,
has to face an awful incident: his house must be demolished to make way
for a bypass. Ford Prefect, a friend who turns out to be an alien from
outer space convinces him to nevertheless go down to the local pub for
a pint and to tell him the most important news he will ever hear: the
end of the world has arrived.
Earth is to be blown up by the vile Vogons to make way for a hyperspace
bypass, but Ford manages to hitch a ride abord one of the Vogon Space
Fleet’s ships. Unfortunately for them, they are quickly discovered, and
the Vogon captain threatens to throw them out into space after having
read them one of his horrible poems.
Episode 2 – “Fit the second” (15th March 1978)
In spite of their best efforts Ford and Arthur get thrown into space, even after the poetry reading.
They are miraculously rescued by the Infinite Improbability Drive
spacecraft the Heart Of Gold, stolen and piloted by Zaphod Beeblebbrox
who is part-time ex-president of the universe and semi-cousin of Ford.
Also aboard the ship are Trillian Macmillan the sexy scientist whom
Arthur already met during a party in Islington (London), Marvin the
manic-depressive and paranoid android, Eddie the ship board computer
who is extremely cool and just as annoying, as well as an incalculable
number of cheerful doors.
Episode 3 – Fit the third (22th March 1978)
Whilst the Heart of Gold is in orbit around the legendary planet of
Magrathea, specialised in the construction of luxury planets, it
becomes the target of an archaic, automatic defense system. Luckily
this mishap ends with only one light injury and the sudden apparition
of a pot of petunias and of a sperm whale.
Shortly afterwards the spaceship lands on Magrathea. Ford, Zaphod and
Trillian go out to explore the planet’s underground installations and
come under heavy attack. Arthur, who stayed behind to guard the
spacecraft, meets Slartibartfast the venrable Magrathean planet coast
line designer who specialises in Fjords. He is currently working on the
second version of the Earth.
Episode 4 – “Fit the fourth” (29th March 1978)
Arthur discovers that the Earth was an organic computer conceived by
white mice, and that it was programmed by the stupendous supercomputer
Deep Thought so as to find the Question to the Ulitmate Answer of Life,
the Universe and Eveything (the answer being 42). Unfortunately, Earth
was destroyed only five short minutes before the program was to finish.
The mice capture Zaphod, Ford and Trillian, but they tag along to the
meal which has been organised for Arthur. As last survivors of the
Earth, Arthur and Trillian are charged with finding the Question to the
Ultimate Answer whih must be hidden somewhere in the matrix of their
minds. The financial and media consequences could indeed be very
Shooty and Bang Bang, two humanist and enlightened cops who are chasing
Zaphod for his theft of the Heart of Gold, interrupt the meeting with
the mice. The cops blow up a computer bank behind which our heros are
hiding out. Is this the end?
Episode 5 – “Fit the fifth” (5th April 1978)
Our four fearless heros find themselves not blasted into the
afterworld, but to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. They were
in fact hiding behind a hyperspace field generator which projected them
into the future.
While they enjoy a few drinks, Marvin telephones them from the
restaurant’s parking lot where he has been waiting for them since a few
million years. They interrupt their meal and go join him. Once there,
they steal a spaceship which later reveals itself to be the admiral’s
flag ship of a combat fleet, hence putting them at the forefront of a
major intergalactic battle.
Episode 6 – “Fit the sixth” (2th April 1978)
(Episode in which we also learn that Arthur’s brother was nibbled to death by an okapi).
The seat in front of the admiral’s control panel is in fact a
Haggunennon of Azizatus 3, a cameleonic race capable of changing form
sevral times whilst just having a meal. Arthur and Ford flee in an
escape pod whilst the others are devoured by the admiral who has turned
into the much feared Ravenous Bug-blatter Beast of Traal.
Our two surviving heros materialise in the hold of the Golgafrincham’s
Ark B, occupied by the frozen bodies of telephone sanitisers,
hairdressers and marketing experts. The spacecraft crash lands on Earth
two million years before it is to be destroyed by the Vogons. Ford and
Arthur find themselves stuck in these prehistoric times with the
defrosted TV producers, insurance salesmen, personel officers and other
“middle men”. These reveal themselves to be the real ancestors of the
human race and thereby falsifying the results of Deep Thought’s program.
Finally, a test with a scrabble game shows that the Question to the
Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything (to which the
answer is 42) would be “what do you get if you multiply six by nine?”
Episode 7 – Fit the seventh (24th December 1978)
(or how to restart a series which the author thought would never continue)
Zaphod Beeblebrox is picked up by a cargo ship filled with copies of
the infamous magazine Play Being (the Haggunennon admiral having taken
the form of an escape pod at the very last moment). He makes his way
towards the Hitch Hiker’s Guide central offices, following his
discovery of a message from the depths of his mind, implanted there by
the only person he loves and admires: himself! This message summons him
to go and find Zarniwoop, the Guide’s editor.
Meanwhile on prehistoric Earth, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are
getting blind drunk and start to see a space ship, which in their state
is much less likely than the apparition of a pink elephant.
Zaphod, delayed by a lift’s remarkable lack of confidence in it’s
future, tries in vain to find Zarniwoop. Instead he meets Roosta, and
soon the whole building is under attack by a swarm of Frogstar robots
sent on his trail. And while Marvin is busy saving Roosta and the
ex-president of the Galaxy, the whole building is uprooted and taken
away to the foul Frogstar.
Episode 8 – “Fit the eighth” (21th January 1980)
Zaphod discovers he is to be put into the Total Perspective Vortex, the
absolute worst torture instrument in the Universe. We later learn he
went to a robot disco, that he was indeed put into the Total
Perspective Vortex and that all he did there was eat a piece of wedding
Arthur and Ford are finally saved by the strange craft they were seeing
in the previous episode. The space ship is piloted by Zaphod himself,
he managed to find them thanks to Ford’s fossilised towel and despite
getting completely drunk two times en route.
Episode 9 – “Fit the ninth” (22th January 1980)
Zaphod, Ford and Arthur find themselves aboard the Heart of Gold once
again. Arthur tries desperately to get a simple cup of tea from a
Nutrimatic dispenser, but all it does is churn out a cup of foul
liquid. The Nutrimatic then taps into Eddie the shipbaord computer’s
banks to try and determine why Arthur likes just a cup of dried leaves
boiled in water.
Whilst all this is incapacitating the computer and hence the ship’s
defense systems, the Heart of Gold is attacked by a fleet of Vogons
under the orders of Zaphod’s personal analyst, Gag Halfrunt.
Zaphod decides, as a last resort attempt, to get help from his family.
He improvises a séance to inkoke the spirit of his grand father who
unwillingly agrees to help them but only on the condition they go out
and find the person who is really running the Universe.
Episode 10 – “Fit the tenth” (23th January 1980)
Our heros are projected out of harm and into a cave (at least that’s
what it appears to be) on the planet of Brontitall. Soon enough though,
they find themselves in a most embarrassing situation: falling down
through the air, thirteen kilometers above the ground.
Arthur, the first to go down, is caught by a giant bird. He discovers
that he fell from what appears to be a gigantic cup which is part of a
monumental statue called “Arthur Dent throwing the Nutrimatic Cup”. He
is then brought to meet the colony of birds living in the ear of his
statue, and the meaning of all this is explained to him by Wise Old
A short while later, Ford and Zaphod also land onto a totally
unsuspecting bird who’s only wrongdoing was to fly by at the very
moment they came through.
Arthur, who decided he’d rather explore the surface of Brontitall than
be talking to a bunch of ranting birds, discovers that the planet is
owned by the powerful Dolmansaxlil Galactic Corporation. He is attacked
by a series of limping foot soldiers, and is then rescued by Lintilla
the brilliant and equally sexy archeologist.
Episode 11 – “Fit the eleventh” (24th January 1980)
Ford and Arthur reach the ground, safe.
Arthur discovers that the Lintilla he’s met is one amongst three
identical Lintillas, or rather amongst 578 000 000 000 Lintillas
following a cloning machine’s malfunction. Hig Hurtenflirst, of the
Dolmansaxlil Shoe Corporation, threatens to ‘revoke’ Arthur and one of
the Lintillas. He then shows them what happened to Brontitall: a
Dolmansaxlil Shoe Shop Intensifier Ray was activated in the general
direction of the planet, setting off the teribble destruction of the
Marvin, the last to fall, was not saved by a bird. From his sheer drop
a large crater was formed. Although feeling in perfect harmony with the
situation of being down a deep dark hole, he nevertheless climbs out to
go and rescue Arthur and one of the Lintillas.
In the meantime, Zaphod and Ford discover a derelict spaceport and a curious vessel.
Episode 12 – “Fit the twelfth” (25th January 1980)
Whilst Arthur and the three Lintillas bear the brunt of an attack, a
strange character called Poodoo appears accompagnied by a priest and
three Allitnils. Two Lintillas and two Allitnils fall in love, get
married and explode in a puff un un-smoke.
Arthur discovers that Poodoo and the priest are employees of the
cloning machine company and that their mission is to ‘revoke’ all of
the Lintillas. Arthur then kills the third Allitnil, who is in fact an
anti-clone, and escapes with Marvin and the remaining Lintilla.
During all this horrible anti stuff, Zaphod and Ford find out that the
curious vessel is filled with passengers placed in suspended animation
whilst their ship awaits an arrival of lemon-soaked paper napkins
supplies. Amongst the passengers they find Zarniwoop the Guide’s
editor. He goes on to explain a part of the complex intrigue whilst
Ford works himself up into a drunken singing frenzy. Zarniwoop reveals
that Zaphod and himself are part of a rebel group that wants to find
out who really rules the Universe. Their mission was to get Zaphod
elected president of the Universe in order to steal the Heart of Gold,
the only ship capable of leading them to the true ruler of the Universe.
Our heros, reunited at last, go and pay a friendly visit to the said
ruler of the Universe, a character called the Man in the Shack. He
reveals that Zaphod was in collusion with the psychiatrists’ consortium
who ordered the destruction of Earth so as to prevent the succesful
solution of the Ultimate Question. Arthur leaves in an angry rage,
taking the Heart of Gold with Marvin and Lintilla aboard, whilst he
leaves Zaphod and Ford behind with the Man in the Shack.
How do you feel about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? When did you first hear of the series? Who’s your favorite character?
You Might Also Like
- Ten Weird Facts About “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: 20th Anniversary Edition
- Old Marvin Meets New Marvin From ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’
- 5 Things I Loved About ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ (and 5 Things I Didn’t)