Before March 8, 1978, a Ford Prefect was just an old car. The world was blissfully unfamiliar with Vogon poetry. And 42, believe it or not, was just another number.
I speak not of the publication of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but rather to the premiere of the BBC Radio show that begat the “trilogy” so dear to so many science fiction fans. (In other news, in 1978 there still was such a thing as a radio show.) The first episode made its debut on this date 33 years ago and was very popular right away, which was particularly remarkable because it aired at 10:30pm GMT on a Wednesday night, which in terms of radio programming is close to but not quite as bad as being “on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.'”
So we fans of the classic books, TV series and movie that grew out of that radio show all owe a measure of gratitude to all those who listened to BBC Radio 4 on that fateful night. The original radio series is available for purchase on CD, and is highly recommended to those who haven’t heard it before — note that it is not the same story as in the books, though of course there are many similarities (and the radio show has Simon Jones, the actor who portrayed Arthur Dent in the TV series, as Dent’s voice).
So raise a glass of Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster tonight in memory of Douglas Adams, who died nearly ten years ago and far too early, who would have turned 59 this coming Friday. And keep an eye on the sky for Vogons, because you never can tell.