The Various Incarnations of H2G2


The original H2G2 radio series

The first and second radio series (1978 and 1980) constitute the Big Bang, the first version of Hitchhiker. For many fans, it will remain the best version of Hitchhiker. The dialogues are utterly funny, the cast is just incedible and the sound environment is revolutionnary.

The two series (12 episodes) are avalaible on CD for now many years thanks to BBC audio. It has recently been voted the British’s Favourite Audiobook in a Guardian Poll.

In 2007, the original radio series have been remastered to modern-day standards by Dirk Maggs, and for the first time feature Philip Pope’s arrangement of the familiar theme tune, with newly recorded announcements by John Marsh. This version is entitled the “Special Edition”. But you can still find the old version if you prefer to get the stuff exactly as it was first broadcast.

You can also get the script books thanks to Pan Books. You’ll find there bits of dialogues that have been cut, and a lot of indications and comments from Douglas Adams and producer Geoffrey Perkins. At the begining of 2003, Pan Books published a 25 years anniversary edition with a lost episode (in fact a short extract from a radio show which makes the link between the first and second series).

> THE BOOKS (1979-1992)

H2G2 books

Sixteen million books of the most famous trilogy in five parts have been sold worlwide.

The book version is the most well known version of Hitchhiker but the five books are all very different. The first novel (The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy) has been published in 1979 and the second one in 1980 (The Restaurant at The End of The Universe). They are closer from the original radio series than the three following books. The other volumes have been written by a Douglas Adams who was not really sure that he wanted to write anymore about Hitchhiker and the result depended a lot upon his mood at the time of writing. The third novel (Life, the Universe and Everything) was nevertheless published in 1982. It is mainly based on a never used Doctor Who script Douglas wrote years before. It’s the only novel in the trilogy to have a real plot. The fourth book was published two years later in 1984. “So long and thanks for all the fish” is mainly a love story and takes place on earth most of the time. The final book in The Hitchhiker trilogy (Mostly Harmless), pubished in 1992, is dark and pessimistic, and was quite a shock for the Hitchhiker’s fans. But is it very surprising that we got such a pessimistic end? From the start Hitchhiker had a dark side, a kind of black sense of humour, and it’s part of the charm and uniqueness of Douglas’ books.

The Hitchhiker’s canon also includes one short story : “Young Zaphod plays it safe”. You can maybe add an other one “The Private Life of Genghis Khan” (which Douglas adapted from a TV sketch originally written with Graham Chapman in 1975 and includes a short appearance by Wowbagger the Infinitely prolonged). These two short stories first appeared in The Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Christmas Book (1986) which Adams also co-edited.

And of course in 2009 “And Another Thing…” was published. The sixth Hitchhiker novel was written by Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl).

> THE LP VERSIONS (1979-80)

H2G2 LPs
At the beginning the BBC didn’t want to market the radio series. So producer Geoffrey Perkins and Douglas Adams spoke to a couple of record companies. They finally got a deal with Original Records, a small independent label.

At the beginning the BBC didn’t want to market the radio series. So producer Geoffrey Perkins and Douglas Adams spoke to a couple of record companies. They finally got a deal with Original Records, a small independent label.

As the BBC owned the original version, they had to record a new version of Hitchhiker. Most of the original cast reunited, with the exception of Susan Sheridan (Trillian). And all the music used for the narrator bits in the original series were here replaced by Tim Souster’s music.

There are only some slight differences with the storyline of the radio series but the double album follows approximately the storyline of the first four episodes.

Due to the success of the first album (which was first sold in November 1979 only by mail order, Original Records decided to make a second record entitled “The Restaurant at the end of the universe”.

The sequel, named “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” is based on episodes 5 and 6 of the TV series (instead of the radio series) with the Disaster Area storyline included instead of the Haggunenon sequence.

Original Records then ran into serious financial problems, and Douglas Adams took out a lawsuit against them to try to get some of his royalties.

The LP version has never been published on CD, but is really enjoyable. (ORIGINAL RECORDS in UK / HANNIBAL RECORDS in US).

> THE TV SERIES (1981)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent in the BBC's adaptation

The BBC TV series was produced and directed by Alan J W Bell. It has been broadcasted on BBC Two, from January to February 1981.

As in the radio version, the TV series starred Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the voice of the guide was by Peter Jones. Bu the actors who played Ford and Trillian have been sadly replaced. In the TV series, David Dixon is Ford Prefect and Sandra Dickinson is Trillian.

Although the TV sersion was very successfull, Douglas was unhappy with the special effects and Alan J W Bell direction.

Doulgas disappointment about the TV series can explain in part why he spent so much of his time afterwards to try to turn Hitchhikers in a Hollywood picture.

Thus, a second TV series was never produced. Yet, the animated sequences are still much loved today. As surpising as it may seem, they have been done by Rod Lord (Pearce Studios) without the use of any computer.

The BBC released a two disc DVD in 2002 which is just one of the best DVDs the BBC ever made. Thanks to Kevin Davies, long time fan who worked with Rod Lord on the TV series graphics and made a famous Making of which is included on the DVD. Kevin Davies also included Onscreen Production Notes and other great bonuses (including a behind the scenes of the radio series).


Marvin singles

The Marvin singles have been produced by John Sinclair who worked with bands such as Foreigner or Buggles. He’s also a friend of Stephen Moore (Marvin in the radio and TV series). They worked together on the songs (Douglas is credited but wasn’t involve in the writing of the songs).

The first single was released in June 1981 on Polydor Records and included “Marvin” and “Metal man”. The single reached number 53 in the charts.

Then, they released an other single called “The Double B side” and including “Reasons to be miserable” and “Marvin I love you”. This second single wasn’t as successful as the first one, thus a third single (including a christmas song!) was recorded but never released.

For the Hitchhiker movie’s soundtrack, Stephen Fry recorded a new version of “Reasons to be miserable”.



Hitchhikers Infocom computer game (1985)

Infocom was a software company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that produced numerous works of interactive fiction (including the classical Zork series). In 1984, they published a computer game version of “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” (avalaible on Apple II, Macintosh, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST and the IBM PC).

It was written by Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky. It was a huge success (350.000 games sold). As most Infocom games, “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” game contained “feelies”, bonus items included to enhance the immersiveness of the game (Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, an Official Microscopic Space Fleet,…).

On September 21, 2004 the BBC launched the 20th Anniversary Edition to coincide with the initial radio broadcast of the Tertiary Phase, illustrated by Rod Lord (who also produced the guide animations for the Hitchhiker’s TV series). It won the Interactive BAFTA Award for Best Online Entertainment.

A proposed sequel, Milliways: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, which was to continue from the ending of the original, had problems from the start in 1985, until it was cancelled in 1989. This was due primarily down to the facts that there was “no solid game design, nobody to program it, and the backdrop of Infocom’s larger economic problems”. You can find more informations about this cancelled game (and also play to the unfinished version) on Andy Balo’s blog.


Recorded in 1990 during the Berlin Jazz Festival by the Klaüs Konig Orchestra, the CD is entitled “At the end of the universe – hommage à Douglas Adams”.

The mixture between Hitchhiker theme and modern jazz is astonishing and really enjoyable (ENJA RECORDS).

Here is the track list : Introducing Arthur Dent, Prosternic Vogon Jeltz, Marvin’s song, Deep thought, the babel fish, the pan galactic gargle blaster (or Beeblebrox blues), The earth, The restaurant at the end of universe.

> THE COMICS (1993)

Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy comicsIn 1993, the US comics publisher DC Comics (Batman, Superman,…) published a three-part comic book adaptation of the novelisation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This was followed up with three-part adaptations of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in 1994, and Life, the Universe and Everything in 1996.

There was also a series of collectors’ cards with art the comic adaptations of the first book released by CARDZ. 100 cards were produced, plus 4 Tekchrome cards and 2 Hologram Cards. 100 cards were hand signed by Douglas Adams & inserted into sealed packs of cards at a rate of only 1 per 5 cases. There is also a trading cards collector album.

The comics adaptations were scripted by John Carnell. Steve Leialoha provided the art for Hitchhiker’s and the layouts for Restaurant. Shepherd Hendrix did the finished art for Restaurant. Neil Vokes and John Nyberg did the finished artwork for Life, based on breakdowns by Paris Cullins (Book 1) and Christopher Schenck (Books 2–3). The comics were edited by Howard Zimmerman and Ken Grobe.


The Illustrated Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy was published in 1994 by Weindenfeld and Nicholson and is quite a unique book.

It reproduces the text from the original book but also features computer based technology combined with real sets, props and actors. The result is fabulous.

Kevin Davies, the art director of the project, chosen by Douglas himself, did an incredible work. Unfornuately, the book was too expensive and the sales were poor. You can now find copies on ebay, and it is still a must-have.



In 1998, The Digital Village (company co-founded by Douglas which made Starship Titanic and the website) announced that it was working on a new computer adaptation of H2G2, “an action-adventure game involving cricket, tea, petunias, and very long lunches”.

The game was offcially introduced at the E3 conference in 2001 (but just a few videos and pictures were shown). The project was cancelled in January 2002.



In November 2003, two years after Adams’s death and 23 years after the production on the Secondary Phase had ceased, a new radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything was announced.

Dirk Maggs, who was Douglas Adams’ personal choice for a new series, wrote and produced the adaptation. The six-part “Tertiary Phase” was broadcast in September and October 2004. The four-part “Quandary Phase” was broadcast in May 2005, and the four-part “Quintessential Phase” was broadcast immediately following, in May and June 2005.

Amongst the returning cast are Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, Geoffrey McGivern as Ford Prefect, Susan Sheridan as Trillian, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox and Stephen Moore as Marvin the Paranoid Android. Peter Jones (the voice of the book) who died in 2000 was here replaced by William Franklyn. Famous names in these new productions include Richard Griffiths, Stephen Fry, Jane Horrocks, Christian Slater, Chris Langham, Joanna Lumley, John Marsh and cricket commentators Fred Trueman and Henry Blofeld.

A 2-CD set of the Quandary Phase was released at the end of May 2005, and a 2-CD set of the Quintessential Phase was released at the end of June 2005. Both sets again include material that was originally cut for reasons of timing.

The “Tertiary phase” has also been released on DVD in 5.1 Dolby surround sound with a thirty minutes long behind the scene video directed by Kevin Davies.

> THE MOVIE (2005)


After twenty years of development hell, “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy” finally hit the big screen in 2005, four years after Douglas Adams’ death.

It was produced by Buena Vista (Disney), written by Karey Kirkpatrick (who worked on the final script Douglas finished a few months before his death) and directed by british director Garth Jennings.

The movie brings some new storylines (our heroes go on the Vogon’s planet), a love story between Trillian and Arthur, and new characters (Humma Kavula, Questular Rontok).