BBC Radio to celebrate Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyBookmark and Share

Friday, 7 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
BBC Radio 4 Extra is bringing listeners the brand-new 30th anniversary edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Game online and broadcasting the first two series from tomorrow - 36 years to the day since the first radio broadcast of Hitchhiker's and 30 years since the invention of the award-winning game.

Hitchhiker's started life as a BBC Radio 4 series in March 1978. The original scripts by the late Douglas Adams spawned novels, a feature film, at least three stage shows, a TV series and a collection of comic books - as well as various towels.

The game was devised in 1984 by Adams and Steve Meretzky from Infocom. Notoriously difficult and full of oddities, it was one of the best-selling games of its era.

The 20th-anniversary edition of the game launched on Radio 4's website in 2004, and more than three million moves were made in the game in its first three days of launch and more than 50 million moves had been played within six months. It went on to win a BAFTA for Best Online Entertainment.

The 30th-anniversary specially-updated version of the game will allow users to share their achievements with friends over social media via the official Twitter feed @h2g2game.

The game will now be in high definition, thanks to refreshed illustrations and graphics. It is web-based and will be accessible via Radio 4 Extra's website. Players will also be able to take the game on the move, as it will be compatible with tablets and other internet enabled devices.

Radio 4 Extra will also be broadcasting series one and two of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. It has been more than 10 years since these programmes were last heard on BBC Radio and they perfectly accompany the game. Actions within the game follow the plot of the radio series and some puzzles are only solvable by players with knowledge of the programmes and story.

The single-player game starts with lead character Arthur Dent working his way through a series of different challenges and zones. Players use a specially-designed keyboard to enter their commands and there are achievements to be won throughout the game by completing a series of tasks. This interactive work of fiction sees players visiting other planets, meeting aliens and robots, and creating (or losing) the plot, based on their decisions and choices as they progress through the game. It is renowned for its difficulty and it never misses a chance to kill players off in hilarious and infuriating ways.

Caroline Raphael, commissioning editor for Radio 4 Extra, said:
Douglas was a true visionary and in his own glorious way foresaw all the technology we now take for granted. Radio 4 Extra is delighted to host this game alongside the first two series. Hitchhiker's fans will be rewarded for their loyalty over the years and newer fans have a real, but fiendish, treat in store. March 8th is a special day for the galaxy, so help us celebrate it in the unique way that only BBC Radio 4 Extra can.
The first episode of the first series will be broadcast at 6pm, with further episodes following weekly in the same slot on Saturdays.

And later this month, the original Hitchhiker's cast will continue to shake up the Radio 4 schedule when they reunite for a special performance, broadcast live from the BBC Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House. Led by Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, they will be bringing to life the characters created for them by Adams in highlights from the entire Hitchhiker's saga. The actors will be joined on stage by a Special Guest Voice Of The Book - Adams's long-time collaborator and sometime flatmate John Lloyd, who co-wrote the fifth and sixth episodes of the first series and was associate producer of the TV version.

It takes place on Saturday 29th March at 10am as part of the Character Invasion event that will see some of the nation's best-loved characters invade Radio 4 and take over the airwaves. Tickets for the show can be applied for via this link. Please note that they will be allocated via a random draw. People can register for up to four tickets per household at any time until Thursday 13th March at 4pm. Other broadcasts that same day can also be applied for, but should you be successful in the draw you will only receive tickets for one session. It should also be noted that allocation of the free tickets does not guarantee entry.




The legacy of Buffy The Vampire Slayer is examinedBookmark and Share

Thursday, 26 December 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The legacy of cult TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer is being examined today by the BBC Radio 4 arts strand Front Row - ten years after the supernatural drama finished in the UK.

The American-made show, which spanned 144 episodes over seven series, aired on BBC2 between 30th December 1998 and 18th December 2003, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as the eponymous heroine, with Anthony Head as her Watcher, Rupert Giles, and aided by her "Scooby Gang" of friends. It won three Emmys, spawned the spin-off TV series Angel, and proved to be hugely influential on TV plotting and scripting.

Author and novelist Naomi Alderman has made the radio special to examine its impact and, as she puts it, "why there are so few 'daughters of Buffy': strong and complex fictional creations, who aren't simply the sole female lead in a predominantly male cast."

Interviewed for the half-hour programme, which goes out at 7.15pm, are the show's creator Joss Whedon, along with Anthony Head, writers Neil Gaiman and Rhianna Pratchett, TV executives Jane Root and Susanne Daniels, and fans Blake Harrison and Bim Adewunmi.

The show will be available to listen to live worldwide via the BBC Radio 4 site and afterwards via the specific programme site.





Neil Gaiman Talks NeverwhereBookmark and Share

Sunday, 10 March 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman has been talking about the forthcoming radio adaptation of urban fantasy Neverwhere.

He tells of his disappointment with the TV version, which was co-created by him and Lenny Henry and aired on BBC2 in 1996, and how excited he is about this new six-parter, which starts on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 16th March and continues on BBC Radio 4 Extra from 18th to 22nd March.

The stellar radio cast includes James McAvoy as lead character Richard Mayhew, Christopher Lee as the Earl of Earl's Court, Natalie Dormer as Door, Bernard Cribbins as Old Bailey, Benedict Cumberbatch as Islington, Sophie Okonedo as Hunter, David Harewood as the Marquis de Carabas, and Anthony Head as Mr Croup.

A trailer and pictures have also been released as part of the promotion.




The adaptation will be available to listen to worldwide on the BBC iPlayer.




Neverwhere Radio Adaptation Start Date RevealedBookmark and Share

Thursday, 21 February 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC's radio adaptation of the urban fantasy TV serial Neverwhere - created by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry - will start airing next month, it has been announced.

It was shown as a six-part series on BBC2 in 1996, starring - among others - Peter Capaldi, Hywel Bennett, Paterson Joseph, Tamsin Greig, and Earl Cameron, and brought out as a tie-in novel by Gaiman. Set in the magical world of "London Below" that co-exists with the more familiar city ("London Above"), it subsequently appeared as a comic-book series and has been staged a number of times too.

Now it has been turned into a six-part series for radio - adapted by Dirk Maggs, who has also co-directed it with producer Heather Larmour - and will begin on Radio 4 on Saturday 16th March with an hour-long instalment, to be followed by five half-hour episodes on the digital station Radio 4 Extra from Monday 18th March, according to Radio Times.

The latest adaptation stars James McAvoy in the lead role of Richard Mayhew, with Christopher Lee as the Earl of Earl's Court, Natalie Dormer as Door, David Harewood as the Marquis de Carabas, Sophie Okonedo as Hunter, Benedict Cumberbatch as The Angel Islington, Anthony Head as Mr Croup, David Schofield as Mr Vandemar, Bernard Cribbins as Old Bailey, Romola Garai as Jessica, Andrew Sachs as Tooley, George Harris as Abbot, Don Gilet as Fulingous, Ruislip, and Blackfriar, Abdul Salis as Sable, Sump, Clarence, and Homeless Man, Paul Chequer as Gary and Guard 2, Lucy Cohu as Lamia, Yasmin Paige as Anaesthesia, Tenant 2, and Match Girl, Johnny Vegas as Lord Ratspeaker, and Karen Archer as Sylvia, Old Woman, Dream Hawker, and Mother.

Last November, Gaiman commented:
Christopher Lee is going to be saying lines I wrote. This makes me happier than I have any right to be.