For the past couple weeks during my daily commute, I've been revisiting an audiobook series that has been a long-time favorite, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Many of you may know this best as a book or even the 2005 movie. But, what you may not know is that this series began back in 1978 as a six-episode radio play for BBC Radio 4. The first series was so successful that a second was broadcast in 1980. The first book, based in part, on the first radio series was release in 1979. From there, the books took off and the wholly inaccurately named five-book trilogy was born.
But, let's get back to the radio plays. The two radio plays remained a part of history while the books expanded the story of our heroes, Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, and Marvin the Paranoid Android. It wasn't until 2004, three years after Douglas Adams' death, that the remaining books were adapted into radio plays and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
I've loved this entire series ever since I read the first book decades ago. The radio plays add an entirely new element to the story. The voice actors and the sound effects truly bring it to life. It had been years since I listened to the whole series, and decided that this was as good enough a time as any.
For the past two weeks, I've listened to nothing else on my commute than each radio series in order. I can't tell you how enjoyable this experience was for me. I forgot how fantastic these plays are. They capture the essence of what the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is. An HGTTG purist might even say that the first radio series was the definitive origin, even though the books would ultimately become what Adams was truly famous for.
Back to my commute, I must have looked like an idiot to other drivers as I laughed my way through each episode. There was something special about listening to the whole series one after another. And, when the final episode ended, I felt a bit sad. It was like visiting some old friends for a few weeks, and then having to go home. But, it was a visit that was well worth it. If you are a fan of the books, I'd recommend giving the radio series a listen. You won't regret it.