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The Tertiary, Quandary and Quintessential Phases

BBC Radio 4 presents an Above the Title Production of


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.
The Quintessential Phase - 31 May to 21 June 2005
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 The Galaxy.

Jonathan Pryce (Zarniwoop)
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 Soon'.

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 for all.

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...

Griff Rhys-Jones (Old Thrashbarg)
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 anywhere, anyway.

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 it.

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 MacMillan.

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 BETA.

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 ..."

The Quandary Phase - 3 May to 24 May 2005
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.
Ford and Arthur
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.
Jane Horrocks as 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 planet.
Marvin - by Roger Smith
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.
The Tertiary Phase - 21 September to 26 October 2004
Simon Jones playing Arthur Dent
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.
Richard Griffiths playing Slartibartfast
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.
Mark Wing-Davey playing Zaphod Beeblebrox
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.
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