BBC Radio 4 presents an Above the Title Production of
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
by Douglas Adams
Adapted & Directed by Dirk Maggs
Twenty-five years after the original radio series of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy exploded into the public consciousness, the further exploits of its bewildered hero, Arthur Dent, are being brought to life in their original medium and with the (mainly) original cast.
The last three books of the ‘trilogy in five parts’, Life, The Universe And Everything; So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and Mostly Harmless, have been dramatised as three new series (none of them were previously produced for radio).
As the original two series were dubbed the Primary and Secondary Phases by Douglas Adams, these new series form the Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases.
Thanks to the wonders of digital technology, Douglas Adams himself can be heard playing the part of Agrajag.
Episode 1 - Tuesday 31 May 2005 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 2 June 11.00pm
Fit the twenty-third
The Grebulons arrived some time ago upon the tenth planet in our Solar
system, named Persephone upon its discovery, but now nicknamed Rupert
after some philosopher's parrot. Their huge battlecruiser bristles with
armaments and camouflage devices but has crashlanded on this cold and
remote world far from anyone who can tell them their mission. They have
been sent to monitor an unknown location for unknown purposes, the
unknowns in this instance being caused by the fact that, while they
were in hibernation, a meteorite took out that part of the ship that
stored both their, and its, memories. In essence they have literally
lost their minds, but on monitoring the considerable outpourings of
Earth's popular media they are developing quite a taste for soap opera,
puppet shows and reruns of 70s cop shows.
Searching for his lost love Fenchurch, lost on a routine hyperspace
jump, Arthur Dent has hitchhiked across the Galaxy to the location
where once he found the Earth - only to find an Earthlike planet called
Nowwhat upon which there is very little to comfort him except the
shapes of the continents. Nursing a bite on the thigh from a Boghog he
accepts the advice of a telepathic pseudopodic creature on the
Information Desk and moves on to look for Hawalius, a planet of
soothsayers. Here he hopes to get guidance and advice. What he gets is
a reminder that his old girlfriend Trillian is now a reporter for the
Siderial Daily Mentioner, travelling through both time and space to get
news stories, effectively putting the soothsayers out of work.
In a parallel universe, upon the 'new' Earth where Arthur met
Fenchurch, Tricia MacMillan - the blonder, more American counterpart to
Arthur's friend Trillian - interviews Gail Andrews, an astrologer, and
confides that she is haunted by a party she once attended where she
failed to get off with a tall two-headed alien called Zaphod. Those of
us who have been following the saga know of course that the 'other'
Tricia - the one we know as Trillian - in fact got off with Zaphod at
the same party on HER Earth and that is why she is now roaming the
Galaxy doing pieces to camera and noddy shots. Tricia - the blonder,
more American one - is however still Earthbound. She made Zaphod wait
while she went to fetch her bag, and, as (the other) Trillian could
have told her, Zaphod waits for no-one.
In fact Zaphod's patience has run out completely. He has lived for
nearly eleven episodes with the frustration of knowing that - whatever
Trillian might have thought - he was NOT drunk on Pan Galactic
Gargleblasters when he visited the Hitchhiker's Guide Building (in the
Secondary Phase) and encountered a strange and sinister person called
Zarniwoop, who had built a virtual universe inside his office, in which
Zaphod was tortured by a machine called the Total Perspective Vortex,
opening his senses so they could perceive Everything Everywhere All At
Once. Now Zaphod returns to the Hitchhiker's Building, relocated to the
planet Saquo-Pilia Hensha, where he finds Zarniwoop very much in charge
of a very sinister operation.
Add to this zesty mixture Ford Prefect, who has snuck into the
Hitchhiker's Building on a mission to clear his expenses. This is a
mission that involves considerable subterfuge and cunning, as Ford's
business affairs as a Hitchhiker's Guide Researcher are an accounting
nightmare. In the course of finding his way past the security screens
to the Editor's Office for a grovelling phase to open negotiations, Ford
catches and reprograms one of the melon-sized security robots that
patrol the corridors, renaming it Colin. Colin reveals to Ford that the
Guide is under a wonderful new management. This immediately arouses
Ford's suspicions. Things are Not Right with The Hitchhiker's Guide To
Episode 2 - Tuesday 7 June 2005 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 9 June 11.00pm
Fit the twenty-fourth
Arthur's search for guidance and advice on the Planet Hawalius leads
him to memorable encounters with The Smelly Photocopier Woman - an
extravagantly flatulent Hawalian soothsayer - and The Old Man On The
Pole, who squats hundreds of feet up in the air on a series of tall
sticks, swooshing about from one to the other nonchalantly. This is (a)
off-putting and (b) irritating, and as the consensus of opinion among
all the prophets and soothsayers seems to be that Arthur should go
elsewhere and do something constructive with his life, he resolves to
move on, catching a shuttle off the planet. His listlessness is not
helped by his bereavement at the loss of his girlfriend Fenchurch, and
his copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is proving not much
use at all, except maybe for eating his sandwiches off, because some
strange female voice keeps interrupting its normally urbane
sophisticate presence, advertising a 'Guide Mark II', which is 'Coming
Ford Prefect is in a position to help Arthur understand better what is
happening to the Guide, but inconveniently he is thousands of light years
away, having sneaked into the new Hitchhiker's Guide Building on
Saquo-Pilia Hensha, with the help of a reprogrammed security robot
called Colin. Ford has entered the office of the Editor of the Guide to
discover that there's been a change at the top and the post is now
occupied by a vaguely familiar and definitely sinister new Editor named
Zarniwoop Van Harl. Zarniwoop explains that the Megadodo Corporation is
now as defunct as a - um - Dodo, and some shadowy corporation called
Infinidim Enterprises has taken over the Hitchhiker's Guide To The
Galaxy. Their brainchild, the Guide Mark II, is a complete redesign of
the Hitchhiker's Guide. Instead of selling to penniless hitchhikers, the
product will be aimed at businessmen and their wives, people with lots
of income and a predisposition to dispose it on gadgetry, the purpose
of which may be much more than they imagine.
Zarniwoop further explains that whereas the business once relied on
selling lots of old Guides to billions of people, the new plan depends
on selling One Guide many many times to billions and billions of
people. This is possible because the new Guide has been built to
operate transdimensionally, available anywhere at any time across the
layers of the multiverse. And instead of the voice of a plummy pompous
pedagogue lecturing to penniless hitchhikers, it boasts a sultry
Brantisvogan Escort Agency VIP vamp voice.
Ford is not over-impressed at this development but significantly more
impressed - one might even say gobsmacked - when Zarniwoop presents him
with a Dine-O-Charge card in his name. Zarniwoop wants Ford to be the
Guide's new restaurant critic. If the Quota Permits. Unfortunately the
use of the word quota has the same effect on Ford as it has throughout
the ages on all free thinking independent spirits in the Galaxy who
sense fences being put up to protect Corporate Mediocrity, and without
thinking he orders Colin to kill Zarniwoop. Rhetorically of course. The
upshot is that Zarniwoop is rendered unconscious before Ford can
reverse the order. However as a result Ford (naturally) looks through
Zarniwoop's pockets and finds an Ident-i-Eze card which is going to
prove VERY useful in gaining access to the Hitchhiker's Guide Accounting
computer, where he can clear his more reckless expense claims once and
On the new Earth where Arthur Dent met and loved the disappeared
Fenchurch, television reporter Tricia MacMillan lives in complete
ignorance that a parallel, less blonde, more British version of herself
called Trillian roams the Galaxy, once as a girlfriend of Zaphod
Beeblebrox, now as a reporter for the Siderial Daily Mentioner. Tricia
has longed to travel in space ever since she failed to get off with
Zaphod Beeblebrox at a party, and when a party of aliens land their
ship on her lawn and ask if she will go with them to the Planet Rupert
and help calculate their astrological forecasts using her astrophysical
expertise, she readily accepts.
Arthur Dent meanwhile is in a shuttle which fails to make a hyperspace
jump at the Lamuella Nexus. It plunges towards the nearest planet and
certain doom, with Arthur hoping very hard that the planet is NOT
called Stavromula Beta, the location where the unhinged reincarnated
creature called Agrajag more or less predicted he would die (see
Tertiary Phase Episode 4, Fit The Sixteenth).
Back in the Hitchhiker's Guide Building, Ford enters the Virtual Reality
computer-generated Universe that once existed only in an upstairs
office for Zarniwoop's sole use, but now has spread through an entire
basement level. Here it is, among staggeringly realistic
computer-generated lofty mountains and distant seas, from rocky crags
to lonely huts on beaches, that the Guide's accounts are manipulated
using a three-dimensional ecosynthetic multidimensional interface.
Having used Zarniwoop's Ident-i-Eze card to clear all his expenses and
give his Dine-O-Charge card unlimited buying power, a familiar voice
arrests Ford's departure. Climbing up the mountain from the lonely
shack on the beach is his cousin, the two-headed ex-President of the
Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox, imprisoned here by Zarniwoop. Zaphod reveals
to Ford that the Guide Mark II - indeed the whole of the Hitchhiker's
Guide To The Galaxy - is in Vogon hands - and that Zarniwoop is the
liposucked, plastic surgery'd, fake-tanned, business suited big cheese.
With a side order of jewelled crab. What's worse, the Guide Mark II
operates using the same software as the Total Perspective Vortex that
Zaphod was once flung into - a scarily sexy bit of software that allows
unfiltered perception of everything on all layers of reality,
probability, and chronicity. It is the engine by which the Vogons plan
to consolidate their rule over the Galaxy. And complete Any Unfinished
Business. Zaphod insists that Ford must find the Guide Mark II - there
is only one, for reasons explained above - and spirit it away from the
clutches of the Vogons. On their way to do this, Ford and Colin rush
back to Zarniwoop's office to replace the Ident-i-Eze card, but
Zarniwoop is awake and the Vogon Guard with him is shouldering a rocket
launcher. It is at this point that Ford jumps out of the 23rd floor
window, equipped with only a threadbare towel and a credit card...
Episode 3 - Tuesday 14 June 2005 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 16 June 11.00pm
Fit the twenty-fifth
Far away out on the Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Planet Lamuella
spins slowly, its iron age culture only occasionally enlivened by the
arrival and departure of the Perfectly Normal Beasts, a vast stampede
of buffalo-like creatures who appear at one end of the Anhondo
mountains, thunder through the Anhondo Valley, and disappear at its far
end. These animals provide the simple people of Lamuella with their
principal source of protein, and since the arrival of the Sandwich
Maker in the Fiery Chariot which Laid Waste the Great Forest, this
means many fine Perfectly Normal Beast sandwiches are enjoyed on a
daily basis by those who tend the crops which are fertlised by the
droppings of the pikka birds, who tend to drop their droppings
It is many moons since the cataclysmic arrival of the Sandwich Maker's
fiery chariot which - according to the local shaman, soothsayer and
fraud Old Thrashbarg - was responsible for filling the Great Forest
with Ghosts, and since the Sandwich Maker recovered from his injuries
this bucolic idyll has been, for him, a haven of peace and a chance to
recover from years of wandering the Galaxy in pursuit of one thing or
another, from white mice to a decent cup of tea to pieces of the Wikkit
Gate to a lost girlfriend. Now he can give up rushing about and instead
devote his time to the making of a perfect sandwich. Or so he thought
till this morning. For into the village clearing has descended a new
chariot, not fiery but smooth and with go-faster stripes, bearing
within it a woman and a young girl. The woman's name is Trillian and,
as Thrashbarg and the villagers scatter in fear, she gazes upon the
Sandwich Maker and says, "Hello Arthur". For that is his name.
Ford Prefect, unlike Arthur Dent, has never mastered the art of flying.
After leaping out of the window of Zarniwoop's office on the 23rd Floor
of The Hitchhiker's Guide Building, Ford is only saved by the timely
intervention of the Security Robot Colin, who flies in under his towel
and thereby provides both lift and forward propulsion to get Ford
safely onto a thirteenth floor window ledge. As Ford ponders his next
move - the while being bombarded by Vogon troops on the ground taking
potshots with grenade launchers - he realises he is on the Thirteenth
Floor of the Building and something is fluttering about inside the
darkened window. Something like a Bird. Colin explains that this is in
fact the sinister new version of the Hitchhiker's Guide - the Guide
Mark II, a piece of technology developed by Zarniwoop for the Vogons
using Total Perspective Technology which is incredibly powerful,
existing in all of space and time at the same moment, enabling whomever
its owner might be to achieve anything they wish - providing what they
wish is encompassed by its Vogon programming. Zaphod Beeblebrox has
warned Ford that this piece of technology is monumentally dangerous and
needs to be removed from the Hitchhiker's Building and sent far, far
away. Thus Ford begins to look for a window catch and a way into the
R&D department ...
On Lamuella, Trillian samples a Perfectly Normal Beast sandwich and
explains to Arthur that the teenage girl she has brought with her is in
fact their daughter. As Arthur has long financed his trips around the
Galaxy with donations to tissue and sperm banks, and as he and Trillian
were the only humans from the original Earth to survive its destruction
by the Vogons, it was pretty easy for Trillian to find out who the
donor was when she felt the need to visit a fertility clinic. Now about
to jaunt off to cover the decisive arrival of a battlecruiser in a war
which - due to the vagaries of sub-light travel - erupted millennia
ago, Trillian is leaving the girl with Arthur. Both are horribly
dismayed but Trillian has already gone. Arthur asks his daughter's
name, "Random Frequent Flyer Dent" is the reply.
In another layer of reality, Tricia MacMillan is Trillian's blonder,
more American counterpart, living on the 'new Earth' which, thanks to
the efforts of the dolphins, flicked into existence just after the
destruction of the old one by the Vogons. Tricia has been abducted - in
a nice way - by the Grebulons, a thin, etiolated bunch of humanoids
whose ship has crashed on the tenth planet of Rupert, and who have no
idea who they are, where they come from, or what their mission is. So
far they have filled the time by monitoring Earth's considerable output
of media dross, including soap operas, 70s cop shows and astrology.
They have asked Tricia to come and use her astrophysical expertise to
help them calculate the movement of the planets, and therefore their
horoscopes, so that they can get a handle on what they should do next.
Tricia, still hurting after failing to get off with a glamorous
two-headed alien at a party in Islington many years before, is happy to
oblige - provided she can video the trip and use it to make a news
story on her return to Earth.
Arthur's attempts to bond with his sudden daughter are greeted with
little success; Random is a product of a technological civilisation and
is bored by the very things he values about life on Lamuella - its
simplicity and freedom from gadgetry. When a package arrives from Ford
Prefect, addressed to Arthur, the latter correctly surmises that it
contains nothing harmless, and is horrified when Random runs off with
With her father in pursuit, Random stumbles across the secret of the
ghosts in the Great Forest - they are in fact malfunctioning holovids
from the in-flight entertainment system of the crashed shuttle which
brought Arthur here so long ago. High up in a cave in the Anhondo
Mountains she stops and opens the package. Out of it she pulls
something looking like an ebony dinner plate, which unfolds itself and
flutters to perch on a nearby rock. It is some kind of mechanical bird,
but it identifies itself as The Guide Mark II. Calibrating itself so
that Random can see and hear it, the bird explains it is her Guide,
that it exists across all dimensions and can use Reverse Temporal
engineering to show her anything she wants, do for her anything she
wants and take her anywhere she likes. It shows her the Earth her
mother came from, how it exists in a Plural Zone which is very unstable
and where, when one thing is destroyed, another, near-identical one can
pop up in its place. It shows her Tricia MacMillan, living on that
Earth, a shock for Random who thinks this must be her mother and
demands to be taken there. The bird, following orders, immediately
reaches back as far into time as is necessary to bring about the
instant arrival of a spaceship to take them there. Out of the spaceship
emerges Ford Prefect, who Random promptly knocks on the head with a
rock. As Random and the bird leave in the ship, Arthur arrives in the
clearing outside the cave, discovering Ford's head is under his foot.
Episode 4 - Tuesday 21 June 2005 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 23 June 11.00pm
Fit the twenty-sixth
Arthur and Ford are reunited on the distant and backward planet of
Lamuella, and both have vital information for each other. Arthur's is
that the young woman who just stole Ford's spaceship is Arthur's
daughter by Trillian, Random. Ford's news is more sinister - the Vogons
have taken over the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and have developed
a new model of the famous book, the Guide Mark II, which exists in the
form of a black bird and, with its Unfiltered Perception, exists across
all layers of the Universe and at all times simultaneously, capable of
changing any events or any bringing about any chain of cause-and-effect
to achieve its owner's wishes. The result may be as simple as to
manipulate events so that Ford Prefect survives a leap from a 23rd
floor window and arrives on Lamuella in a spaceship which it new owner
- Arthur's daughter Random - can then steal; or as complex as helping
the Vogons effortlessly carry out their grandest schemes - from their
general desire to turn the whole Galaxy into one vast Bureaucracy, to
the more particular and irksome issue of making sure that once the
planet Earth is destroyed it STAYS destroyed, rather than having
replacement Earths keep popping up, due to the Plural nature of that
particular Sector of space.
Lamuella itself is bisected by a Plural Zone and this is what causes
the curious phenomenon of the Spring Migration of the Perfectly Normal
Beasts, whereby a vast stampede of buffalo-like creatures appear at one
end of the Anhondo mountains, thunder through the Anhondo Valley, and
disappear at its far end. Arthur suddenly realises that this may be
their ticket off the planet, and he and Ford scurry off to attempt to
ride a Perfectly Normal Beast to ... wherever it goes ...
In another layer of the multidimensional sandwich of Creation, upon the
current version of Earth (where Arthur met the love of his life,
Fenchurch, who subsequently disappeared on a routine hyperspace jump)
Tricia MacMillan, the blonder, more American counterpart of his friend
(and now co-parent) Trillian, has returned from her visit to the Planet
Rupert, where she was abducted - in a nice way - by the Grebulons, a
thin, etiolated bunch of humanoids whose Battle Cruiser crashlanded
there after a meteorite strike destroyed its central computer.
The Grebulons have no idea who they are, where they come from or what
their mission is. So far they have filled the time by monitoring
Earth's considerable output of media dross. They asked Tricia to come
and use her astrophysical expertise to help them calculate the movement
of the planets, and therefore their horoscopes, so that they can get an
idea of what the movement of the planets suggest they should do next.
Tricia was happy to oblige - but now reviewing the video she shot on
the trip she cannot see how anyone could believe her story. At this
moment there is a knock on the door and the post-production facility
runner tells her that a teenage girl has arrived in a spaceship in
Regent's Park with a strange black bird, and is demanding to meet Tricia
MacMillan. Not even pausing to pick up her bag, Trillian rushes off to
get the story, not realising that the story is herself. She arrives at
Regents Park just as Random and the Guide Mark II part company. As the
bird leaves Random, being needed elsewhere, the teenager sees the woman
she has mistaken for her mother Trillian - her doppelganger, Tricia
Arthur and Ford manage to mount a Perfectly Normal Beast with the help
of Old Thrashbarg, who shows them how to use a Pikka Bird to stop and
hypnotise the rampaging animal. Once mounted, Thrashbarg entreats them
to seek the Domain Of The King. As their beast joins the stampede and
nears the point where the backs of the charging animals ahead seem to
suddenly disappear in an invisible wall, Arthur and Ford try to work
out who the King is. Suddenly they make the transition and the Beasts
drop through limbo into a new dusty plain where a roadhouse with a pink
chrome-finned spaceship outside proclaims itself, with a neon sign, THE
DOMAIN OF THE KING. Leaping off the beast they enter, and there, upon a
stage, alive, well and happy doing what he loved most to do, is Elvis.
The King. Using his Hitchhiker's Guide Dine-O-Charge card, Ford pays The
King the biggest tip he has ever received. Then to validate the claim
he types a quick review of the joint for the Guide. Pausing only to
wipe a tear of nostalgia from his eye, Ford buys the pink and chrome
ship from its owner - Elvis of course - and he and Arthur head for
Earth in pursuit of Random and the Guide Mark II.
Meanwhile on the Planet Rupert, Tricia's help in recalibrating the
Gerbulons' astrology computer has led to unforseen complications. The
Grebulon Leader's immediate future is revealed to be beset by adverse
astrological signs, mainly to do with the positioning of the Planet
Earth. It seems that the only solution to a very tedious month ahead is
to somehow alter the movement of the planets. Perhaps eliminate one. He
decides to investigate the astrological potential of his battle
cruiser's gun turrets. As he does so, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz monitors
his deliberations from a safe and undetectable distance. The Guide Mark
II has fulfilled its function. Everything is being tied up neatly,
thanks to the "lost" Grebulons. A tick will soon be put in a long-empty
box on his clipboard. The black bird hovers nearby. He orders it to
engage the Total Perspective Vortex.
Arthur and Ford arrive on Earth. Pausing only to use the Dine-O-Charge
card to buy The Langham Hilton and organise the repatriation of all the
animals in London Zoo, they track Tricia and Random to Tricia's
favourite drinking haunt in London, Club Beta, where reports indicate
the female occupant of yet another spaceship lately arrived has
headed. Arriving at the club, Arthur and Ford encounter a strange man
on the stairs who seems to know Arthur but isn't quite sure. Ignoring
him they descend and enter the bar to find Tricia, Trillian and Random,
who has a gun pointed at both her mother and her mother's doppelganger,
hopelessly confused and hysterical. Trillian is desperately trying to
get everyone to leave. The space battle she went to cover as a news
story when she left Random with Arthur never happened. The battle
cruiser sent to fight it never arrived, but crashlanded on the outer
planet of this solar system and is about to do something dreadful. But
Random is beyond reason. The man that Arthur and Ford passed on the
stairs attempts to wrestle the gun from the girl, but in the melee it
goes off. Arthur ducks and the shot misses him, but hits the man, who
dies in his arms, and, as he does so, looks at Arthur and says, "You
....". Arthur is reminded of Agrajag, the unhinged reincarnated
creature who predicted he would only die after arriving at a place
called Stavromula Beta. Thus when Trillian says they must all leave,
now, or perish, Arthur is relaxed. Nothing can happen to him here. He
is is not on Stavromula Beta. Horrified, Trillian shows him one of the
club's menu covers. It is run by a Greek/German called Stavro Mueller.
His first club, in New York, was called Alpha. This is his second Club.
Arthur is appalled to read the heading on the menu: STAVRO MUELLER
As the particle cannon beams crash into the planet, ripping it apart,
destroying the Earth once and for all, Ford can be heard laughing. "Oh
that's good. That's very good ..."
Episode 1 - Tuesday 3 May 2005 6.30pm
(no Thursday repeat because of election coverage)
Fit the nineteenth
Arthur Dent has returned home to Earth. Not time travelled but hitchhiked back in his present to the planet he was born on, the planet described in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy as “Mostly Harmless” and the planet which was destroyed by the Vogon Constructor Fleet seconds after he escaped with the help of his friend, the Betelgeusian Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy Researcher Ford Prefect.
In order to get to Earth, and then more specifically his home in England, Arthur has hitched rides from an Intergalactic Teaser, a lorry driver called Rob McKenna - who is, ubeknownst to himself, a Rain God - and, finally, a Saab driver called Russell whose sister Arthur has inexplicably fallen in love with. Whether or not she returns the sentiment is hard to establish because she is unconscious throughout their first meeting and, as Arthur only caught the name ‘Fenny’ before being dropped off at his cottage, he may have some trouble re-establishing contact.
Ford meanwhile has been researching drinks prices in a far from harmless bar on a far from harmless planet. Despite encounters with a bird which squawks the name of local contract killers and a disembodied hand with homicidal tendencies, he survives to learn from an update to his copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide that the Earth is suddenly a going concern once again. This gives him a Purpose In Life.
Meanwhile it is giving a headache to Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz , whose Constructor Fleet is recalled to Megabrantis, the administrative hub of the Galaxy, where he must explain how he has apparently broken the most fundamental of Vogon directives and failed to carry out a simple order.
Episode 2 - Tuesday 10 May 2005 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 12 May 11.00pm
Fit the twentieth
Having rediscovered a mysteriously intact Earth, Arthur Dent finds his
cottage and his bedroom in a similar (mysteriously intact) condition.
He has also found a mysterious Grey Glass Bowl bearing the inscription
'So Long And Thanks For All The Fish'. Having awoken, washed and
breakfasted he has managed to explain his absence from work he has gone
in search of Fenny, the unconscious girl he encountered in a Saab on
the A303 and, amazingly, has found her.
During the ensuing conversation in a pub - despite the attentions of an
over-eager raffle ticket vendeuse - it becomes clear that what the
fates laughingly call 'chemistry' is occurring here and these two
people are falling in love. It also emerges that the girl's name is
Fenchurch and that she has a history of mental instability. This
matters to Arthur no one jot. What matters to him infinitely more is
that he has won the pub raffle, and the ticket he traded in for his
prize bore Fenchurch's phone number.
Meanwhile Ford Prefect, having escaped a particularly nasty fate at the
hand of a ... er, hand ... in The Old Pink Dog Bar in Han Dold City,
has managed to hitch a ride aboard a Sales Scoutship of the Sirius
Cybernetics Corporation, an organisation he particularly loathes and
detests. The re-appearance of the Earth having inspired to a new and
startling purpose, Ford has managed to patch the Scoutships comms
system into the British Telecom Speaking Clock, a feat which has left
him feeling fulfilled but in need of a rest. Unfortunately his choice
of cruise vessel proves to be a Xaxisian Robot Ship engaged in a war
which could severely shorten his life.
While Ford reprograms the Xaxisian Ship to seek out Possibly The Most
Exciting place In The Known Universe (according to the Hitrchhikers
Guide), Arthur has gone in search of the prehistoric Islington cave we
first met him in at the start of the Tertiary Phase, and finds it the
site of a mews cottage occupied by ... Fenchurch.
Episode 3 - Tuesday 17 May 2005 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 19 May 11.00pm
Fit the twenty-first
Arthur's new love Fenchurch - that is her name - for she was
conceived in a ticket queue at that eponymous railway station - is
troubled by an experience she had once in a cafe in Rickmansworth,
which made her think the Earth was being ripped apart. This event is
dismissed by the majority of people on the mysteriously re-appeared
Earth as a mass hallucination, but to Arthur Dent it sounds
suspiciously like the day the Vogon Constructor Fleet blew up his home
planet and exiled him to bootless wandering about the Galaxy.
Meanwhile Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz has been called to account for the
fact that the Earth he destroyed is still serenely sitting in that
quadrant of the galaxy called ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha. Being a planet in a
Plural Zone, the Earth actually exists on several levels of
Probability, and thus when one Earth is destroyed, chances are pretty
good that another will just pop into existence in its place. The Court
of Enquiry on Megabrantis is a dangerous place to develop a tickly
cough but it is agreed that a new method of destroying ALL the
Potential Earths must be found if the paperwork is to be kept in order.
This, however, may have to be undertaken in a less overt, more sneaky
manner than before.
After a short romantic interlude, which includes the revelation that
Fenchurch's feet do not touch the ground and that she shares Arthur's
handy knack of flying, the disappearance of all the dolphins shortly
before her nervous breakdown suggests to Fenchurch that a Californian
scientist and dolphin expert named Wonko The Sane may be able to advise
them on what may have occurred. Using contacts like the friendly if
decidedly odd journalist Murray Bost Henson to find Wonko's
whereabouts, they travel to the USA and meet him in a curious
inside-out house on the shores of the Pacific Ocean called The Outside
of The Asylum. It is here that Wonko reveals that the grey glass bowls, both inscribed 'So Long And thanks For All The Fish', are in fact vessels bearing the farewell messages of the dolphins.
This mystery solved, Fenchurch has decided she would like to leave the
Episode 4 - Tuesday 24 May 2005 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 26 May 11.00pm
Fit the twenty-second
Arthur and Fenchurch return home to England, having discovered from
Wonko the Sane that their gifts of mysterious grey glass bowls emit a
message from the dolphins when pinged, viz., 'This Bowl Is Brought To
you By the Campaign To Save the Humans. We Bid You Farewell'. Hitching
a fortuitous ride aboard Rob McKenna's All Weather Haulage lorry from
Heathrow, they arrive at Arthur's cottage in Somerset where Ford
Prefect sleeps soundly on a sofa, having left a trail of havoc leading
back to a huge Flying saucer in which he arrived and which has
flattened most of Knightsbridge, London.
The saucer's pilot is a one-hundred foot high Xaxisian Robot who has
somehow been led to believe that Bournemouth is one of the most
exciting places to visit in the known universe. Having entirely failed
either to be taken to a lizard (its preferred negotiating counterpart)
or to find anything of interest in Bournemouth, it has decided to
leave, and Arthur, Ford and Fenchurch hitch a ride off Earth with the
help of the 'Share And Enjoy' novelty ringtone-equipped Sirius
Cybernetics phones which Ford liberated on his travels.
As the ship coasts into deep space Arthur and Ford debate why Earth has
reappeared and Arthur suggests the answer must be that Earth must
exist in several parallel universes. Each time one Earth is destroyed,
another takes its place. This may explain the strange existence of not
one but two Trillians in his current existence - one, the girl he met
at a party in Islington, the other a blonder, earthbound and more
American version who goes by Trillian's original name, Tricia MacMillan.
Arthur and Fenchurch voyage to Preliumtarn, where Prak The Truthful
said that God's Last Message To His Creation could be found. This,
Fenchurch is sure, will help her come to terms with the experience she
had in a cafe in Rickmansworth when it seemed as if the Earth exploded.
On the way they encounter Marvin The Paranoid Android, now a rusted
shell of his former self making a final pilgrimage. Together they help
Marvin to where the message can be seen, and it proves to read "We
Apologise For The Inconvenience". This satisfies Marvin so much that he
promptly and poignantly expires on the spot.
Slightly sadder but a little wiser, leaving Preliumtarn to go on a tour
of the Galaxy, Arthur and Fenchurch board a slumpjet which makes a
routine hyperspace jump. Routine in all aspects except the very
important one which involves Fenchurch suddenly not existing at all in
Arthur's universe just as the jump occurs.
Arthur has lost the love of his life. His unhappiness is complete.
Episode 1 - Tuesday 21 September 2004 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 23 September 11.00pm
Fit the thirteenth
Arthur Dent awakes to find that he has spent the last four years on prehistoric Earth, alone in all that time save for five minutes with an infuriating alien called Wowbagger who arrived, insulted him, and left. Reunited with Ford Prefect, Arthur discovers that the Hitchhikers Guide he threw in the river still works - and is being updated. Rescue appears in the form of a sofa caught in the Space-Time Continuum and Arthur and Ford disappear in a fashion which would cause stern looks from the Campaign For Real Time.
Aboard the Heart of Gold Zaphod Beeblebrox is nursing a large Pan Galactic Gargleblaster and two headaches. He believes that he survived the Total Perspective Vortex while pursuing a Hitchhikers Guide employee called Zarniwoop and that Arthur marooned him by stealing the Heart of Gold, which of course Zaphod himself stole (but then Zaphod thinks he alone has the right to indulge in excitement, adventure and really wild things).
His girlfriend Trillian (who, as Tricia McMillan, is the only human apart from Arthur to survive the Destruction of Earth by the Vogon Constructor Fleet) has no memory at all of these events and is therefore convinced that Zaphod has had a psychotic episode brought on by too many drinks. Tired of his selfishness she snaps and leaves him, having herself beamed by Eddie the shipboard computer in any direction but here.
Meanwhile in the swamps of Squornshellous Zeta, Marvin the Paranoid Android pivots helplessly in circles on an artificial leg, his only company a talkative mattress called Zem ...
Episode 2 - Tuesday 28 September 2004 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 30 September 11.00pm
Fit the fourteenth
Arthur and Ford have travelled in time and arrive at Lords Cricket Ground, where England are defeating Australia to win The Ashes. It turns out our heroes have arrived 24 hours before the destruction of the planet, but this fact almost pales into insignificance with the appearance of Slartibartfast, the elderly planet designer Arthur first encountered on Magrathea (see Primary Phase).
Slarti is here to avert the disastrous abduction of The Ashes (which have some intergalactic significance we can as yet only guess at) by the villainous and lethal Krikkit Robots. This he utterly fails to do, as they arrive, blow up Lords, and leave with their booty. Slarti, Arthur and Ford give chase in the unlikely Starship Bistromath which is powered by the equally unlikely (though not improbable) Somebody Else’s Problem Field.
On the swamp planet Squornshellous Zeta, Marvin the Paranoid Android is still helplessly trudging in circles, anchored to one spot by an artificial leg he was fitted with after surviving a near miss with the heart of a blazing star (again, see Primary Phase, and try and keep up for goodness' sake). It is something of a relief for him to have the leg removed by the same eleven Krikkit Robots who have stolen The Ashes. It is even more of a relief when they decide to remove him as well, leaving his talkative but very boring companion, Zem the Mattress, to ponder the infinite and globber gently.
Episode 3 - Tuesday 5 October 2004 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 7 October 11.00pm
Fit the fifteenth
Slartibartfast provides a rather startling Informational Illusion to give Arthur and Ford the history of the Krikkit Wars, an intergalactic conflict of billions of years ago, where a seemingly innocuous and pleasant race of hominids journeyed beyond the black and opaque dust cloud surrounding their solitary planet with its solitary star and were appalled to discover they were not alone in the universe but surrounded by many other planets teeming with life. The Krikkitmen built lethal white robots wielding war clubs which were used to propel small red grenades over vast distances, to destroy everything in their path - in fact, to kill everything everywhere but their masters.
Eventually defeated, the People of Krikkit (along with robots and family pets) are sentenced to have their solar system with its Dust Cloud sealed in a Slo-Time envelope, locked by The Wikkit Gate, upon an asteroid which orbits it. When all of Creation has become extinct the gate will automatically open, allowing them to finish their existence in a dying universe, alone at last as they have so craved.
Unfortunately eleven Krikkit Robots were unaccounted for at the time the punishment was carried out, and these unpleasant machines are now re-uniting the disparate elements of The Key to that Wikkit Gate. Having collected the Wooden Pillar (The Ashes, now reconstituted into a Cricket stump), The Steel Pillar (The Artificial Leg Marvin was fitted with by a kindly scrap collector), they now board the Heart of Gold to steal the Gold Bail (the driving force behind its legendary Improbability Drive). Bad as this might be, worse is to come when the robots are caught in the act by Zaphod Beeblebrox, who discovers they are about to go to a Party, but not intending to take him with them. In fact they add injury to insult and shoot him instead.
Attempting to reach the same party Arthur, Ford and Slartibartfast use the - surprisingly clean - toilet transportation cubicles of the Starship Bistromath. But something goes wrong and Arthur finds himself diverted to a labyrinth wherein dwells a creature who appears to nurse a very deep and ancient grudge against him...
Episode 4 - Tuesday 12 October 2004 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 14 October 11.00pm
Fit the sixteenth
Arthur Dent has been diverted from arriving at the Longest Party Ever Held to find himself in a sinister labyrinth being threatened by a nasty voice through a frankly rather dodgy PA system. This leads him to a subterranean Cathedral of Hate in which a fifty-foot high statue of himself is depicted causing harm to various creatures in hapless ways, such as swatting flies or stepping on ants. It turns out that the organisms that Arthur has inadvertently been killing (and/or eating) throughout his life have all been the same person, reincarnated over and over again, only to be killed - over and over again - by Arthur Dent. Its last, most desperate incarnation, one it had to fight for, and one which gives it a last chance for revenge against his tormentor, is as a four-foot fruitbat with an orthodontic condition. Its name is Agrajag, and even the discovery that it has mis-timed this vendetta (and that Arthur will not die till he reaches a place called Stavromula Beta) will not stop it attempting to kill Arthur Dent. Fortunately for Arthur, Agrajag manages to bring about his own death (yet again), and as the Cathedral collapses about them, Arthur runs into the open air, trips over a boulder - and finds himself flying.
The knack of flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss, and Arthur is so preoccupied with his problems that he succeeds in carrying off this difficult yet exhilarating feat. He flies just long enough to collide with Ford and Slartibartfast who are clinging to the sides of the Longest Party Ever Held, itself capable of flight thanks to some rather drunken physicists who happened to be invited several generations ago.
Gaining entrance to the Party (thanks to a bottle of retsina which is inside an item of luggage which mysteriously materialised during his practise swoops), Arthur is shocked and not a little jealous to find Trillian in the enormous arms of Thor the Thunder God. An encounter follows with various strange guests, including a woman with a head shaped like the Sydney Opera House and a man who has just won an award which looks suspiciously like a silver cricket bail. This is in fact precisely what it is, as the sudden attack by eleven homicidal Krikkit robots to steal it confirms. As they leave, the Party, now mortally wounded, begins to spiral downward to the planet it has so long ravaged, and Arthur demands that Thor surrender Trillian so they can escape before the inevitable crash. Trillian has been quite enjoying the attentions of a minor Norse deity, but realises Arthur means business when he challenges Thor to step outside to settle the matter. This duly occurs, allowing our friends to depart in pursuit of the Krikkit Robots.
Episode 5 - Tuesday 19 October September 2004 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 21 October 11.00pm
Fit the seventeenth
As Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Trillian and Slartibarfast helplessly watch, the Krikkit Robots open the Wikkit Gate and the planet Krikkit is released from its chronostasis in a mind-hurting instant. Even the sudden appearance of Zaphod Beeblebrox fails to halt the robots, who depart the asteroid to return home to help their masters destroy the universe.
In a frantic but hopeless attempt to alter matters, Arthur, Ford, Trillian and Slartibartfast travel to the Planet Krikkit to attempt to reason with its inhabitants.
Meanwhile Zaphod, who at first was inclined to save his own skin first and be philanthropic later, arrives aboard one of the huge warships orbiting high in the atmosphere of the planet. Here he discovers that the wrecked spaceship which long ago crashed on the planet and inspired its citizens to their psychotic hatred of all other worlds, is, in fact, a fake. And, as Arthur, Trillian, Ford and Slarti are surrounded on the planet below, Zaphod finds he is not the only stranger aboard the battle cruiser. A certain terminally depressed android can be heard singing a dolorous ditty somewhere in the computer room.
Episode 6 - Tuesday 26 October 2004 6.30pm, repeated Thursday 28 October 11.00pm
Fit the eighteenth
Surrounded by the friendly but murderous citizens of Krikkit, Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and Slartibartfast are astounded when Trillian reveals she knows why these people have conceived such a hatred of all other worlds in the universe. They have been manipulated by the Dust Cloud that surrounds their solitary planet with its solitary sun. The Dust Cloud is actually the particularised remains of an ancient super computer called Hactar, built by a long-extinct race, the Silastic Armorfiends of Striterax. Hactar invented a Supernova Bomb that could destroy the entire universe in a moment, but thought better of letting the reckless Silastic Armorfiends have it, and thus introduced a flaw. As a reward for this treachery the Armorfiends pulverised Hactar into dust. Now, nursing billions of years of bitterness against all life forms, Hactar has coddled the planet which evolved into Krikkit and infected the minds of its inhabitants with a form of manic xenophobia which has led them to rebuild his Supernova Bomb.
Trillian attempts to talk them out of using it, fails, but is then relieved to discover that it is a dud, she realises the truth of the situation and, with Arthur Dent, confronts Hactar. He freely admits his plan, and, as Eddie pumps out a vibration field from the Heart of Gold, seems content to accept dispersal and thus the end of his plans. He has fulfilled his function.
Meanwhile Zaphod reveals he picked up a hitchhiker on his voyage to Krikkit - a man called Prak who was accidentally overdosed with Truth Serum just as he was taking a legal oath, and thus is now condemned to tell the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But until it kills him. However just before it kills him, Prak reveals to Arthur that although he cannot supply the Final Question to the Ultimate Answer (which is 42, for those of you arriving stupendously late to this narrative) (because they would cancel each other out, for those of you who did know the "42" part, but not its corollary and can deal with multiple subordinate clauses in parentheses without getting a migraine), (and if you haven't read the books isn't it about time you did?), he can reveal the location of God’s Final Message To His Creation.
This he does - just about - and then drops dead. After a brief discussion, Arthur decides he’d rather not bother with God’s Message for now, but would rather travel back in time to Earth at the moment the Krikkit Robots finished attacking Lords Cricket Ground and return the Ashes to their rightful place in the cosmos. This he does, only to discover that the cricket ball he has collected on his travels and is playfully bowling to a lone England batsman is in fact Hactar’s Supernova Bomb and Not A Dud and the batsman, is, in fact, a Krikkit Robot with a War Club who will detonate it, and that Hactar’s plan is now in fact coming to fruition and he has indeed fulfilled his function.
Unfortunately Hactar’s careful scheming has not factored in Arthur’s appalling record as a bowler. The Supernova Bomb goes wide, Ford catches it harmlessly, and Arthur relieves the robot of its bat in order to decapitate it neatly. As the sun sets on Lords, our heroes go in search of a quick cup of tea before travelling forward in time to get safely away from Earth, which is still unavoidably doomed by its inevitable and imminent encounter with the Vogon Constructor fleet.