1. The answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42.
2. The global multi-media success story that is "Hitchhiker's" started life as a Radio 4 series in March 1978.
3. The original scripts by the late Douglas Adams spawned a series of novels, a feature film, at least three stage shows, a TV series, a computer game, a collection of comic books - and various towels.
4. A towel is "about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have."
And so there is even now a Towel Day
5. Douglas Adams claims he came up with the idea while he lay drunk in a field in Austria.
6. Adams later claimed that he had told this story so many times that he had forgotten the incident itself, and only remembered himself telling the story.
7. All the versions follow the same basic plot
BUT they are in many places mutually contradictory, as Adams rewrote the story substantially for each new adaptation.
8. Adams's fictional Guide is an electronic guidebook to the UNIVERSE.
9. Peter Jones provided the voice of the Guide in the original radio series. Stephen Fry was the voice of the guide in the 2005 film.
10. The Guide helpfully informs us that the most obscene expletive in the Galaxy is "Belgium".
11. The first radio series comes from a proposal called "The Ends of the Earth"
Six self-contained episodes, all ending with Earths being destroyed in a different way.
12. The first radio series was comprised of six ‘fits’ which are named after the sections of Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem ‘The Hunting of the Snark’.
13. Whatever the version – the story always begins with Arthur Dent waking up hungover one morning to discover his house is going to be demolished.
14. Despite sporting a dressing gown for all six episodes on television, Arthur Dent’s apparel isn’t initially specified in the radio series…
15. Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect, an alien writer for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, are the only characters to appear throughout the entire Saga.
16. According to the 2005 film Ford is named after the Ford Prefect car which he mistakenly thought was the dominant life form on planet earth.
17. Zaphod Beeblebrox is Ford Prefect’s semi-half cousin with whom he shares three of the same mothers.
18. In all the versions Zaphod is described has having two heads and three arms.
19. We meet Zaphod in the second fit of the radio series when he takes a ‘spaced’ Ford and Arthur aboard the SS Heart of Gold, a starship which he has stolen.
20. The SS Heart of Gold runs on infinite improbability drive.
21. The ship’s robot is Marvin the Paranoid Android.
22. Marvin suffers with severe depression and boredom, in part because he has a "brain the size of a planet" which he is seldom, if ever, given the chance to use.
23. Marvin was in love once...
24. In final episode of the second Radio series Marvin pens an autobiography:
"I didn't ask to be made: no one consulted me or considered my feelings in the matter. I don't think it even occurred to them that I might have feelings. After I was made, I was left in a dark room for six months... and me with this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side. I called for succour in my loneliness, but did anyone come? Did they hell. My first and only true friend was a small rat. One day it crawled into a cavity in my right ankle and died. I have a horrible feeling it's still there... "
25. Also aboard the Heart of Gold is Tricia Marie McMillan (aka Trillian Astra) a brilliant mathematician and astrophysicist who Arthur Dent met at a party in Islington.
26. Islington is also the location of the cave in which Arthur lives Earth's prehistoric period, as described in the third novel.
(Two million years later, exactly the same spot is the location of Fenchurch's home as described in the fourth novel)
27. The first novel of the five part ‘trilogy’ is an adaptation of the first four episodes of the Radio series
In which the characters visit the legendary planet Magrathea....
28. St Austell, Cornwall was used to film the exterior shots of Magrathea in the TV series.
29. In the computer game The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the game is completed once the player sets foot on Magrathea.
30. In 1984 the BBC launched a Hitchhiker’s computer game which has just been renewed.
31. But remember...
32. Despite earth dying in the first radio series, in the fourth book Arthur returns to earth and falls in love with a girl called Fenchurch.
33. And despite this, the 2005 film adaptation focuses heavily on love triangle of Arthur, Zaphod and Trillian.
34. The theme tune used for the radio, television, LP and film versions is "Journey of the Sorcerer", an instrumental piece composed by Bernie Leadon and recorded by The Eagles on their album One of These Nights.
35. Apparently, Adams chose this song for its futuristic-sounding nature, but also for the fact that it had a banjo in it, which, as Geoffrey Perkins recalls, Adams said would give an "on the road, hitch-hiking feel" to it
36. The original series was notable for its use of sound, being the first comedy series to be produced in stereo
37. In the Original Records album version of the show, we actually hear some of the cabaret at the end of the universe – Reg Nullify and his Cataclysmic Combo
38. The Restaurant At End of the Universe is the name of the second book of the five part trilogy.
39. Before his death from a heart attack at age 49 in 2001, Adams was considering writing a sixth novel in the Hitchhiker's series.
He was working on a third Dirk Gently novel under the working title, The Salmon of Doubt, but felt that the book was not working and abandoned it