Simon Jones, who played Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy, presents a look back at the life and
work of a writer who has captivated the imagination of millions...
Douglas Adams created The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
for BBC Radio 4, it was the genesis of a science fiction
comedy legend. Yet his career at the BBC had begun in Light
Entertainment, with contributions to The Burkiss Way, Week
Ending and other sketch shows of the time. He went on
to script edit a series of Doctor Who, and to write
a series of Hitchhiker's and Dirk Gently books.
In this triple-CD programme, Simon Jones takes an A-Z look
at Adams's career, taking in extracts from the many radio
and TV programmes he contributed to. These include personal
appearances on Wogan, Tomorrow's World and Desert
Island Discs, his own radio programmes such as Last
Chance to See (about the search for endangered species)
and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Future (a look at
impending technology), and even a lost segment of The Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy which Adams wrote specially for Radio
4's Steafel Plus in 1982. Also included are some of
the many tributes paid to Adams following his untimely death
in May 2001. This is a fascinating and in-depth audio biography
of a man whose brilliant work has inspired, enraptured and
entertained millions of people worldwide.
by Dirk Maggs and presented by Jones (who played Arthur Dent
in the Hitchhiker's radio series) Douglas Adams
at the BBC includes plenty of material to keep even his
most knowledgeable fans entertained.
The first thing I noticed about this collection was that Jones's
introduction sounded insincere. "He was a great friend
and I miss him greatly" seemed to have been said without
any feeling - like he was simply reading from a script. I
was also not really keen on the A-Z route that the producers
decided to take. Surely a better idea would have been to follow
Adams's career from start to finish... or am I just being
A-Z idea just doesn't seem to work (with bizarre choices which
stretch the format to the limit). We start with "A"
which is for "Animals", which looks at Adams's endangered
species show, which followed him as he went in search of rare
animals. But then, later on, we have "E"
is for "Endangered Species" and really just follows
on from "A". It would have made much more sense
to have followed his life in a linear fashion. You
could argue that the biographies that have already been published
provide a historical account of Adams's career from start
to finish, but it is the additions of his early radio comedy
sketches, the lost Hitchhiker's episode, and the constant
stream of interviews that are included here, which make this
an essential purchase for all Adams's fans who already own
was fortunate enough to hear Adams give one of his last public
speeches at a conference in Cannes in 2001. I have to admit
to not really being a huge fan before seeing him speak. Sure
I'd heard the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio
series and thought it was pretty good, but I always thought
it was rather over rated. He seemed to have done nothing much
of interest before or after Hitchhiker's (apart from
some work on Doctor Who and the short lived Dirk
Gently series) and he seemed to be a one trick pony, spinning
out the same material again and again - which is also why
I have never really been a huge fan of Terry Pratchett.
I found Adams to be an extremely funny speaker and realised
that maybe, just maybe, I had misjudged him. So impressed
was I with the man's ability to spin a good yarn that I went
out and re-bought the Hitchhiker's books and even picked up
an earlier edition of this biography.
Douglas Adams at the BBC is an essential purchase for
true Adams fans. And if, like me, you thought Adams was famous
for just one thing, this will open up his varied and very
impressive career to you.
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