Now I believe that at the tail end of my last review I discussed a certain Douglas Adams? And not that long ago Sgathaich reviewed the television version of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxyso why don’t I review where it all started?
The first radio series – or Primary Phase as it is called in all the modern rereleases – was first broadcast in 1978 and very quickly became a series with a cult following. A Secondary Phase followed quickly in 1980. Many different accounts I can find of the history of the series often state that by the airing of the final episode of the Primary Phase the series had already developed a sizeable number of fans.
I myself became a fan in my pre-teenage years thanks to my father having a set of CDs for the first two series and allowing me to borrow them repeatedly. At about that same time in 2005 the BBC got as many of the original crew back together as possible to record radio versions of the other Hitchhiker’s projects Adams had written prior to his death in 2001. As such it is the original radio series version which I have the greatest amount of attachment to.
But of course where do I properly begin? I could do a traditional review where I explain the basics of the plot and what makes the series special. However I’m fairly confident that if you are looking at this article you already know what happens so discussing the plot seems perfunctory at best. Plus the series is a comedy and no one wants to read my attempts to copy and paste some of the more memorable jokes into a review.
The series is special to me personally because – as much as I’m not exactly sure how to describe it – I believe the series was instrumental in creating my personal sense of humour. It is thanks to The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy that I developed an appreciation for a little bit of randomness here and there. For excessively technical or elaborate jokes with rather weird punchlines. For classic wordplay. For some form of nihilism in comedy. For deconstructions. And for that little bit of indescribable magic that is, was, and always will be Douglas Adams. There’s something magical in it for everyone. The parts I adore? And the jokes and characters you adore? Will be completely different I promise you.
The parts are all played wonderfully with Simon Jones as traditional English stereotype every man Arthur Dent, Mark Wing-Davey as the impossibly cool and also utterly deranged Zaphod Beeblebrox, Gefforey McGivern as the wonderful perpetual drifting car salesman in space that is Ford Prefect and the hilarious robotic Eeyore that is Stephen Moore as Marvin the Paranoid Android as my personal favourites. Not to mention the perfect Peter Jones for the Voice of the Book. The vast majority of the main cast also played their parts in the (also very enjoyable) television adaptation.
The original Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series is truly unmissable and irreplaceable. It stands proud as one of the greatest examples of British humour and British science-fiction that one can find. If you’ve listened to it but not for quite a while? Find your old CDs! If you lost them? Buy a new set! If you haven’t heard the series before? Regardless of the reason or medium you use? Find and listen to the originals! I promise you you’ll be loving the series by the end. Now…for those of you who were hoping for a review in my more traditional style? I apologise profusely but it just didn’t feel right in this case.
I hope I can persuade some of my readers to give the original version a listen. You know what? It’s time I go back to the Heart Of Gold for yet another listen. Who’s coming along with me? I won’t say what my next review is going to be…but we will find out together.