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Like DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY, Douglas Adams wrote THE LONG DARK TEA TIME OF THE SOUL as a mystery novel, not a six-part radio series,. The more confusing it became - the harder the reader found it to connect things - the more it served Douglas's purpose, which was to pull together the most unlikely set of events possible. But flicking back a chapter or two to check what on earth the author has in mind is not a luxury radio listeners can indulge in (especially when driving, even using the Holistic System Of Navigation). We were keen that the second Dirk Gently series should avoid any confusion - despite the author's intention to baffle. If the first novel were a jumbled up Rubik's Cube to which last year's radio series provided a move-by-move solution, not revealing the final twist which put all six colours on their respective surfaces till the end, this series required a Rubik's Cube which started solved and stayed that way.

The challenge was to retain Douglas's mischievous delight in strewing barrel loads of red herrings across the path of his detective story - all of which prove to be vital clues to its solution - whilst fleshing out characters created more in descriptive passages than in dialogue. The process involved the 'Columbo' method, where the audience are fed key bits of plot in advance, so they can more comfortably enjoy witnessing our hero stumbling blindly towards a solution they already have had revealed. Thus the adaptation reshuffles or invents bits of story to sharpen the plot and characters - the Draycotts, for example, who barely exchange a single line of dialogue with anyone in the book - not even each other. That's fine in a novel by Douglas - all of which we heartily recommend you read in any case - but too minimalist for a six-part radio series.

Some of the characters and plot devices employed here are not in THE LONG DARK TEA TIME OF THE SOUL but inspired by Douglas's notes for the third Dirk Gently novel - notes so brief they are not included in its unfinished, published form as THE SALMON OF DOUBT. On Douglas's hard drive a sub-folder marked "The Old Salmon" contains a document named "The Whole Resource (Relevant)". This is forty-three pages of his earliest notes for a book under the same title, quite a few of which feature characters and ideas from his previous magnum opus. Several of these have informed certain passages in these recordings, and may indirectly provide a means of helping Dirk Gently find a solution to various mysteries within the third radio series next year.

Dirk Maggs September 2008



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