Band Show host Billy CottonWho remembers the Billy Cotton Band Show? It must be the earliest memory I have of hearing something on the radio - his cry of "Wakey, waaakey" linked inexorably with the smell of the Sunday roast dinner cooking.

We always seemed to have the radio on at home, but it was mostly music stations. It wasn't until I was older that I became aware of other, non-musical radio output. That came when I listened to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 1978.

Radio Cast of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I hadn't heard anything like it on the radio before, and must have listened to it several times through over the years. The book and TV series were a good representation of the original radio show, but I've never seen the film - we started watching it once but it just wasn't believable. Which seems a silly thing to say about something which starts off describing how the Vogons are going to demolish the Earth to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, but there you go.

Of course, it all starts with Arthur Dent's bad day when he discovers his house is due to be demolished:

"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."
"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything."
"But the plans were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."

Douglas Adams was an eccentric man who had some amazing, inventive ideas. I love this excerpt from The Book:

All quotes © Douglas Adams.


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