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Don't Panic! BBC launches mobile Hitchhiker's Guide and new interactive Hitchhikers games



Part I: The Mobile Hitchhiker's Guide


Thirty years after Douglas Adams created a mobile guide to Life, the Universe and Everything, the BBC has launched what could truly be described as the world's first real life mobile Hitchhiker's Guide.


A babbling book describing Babel Fish or Vogon Poetry it may not be, but users with the latest smart phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) can now access more than 7,000 edited articles from the BBC's h2g2 site (bbc.co.uk/h2g2) while on the move.


Covering everything from Aardvark to ZZZ the BBC's Guide provides articles from h2g2 researchers around the world, conveniently sorted into the categories of Life (animals, plants, humans), the Universe (geography and space) and Everything (everything else).


For those who know what they're looking for there's a search facility to call up a favourite entry; while for those who prefer serendipity as they surf, the mobile Guide offers a Surprise Me! button that calls up one of more than 7,000 available entries at random.


Tony Ageh, BBC Controller, Internet says: "Douglas Adams was years before his time. But thanks to modern mobile technology, what was once only a hare-brained idea has now become a startling reality.


"The BBC has a long heritage with Hitchhikers - first with the radio play, then the TV series and more recently with the web-based Guide at bbc.co.uk/h2g2 and the mobile Guide simply extends the BBC's connection with this brand and brings it to life in a way I'm sure Douglas would have been proud of."


To access the service from an appropriate mobile device, users should type in www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/h2g2 or text h2g2 to 81010.


Calls will be charged at the usual operator rates.


Notes to Editors


In addition to the 7,000 edited entries, bbc.co.uk/h2g2 contains thousands of other contributions from researchers around the world, including blog-style journals and postings to the discussion forums attached to every entry.


Entries are varied with subjects ranging from:


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A776054 - The Egg Banjo


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A863309 - The London Stone - 2000 years of history attached to a lump of rock - complete with video footage!


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2700488 - An 18-part entry on the historical references in Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A583337 - How to hypnotise a chicken


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A766000 - One Hit Wonders


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A482933 - Earth, which links to The h2g2 Guide to the Solar System


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A641305 - International Weather Wisdom


bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A103140 - Hangover cures


In a typical month, the site gets over 300,000 unique users.


The BBC's mobile Guide is free at the point of access. The BBC will not receive any income from this service.


Part II: Mostly Harmless website offers new games.


Meanwhile, Radio 4's award-winning Hitchhikers website is offering new versions of the Hitchhikers Adventure Game and improved features to coincide with the programme's latest phase in May.


The website's launch in September 2004 led to a record one million online listen again requests and an Interactive Bafta for the online adventure (the 20th Anniversary Edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide Adventure Game).


More than 30 million moves have been played since the game - an enhanced version of Douglas Adams' best-selling 1984 computer original - was launched and it still generates more than a million page impressions every week, despite the series being off-air.


The updated website features new adaptations of the game - with fresh graphics from members of the public and improved tips - while new webchats, interviews, episode streaming (live or on-demand in 5.1 surround sound for Windows Media Player / Real Player) and updated photo galleries will appear during the series at bbc.co.uk/radio4


An intergalactic star-studded cast including Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Fry, Jackie Mason and a Hollywood heartthrob join the original radio line-up - including Simon Jones and Mark Wing-Davey - in the last ever radio instalment of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, starting Tuesday 3 May at 6.30pm on Radio 4 and repeated on Thursdays at 11.00pm.



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Category: bbc.co.uk

Date: 11.04.2005
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