Monday, September 27, 2004

BBC - Radio 4 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

BBC - Radio 4 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Well, I've finally got round to listening to the new Hitchhikers. It had to be done in a quiet moment in the office, because my home connection is just too poor.

Well, I'm not eleven any more, so the fannish fervour with which it should be greeted is tempered somewhat.

But it was worth it, just for the matresses. I'd completely forgotten about them, which is odd, because they were just my favourite, favourite thing about the books originally. They're that perfectly balanced Adams-ian whimsy mixed with fake science that endears his writing to me.

The sad thing is the tone of the cast. They've grown up, as folk are wont to do, in the intervening 20 years. I had such an enormous crush on Trillian when I heard the originals, and now she sounds like she should be advertising oxo. It's a bit like the 'working out what old ladies looked like when they were 20' game I play on the bus - you can hear the ghosts of the young voice in the vintage, mature tones of the cast. It gives the whole production a kind of aspic-held nostalgia - as though all of us are getting older and holding on to this ephemeral pleasure. Whilst the voices have improved with age... like some kind of expensive cheese, or something, it makes listening to what is basically a twentysomething having a poke at funky Islington disco society sound a bit too po-faced.

I hope we don't end up mummifying HHG, in the way that Dr Who was preserved in stasis for so long, never allowed to become a historical curio.

So, overall, it's rather better than I was expecting. Not enough Terry Riley in the background music*. Slightly laboured thing about the guide going on the fritz, but actually I liked the fact it suddenly spliced back in to the Proper Book Voice we know and love. But, you know...

A good thing.

So, anyway, I've got a funny old relationship with the guide here at the beeb. I'm sure it was fundamental to me ending up working here, as it was the first media phenomenon I got passionate about. It kicked off my fascination with electronic music. One of my first bosses - who got me in to t'internet - was one of the people cutting tape off the spools when it jammed half an hour before broadcast in the early 80s. It gave me my first solo website build. It gave me my second TV credit, as a thanks in the tribute to Douglas made for Omnibus just after he died. It gave me my first experience of professional three-camera OB directing - and first proper bit of producing work - when I had the privilege of running the webcast of Douglas' memorial service.

And, luckily lovely Roger at Radio4 interactive has just confirmed that Yes, it was my idea to get Rod Lord in to do the illustrations for the remaking of the computer game.

Please imagine me elaborately thumbing my nose at all of the cool kids at school who laughed at me for turning up dressed as Ford Prefect on Red Nose Day.

(Wanders off to bask in smug self-satisfaction...)

*Dirk Maggs and Wix Wickens, if you ever read this, get Boards of Canada and Mum in for the next one. And Dirk, get a haircut, you look ridiculous.

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