Douglas Adams Events

Since Douglas Adams’ death, there have been a certain amount of events to celebrate his memory. Since 2003, each year a memorial lecture is given by a scientist or intellectual. And in march 2010, the 10th Memorial lecture was replaced by a huge 60th birthday party.

The Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture is held each year since 2003 in honour of Douglas Adams, who was a dedicated spokesperson for conservation and environnemental issues right up until his death in 2001 at the age of 49.

The lecture is held in aid of two charities, Save the Rhino and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The lectures were held first at the Royal institution and now at The Royal Geographical Society.

There have been 14 lectures from 2003 to 2016. No more lectures since then.

14th lecture (10 March 2016)   Professor Alice Roberts “Survivors of the Ice Age”

13th lecture (Tuesday 3 March 2015) – Neil Gaiman “Immortality and Douglas Adams”

Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2015 from EIA on Vimeo.

12th lecture (Tuesday 11 March 2014) –   Roger Highfield and Simon Singh : The Science of Harry Potter and the Mathematics of The Simpsons


11th lecture (Tuesday 12 March 2013) – Dr Adam Rutherford, with an introduction of Stephen Mangan : “Creation: The Origin And The Future Of Life is at…” 

Lecure replaced by The Douglas Adams Party (11th March 2012) at London’s Hammersmith Apollo

9th lecture (Tuesday 12 March 2013) –  Professor Brian Cox “The Universe and Why we Should Explore It”

8th lecture (Thursday 11 March 2010) – Professor Marcus du Sautoy : “42: the answer to life, the universe and prime numbers”

7th lecture (Wednesday 11 March 2009) – Explorer Benedict Allen “Unbreakable”

6th lecture (Wednesday 12 March 2008) – “The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature”, professor Steven Pinker + original cast members of the Hitchhiker’s radio series reunite for a one-off live performance to mark the 30th anniversary of the first broadcast.

5th lecture (Thursday 15 March 2007) – Dr Richard Leakey : “Wildlife Management in East Africa – Is there a future?”

4th lecture (Thursday 23 March 2006) – Professor Robert Winston “Is the Human an Endangered Species?”

3rd lecture (Thursday 10 March 2005)   –  Mark Carwardine“Last Chance To See… Just a bit more”

2nd lecture (Thursday 11 March 2004) –  Polar perambulist Robert Swan “Mission: Antarctica”

1st lecture (Tuesday 11 March 2003) –  Professor Richard Dawkins “Queerer than we can suppose: the strangeness of science”

The Douglas Adams Party (11th March 2012) at London’s Hammersmith Apollo

In 2012, Douglas Adams The Party: Virtual 60th celebrated what would have been Douglas’ 60th birthday with an evening of science, comedy, conservation and music.

My review:

Imagine… An all star cast giving a stirring homage to a long-time dead writer in front of 3.000 enthusiastic fans.

Imagine dancing rhinos, some scientists doing one man shows, Terry Jones explaining how he almost got killed with other Pythons by a drunk Adams, impressions of Tom Baker (Dr Who) and of famous scientists, forgotten sketches written or co-written by Douglas almost forty years ago, feelings and situations for which no words exist (till now), a Dalek who may have killed Marvin, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) playing the solo part on “Whiter Shade Of Pale” voiced by the still mighty Gary Brooker (Procol Harum),… Yes, all that happened olive during a three hour long show the 11th March 2012 for the from now on legendary Douglas Adams Virtual 60th Party.

Such an enthusiasm for Douglas Adams 60th anniversary is an incredible thing. We owe a lot to Dirk Maggs (the guy who among other things directed the last three Hitchhiker radio series) and James Thrift (Douglas’ brother) who decided to bring this dream to reality.

It was really thrilling to be in front of the Hammersmith Apollo, with hundreds of people, waiting for the doors to open. Doors on the top on which you could read in large and friendly letters the words “Save the Rhino presents Douglas Adams – the party”.

And an incredible party it was indeed. Even if there were parts that were less good than expected (I was a slightly disappointed by the Hitchhiker sketch without Marvin but with a Dalek – it should have been funnier -, and by Terry Jones’ interview – it should have been deeper), it was a high quality top notch event. One of great moments was John Lloyd quoting passages of “The Meaning of Liff”, and also other feelings and situations that were unnamed till this evening and have been written by fans for the event. “The Meaning of Liff” concept was surprisingly irresistible on stage.

There was also great moment involving Will Adams and Martin Smith (Douglas Adams’s Cambridge-era writing partners) performing a sketch (the Hole in the Wall Club) that they had co-written with Douglas.

Maybe the best moment came at the end, with David Gilmour, who stayed during all the show in the audience with his family (three rows behind me!), finally climbing on stage to play “Wish you were here” on an acoustic guitar. An event that I dreamt to listen one day since I watched the video were he sang “Wish You Were Here” during the Service of Celebration held for Douglas at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, on 17th September 2001. Gilmour stayed on stage to play guitar on two other songs with an all star band including Gary Brooker and other musicians loved by Douglas (Robbie McIntosh, Margo Buchanan, Paul Wix Wickens,…).

It was also great to see Douglas’ family on stage at the end looking the screen an extract of the Hitchhiker TV series where Douglas get naked and go away into the sea.

The Show ended quite logically on “What a Wonderful World” sung by Louis Armstrong. Thank you Douglas!


Official videos: