Sunday, October 7, 2012

Unique Douglas Adams exhibition in Dorset

An exhibition about Douglas Adams is not a common event. Last time I saw one was the Hitchcon in 2009. So if you're in UK when the exhibition is open (this october) you won't want to miss that.
"By kind permission of the family of the late Douglas Adams this unique exhibition is a unique first public display of some personal memorabilia that documents the birth of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy at his home in Stalbridge, together with items from his passions for technology and conservation.
Free Admission.
The Oliver Holt Gallery
Abbey Road
Sherborne, Dorset
October 6th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th and 17th from 12.00 – 18.00
October 19th, 20th, and 21st from 10.00 – 16.00"

Here are some pics thanks to James Thrift :

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hitchhiker Live : 35.000 spectators and a new tour in 2013

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live has just finished its tour in Edimburgh on saturday 21th that the organizers announced that the show will return in 2013 on the facebook page of the show !!!

"35,000 of the galaxy's most brilliant people have come to see us over the last couple of months. We have so much to thank you for: because of you we've been able to have a ridiculous amount of fun ripping around Great Britain sharing Douglas Adams' masterpiece. Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Froods, hitchhikers, theatre goers: we're not ready to say farewell and thank you for all the fish quite yet. Slartiblartfast has plucked us from our comfy seats in the Restaurant at the End of the Tour because apparently there are whole chunks missing from our story.

To that end, we are very happy to announce that we WILL be returning to the stage at some point in 2013! We can't say when (we've got no idea how this whole time travel business will pan out) but we will be back next year!

Keep your eye on here, Twitter and the website for news...
Stay froody!"

That's great news indeed. US and Australian fans can cross their fingers. It would be great for them if this time it was a worldwide tour (I have no much hope that they come to France but I will sure go see the show again in 2013 - note that according to what has been announced it could be a NEW show) .

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio series Live, the FULL review

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Series Live (photo by James Bullimore)
At last, my best birthday party ever. The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy Radio Series Live just for me. Well, me and a few other spectators in the fully packed Hackney Empire Theatre. It was an historic day. The 19th July, Hitchhiker’s Live was in London and I was here.

I was eager to see how Dirk, a radio man and a fine drummer (a man, a priori , more at ease with sound and "maybe" less with visuals), would translate visually Hitchhiker on stage. Even if it was not the first time he did it. The first time Hitchhiker has been performed live was in March 2008 during the sixth Douglas Adams memorial lecture for the 30th anniversary of the radio series. It was a performance of Episode 2 with the actors on stage. If my memory serves me right, the only visual aspect was Simon Jones in his dressing gown. In October 2009, it was a much more visual 90 minute long performance at the Hitchcon that took bits from different episodes.

But never anything had been done on this scale. We still have the actors playing on stage in front of mics with their scripts in their hands (it's a live radio show, not a theatre play). But there is a real set with lot of props, screens in the back, a live band in the left corner, the sound effect counter (on rollers!), and the narrator club chair in the right corner...

So Hitchhiker’s Live is not just audio, we have a lot of things going on on the stage. Dirk Maggs and Ken Humphrey do most of the sound effects live with various and often funny objects. The sound effects are indeed as much sound than visual jokes. Dirk and Ken make a great duo. They should probably start a comedy routine on their own.

Dirk is really the conductor of the show, sitting behind the drums, doing sound effects behind the counter, or miming hysterically Agrajag with a black umbrella. I wish I will be in such a great condition at his age (OK, next time I see him he'll probably hit me with the said umbrella, but he knows how much I love what he's done for years on Hitchhiker. He's the best thing that happened to Hitchhiker in the 21st century).

The Hitchhiker’s actors are some of the best. A rare breed. It was such a pleasure to see all of them (well sadly Stephen Moore, the famous voice of Marvin, was pre recorded, but that seems logical). At the London show, I found Geoff McGivern to be in a great form, he almost stole the show. But of course Simon Jones, Susan Sheridan and Mark Wing-Davey are huge bigger than life actors too. It was great to see that the "newcomers" were so good. Toby Longworth is an excellent Vogon Captain, Andy Secombe (Harry's very talented son) is a great Colin/Max/door, Samantha BĂ©art a nice Random and a realistic teenager (to be clear about Random, I said in my previous review I was not fond of the character bits in Hitchhiker, the actress knows perfectly her job). And of course, the narrator for the London show was no less than the unique Terry Jones! So, with Hitchhiker’s Live you get a great flawless casting.

I also loved Marvin's retro design, the best representation of the manically depressed robot since the Illustrated Guide version in 1994. I feared it could be too static, but it is superbly lively and well animated.

The show was very smooth-running. You sense that Dirk spent time to perfect the show since the beginning of the tour according the audience reactions.

Maybe a few words about the merchandising, as it's difficult not to buy something from the shop. Everything is top quality. I chose a big size glazed paper souvenir brochure and the nicely done official towel (both articles are rather cheap for such quality items. I also took the Babel fish USB key (OK it's just 1gb but it's so cooool). T-shirts are also great and I'll try to buy all of them later when I’ll get (hopefully) some more money.

It was also nice to hug the lovely Sue (Douglas' sister), and to shake hands with Polly (Douglas’s daughter). What an honour! And of course to meet again my friends Kevin Davies (the legendary KJD who worked on most Hitchhiker incarnations) and his fabulous son Liam. Plus the ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha fantastic bunch (with its top notch president Dave - he'll proof read this review so I prefer to be careful with what I say). What a night! I even forgot to smoke my birthday cigar. First time in years.

Due to the success of the show, I'm quite sure it will tour again soon across UK but maybe also hopefully in other parts of the world. With such a team, and such a show, it would be sad not to take the next step. Come on Dirk, you know you want it.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio series Live, the AUDIO review

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Series Live (photo by James Bullimore)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy is now on tour live on stage since the 8th June.

It's a long way since March 2008 when James Thrift, Douglas Adams' brother, asked to the public, after a reacting of the episode 2 with the original cast, if they would be willing to see Hitchhiker on Stage.

In October 2009, during the Hitchcon, we were blessed with a 90 minute long adaptation of the radio series, adapted and directed by Dirk Maggs.

Dirk Maggs is, of course, the man behind the three last Hitchhiker series (aired in 2004 and 2005) and also the Dirk Gently adaptations (in 2007 and 2008). To say that he knows perfectly Douglas Adams' work is a euphemism. So it comes with no surprise that he is the man behind this latest version of Hitchhiker.

I have not seen the show yet. I intend to see it the 19th July when the show comes to London (on my birthday!). "So how can you write a bloody review of the show ???" you could justifiably ask.

Well, being French I'm kind of deceitful, and thrived on a recent journey to London to buy and download the audio version of the show that every British citizen can buy and download on the official website (if you don't live in UK, you can't, let that be a lesson to you!). In fact, if you live in UK, you can buy and download the version of the show you want (the audio recording of each show stays online during 7 days). Maybe it's a good thing that I don't live in UK, because it would have been very difficult for me to stop myself from buying each version of the show.

To write my review, I chose deliberately the recording of the first date of the tour: the recording from the 8th June made in Glasgow. The interesting side is to listen to the show as it was originally conceived without the little changes that sure will follow the first dates (and DaveH, ZZ9 president and well known Hitchhiker expert, told me that "Dirk is tweaking the show to remove what he calls "flat spots" where he was expecting something from the audience but didn't get it. In Northampton there was a new punchline to the mixing of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster).

As you may know, at least one important bit changes in almost each city where Hitchhiker Live goes. It's the voice of the book. In Glasgow, the part was played by Scottish actor Billy Boyd (of Lord of the Rings fame).

But let's begin with the review.

The show begins with music and not just any music but with Pink Floyd. A fitting tribute as Douglas Adams was a fan and friend of David Gilmour but also because in the original radio series Marvin hums some Pink Floyd on Magrathea (a bit that you can't find on the CD and tape versions of the series for copyright reasons). Also Pink Floyd's "One of these days" (the said music) quotes Dr Who theme music (another fitting tribute).

Here begins the show. And one bit of a shock as it doesn't start at the right place! But your shock just begins to dispel that the earth gets destroyed and you hear "Journey of the Sorcerer" (Hitchhiker legendary theme). It makes me shudder when I hear that one.

I won't describe all of what you'll get in the show because I don't want to spoil the pleasure to discover it by yourself.

It won't come as a surprise for those who have seen Hitchhiker Live at Hitchcon three years ago, but don't expect from Dirk Maggs a straightforward version of the Hitchhiker original series in the right order and with every bit in it.

Nevertheless, don't worry too much. Dirk knows perfectly well Hitchhiker and could probably quote most of the series by heart. So in this two hour long show that include pieces from almost each of the five radio series, Dirk didn't let out something mind-boggingly vital out of the show. Most of the best bits of Hitchhiker are there (even when entire corresponding passages have been removed: no Prosser in Hitchhiker Live, no Horse and Groom neither. As I told you the show literally begins with the destruction of the earth.

As usual, Dirk didn't hesitate to add his own jokes and bits of dialogues. But it's always respectful and in tune with Hitchhiker global mood. Even if I think that Dirk versions of Hitchhiker will always be less ambiguous than the Adams' ones. In the original Hitchhiker radio series, there is a kind of bitterness, that you may not find here (even if the Hitchhiker concept and text is and will always remain full of black humour). With Dirk Maggs, Hitchhiker is nevertheless more joyful.

Of course, when you listen to the audio version of a stage show, you've got the feeling sometimes you miss something (visual jokes,...). But it stands really on its own as an audio show, and the sound quality is just great even if it is a raw / non edited version (but once again, that is no surprise with Dirk Maggs). The addition of a live band and funny songs is welcome. Douglas Adams wanted Hitchhiker to sound as a rock album, so yep Hitchhiker Live sounds accordingly (or at least a pop rock one). Speaking of sound effects, some of them used in the show, as the guide sound, come from the original series. That's a nice touch. Sometimes I found that maybe there is not enough of them. I found the Restaurant bit a little on the quiet side. But once again it was a raw audio version of the show so i may be mistaken.

On the whole, I'm more pleased with the first half of the show even if there are excellent bits in the second half (Agrajag - voiced by Douglas Adams as in the radio series - and the Restaurant at the end of the universe). I've never been much of a fan of Random (Trillian and Arthur's daughter) so I would not have been that sad if she had been left out of the show, and the end is a little disappointing (ideally I would have wanted something more spectacular - maybe like the end of the Quintessential phase of the H2G2 radio series as written by... Dirk Maggs).

Still, Hitchhiker live is spectacular. The main actors are all part of the legend. Of course you won't get Peter Jones as the Voice of the Book, but for me, and regarding the Glasgow show, Billy Boyd played a nice Scottish version of the book.

I can't wait to be able to see Hitchhiker Live in all its visual splendour, and to laugh with the audience, at what will remain for centuries to come one of the best incarnations of the British sense of humour. Outrageously witty and funny, that is "The Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy"! Here live and with the original actors packed in it. By Zarquon, you don't want to miss it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Series Live official website
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Series Live official  facebook page

For your information has also its own facebook page too

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hitchhiker Live : first reviews and online shop

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy got some nice reviews for its first shows. (video review)

The Hitchhiker Live online shop is now live. You can now get your hands on a whole range of merchandise: T Shirts, the programme, official towel, Babelfish USB stick, mug and foam 'Don't Panic!' bubble... and an official towel !

You can also re-live the experience or catch up on what you missed out on thanks to Live audio downloads. Each live show is available to download in its entirety. Downloads are available for just 7 days after each performance's showing. All downloads are encoded as 192k MP3 files, and may be contained in a ZIP file on download. Sadly,  for legal reasons, downloads are only available in the UK !

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hitchhiker Live : the biggest show on earth begins tonight !

Hitchhiker Live Tour begins tonight at Glasgow !!! Lucky b*stards !

All dates on the official website :

"A sneak peek of the stage at Glasgow...curtains up!" (8th june)

The last London rehearsal the 2nd June

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dirk Gently has been axed by BBC4

dirk gently tv series

Bad news for TV viewers who wanted to watch something slightly more original than the typical detective show. BBC4 has finally decided to axe Dirk Gently, the TV series freely adapted from the Douglas Adams books.

We learnt the news from the series star Stephen Mangan who wrote on his Twitter account that "It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to report that the BBC have decided not to make any more Dirk Gently".

As a Radio Times article point out "The pilot episode was watched by almost 1 million viewers when it first aired on BBC4 in December 2010. But a series of three hour-long episodes shown in March this year saw an initial average audience of 844,000 fall to less than 600,000 by the final instalment. "

If you want to bring Dirk Gently back on screen (we can always dream), you can sign the petition on

You can also show you disapproval (or your approval) of BB4 decision by voting on Radio Times website :,-says-stephen-mangan

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Towel Day

Happy Towel day to everybody. If you don't want to spend this special day alone, go to and check if there's something happening in a place not to far away from you.
Have a nice day !

towel day

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

H2G2 Radio Show, Live : the voices of the book

As you probably already know The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show, Live! will tour the UK from the 8th June to the 21th July. A special event with all the main actors from the original cast (Simon Jones, Geoff McGivern,...). The great Peter Jones, who was the voice of the book, won't be able to attend, being dead for now more than ten years. Dirk Maggs, director of the show, solves the issue in an original way : Each show will feature a special guest as the Voice of the Book.
Three names have been already confirmed. Billy Boyd has been confirmed as the first guest Voice of the Book, appearing in Glasgow on both 8th and 9th June. John Lloyd, is voice-of-the-book for the Cambridge dates (16 and 17th July) and Neil Gaiman will be the guest Voice of the Book for the final tour date in Edinburgh on 21st July.
For more informations (and a list of all dates), check the official website :

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nick Webb, Douglas Adam's first publisher and biographer, dies

Nick Webb
Nick Webb (picture thanks to Kevin Davies)

Nick Webb just passed away the 10 or 11th April 2012. He first met Douglas Adams in 1978 and managed to sign a book deal with Douglas Adams for Pan Books shortly after the radio series' huge success (the BBC declined to sign a book version of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy because radio adaptations didn't sell !).

Even if professionally it was his last contact with Douglas (he left Pan Books shortly after he signed Douglas), they remained very good friends.

In 2003, he published Douglas Adams' authorized biography "Wish you were here".

I personally met  Nick Webb in person in 2004 on the filming of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. He offered me twice hospitality when I came in London, and had the luck to have great breakfasts with him. He was one on a kindest man I ever met. I saw him for the last time a few weeks ago during  Douglas' Virtual 60th.

I interviewed Nick Webb in 2003, when his autobiography was published :

He was a successful publisher, but also the author of The Dictionary of Bullshit (2006) and The Dictionary of Political Bullshit (2010).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Douglas Adams Virtual 60th Party : 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.

Of course maybe 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!

Douglas Adams' family with the band on stage (photo Dr Sinister)

A scene from the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy TV series (Picture Dr. Sinister) 

I am now waiting with great impatience for the other big event of 2012: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live!" which will tour in UK from beginning of June to the end of July.

Other reviews or pages about the event you might like to read :

Friday, March 9, 2012

Shada by Gareth Roberts : Is it worth reading ? Yes says SFX

2012 will be obviously a great year for all Douglas Adams fans and particularly march 2012 with not less than the Douglas Adams 60th Birthday Party (the 11th March), the broadcast of the new TV episodes of Dirk Gently (from the 5th March) and... the publication of "Shada" the 15th March !

Shada is a famous Dr Who story that Douglas Adams wrote but whose filming was never completed due to a strike at the BBC.

"Numerous attempts have been made to “finish it off” over the years. A 1992 video release edited together the existing footage with linking narration; Big Finish produced a webcast starring Paul McGann’s Doctor in 2003; there’ve also been a couple of fan-written novelisations. This officially-sanctioned adaptation by new series scribe Gareth Roberts attempts to create a definitive version" writes SFX.

According to SFX, the book is quite good :

I'll try to post a review on my site as soon as i can get a copy.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Douglas Adams' virtual 60th birthday party : the events

As you know Sunday 11th March will be a great day for all Douglas Adams'fans. ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha also organizes several meetings during the week end.

Here is the program as we know it for the Virtutal Birthday party will take place at the Hammersmith Apollo in London :

Science: Prof. Brian Cox, Robin Ince and Jon Culshaw on life, the universe and everything

Interviews: Clive Anderson talks to Terry Jones about Douglas’ comedy legacy and his influences, including Monty Python.

Comedy: The Meaning of Liff, featuring John Lloyd, Stephen Mangan, Sanjeev Bhaskar and many more, plus special guests from ‘Radio Active’

Music: the band that played at many of Douglas’ infamous parties – including members of Paul McCartney’s band.

Last chance to see: Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine have recorded a special introduction about Douglas’ passion for conservation.

More names to be announced. Line-up subject to change.

For special announcements, please see

PLEASE NOTE - Doors open at 4pm and show starts 5pm.

ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, The Official Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy Appreciation Society, will organize a few events for fans

Cambridge Tour (Saturday 10th March from 13h to 17h)
Facebook Event:

Captain's Cabin Fan Gathering (Saturday 10th March, from 19h to 23h)
Facebook Event:

Islington Tour (Sunday 11th March) Facebook Event:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dirk Genlty : back on TV screen the 5th March (updated)

Dirk Genlty is back for three brand new episodes. Like the pilote which was broadcast in 2011, the series will feature brand new adventures but with characters and probably some ideas taken from Douglas Adams' books.

"Dirk Gently" is back in a brand new series, transmission confirmed for 9-10pm, Monday 5 March on BBC Four.

Dirk Gently Ep 1/3
Monday 5 March

Transmission confirmed for 9-10pm, Monday 5 March on BBC Four
Dirk Gently is back in a brand new series.
In this, the first of three episodes, Douglas Adams' private detective discovers the connection between two unrelated cases: a client who believes the Pentagon are trying to kill him and another whose horoscopes appear to be coming true. When the mysteries collide, Dirk is the only man for the job.
Stephen Mangan plays Dirk, Darren Boyd plays Macduff, Jason Watkins plays DI Gilks, Lisa Jackson plays Janice, Paul Ritter plays Oliver, Cosima Shaw plays Emma, Ken Collard plays Matthew, Colin McFarlane plays Terrence and Miranda Raison plays Kate.

Dirk Gently Ep 2/3
Monday 12 March

Dirk and Macduff return to Cambridge, to the university that expelled Dirk for cheating 20 years ago.
They have been employed by Dirk’s former professor as security consultants to guard a valuable robot. However, within hours of their arrival the robot is stolen and the professor found dead, with Dirk and Macduff implicated as the chief suspects.
The professor was the only person who ever believed in Dirk, who vows to find out who is behind the murder. The chief suspects are Emelda Ransome, the brilliant but embittered computer scientist who has spent the whole of her career developing a fully functioning Artificial Intelligence, and David Cho, the Chinese programmer recently arrived from Beijing to help Emelda complete her experiment.
Macduff’s girlfriend Susan is also in Cambridge at an interview for a new job which, if she got it, would mean the end of Dirk and Macduff’s detective partnership.
Stephen Mangan plays Dirk, Darren Boyd plays Mcduff, Helen Baxendale plays Susan, Lisa Jackson plays Janice, Bill Paterson plays Professor Jericho, Sylvestra Le Touzel plays Emelia, Lydia Wilson plays Jane, Andrew Leung plays Noel, Will Sharpe plays David and Bethan Hanks plays Elaine.

Dirk Gently Ep 3/3
Monday 19 March

The police want to talk to Dirk urgently. Several of his clients have been murdered and Dirk is the only link.
Convinced that he’s being framed, Dirk resolves to flee the country. He is interrupted by the arrival of a beautiful woman who has been terrorised by a stalker.
To Macduff’s surprise Dirk takes the case, but his surprise turns to disbelief when Dirk reveals that it’s him who’s been doing the stalking. When the police finally catch up with Dirk at his horribly messy flat (his dispute with his cleaner has escalated into full scale war) they reveal he isn’t under suspicion - they just want to protect him from this professional killer.
With Dirk’s pride dented (as if he couldn’t commit a few simple murders!) he and Macduff investigate the case and discover that the only murderer Dirk ever framed has recently been released from prison…
Stephen Mangan plays Dirk, Darren Boyd plays Macduff, Jason Watkins plays DI Gilks, Lisa Jackson plays Janice, Lisa Dillon plays Melinda and Tony Pitts plays Robbie Glover.

Stephen Mangan will also be appearing later that week at the Hammersmith Apollo (on 11 March) at Douglas Adams's Virtual 60th Party.