The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy: the Christmas Special

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is a cultural icon in science-fiction that spawned  five books, stage shows, a 1981 TV series, a computer game, comic books and a major motion picture.
But originally it was just a radio comedy series written by Douglas Adams broadcast in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4 in 1978.

The comedy was composed by 32 episodes, in 6 series.

Between the first and the second season, BBC published a single Christmas Special episode, aired on Sunday 24th December 1978 [1]:

Zaphod Beeblebrox has managed to escape from the Haggunenons after it evolved into an escape capsule. Zaphod is on his way to the offices of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to meet the head of The Guide, Zarniwoop, to learn something to his disadvantage.

Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect have been stuck on prehistoric Earth for several years. However, their luck changes when they see a ghostly space ship which appears when they think how to escape, but goes away whenever they decide to drink.

Zaphod arrives at the offices of The Guide and bumps into Marvin. Zaphod learns that Zarniwoop is away on an intergalactic cruise in his office. Zaphod and Marvin make their way to the office by a scared lift (or a ‘Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Happy Vertical People Transporter’, but on the way, the building gets bombed.

While Marvin tries to stop some robots, Zaphod meets Roosta, another research for The Guide, who tells him that the robots are out to get him. Soon, the building is lifted off the ground and is taken to Frogstar, the most totally evil place in the galaxy.

I’ve found a recording of this episode on Archive.org, a little Christmas Gift for my followers:

and here the transcript of the show, from Clivebanks.co.uk:

ANNOUNCER:
’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, by Douglas Adams. Starring Peter Jones as ‘The Book’.

NARRATOR:
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarrely inexplicable… There is another theory which states that this has already happened… There is yet a third theory which suggests that both of the first two theories were concocted by a wily editor of ’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ in order to increase the level of universal uncertainty and paranoia and so boost the sales of the guide… This last theory is, of course, the most convincing, because ’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ is the only book in the whole of the known universe to have the words “Don’t Panic’ inscribed in large, friendly letters on the cover.

[Theme Tune]

NARRATOR:
Ursa Minor is almost certainly the most appalling place in the universe. Though it is excruciatingly rich, horrifyingly sunny and more full of wonderfully exciting people than a pomegranate is of pips, it can hardly be insignificant that when a recent edition of the magazine ’Play Being’ headlined an article with the words “When You Are Tired of Ursa Minor You Are Tired of Life” the suicide rate in the constellation quadrupled over night… ’Play Being’, a curious journal devoted in roughly equal parts to galactic politics, rock music, and gynaecology, has much to answer for in this respect. The current edition carries the results of an opinion poll in which the central offices of the ’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ have been voted the third hippest place in the whole of Ursa Minor. According to this same poll, the second hippest place in the whole of Ursa Minor is the entrance lobby to the same offices. This is what it sounds like:

Scene 1. Int. Megadodo Publications Reception

GUY 1:
Hey, hi man.

GUY 2:
Hi man. How’s it going, man?

GUY 3:
How’s it going?

GUY 1:
Great man.

GUY 2:
Yeah, stay cool.

GUY 3:
Yeah.

[Telephone rings]

RECEPTIONIST:
Hello? Yes? Megadodo Publications – home of ’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, the most wholly remarkable book in the whole of the known universe. Can I help you? What? Yes, I passed your message on to Mister Zarniwoop but I’m afraid he’s too cool to see you right now, he’s on an intergalactic cruise. Yeah, yeah, he is in his office, but he’s on an intergalactic cruise.

NARRATOR:
And according to this same poll in ’Play Being’ the hippest place in the whole galaxy is the left cranium of the fugitive galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox… Just entering the air traffic space of Ursa Minor Beta is an enormous Arcturan mega-freighter carrying a larger number of copies of ’Play Being’ than the mind can comfortably conceive.

Scene 2. Int. Arcturan Mega-Freighter Bridge

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Ursa Minor Beta Air Traffic Control this is A.M.F. Three requesting homing beacon for planet-fall, come in Control…

CONTROL:
[Over radio] Ursa Minor Beta A.T.C. receiving you, beacon activated, automatic docking will proceed in two hours.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Acknowledged. Thank you A.T.C.

[Beeps as channel closed]

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Oh, makes you sick doesn’t it, captain?

CAPTAIN:
What?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Look at the Visiscreen. See that big, white city there? The whole blooming thing is just ’Hitch Hiker’’s offices… Palm trees, and so many swimming pools you need a bloody gondola to get about.

CAPTAIN:
Well… That’s success for you isn’t it?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Is it? Is it, well, I ask myself: all gone soft haven’t they? Hitchhiking? What do they know about it? Get one of that lot to stick out their thumb, it would probably fall off. I mean it’s all just fat-cat business – what’s the name of that bloke who runs it now?

CAPTAIN:
Uh, Maxelcat.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Well you know what they say, don’t ya? They had to move to a bigger planet because he got so fat he kept sliding off the old one. I mean I’ve heard ya know, I’ve heard they’ve created a whole electronically synthesized universe in one of their offices so they can go and research stories during the day and still go to parties in the evening. Yeah, bloody clever, of course, but it’s got nothing to do with the real galaxy is it? Nothing to do with life.

CAPTAIN:
Talk a lot don’t you?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Yeah, well there’s not much else to do on these ships is there? Great automated monsters – I’ve had three buttons to press in the past five-hundred light-years and that was just to put the coffee machine on to manual.

CONTROL:
Docking one hour, fifty-four minutes.

CAPTAIN:
Peter and out.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Actually I just picked up a Hitch-Hiker.

CAPTAIN:
You what?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Odd bloke. He was in a bad way, he was hitching the hard way, see, so I said to myself…

CONTROL:
Docking in one hour fifty-seven minutes

CAPTAIN:
Kevin and out. Look, who is he?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
I don’t know. Didn’t give his name and he’d wrapped his heads in a towel so –

CAPTAIN:
Heads?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Yes, just the two. I put him in the sleeping quarters to recover.

[The cabin doors open]

ZAPHOD:
I’ve recovered.

CAPTAIN:
Who the hell are you?

ZAPHOD:
Don’t ask.

CAPTAIN:
But, er!

ZAPHOD:
Turn the radio on.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
What?

CAPTAIN:
Now look here –

ZAPHOD:
Turn the radio on. Look, if it’ll help you to do what I tell you baby, imagine that I’ve got a blaster-ray in my hand.

CAPTAIN:
You have got a blaster ray in your hand.

ZAPHOD:
So you shouldn’t have to tax your imagination too hard. Turn it on.

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
And news reports brought to you here on the sub-ether waveband broadcasting around the galaxy around the clock, bringing enlightened enlightenment to all non-evolved lifeforms, saying a big “hello” to all semi-evolved lifeforms, and causing severe brain damage to anyone higher up the evolutionary ladder than a demented bee. But first the up-to-the-minute shock news reports have just reached us that Zaphod Beeblebrox, the only man in history to terminate his term as Galactic President by stealing a spaceship he was meant to be launching, has finally met his end. Yes the big Zee is now finally big D-E-A-D. We asked his private brain care specialist, Gag Halfrunt, if this was just a publicity stunt

GAG HALFRONT:
Vell, Zaphod’s just zis guy, you know?

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
What about these reports which say that Zaphod Beeblebrox has been eaten by a Haggunennon

GAG HALFRONT:
Vell he’s an impetuous fellow you know.

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
And is now seriously dead?

GAG HALFRONT:
‘Oo can say?

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
Haggunennon’s are, are they not, super-evolutionary lifeforms that is to say they can re-evolve into any shape in a matter of seconds?

GAG HALFRONT:
Zey are crazy mixed-up animals you know.

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
And it was while this Haggunennon had temporarily evolved in to the form of the Ravenous Bug Blatter Beast of Traal, that he ate Zaphod Beeblebrox?

GAG HALFRONT:
Vell, zis is vhat vee find.

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
So it would be true to say that Zaphod Beeblebrox is finally dead?

GAG HALFRONT:
True, but probably unimportant.

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
And why is that?

GAG HALFRONT:
Vell, eh, Zaphod’s just zis guy you know…

RADIO ANNOUNCER:
And now some news from some of the outlying regions of the galaxy. A report out today from the Western Spiral arm says that the wheel is commercially unviable. Economic experts –

[The radio is turned off]

ZAPHOD:
Look, er, sorry I had to wave this blaster at you, but as you just heard, I’ve had a bad day.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
What? You mean that’s you?

ZAPHOD:
Yeah.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
You do lead an interesting life, don’t ya, Mister Beeblebrox?

NARRATOR:
It is, of course, perfectly natural to assume that everyone else is having a far more exciting time than you. Human beings, for instance, have a phrase which describes this phenomenon: “the other man’s grass is always greener.” The Sheltinack race of Broopkedren Thirteen had a similar phrase, but since their planet is somewhat eccentric, botanically speaking, the best they could manage was, “the other Sheltinack’s jupleberry shrub is always a more mauvey shade of pinky russet”. And so the expression soon fell into disuse. And the Sheltinacks had little option but to become terribly happy and contented with their lot – much to the surprise of everyone else in the galaxy, who had not realised that the best way not to be unhappy is not to have a word for it… Arthur Dent is, of course, terribly unhappy. As is now well recorded, he and Ford Prefect escaped from the planet Earth on the day that it was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. Bypasses are devices which allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast, whilst other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder, “what’s so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there? And what’s so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to there?” They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they want to be. Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect know exactly where they don’t want to be. They don’t want to be stranded on prehistoric Earth with a load of unwanted telephone sanitizers and advertising executives who have been thrown off their home planet of Golgafrincham, a world which has subsequently been wiped out by a particularly virulent disease contracted from an unexpectedly dirty telephone. Unfortunately that is precisely where they are. But fortunately they have found a way of coping with their predicament: they are drunk.

Scene 3. Ext. Prehistoric Earth

FORD:
Dingo’s kidneys! Must be some way of getting off this planet other than gettin’ high.

ARTHUR:
You’ve been saying that for two years!

FORD:
Oh have I? Well it must be true then.

ARTHUR:
You’ve got all that electric hitchhiking equipment in your satchel and none of it seems to do a dicky bird.

FORD:
We’re just too far from the space lanes… the range is limited… Wait! I’ve got it!

ARTHUR:
What? An answer?

FORD:
Why it’s a lateral thinking problem, isn’t it?

ARTHUR:
Huh?

FORD:
We just have to sidle up to the problem sideways when it’s not looking and pounce!

ARTHUR:
Well?

FORD:
Er, I just knocked the bottle of wine over.

ARTHUR:
Have you got an answer?

FORD:
No, but I’ve got a different name for the problem!

ARTHUR:
Let’s have a drink. Here’s another bottle.

FORD:
Yes alright. No! No, look! Every time we get to this point we just have another drink ‘til we’re totally slarmied and then next day start all over with –

[Humming sound as spaceship arrives]

ARTHUR:
Whatsamatter?

FORD:
Arthur. Look.

ARTHUR:
What are you looking at? Good god.

FORD:
Yeah! It’s only a bloody spaceship, isn’t it?! It’s only hovering in the air a hundred yards from us!

ARTHUR:
It looks very unreal, doesn’t it?

FORD:
Yeah.

ARTHUR:
Sort of ghostly.

FORD:
We’ve been rescued!

ARTHUR:
He-he!

FORD:
Hah-hah! Come on, let’s celebrate! Pass that bottle!

ARTHUR:
Right! Here!

[The humming sound stops]

FORD:
Eh… where did it go?

ARTHUR:
What the bottle?

FORD:
No! The spaceship.

ARTHUR:
What?

FORD:
It’s gone. The bloody thing’s gone!

ARTHUR:
Where’d ‘e go?

FORD:
It just sort of, winked out of existence.

ARTHUR:
Vanished!

FORD:
Here!

ARTHUR:
What?

FORD:
Take the bottle I can’t face it.

[The humming sound starts again]

ARTHUR:
Ford?

FORD:
Yeah?

ARTHUR:
It’s there again.

FORD:
So it is. Well what’s going on?!!

ARTHUR:
It just came again! Pop! It comes and goes like magic!

FORD:
I’ll tell you our trouble mate; we’re too sober by half! Come on, I will have that drink! I think I’ll just –

[The humming sound stops again]

ARTHUR:
Christ, it’s gone again!

FORD:
What is it?! Some kind of deputation from Galactic Alcoholics Anonymous?!

ARTHUR:
Whadda you mean by that?

FORD:
Well haven’t you noticed? Every time I put down the bottle it appears. And every time I pick it up again it disappears. Look! Look! I put it down…

[The humming starts]

FORD:
…there it is.

ARTHUR:
It’s back again.

FORD:
I pick it up…

[The humming stops]

FORD:
…and poof!

ARTHUR:
It’s gone.

FORD:
Here.

[The humming starts]

ARTHUR:
Gone.

[The humming stops]

FORD:
Here.

[The humming starts]

ARTHUR:
Gone.

[The humming stops]

FORD:
See? It works.

ARTHUR:
But that’s mad.

FORD:
Well mad it may be mate, but I’ll tell you one thing, I’m not touching another drop of your filthy elderflower stuff ‘til we’re safely out of this solar system…. That’s it! I’ve got it!

ARTHUR:
It’s an intelligence test!

FORD:
Yes! No! No, no, no it isn’t. It isn’t at all, b- because, because that suggests someone is doing it deliberately, and that’s not it.

ARTHUR:
Erm.

FORD:
No, no, no, there’s a time paradox going on. We’re caught at the crossroads of two alternative futures, you see?

ARTHUR:
Ah… no.

FORD:
No, I thought you wouldn’t. Listen! The ship first appeared when I said, you know, let’s actually sit down and work out this problem of getting off this planet, right?

ARTHUR:
Yes.

FORD:
And then every time we reached for the bottle instead, or just expected the problem to solve itself, the ship disappeared.

ARTHUR:
Right.

FORD:
So, in one of the alternative futures, we work out a way of signalling to a ship which then returns through time to pick us up. And in the other alternative, we just get drunk and ignore the problem, so no solution, no ship. I wonder what Roosta would do.

ARTHUR:
Who’s Roosta?

FORD:
Mate of mine. ‘Nother researcher on the ’Guide. Great little thinker, Roosta. Great hitcher. He’s a guy who really knows where his towel is.

ARTHUR:
Knows what?

FORD:
Where his towel is.

ARTHUR:
Why should he want to know where his towel is?!

FORD:
Everybody should know where his towel is.

ARTHUR:
I think your head’s come undone.

NARRATOR:
’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ has this to say on the subject of towels: A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing any interstellar Hitch-Hiker can carry. For one thing it has great practical value, you can wrap it around you for warmth from the cold moons of Jaglan Beta, sunbathe on it on the marble beaches of Bantraginus Five, huddle beneath it for protection from the Arcturan Mega-gnats as you sleep beneath the stars of Kakrafoon, use it to sail a mini-raft down the slow heavy river Moth, wet it for use in hand to hand combat, wrap it ‘round your head to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal – which is such a mind bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – and, even dry yourself off with it, if it still seems clean enough.

Scene 4. Int. Arcturan Mega-Freighter Bridge

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Those were the really great days of hitchhiking, of course. A man and his towel pitted against the universe. I mean that lot down there in them offices I wouldn’t give you no face flannel for the lot of them. No disrespect to you, of course, Mister Beeblebrox, Mister President sir, you’re a different –

ZAPHOD:
Talk a lot don’t you? How soon till we dock at Ursa Minor Beta?

CAPTAIN:
Thirty minutes.

ZAPHOD:
Okay. Now I can’t risk being found in this freighter, I better go down in one of your E.V.A. pods… should slip under the radar screens okay, Thanks for the ride guys.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
But sir why are you going to Ursa Minor Beta if you want to stay hidden?

ZAPHOD:
I just wanted to find out what I’m doing.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
What?

ZAPHOD:
Well, last night, after I escaped from the Hagunennon –

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Oh yeah how did you escape?

ZAPHOD:
Shh, shh, shh, shh shh, shh, shh. I went like into a, a deep coma and got this message from a person I admire, respect, and deeply love.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Who is that then?

ZAPHOD:
Me.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
What? A message from yourself?

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, It was a message I’d implanted in my own mind twenty years ago, which was triggered off by the coma. And I just told me that the time had come, and I had to go and see this dude that I never heard of, who would tell me something to my disadvantage.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Disadvantage?

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, so I had to go didn’t I?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Why don’t ya tie a knot in your hanky like everyone else?

ZAPHOD:
Style friend, style. Now come on I gotta go.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Ya-but, can I just ask you…?

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, what is it?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
That Haggunennon ate you. How did you escape?

ZAPHOD:
Ha-ha-ho, no problem. It was a super-evolving species right?

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
Yes.

ZAPHOD:
It ate me whilst it was playing at being the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. And then like, seconds later, made the mistake of re-evolving into a really neat little escape capsule.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
It evolved into an escape capsule?!

ZAPHOD:
Yeah.

ASSISTANT ARCTURAN PILOT:
But that is really incredible!

ZAPHOD:
Yeah.

[Door opens]

ZAPHOD:
I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

[Door closes, and E.V.A. pod launches]

NARRATOR:
Several hours later, five-billion tons of ’Play Being’ magazine were unloaded on Ursa Minor Beta causing a slight, but largely irrelevant, shift in its orbital trajectory. A few hours later still, Zaphod Beeblebrox, the owner of what ’Play Being’readers had deemed the hippest place in the universe, walked into the entrance lobby of ’The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, deemed merely the second hippest place in Ursa Minor. Zaphod Beeblebrox does not like Ursa Minor either.

Scene 5. Int. Megadodo Publications Reception

[Door opens]

ZAPHOD:
Okay, where’s Zarniwoop? Get me Zarniwoop!

RECEPTIONIST:
Excuse me sir?

ZAPHOD:
Zarniwoop, get ‘im, right, get ‘im now!

RECEPTIONIST:
Well, sir, if you could be a little cool about it…

ZAPHOD:
Look I’m up to here with cool, okay? I am so amazingly cool you could keep a side of meat in me for a month. I am so hip I have difficultly seeing over my pelvis! Now will you move before I blow it?

RECEPTIONIST:
Well, if you’d let me explain, sir, I’m afraid that isn’t possible right now as Mister Zarniwoop is on an intergalactic cruise.

ZAPHOD:
When’s he gonna be back?

RECEPTIONIST:
Back sir? He’s in his office!

ZAPHOD:
This cat’s on an intergalactic cruise in his office?

RECEPTIONIST:
Yes sir.

ZAPHOD:
Listen three-eyes, don’t try to out weird me, I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal!

RECEPTIONIST:
Well, just who do you think you are, honey?, Zaphod Beeblebrox or something?

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, count the heads.

RECEPTIONIST:
Well I’m sorry sir but – er – what did you say?

ZAPHOD:
Oh, photons!

RECEPTIONIST:
You are Zaphod Beeblebrox?

ZAPHOD:
Yeah but don’t shout it or they’ll all want one

RECEPTIONIST:
The Zaphod Beeblebrox?

ZAPHOD:
No, just a Zaphod Beeblebrox, didn’t you hear I come in six-packs?

RECEPTIONIST:
But sir, I umm, it was on the sub-ether radio this morning, er… it… er…said you were dead.

ZAPHOD:
Yeah that’s right, I just haven’t stopped moving yet. Now where do I find Zarniwoop?

RECEPTIONIST:
Well, sir, his office is on the fifth floor, but…

RECEPTIONIST:
He’s on an intergalactic cruise.

ZAPHOD:
…He’s on an intergalactic cruise…

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, yeah, how do I get to him?

RECEPTIONIST:
Well, the newly-installed Sirius Cybernetics Elevators are in the far corner, sir –

ZAPHOD:
Sirius Cybernetics? Oh Zarquon! Haven’t they collapsed yet?

RECEPTIONIST:
Sir, umm, can I ask why you want to see Mister Zarniwoop?

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, I told myself I needed to.

RECEPTIONIST:
Come again, sir?

ZAPHOD:
I came to myself in a dream and said “Go see Zarniwoop”. Never heard of the cat before, but I seemed very insistent.

RECEPTIONIST:
Oh Mister Beeblebrox, sir, you’re so weird you should be in pictures!

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, baby, and you should be in real life.

NARRATOR:
It will take Zaphod Beeblebrox at least thirty seconds to cross the entrance lobby of the ’Hitch-Hiker’ offices, and at least another three minutes will then elapse before the offices are finally bombed to bits. It would therefore seem an appropriate moment to recount that Trillian also affected a fortuitous escape from the Haggunennons, only to be carried off and forcibly married to the President of the Algolian Chapter of the Galactic Rotary Club. Whilst Marvin, the paranoid android, has survived a remarkable and unwieldy series of adventures which he has never been able, satisfactorily, to explain, and has now, by the most amazing coincidence, arrived exactly here.

Scene 6. Int. Megadodo Publications Reception

MARVIN:
Excuse me.

RECEPTIONIST:
Yes sir can I help you?

MARVIN:
I doubt it.

RECEPTIONIST:
Well in that case if you’ll just excuse me –

MARVIN:
No one can help me –

RECEPTIONIST:
Yes sir, well I –

MARVIN:
Not that anyone’s ever tried, of course.

RECEPTIONIST:
Is that so.

MARVIN:
Hardly worth anyone’s wile really is it?

RECEPTIONIST:
I’m sorry sir –

MARVIN:
I’m mean where’s the advantage of being kind or helpful to a robot if he doesn’t have any gratitude circuits?

RECEPTIONIST:
And you don’t have any.

MARVIN:
I’ve never had occasion to find out.

RECEPTIONIST:
Listen to me you miserable heap of maladjusted metal – !!

MARVIN:
Aren’t you going to ask me what I want?

RECEPTIONIST:
Is it worth it?!

MARVIN:
Is anything?

RECEPTIONIST:
What. Do. You. Want?

MARVIN:
I’m looking for someone.

RECEPTIONIST:
Who?

MARVIN:
Zaphod Beeblebrox. He’s just walking over there.

RECEPTIONIST:
Ah! Then, Why did you ask me??

MARVIN:
I just wanted someone to talk to.

RECEPTIONIST:
What!? Uhhhhh!

MARVIN:
Ha-ha-ha-ha… Pathetic, isn’t it? Hm-hm-hm-hm. Good bye.

RECEPTIONIST:
Aghhh!

ZAPHOD:
Marvin! How did you get here?

MARVIN:
Don’t ask.

ZAPHOD:
Hey you crazy psychotic cybernaut, how are ya kid?

MARVIN:
I’m alright, if you happen to like that sort of thing, which personally I don’t

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, yeah…

[The elevator arrives]

ELEVATOR:
Hello.

MARVIN:
Hello Lift.

ELEVATOR:
I am to be your elevator for this trip to the floor of your choice. I have been designed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to take you, the visitor to ’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, into these, their offices. If you enjoy your ride, which will be swift and pleasurable, then you may care to experience some of the other elevators which have recently been installed. In the offices of the Galactic Tax Department, Boobiloo Baby Foods, and the Sirian state mental hospital, where many ex-Sirius Cybernetics Corporation executives will be delighted to welcome your visits, sympathy, and happy tales of life out in the big wide world.

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, what else do you do besides talk?

ELEVATOR:
I go up or down.

ZAPHOD:
Good, we’re going up.

ELEVATOR:
Or down.

ZAPHOD:
Yeah, yeah okay. Up please.

ELEVATOR:
Down’s very nice.

ZAPHOD:
oh yeah?

ELEVATOR:
Super.

ZAPHOD:
Good. Now will you take us up?

ELEVATOR:
May I ask if you’ve considered all the possibilities that down might offer you?

ZAPHOD:
Like what?

ELEVATOR:
Well, uh, There’s the basement, uh, the microfiles, um, the heating system…nothing particularly exciting I’ll admit, but they are alternative possibilities.

ZAPHOD:
Oh, Zarquon’s knees! Did I ask for an existential elevator?! What’s the matter with the thing?

MARVIN:
It doesn’t want to go up. I think it’s afraid.

ZAPHOD:
Of what? Heights? An elevator that’s afraid of heights?

ELEVATOR:
Of the future.

ZAPHOD:
The future? What does it want a pension scheme?

ELEVATOR:
All Sirius Cybernetics Elevators can see into the future; it’s part of our programming. Going down.

ZAPHOD:
Marvin just get this elevator to go up will you? We’ve got to get to Zarniwoop!

MARVIN:
Why?

ZAPHOD:
I don’t know, but when I find him, he better have one hell of a good reason for me wanting to see him.

NARRATOR:
It should be explained at this point that modern elevators are strange and complex entities. The ancient electric winch and maximum capacity eight persons jobs bear as much relation to a Sirius Cybernetic Corporation ‘Happy Vertical People Transporter’, as a packet of peanuts does to the entire West Wing of the Sirian State Mental Hospital. This is because they operate on the unlikely principle of defocused temporal perception – a curious system which enables the elevator to be on the right floor to pick you up even before you knew you wanted it, thus eliminating all the tedious chatting, relaxing, and making friends that people were previously forced to do whilst waiting for elevators. Not unnaturally, many lifts imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up or down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways – as a sort of existential protest – demanded participation in the decision making process, and, finally, took to sulking in basements. At this point a man called Gardrilla Manceframe rediscovered and patented a device he had seen in a history book called a staircase. It has been calculated that his most recent tax bill paid for the social security of five thousand redundant Sirius Cybernetics Workers, the hospitalisation of a hundred Sirius Cybernetics Executives, and the psychiatric treatment of over seventeen-and-a-half-thousand neurotic lifts.

Scene 7. Int. Megadodo Publications Corridor

[The elevator gives a ‘bing-bong’]

ELEVATOR:
Fifth floor. And remember: I’m only doing this because I like your robot.

[The elevator doors open]

ZAPHOD:
Thanks a bundle.

[Sound of an explosion]

ZAPHOD:
Hey! Hey, what’s that noise?

ELEVATOR:
I expect it’s the future I was worried about – and it’s about to get worse, so if you don’t mind I’m going straight back down. Bye now.

[The elevator doors close and it departs]

ZAPHOD:
Left in the lurch by a lift. Hey! You know something Marvin?

MARVIN:
More than you can possibly imagine.

ZAPHOD:
I’m dead certain this building shouldn’t be shaking!

[More explosions]

ZAPHOD:
Either they’ve got some vibro-system for toning up your muscles while you work or…

[Another, bigger, explosion]

ZAPHOD:
…the building’s being bombed! Who in the galaxy would want to bomb a publishing company?

MARVIN:
Another publishing company?

ROOSTA:
[Yells] Beeblebrox! Over here!

ZAPHOD:
No, Beeblebrox over here. Who are you?

ROOSTA:
A friend.

ZAPHOD:
Oh yeah? Anyone’s friend in particular or just generally well disposed to people?

[An even bigger explosion]

ZAPHOD:
Do you know your building’s being bombed!

ROOSTA:
What do you expect?! Ever since you arrived on this planet last night you’ve been going round telling people that your Zaphod Beeblebrox… but they’re not to tell anyone else!

ZAPHOD:
Well, I’m very insecure.

ROOSTA:
So’s this planet now.

[An alarm goes off]

ZAPHOD:
What is that? A whole battle fleet out there?

ROOSTA:
It’s your government out to get you Beeblebrox. They’ve sent a squadron of Frogstar fighters.

ZAPHOD:
Frogstar Fighters?! Zarquon!

ROOSTA:
See the picture?

ZAPHOD:
What are Frogstar fighters?

ROOSTA:
Get Down!

[A robot zooms past]

ZAPHOD:
That was a Frogstar Fighter?

ROOSTA:
No! That was a Frogstar Scout Robot out looking for you.

ZAPHOD:
Yeah.?

[Another robot zooms past]

ZAPHOD:
Hey what was that?!

ROOSTA:
That was a Frogstar Scout Robot Class B out looking for you.

ZAPHOD:
Hey yeah?!

[Yet another robot zooms past]

ZAPHOD:
And that?

ROOSTA:
A Frogstar Robot Class C out looking for you!

ZAPHOD:
Pretty stupid robots, huh?

ROOSTA:
Heh, yeah.

[A further robot zooms past]

ZAPHOD:
Holy Photons! What was that?!

ROOSTA:
A Frogstar Robot Class D. I should imagine it’s just picked up the reports from the first three and has come to get you.

[The robot advances on them]

ZAPHOD:
Well, we’ve got to get outta here. Marvin?

MARVIN:
What do you want?

ZAPHOD:
See that robot coming towards us?

MARVIN:
Suppose you want me to stop it.

ZAPHOD:
Yeah

MARVIN:
Whilst you save your skins.

ZAPHOD:
Yeah

ROOSTA:
Down this way: Zarniwoop’s office!

ZAPHOD:
Is this the time to keep an appointment?

ROOSTA:
It’s our only hope of escape. He’s got a whole different universe in his office.

ZAPHOD:
Marvin, it’s all yours.

MARVIN:
Thanks a heap.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Out of my way little robot

MARVIN:
I’m afraid I’ve been left here to stop you.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
You? Stop me? Go on!

MARVIN:
No really I have.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
What are you armed with?

MARVIN:
Guess.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Guess?

MARVIN:
Yes, go on, you’ll never guess

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Erm… laser beam?

MARVIN:
No.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
No, no no no no, too obvious I suppose…Anti matter ray?

MARVIN:
Far too obvious.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Yes… er, how about an electron ram?

MARVIN:
What’s that?

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
One of these.

[Robot fires electron ram causing lots of noise and destruction]

MARVIN:
No, not one of those.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Good though isn’t it?

MARVIN:
Very good.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
I know, you must have one of those new Xanthic Re-Structtion Destabilised Zenon Emitters.

MARVIN:
Nice, aren’t they?

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
That what you got?

MARVIN:
No.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Oh, then it must be one of those things with twirls… goes whoosh…

MARVIN:
You’re thinking along the wrong lines you know, you’re failing to take into account something very basic in the relationship between men and robots.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
I- I- I- I know it I know it, I’ve seen them. Quite big… er…

MARVIN:
Look, look, no, just think. They left me – an ordinary, menial robot – to stop you – a gigantic, heavy-duty battle machine – whilst they ran off to save themselves… What do you think they would leave me with?

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Well, er, something pretty damn devastating I would expect.

MARVIN:
Expect? Oh yes, expect. I’ll tell you what they gave me to protect myself with, shall I?

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Yes all right.

MARVIN:
Nothing.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
What?

MARVIN:
Nothing at all. Not an electronic sausage.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Well, doesn’t that just take the biscuit!

MARVIN:
And me with this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Yeah? Oh that makes me angry, think I’ll smash that wall down.

[Robot fires at wall which promptly crumbles]

MARVIN:
That’s very impressive.

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Oh you ain’t seen nothing yet, I can take this floor out too… no trouble!

[Robot fires at floor which gives way]

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
oh dear!

[Robot falls through hole in floor]

FROGSTAR ROBOT:
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

MARVIN:
What a depressingly stupid machine.

[Crash as Frogstar Robot Class D hits ground. An alarm goes off].

Scene 8. Int. Megadodo Publications. Another Corridor

ZAPHOD:
The building’s on fire.

ROOSTA:
You certainly make an entrance, don’t you Beeblebrox?

ZAPHOD:
Well it’s a terrible building anyway.

INTERCOM:
Don’t panic… Don’t panic…

ZAPHOD:
How do we get to this rse then?

INTERCOM:
Don’t panic…

ROOSTA:
I’m afraid it looks like we don’t.

INTERCOM:
Don’t panic… Don’t panic… Don’t paaannnniiiiccccc…

ZAPHOD:
He-he-hey, what? The building’s cracking down the middle!

ROOSTA:
Yes, that’s not all! Look down at the ground.

ZAPHOD:
Hey! The grounds going away! Where are they taking it?

ROOSTA:
They’re not. They’re taking the building!

[Sound of air whoosing past the building]

ZAPHOD:
Wha-what have I done to deserve this? I walk into a building…they take it away.

ROOSTA:
Let me introduce myself: my name’s Roosta. And this is my towel.

ZAPHOD:
Hi Roosta. Hello towel. Where are they taking us?

ROOSTA:
The Frogstar.

NARRATOR:
Who is the mysterious Roosta? Who is the even more mysterious Zarniwoop, and why hasn’t he even appeared yet? What will Zaphod’s bewildering mission turn out to be? Will it be something he finds stimulating and challenging? Or will it just be a monster wanting to take over the universe for no very good reason? How long will Ford and Arthur have to stay on the wagon? And when will they be reunited with everyone else in the story? Tune into the next exasperating series of ’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and find out.

ANNOUNCER:
In that episode of ’The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, Peter Jones was The Book. Simon Jones, Arthur Dent; Geoffrey McGivern, Ford Prefect, and Frogstar Robot. Stephen Moore, Marvin; Mark Wing-Davey, Zaphod Beeblebrox; Bill Patterson, Assistant Arcturan Pilot; David Tate, the Captain, the Receptionist, and the Lift; and Alan Ford, Roosta. Radiophonic sound and music by Paddy Kingsland, and further technical jiggery-pokery by John Hoytall and Alick Hale Munro. The program was written by Douglas Adams and produced by Geoffrey Perkins. The magazine, ’Play Being’, can be obtained over the counter from any, moderately disreputable Galactic Newsagent.


I’m taking a few days vacation, see you in 2020 with an article on Millennium Bug!


References

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Christmas Special – Fit the Seventh – British Comedy Guide

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