It was the television series that introduced me to the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and the weird and exciting adventures of Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin as the Earth was blown up to make way for a hyper space bypass and what happened to Arthur and Ford afterwards including finding out that the Earth was basically a gigantic computer programme designed to work out what the question to the ultimate answer of life the universe and everything is.
I absolutely loved the TV series when I first saw it, but the original radio series is, if anything, better than the TV version and I now think of the radio series as the best and the ultimate version of the story. In my head the characters look like they do in the TV series and sound like they do in the radio series. It took me an age to work out that it was not the same person playing Ford on the telly as it was on the radio.
The radio series is radio at its most inventive and imaginative and its paints wonderful images in your mind as high end concepts are thrown at you all the time and sometimes you struggle to keep up with them all but that are exactly what repeated listening are for and I would say that in this series you will appreciate is more after you have listened to it a couple of times.
Arthur Dent is the everyman character in the story. A man who enjoys a nice up of tea and lives an ordinary life until his planet got blown up and he discovered that his best friend was from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and not Guildford as he had always assumed. Simon Jones plays Arthur well and he really bring across Arthur’s wonder at everything that he sees and does throughout the story. He is the one character that the listener can truly identify with as they have a little bit in common with him, at least in the sense that they are both ape descendents.
His friend Ford Prefect is a bit more universally wise than Arthur due to the fact that he is an alien who knows what the universe is really like. Zaphod is an incredibly cool dude who is also a bit of rogue on the side. Trillian is pretty much the token women in the story and doesn’t really have a great deal to do, which is a bit of a shame really, but perhaps Douglas Adams wasn’t that great at writing female characters at that point in his career.
I can do nothing else but recommend this radio version of the series not just because it is the original and the best version of all of the iterations of the Hitch Hikers Guide, but because it is bloody funny and that is, in the end, what radio comedy is all about and this is a bloody good example of the genre even if I do say so myself.