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The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is set to return to the medium from which it was first launched, the BBC confirmed this morning.

Radio dramatisations of creator Douglas Adams' last three Hitch-hikers novels are now in production, with the first of the trio, Life, the Universe and Everything, due to be broadcast next Spring.

Now this is very odd. The novel follows on from the novelisation of end of the first radio series, along with bits of the second radio series, published as the remarkably unremarkable The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Adams cunningly rewrote the parts contributed by radio co-writer John Lloyd to avoid prosecution under the Galaxy's tedious copyright laws.

The upshot is, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, start off Life stranded on prehistoric Earth, but end the second radio respectively on board the starship Heart of Gold and stranded outside the home of the Galaxy's uncomprehending ruler.

How will this paradox be resolved? In an infinite universe, anything, even the The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is possible. Whatever medium it chooses to express itself in.

What is certain is that the third series, helmed by Dirk 'Judge Dredd, Batman, Superman and Spiderman' Maggs, will see original cast members Simon Jones (Arthur), Geoffrey McGivern (Ford), Mark Wing-Davey (Zaphod Beeblebrox) and Susan Sheridan (Trillian).

Alas, Peter Jones, the voice of the book, will not be reappearing. Narration will instead provided by William Franklyn, a fine voiceover artiste and all right in parts, but not a patch on the real thing. Slartibartfast will now be played by Richard Griffiths.

Reason notwithstanding, Trillian's return follows the sequence of improbable events recounted in Adams' novels, whereas the radio series left her forcibly married off to the chairman of the Galactic Rotary Club. Having escaped her grizzly predicament she has now no doubt thumbed her way back to Earth*.

The fourth and fifth novels, So Long and Thanks for the All the Fish (an altogether terser work, for fanboys) and Mostly Harmless, will be adapted as a single, eight-part series for broadcast in 2004.

The late Adams was, of course, famous for script editing a season of Doctor Who, playing guitar with Pink Floyd, being a Macintosh devotee and entirely failing to meet deadlines. And inventing the word 'Belgium'**. ®

* Still a dull name.
** No, we can't tell you what it means.

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