As the episode opens Arthur Dent is attempting to prevent the local council, represented by Mr Prosser, from bulldozing his house to make way for a bypass. Dent's friend, Ford Prefect arrives and takes him to the pub. At the pub, Ford explains that he is not from Guildford after all, but from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and that the world is about to end. Arthur at first does not believe him, thinking that he must be drunk.
Meanwhile, Lady Cynthia Fitzmelton, a character unique to the radio series, has arrived at the site of Arthur Dent's house. She makes a speech about progress, and the future for the village of Cottington, and insults the residents in the process. She begins the construction of the bypass, and the demolition of Arthur Dent's house, by smashing a bottle of "very splendid and worthwhile" champagne against a yellow bulldozer. Ford and Arthur hear this, and Arthur races back to the former site of his house, Ford chasing after him after first buying some peanuts.
Shortly after Arthur and Ford return to the ruins of Arthur's house, a fleet of Vogon Constructor Ships arrives in the sky, and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz broadcasts an announcement that they are to demolish the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Panic ensues. Ford uses his "Electronic Thumb" to hitch a lift onto one of the ships, taking Arthur with him, just moments before the Earth is destroyed.
On board the Vogon Constructor Ship, Ford explains that he was a field researcher for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and had been stuck on the Earth for several more years than he originally expected. The two are soon captured by the Vogons, who take an unfriendly view of hitchhikers.
Cast and Characters
- The Book and Narrator - Peter Jones
- Arthur Dent - Simon Jones
- Ford Prefect - Geoffrey McGivern
- Mr. Prosser and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz (Vogon Captain) - Bill Wallis
- Lady Cynthia Fitzmelton - Jo Kendall
- The Barman - David Gooderson
This fit, originally the pilot episode, subsequently became the first programme. It was commissioned by the BBC Radio Light Entertainment Department on 1 March 1977, and produced by Simon Brett on 28 June with the assistance of Paddy Kingsland at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and a small furry creature from the Crab Nebula.
Music featured in the fit includes:
- "Journey of the Sorcerer" from One of These Nights by The Eagles
- "Lontano" from A Modern Mass for the Dead by György Ligeti (used in the opening speech, the "On this particular Thursday" speech, and the Vogon constructor fleet speech).
- "A Rainbow in Curved Air" by Terry Riley (used in the "None at all" speech, the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster speech, the Babel fish speech and the Vogon poetry speech).
- "Volumina" by György Ligeti (used as the final dramatic chord).