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The Hitchhikers Guide Tertiary Phase FAQ
What is the Tertiary Phase?
The Tertiary Phase of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a six-part radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything, the third Hitchhikers Guide novel.
Why is it called the Tertiary Phase?
When the original twelve radio episodes, previously available all together, were reissued as two separate double-cassettes with six episodes each, Douglas Adams came up with the idea of calling them The Primary Phase and The Secondary Phase. This was because episode seven was a one-off Christmas Special from 1978 and so could not strictly be called part of the second series which was broadcast in 1980.
Who has written the scripts?
The novel has been adapted by Dirk Maggs, who is also the director and co-producer and has an unparalleled track record as the creative force behind both comedy and science fiction on radio. Dirk was Douglas Adams own choice to make the series on previous attempts which didnt happen for one reason or another. Douglas himself once wrote a script for episode one of the Tertiary Phase and this has been adapted into the first two episodes of the produced version.
Who is in the cast?
The five surviving members of the original core cast have recreated their roles as follows:
Arthur Dent: Simon Jones
Ford Prefect: Geoffrey McGivern
Zaphod Beeblebrox: Mark Wing-Davey
Trillian: Susan Sheridan
Marvin: Stephen Moore
Three other main roles have been recast because the original actors are no longer alive:
The Book (formerly Peter Jones): William Franklyn
Slartibartfast (formerly Richard Vernon): Richard Griffiths (Withnail and I, Harry Potter)
Eddie the Computer (formerly David Tate): Roger Gregg
Who else is in the cast?
Leslie Philips (The Navy Lark, Harry Potter) plays Hactar the evil supercomputer.
Chris Langham (People Like Us) plays Prak, the man who was given too much truth drug. (He was also the first actor to play Arthur Dent on stage, back in 1979.)
Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous, The New Avengers) plays the woman at the flying party who has a head shaped like Sydney Opera House.
Cricket commentators Fred Trueman and Henry Blofeld play themselves.
Who plays Agrajag?
Douglas Adams wanted to play Agrajag (the character who has been continually, accidentally killed by Arthur Dent) himself. Douglas recorded unabridged talking books of all five Hitchhikers Guide novels, the rights to which are now owned by the BBC. Consequently it has been possible to isolate Agrajags dialogue from the readings and edit it together with Simon Jones responses as Arthur.
Who is providing the music?
Paul Wickens (aka Wix) has created the music. He was a close friend of Douglas Adams and plays keyboards in Paul McCartneys band. The song heard on the planet Krikkit has been written by Philip Pope who wrote all the comedy songs in Radio Active and many of the songs in Spitting Image.
Is this a BBC production?
No. The Tertiary Phase is an independent production by a company called Above the Title. However, it will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
When was the series recorded?
It was recorded in London in November 2003.
When will the series by broadcast?
The Tertiary Phase was originally scheduled to start on 17th February 2004 but in December 2003 it was indefinitely postponed because of contractual problems linked to the movie of Hitchhikers Guide which had not been sorted out when the new series was recorded. In June 2004 it was announced by the BBC that the series would be broadcast on Tuesdays from 21st September at 6.30pm, with each episode repeated the following Thursday at 11.00pm.
Will the programme be broadcast outside the UK?
It is entirely possible that stations such as ABC in Australia and NPR in the United States, which have previously broadcast the original Hitchhikers Guide radio series, may broadcast the Tertiary Phase. In any case, all BBC radio stations are carried over the web; you can listen to Radio 4 anywhere in the world by going here. Each episode will be available on the web for one week after its Thursday repeat.
Will the series be released on CD?
The series will be released on cassette and CD (in the UK) on 25th October 2004, just after the last episode is broadcast. All the episodes will be slightly longer than the broadcast versions, totalling about 21 minutes of extra material. The series may eventually be released on DVD together with documentary video footage of the recording sessions; however, no solid information about this has yet been made public. There has been no announcement yet of any American CD/cassette release.
How does the series get around the fact that Life, the Universe and Everything follows on from the end of the Primary Phase (Ford and Arthur on prehistoric Earth), not the Secondary Phase (Arthur and Lintilla in the Heart of Gold)?
Since this may be considered a spoiler, this answer has been concealed:
The entire Secondary Phase occurred in the mind(s) of Zaphod Beeblebrox during a psychotic episode: he thinks it happened but nobody else does. This also explains why Zaphod is in such a lousy mood at the start of the Tertiary Phase.
Are there any plans to adapt the other Hitchhikers Guide novels?
An eight-part series based on the fourth and fifth novels, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless, was planned for recording in April 2004 and for broadcast from 14th September 2004. This was going to be called the Quadrenary and Quintessential Phases. All work on this ceased while the Tertiary Phase problems were sorted out. This is now pencilled in for a Spring 2005 broadcast.
Where can I find out more?
The Above the Title Tertiary Phase site is here and the BBC Tertiary Phase site is here. This site has interviews with Dirk Maggs, Stephen Moore and Roger Gregg. Greggs own site has interviews with Dirk Maggs, Susan Sheridan and sound engineer Paul Deeley. Nicolas Botti maintains a site about the old and new radio versions of Hitchhikers Guide here.