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Newsletter: 3 June 2005

...and just three weeks left

We're still recovering from Marvin's recent demise, but the return of Zaphod, in the first episode of the Quintessential Phase, has cheered us up. Dirk, Bruce, Helen, Paul and co have been doing a superb job with the adaptations of So Long and Thanks for all the Fish and Mostly Harmless and the fun continues on Radio 4 for another 3 glorious weeks.

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Final Production Diary

Dirk Maggs tells us how the team have been putting the finishing touches to the series:

The Quandary and Quintessential Phase surround mixes are pencilled for early April 2005 but as we get closer and closer to deadline the complexity of finishing the final episodes of the Quintessential Phase mean they are getting pushed back and squeezed up against the first transmission date of Quandary Phase. In the end the only way to keep the workflow running is to divide and conquer - for Paul Deeley to start the surround mixes while Dirk simultaneously continues the tracklays and stereo mixes for CD and transmission...

Read the full diary here:

Production Diary

Very many thanks to Dirk for taking time out of his impossibly busy schedule to keep us up to date with the production news over the past months. You have one final chance to quiz him about the series when he joins us for a live webchat to mark the end of the Quintessential Phase on Wednesday 22 June at 3pm. Details will be published on the site nearer the time.

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Adventure Game

An unbelievable 45 million moves have been played since we launched the new edition of the game last September and, judging by the message board comments, some of you are really addicted. We have now finished publishing the location maps and all of Douglas Adams' original hints, so you can let him help (or misdirect) you all the way from Earth to Magrathea:

Adventure Game

Adventure Game Hints Index

For Your Amusement

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Don't Miss on BBC 7:

Sci-fi and fantasy every night on 7th Dimension.

Journey Into Space - The World in Peril - continues on Saturdays at 6.00pm

Sci-fi thriller Deep Station Emerald starts on Sunday at 6.00pm

Dirk Maggs' brilliant production of Voyage starts on Monday 13th June.

Coming soon: The Kraken Wakes in July, Dan Dare in August, followed by a Terry Pratchett season.

BBC 7's 7th Dimension

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On Radio 4:

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue - Monday 6.30pm, repeated Sunday 12noon

Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive - Wednesday 6.30pm

The News Quiz - Friday 6.30pm, repeated Saturday 12.30pm

Comedy on Radio 4

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Doctor Who

The excellent new series has an equally impressive website. Play the Dalek game, watch editions of Dr Who Confidential and explore a huge collection of behind-the-scenes pictures, videos and information:

Dr Who

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The Official Hitchhiker's Movie site:

Hitchhiker's Movie

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BBC Shop

There are some great offers on Hitchhiker recordings at the BBC Shop and you can even pre-order the final series.

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Happy hitchhiking,

Roger and Anna

Radio 4 Interactive Team

Newsletter: 12 April 2005

Three weeks to go...

Exactly three weeks to the start of the Quandary Phase and we already have lots of related goodies on the Radio 4 Hitchhiker site. Firstly there's an extended trailer - a glorious montage of aural delights from soundsmiths Maggs and Deeley. Then we have a new behind-the-scenes photo gallery to help you put some faces to the famous voices in the trailer. Finally (for those of us who insist on opening our presents before the big day) we have the full cast list for the two final series - and what a cast it is - roll on 3 May!

Quandary and Quintessential Photo Gallery

Full Cast List

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Production Diary

Dirk Maggs and Bruce Hyman tell us how the recording sessions for the final series have been progressing:

The cast recordings complete, there are barely ten weeks to edit, tracklay and stereo mix both series to meet BBC Audiobooks' deadlines. This is not to say that it's impossible to turn around a half-hour radio sitcom episode a week, in fact many are edited and have signature tunes and linking music added in a single day - but this is Hitchhiker's, where expectations of the sound effects and general audio production are - understandably - more like those for a commercial album or film soundtrack. Despite lack of time (and anything like the budget!), these requirements - AND those of both the stereo and surround mixes - need to be borne in mind.

So for Dirk it's a series of seven-day weeks editing all the takes into the best possible performances, adding various backgrounds, building hundreds of individual sound effects and panning the results to appropriate points in both the stereo and surround 'picture'. Many headache tablets are consumed in this period, also a fair few litres of imported Dutch beer...

Read the full diary here:

Production Diary

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Adventure Game

We have almost finished publishing all the hints, so if you haven't yet set out on Douglas's extraordinary interactive adventure you really have no excuse:

Adventure Game

Part 9 - The War Chamber and Maze

Part 10 - Inside the Whale

Don't miss the answers to the 'wooden puppet' question!

Hints Index:

Adventure Game Hints Index

Just for fun - have you tried:

1. Drinking the wine at the party?
2. Eating one of the hors d'oeuvres? (Try several times)
3. Throwing the glass of wine or the plate of hors d'oeuvres?
4. Jumping into the water from the Presidential Speedboat?
5. Throwing something into the water from the boat?
6. Shooting the crowd, the guards, Trillian, yourself, the toolbox...

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Don't Miss

Sci-fi and fantasy every night on BBC 7's 7th Dimension.
Earthsearch can be heard every day until 15 April at 6pm and midnight. Earthsearch II begins on Monday 18 April and the classic adventure Journey Into Space continues on Saturdays at 6pm

BBC 7's 7th Dimension

On Radio 4 this week:

What a Carve Up! The spectacular climax of Jonathan Coe's satirical tale: Tuesday 12 April 11.00pm

Lawrence and Gus: Untold Stories 1/6 Death in Ipswich
A new comedy series about some of life's bit-part players: Wednesdays from 13 April 11.00pm

Paperback Hell - 1/6 Travelodge Travelogue, inspired by Britain's bestselling humorous travel writers. The cast includes Michael Fenton Stevens: Wednesdays from 13 April 11.15pm

The Employee - a dark comedy about the pressures of modern life: Friday Play 15 April 9.00pm

Comedy on Radio 4

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The Official Hitchhiker's Movie site:

Hitchhiker's Movie

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The new Dr Who site:

Dr Who

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BBC Shop

There are some great offers on Hitchhiker recordings at the BBC Shop and you can even pre-order the final series.

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Bye for now,

Roger and Anna

Radio 4 Interactive Team

Newsletter: 8 March 2005

The Adventure Game wins a BAFTA!

Wow - what a night! On 3 March, Sean Sollé, Rod Lord and Roger Philbrick, the team behind the 20th Anniversary Edition of the Adventure Game, dressed up in what Rod described as 'penguin suits' for a very glitzy dinner at Café Royal in Piccadilly, London. We were attending the Interactive BAFTA Awards, hosted by Radio 4 favourite Jeremy Hardy. Our new edition of the game had been nominated in the Online Entertainment category and we were delighted to be joined by Jane Belson (widow of Douglas Adams) and Steve Meretzky, the co-designer of the original game, who flew across from the US for the event.

After a champagne reception on the 6th floor we were invited to take our seats for the ceremony on the 4th floor. The sight of so many dinner suits and ball gowns descending a very grand staircase made me wonder if we were being filmed for a remake of 'Titanic'. Jeremy Hardy did a great job of relaxing and entertaining us, teasing his 'new media' audience with a technophobic diatribe: "Don't ask me to press the red button, just tell me the news!"

There were five nominations for each award and Hitchhiker's was up against some pretty impressive competition. We held our breath as Jeremy announced "And the Online Entertainment winner is... The Hitchhiker's Guide Adventure Game!" The next few minutes were quite surreal, as the team marched on stage and I attempted to thank all those involved - particularly Douglas Adams! We were whisked away for publicity photos - you can see the results on the page below.

At the end of the evening I had to make my way home with a rather heavy trophy. With no taxis to be had, I set off on foot, hiding the glittering mask as best I could, but safe in the knowledge that it would serve as an effective blunt instrument were I to be accosted. Fortunately the tabloids didn't have cause to use 'Bludgeoned by a BAFTA' as a headline and the trophy has now embarked upon an 'Amelie' style world tour. Steve Meretzky has taken it back to Massachusetts and he will ship it on to Shimon Young, our coder for the project, who couldn't make it to the dinner for the excusable reason that he lives in Jerusalem.

Building the new edition of the Adventure Game

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Production Diary

Dirk Maggs and Bruce Hyman tell us how the recording sessions for the final series have been progressing:

Continued from last month ...

RECORDING DAY FIVE

After a weekend to vaguely recover it's back into the maelstrom with MOSTLY HARMLESS. Mike Fenton Stevens, Andy Taylor, Philip Pope and Roger Gregg are The Grebulons, aliens with no idea of who they are or what their purpose is. Much improvisation goes on looking for a 'style' that is funny without being unintelligible. Roger Gregg confesses afterwards that he has been in a state of panic - as an American living in Ireland he has NEVER been asked to act with an English accent before!

At lunchtime Rula Lenska arrives to record her part in various episodes. She is in a play in Perth, Scotland, so we must squeeze her studio time into as short a period as possible. Having played Lintilla in The Secondary Phase she is now semi-reprising this part but with a lot more sinister plot undertones. Lots of story threads are being drawn together in this final Hitchhikers series, which is why also in this session Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox returns to the Hitchhiker's Guide Headquarters Building ... still bugged by Trillian's refusal to accept his side of the story, he's going to find out what's REALLY been going on ...

Read the full diary here:

Production Diary

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Adventure Game

It was a great pleasure to meet Steve Meretzky, when he came to London for the BAFTA dinner and our site now includes a fascinating interview, in which he explains what it was like to work with Douglas:

Interview with Steve Meretzky

Play the award winning (did we mention that?) fully illustrated editions of the game:

Adventure Game

Parts 7 and 8 of the Game Hints are now available:

Part 7 - At the Party

The first question is "Who am I?" and the answer may surprise you!

Part 8 - The Earth Revisited

Adventure Game Hints Index

Just for fun - On Traal, have you tried:

1. Saying something other than your name when the Beast asks for it?
2. Saying your name with the towel over your eyes?
3. Carving the Beast's name on the memorial?
4. Reading the memorial?
5. Waking the sleeping Beast?

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Don't Miss

Sci-fi and fantasy every night on BBC 7's 7th Dimension.
The classic adventure Journey Into Space continues on Saturdays at 6pm

The serialisation of C S Lewis' Perelandra concludes tonight, but you can still 'listen again' to previous episodes.

BBC 7's 7th Dimension

Victoria Goes to Ambridge: Friday 3.30pm on Radio 4 (Red Nose Day)

The final instalment of Victoria Wood's Archers spoof includes an omnibus of the previous four episodes, plus a special guest appearance by the celebrity who wins the public vote.

Red Nose Day

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The Official Hitchhiker's Movie site:

Hitchhiker's Movie

With the new series only days away, check out the new Dr Who site:

Dr Who

Plus 'TV, DVD and Lovely Stuff' on BBC Cult:

BBC Cult

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BBC Shop

Remember there are some great offers on Hitchhiker recordings at the BBC Shop and you can even pre-order the final series.

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Bye for now,

Roger and Anna

Radio 4 Interactive Team

Newsletter: 16 February 2005

It's been a hectic start to the year for those of us working on the Hitchhiker project. The competition winners recently visited the studio where Dirk, Bruce, Paul and the cast (including some Radio 4 celebrities) were busy recording the new series. Meanwhile the website team have been assembling the winning graphics to sit alongside Rod Lord's great original illustrations in our version of the Adventure Game. More details below...

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Production Diary

Dirk Maggs and Bruce Hyman tell us how the recording sessions for the final series have been progressing:

RECORDING DAY ONE

At last we are back at The Soundhouse, it's a bright cold Tuesday morning and the cast assembles somewhat nervously for read-through on Episode One of SO LONG & THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH. Everyone looks and sounds the same - well ALMOST everyone - Geoff McGivern rolls up with a big gappy smile - his lower front teeth are missing. "Over Chrishmash I had a bit of an encounter with a Brashil nut", he says. "But no worriesh. It won’t advershley affect my shpeech.” Grateful thanks to Helen, who finds a dentist who provides replacements within 24 hours ...

Read the full diary here:

Production Diary

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Competition Winners Visit the Studio

Nolan and Andrew recently visited the Hitchhiker studio. They had a great afternoon, meeting the cast & crew - including Dirk, Simon, Geoff, Peter and Charlotte - and adding their own voices to the recordings. They are now the proud owners of signed copies of the script as a record of the event.

Studio Visit

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Adventure Game

REALLY big news this month - the new, completed versions of our 20th anniversary edition of the game are now ready to play. Yes, we did say versions. The entries to the competition were so good that we have decided to publish not one, but two editions, featuring the work of Nolan, Andrew and many others. You can restore your existing 'save' positions from either version, so you don't need to start the game from scratch - unless you want to of course!

Choose the Nolan Worthington/Rod Lord edition, or the Rod/Andrew Wyld and 'best of the rest' version:

Adventure Game

And we're rather chuffed that our 20th anniversary adaptation has been nominated for an Interactive BAFTA award. The winners will be announced at a glitzy dinner at the Café Royal in London next month - so keep your fingers crossed for us.

We're also delighted to learn from the message board that some of you have actually managed to complete the game(!):

'Finally Done!!! - greywolf393 - 3rd post - 2 Feb 2005 20:44 Took me a couple of weeks and a few restarts, but I finally did it. 586 moves.'

'Finally Finished - Sarcasmo8 - 4th post - 27 Jan 2005 18:08 Does anyone know of any other text games like this online? Loved it and want to play another. Totally hooked!'

However, we're continuing to publish Douglas Adams' original hints for those of you still pleading for help. Part 6 is now available:

Part 6 - On Damogran

Adventure Game Hints Index

Just for fun - have you tried:

1. Opening the hatch before landing on Magrathea?
2. Kicking the screening door, then entering Marvin's Pantry?
3. Closing the screening door once you've opened it?
4. Reading the tiny message on the circuit board with the magnifying glass?
5. Smashing the circuit board?

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Don't Miss

Sci-fi and fantasy fans can indulge their passion every night by tuning into BBC 7's 7th Dimension. Including the classic adventure: Journey Into Space on Saturdays at 6pm

BBC 7's 7th Dimension

Book at Bedtime this week is Planet of the Apes - Monday to Friday 10.45pm 14 to 18 February and remember you can still 'listen again' to earlier episodes.

Book at Bedtime

'Where Did It All Go Wrong' is a new comedy series on Wednesday nights at 11.15pm, starting with 'The True Confessions of Sherlock Holmes'.

Radio 4 Comedy

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Other Hitchhiker sites

While visiting the Hitchhiker studio with Nolan and Andrew, we met Nicolas Botti who runs three rather excellent Hitchhiker websites:

Hitchhiker's Guide on Radio 4 - including behind the scenes information and pictures from the latest recording sessions.

First Unofficial Movie site

Douglas Adams - A Renaissance Man

And of course...

BBC Cult

Yet more Hitchhiker content on the BBC Cult site:

BBC Cult: Hitchhikers

Dr Who galleries on BBC Cult:

BBC Cult: Dr Who galleries

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BBC Shop

There are some great offers on Hitchhiker recordings at the BBC Shop and you can even pre-order the final series

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Bye for now,

Roger and Anna

Radio 4 Interactive Team

Newsletter: 10 January 2005

Happy New Year! - and welcome to the January 2005 edition of Radio 4's Hitchhiker's Guide Newsletter.

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Production Diary

More behind the scenes news of work on the Quandary and Quintessential Phases from director Dirk Maggs and producer Bruce Hyman:

Friday 17th December
The first recording for Hitchhikers Quandary Phase takes place almost a month before main cast recordings, it's a New York recording studio session set up by Bruce with Dirk directing a legendary US comedy talent down the line from London. The result is one half of a very funny conversation with Ford Prefect which will be completed by Geoffrey McGivern in January. More news on casting will follow, including the voice behind this character ... sorry to tease ... it's worth the wait ...

Read the full diary here ... find out who will be playing Fenchurch:

Production Diary

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Picture Competition

Many congratulations to Nolan Worthington and Andrew Wyld, joint winners of the Picture Competition - and to the runners-up.

Competition Results

The standard of the entries was very high and the fact that Nolan completed a full set of images in just 2 weeks is astonishing:

Nolan Worthington and Andrew Wyld explain how they created their images

Read more about the most prolific entrants:

Artist Profiles

And see the 7 galleries of illustrations:

Galleries

Nolan and Andrew will be joining Dirk and the cast in the Hitchhiker studio later this week. We'll let you know what they thought of the experience!

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Adventure Game Hints

You can now see the hints for Earth, In the Dark, On the Vogon Ship and Aboard the Heart of Gold:

Adventure Game Hints Index

Just for fun - have you tried:

1. Yelling in the Dark?
2. Waiting about 60 turns in Dark to see the hints you get?
3. Not eating the peanuts in the Vogon Hold?
4. Drinking the Santraginean Mineral Water?
5. Enjoying the Vogon poetry without the babel fish?

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Don't Miss

Listen to sci-fi and fantasy every night on BBC 7's 7th Dimension. Including Journey Into Space on Saturdays at 6pm.

BBC 7's 7th Dimension

Nebulous - the new futuristic Radio 4 comedy starring Mark Gatiss, each Thursday at 11.00pm:

Nebulous

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BBC Cult

Over at Cult Towers 'excitement is reaching fever pitch' as they await the new - and long overdue - series of Dr Who:

BBC Cult: Dr Who

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Bye for now,

Roger and Anna

Radio 4 Interactive Team

Newsletter: 10 December 2004

Welcome to the second edition of Radio 4's Hitchhiker's Guide Newsletter.

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Picture Competition

The Adventure Game Picture Competition closes on 15 December and we have had some very impressive late submissions. Selecting the winners won't be easy.
Check out the galleries of entries:

Competition Picture Galleries

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Production Diary - 10 December 2004

More behind the scenes news of work on the Quandary and Quintessential Phases from director Dirk Maggs and producer Bruce Hyman:

Production Diary

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Adventure Game Hints

The first set of hints have proved very popular and you should now have all the information you need to escape from Earth before it is destroyed. Here's the next installment:

Adventure Game Hints - In the Dark

Just for fun - On the Earth, have you tried:

1. Buying peanuts in the pub?
2. Listening to the jukebox music?
3. Petting or kicking the dog?
4. Hitting Prosser (before and after your house is demolished)?

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Don't Miss

Listen to sci-fi and fantasy every night on BBC 7's 7th Dimension. Coming up - Dr Who: The Paradise of Death and A S Byatt's A Stone Woman.

BBC 7's 7th Dimension

Book at Bedtime: Frankenstein. David Rintoul reads the final installments of Mary Shelley's gothic romance:

Book at Bedtime

Be part of BBC 7's The Chain Gang - try your hand at writing the next episode of Amnesia:

The Chain Gang

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Hitchhiker's Movie Art

Production sketches from the forthcoming film on the BBC's h2g2 site:

Hitchhiker's Movie Art

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BBC Cult

Hitchhiker's, Dr Who, Ghosts of Albion and plenty more...

BBC Cult

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Happy Christmas to all.

Roger and Anna

Radio 4 Interactive Team

Newsletter: 26 November 2004

Welcome to the first edition of Radio 4's Hitchhiker's Guide Newsletter. The Tertiary Phase was a huge success - congratulations to Dirk, Bruce, Paul and all the actors for having done such a great job in the studio. The original series was the first Radio 4 comedy programme to be broadcast in stereo, so it seemed fitting that the Tertiary Phase should break new ground by being available in 5.1 surround. The Listen Again audio streams received over a million hits during the series, taking Hitchhiker's to the top of the radio charts - knocking even The Archers into second place! Roll on the Quandary and Quintessential Phases.

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Production Diary - 26 November 2004

Dirk Maggs and Bruce Hyman explain how work on the adaptation and dramatisation of the final two books is progressing:

Production Diary

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Adventure Game Hints

The postings on our Hitchhiker's Message Board suggest that many players of the Adventure Game could do with a helping hand to nudge them in the right direction (one member of the Radio 4 Interactive team is still stuck in the bedroom!) So, with the season of goodwill fast approaching, we've adding a hints section to our site:

Adventure Game Hints

Just for fun - On the Earth, have you tried:

1. Looking under your bed?
2. To PHONE HOME from your bedroom?
3. Asking Prosser for the time?
4. To GET DRUNK in the pub?

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Picture Competition

You have until 15 December to send us your images for the final version of the Adventure Game interface:

Picture Competition

See some of the excellent entries we've received so far:

Picture Galleries

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Don't Miss

Radio Roots on Tuesday 30 November at 11.30am, which looks at the career of Peter Jones, the voice of The Book in the original Hitchhiker's Guide series:

Listen Again

Listen to sci-fi and fantasy every night on BBC 7's 7th Dimension. Coming up in the next few days: The conclusion of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, Harlan Ellison's Soldier and Daphne du Maurier's The Birds.

BBC 7's 7th Dimension

Be part of BBC 7's The Chain Gang - try your hand at writing the next episode of Amnesia:

The Chain Gang

A galaxy of Hitchhiker content on the BBC Cult site:

BBC Cult - Hitchhikers

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Until next time,

Roger and Anna

Radio 4 Interactive Team


Now, how do I get hold of that babel fish?....

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