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Audio Comedy Review


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Secondary Phase (Special Edition)


Starring: Peter Jones, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey, Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore
BBC Audio
RRP: £17.99
ISBN: 978 1 40840 977 0
Available 13 November 2008

To accompany the re-release of Douglas Adams’ original HHGG radio series from 1978 on a 4-CD set, comes the follow-up series in the same format, now known as the Secondary Phase. This one continues from where the first one finished, with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect stranded on prehistoric Earth. Through a series of events more mad than a box of frogs they soon find themselves reunited with Zaphod Beeblebrox, who has survived the Total Perspective Vortex, and the real hero of these stories, Marvin the Paranoid Android (“I’ve discovered that if I stick my left arm in my right ear I can electrocute myself.”). Escaping the Vogons using the Improbability Drive, they arrive on the planet Brontitall and come into contact with the intelligent but deeply troubled bird-like inhabitants, before meeting the mysterious Man in the Shack.

Due to the phenomenal and somewhat unexpected success of the first serial, Douglas Adams became highly pressurised, time-wise, to come-up with a sequel script - to the point that he was in a room next to the recording studio feverishly completing the scripts as the voice artists were performing. With this in mind you might assume it has no structure; certainly, it is a little less cohesive than its predecessor (meandering about and ending with no proper finale), but still full of crazy, seemingly irrelevant ideas, many of which will make you smile at the very least. I particularly like the silly throw-away lines of dialogue, such as when Zaphod says something to the effect of: “I don’t know why I’ve got to see Zarniwoop, but he’d better have a darn good reason for me wanting to see him.”

Disc 4 contains a 50-minute bonus interview with Douglas Adams, and it’s good to note that this time there’s no tedious Book voiceover to pad it out. In addition, as in the new Primary Phase, we have Philip Pope’s version of the theme tune to accompany the episodes.

It would be a crime to finish this review without mentioning Dirk Maggs, the talent behind the audio adaptations of books three to five, plus Dirk Gently and many others (more information can be found at: As expected, he has done a sterling job remastering the Primary and Secondary Phases of this celebrated work. It certainly knocks spots off my old twin cassette versions!


Ty Power

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