The Secondary Phase is the second part of the original radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, first broadcast in 1978.

Story Summary[]

Fit the Seventh[]

The episode opens in the Hitchhiker's offices on Ursa Minor Beta, with a receptionist claiming that Zarniwoop, the editor of the guide, is too busy to take a call because while he is in his office, he is simultaneously on an intergalactic cruise.

It then moves to the bridge of a megafreighter that is due to land on Ursa Minor Beta. A crewmember denounces the Hitchhiker's Guide for being soft, and notes that he has heard they have created a whole artificial universe. Zaphod Beeblebrox is a hitch-hiker on the freighter, and as he listens to the radio, he hears a report that he has died, by being eaten by a Haggunenon. The manner of his escape is left unclear.

Meanwhile, Arthur and Ford are stuck in Earth's pre-history, drunk. As they discuss their predicament, they notice a spaceship half-appearing in front of them. They celebrate their rescue, and it vanishes. Eventually they deduce that this is a time paradox, and they need to figure out how to signal the ship in the future so they can be rescued. Following this is the Guide's entry on the subject of towels, making its first appearance.

On the ship, Zaphod explains to the crew member that he is going to Ursa Minor Beta to find out what he's doing. He received a message from himself the previous night, telling him to see Zarniwoop in order to learn something to his disadvantage. Zaphod then explains how he escaped - the Haggunenon turned into an escape capsule before it got the chance to eat him.

Zaphod arrives at the Hitchhiker's offices, and demands to see Zarniwoop, but is given the same excuses as before. After revealing his identity, he is directed to Zarniwoop's office, and meets up with Marvin, who had also survived and coincidentally arrived at the same place. After Marvin persuades the lift to take them upwards, the building starts to shake, due to it being bombed.

Zaphod is met by Roosta, who blames the bombing on Zaphod failing to conceal his presence on the planet adequately. A Frogstar Robot class D soon arrives to come and get Zaphod. Zaphod orders Marvin to stop it (which he does, by tricking it into destroying the floor it is standing on), whilst Zaphod and Roosta escape into the pocket universe in Zarniwoop's office.

From the perspective of the three later radio series, all of the subsequent events of the Secondary Phase occur only in Zarniwoop's artificial universe, and not in the 'real' universe. They are later dismissed by Trillian as "psychotic episodes".

Eventually, the Frogstar Robots decide to take the entire building back to the Frogstar.

Fit the Eighth[]

The episode opens with Zaphod and Roosta in the Guide building, which is being towed to the Frogstar, "the most totally evil place in the Galaxy". Roosta explains that they are going to feed Zaphod to the "Total Perspective Vortex", which no one has ever survived. A Frogstar Prisoner Relations Officer teleports in, to taunt Zaphod.

Meanwhile, in Earth's past, Ford and Arthur are still dealing with the rescue ship that has half-appeared in front of them. Rather stuck for how to signal it, they wave a towel at it, and surprisingly, the spaceship appears to notice this and lands rather catastrophically, trapping them under a boulder, and sending the towel into a lava flow.

They appear to be stuck, so they ask The Guide what to do if one is stuck under a rock, with no hope of rescue. The guide has an entry that begins, 'Consider how kind life has been to you so far...'

However, it becomes apparent that the boulder they are under is actually the ship, the Heart of Gold, and Zaphod Beeblebrox comes out of it, rather the worse for wear. He explains that he has been put in the Total Perspective Vortex, and survived. After this, he celebrated and is hungover from a week's celebration. He explains that the towel had been fossilised, and when the Earth was blown up two million years later, the Improbability Drive picked it up.

The story then continues in flashback, picking up with Zaphod and Roosta on the Guide building. They attempt to escape with a "body debit" (teleport) card, but are foiled by the Relations Officer. He then tricks Zaphod into signing a consent form for entering the Vortex, and is then teleported to the service. He meets Gargravarr, a disembodied voice, the guardian of the Vortex. He is then placed in it, and exposed to its action, which is to place the user into Total Perspective by showing, with unfiltered perception, themselves into relation to the universe, for a moment. Zaphod survives, much to the astonishment of Gargravarr. He reports that it showed him that he is a "really great guy".

Fit the Ninth[]

The episode opens with Ford and Arthur discussing Zaphod's sanity on board the Heart of Gold. Ford also starts correcting Arthur's grammar, forcing Arthur to refer to Earth in the past tense, as it had been demolished in Fit the First. Ford then begins to question the reason given for the demolition, stating "that was all done away with centuries ago. No one demolishes planets anymore." Ford has noticed another fleet of Vogon ships following the Heart of Gold at a distance of five light years for half an hour. He then calls for Marvin to bring Zaphod to the bridge.

Meanwhile, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz confirms the identity of the ship and its occupants, then proceeds to wipe out half his crew in a fit of rage. After this massacre, he contacts Gag Halfrunt. Halfrunt is revealed not only to be Jeltz's psychiatrist (as well as Zaphod's), but also the psychiatrist who originally hired Jeltz to destroy first the Earth, then any survivors. Jeltz is asked to hold off on his final destruction of the Heart of Gold until Halfrunt can make an arrangement for fees still owed by Zaphod.

Halfrunt contacts Zaphod, who has since arrived on the Heart of Gold's bridge, but refuses to see the Vogon threat as anything more than a delusion of grandeur. Zaphod destroys the Heart of Gold's radio, then attempts to get the ship's computer to engage the Infinite Improbability Drive in order to get the Heart of Gold away from the Vogons. The computer states that this is not possible, as all its circuits have become busy with another task, and insists that the result will be something they can all "Share and Enjoy."

The Guide explains that "Share and Enjoy" is the motto of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints Division. A song, sung by the company's robots, with voices a flattened fifth out of tune, is heard. Another product of SCC that never works, the Nutrimat is introduced, as Arthur is attempting to get it to dispense tea. Arthur eventually converses with the Nutrimat, the floor and the ventilation system, trying to convince them that he wants tea, when Eddie the ship's computer is finally brought in, to work out "why the human prefers boiled leaves to everything we have to offer him...."

This is then revealed to be the problem preventing the computer from evading the Vogons. Zaphod decides to contact his great-grandfather, Zaphod Beeblebrox IV, through a seance. More background behind Zaphod's actual job and a conspiracy to discover the real ruler of the universe is revealed. As the episode ends, Eddie has been restored to normal function, and engages the IID, getting the ship out of firing range of the Vogons in the nick of time.

Fit the Tenth[]

The episode opens with more background material on Arthur Dent, specifically how the "remarkably unremarkable" human from Earth had an effect on the war between the G'Gugvuntts and Vl'Hurgs, and will now have further significance on the planet Brontitall, where the Heart of Gold has just arrived. Zaphod and Ford discuss their arrival in a cave with Eddie the Computer, noting the cold. Eddie calculates, after they, and Arthur and Marvin, have departed the ship, that they are thirteen miles above ground level, despite there not being any mountains on the planet.

The quartet begin to explore the cave. Very soon, Arthur falls out of the cave mouth. Zaphod nearly falls as well, but catches the lip of the cave mouth, then discovers for himself that they are "miles up in the air". Ford talks to Zaphod while the latter dangles.

Meanwhile, Arthur has managed to fall onto a large passing bird. The bird reveals that the "cave" is actually a mile-long marble sculpture of a plastic cup, hanging in the sky, part of a larger statue. The bird flies Arthur to the main statue, which is known as "Arthur Dent Throwing the Nutrimatic Cup". Arthur then reveals himself to be the very person that the statue is modelled after, and the bird flies into the statue's right ear, where the rest of his kind live. Arthur meets them, and their leader, the Wise Old Bird, and learns a few things about the past of Brontitall. For example, the statue was built in Arthur's honour after his argument with the Nutrimatic Machine inspired them to rid themselves of the "blight of the robots". There is one thing the birds refuse to speak of, however, and the Wise Old Bird tells Arthur, "if you want to know, you will have to descend to the ground...."

The Guide mentions how little is still considered to be unspeakable in the galaxy, except for the rudest word in existence: "Belgium". Zaphod uses this word to finally convince Ford to attempt a rescue, still dangling from the lip of the mile-long cup. The attempt fails, and both of them fall out of the cup, and onto another passing bird.

On the surface, Arthur encounters a Footwarrior, who has declared the planet of Brontitall to be the property of the Dolmansaxlil Galactic Shoe Corporation. Fleeing the Footwarrior, Arthur takes refuge in a trench with an archaeologist named Lintilla, who tells Arthur that she's on Brontitall to discover why the Footwarriors are all limping due to blisters, as the episode ends.

Fit the Eleventh[]

After a brief recap, the episode per se opens with a conversation between Lintilla and Arthur. Lintilla mentions that she's an archaeologist, stranded on Brontitall, as her spaceship was disabled. She activates her crisis inducer and leads Arthur through a set of tunnels. While they're running, the narrator describes the state of medical science in the universe, with artificially induced injuries.

Meanwhile, Zaphod and Ford have landed on the back of one of the birds from the previous episode, and eventually convince it to reach the ground by wrapping Ford's towel around its eyes. But because the bird had to reach the ground, it and its fellow birds are upset and start attacking Zaphod and Ford on the surface. A loud noise occurs, which causes the narrator to explain its lack of immediate context.

Arthur emerges from a tunnel behind Lintilla, who had overcompensated for her artificially induced crisis. Lintilla introduces Arthur to two of her "sisters" (actually clones), and they begin discussing the noise, finally establishing a context for it. Lintilla finally admits that there are 578,000,000,000 clones of herself in the universe. The narrator explains how this happened, and what is being done about it. Lintilla takes Arthur to the shaft suddenly created after the mysterious loud noise, and they finally confirm what the three Lintillas had been looking for: "An entire archaeological layer of compressed shoes." After making this confirmation, they are captured by Hig Hurtenflurst, a Dolmansaxlil Galactic Shoe Corporation executive.

The narrator finally describes what made the noise and created the shaft that gave the Lintillas their breakthrough. It's none other than Marvin, who himself finally fell out of the cup that the Heart of Gold is parked in. He's lying at the bottom of a mile deep shaft, and goes "zootlewurdle." Meanwhile, Hig has decided to take Lintilla and Arthur back to his office and like them.

Hig explains the background of what happened to Brontitall - they fell victim to a Dolmansaxlil Shoe Shop Intensifier Ray, forcing them to construct nothing but shoe shops, and selling nothing but badly made shoes. Arthur learns that Earth was to be one of the next targets, spared from this by being demolished by the Vogons. The film being shown to Arthur and Lintilla explaining the Shoe Shop Intensifier Ray is suddenly interrupted, as is power to the office when Marvin decides to rescue Arthur and Lintilla, and her two clones.

The narrator then explains that the Shoe Shop Intensifier Ray was unnecessary, that a "Shoe Event Horizon" would have occurred on that planet, and many other worlds, as part of their natural economic histories. A lesson from the future is heard, explaining this principle. Lintilla, Arthur and Marvin continue their escape, while Ford and Zaphod finally arrive at a large, very old building, and enter it to take shelter from the still angry bird people.

They discover that the building is a spaceport, and find abandoned ships left inside it. One such ship is still connected to supply lines, and still has power. Zaphod makes himself a stethoscope (for both heads) and holds it to the hull of this ship. He's stunned by what he hears inside, and here the episode ends.

Fit the Twelfth[]

The episode begins with a reprise of the action from Fit the Eleventh: Ford and Zaphod have discovered a derelict spaceport, including one ship, still intact, with its supply lines still connected, and still having power. Zaphod creates a stethoscope for both heads out of some pieces of tubing, and is shocked at what he hears inside. Ford asks to listen, and finally, everyone gets to hear an android stewardess making an announcement about their delayed space flight. Zaphod calculates that the ship is in fact over 900 years late. Ford and Zaphod agree to find their way into the ship to investigate further.

Meanwhile, Arthur and Lintilla finally find Lintilla's two clones on Brontitall, but they, along with Marvin, are discovered by the Footwarriors as power is restored. Arthur agrees to run down the corridor while the others lay down cover fire with "a gun of some sort", then Arthur will have them throw the gun to him, so that he can lay down cover fire while they run to meet him. As Arthur completes the first part of this task, he's met by a man named Poodoo, a priest named Varntvar, and three men named Allitnil. During this confusion, Arthur manages to get Lintilla to throw the gun down the corridor, and starts firing to cover their run to join him. While Arthur does this, Poodoo is explaining how keen he is to introduce the Allitnils to the Lintillas, for a quiet social evening, and "a priest [is] on hand in case anybody wants to get married at all. Just to round off the evening." Arthur questions his sanity.

The Lintillas finally join Arthur, and Poodoo seizes his opportunity to introduce the Allitnils to them. They are immediately overwhelmingly attracted to each other, but are warned off from kissing each other until married. The priest is then called upon to perform three weddings. As the weddings conclude and the men kiss their brides, two of the three pairs disappear in "a puff of unsmoke" as Arthur discovers that the marriage certificates are actually cloning machine company "Agreements to Cease to Be" and cries out, stopping the final couple from kissing.

At this point, we go back to Ford and Zaphod entering the very late space ship, just as the passengers are being woken from suspended animation for coffee and biscuits. Ford and Zaphod flee the scene, eventually arriving on the flight deck, where they are continually ordered by the autopilot to return to their seats. The autopilot argues with them over the statistical likelihood of another civilization delivering the lemon soaked paper napkins required by the spaceship before it can depart, and Ford and Zaphod flee again, this time to the First Class compartment. Here, a man introduces himself to Zaphod as Zarniwoop, whom Zaphod had been seeking since Fit the Seventh.

The action returns to Arthur, the remaining Lintilla, and Marvin. We learn that Arthur had killed the last Allitnil, the anti-clone, and Marvin tied up Poodoo and Varntvar, leaving them forced to listen to a cassette tape of Marvin's autobiography. As they finally exit the Dolmansaxlil building, they set out for the same spaceport that Ford and Zaphod are in, but then discover that the suspended cup is heading towards the surface, with the Heart of Gold still inside.

Meanwhile, Zarniwoop has offered Ford and Zaphod some drinks, and attempts to explain the whole situation to them. Zarniwoop starts by explaining that they had been in an artificially created universe within his office, then explains that he and Zaphod had co-conspired to discover who was really ruling the galaxy, as it was obvious it wasn't the President. Zaphod succeeds in his task, bringing the Heart of Gold - its improbability drive being necessary to reach the realm of the real ruler of the galaxy - to Zarniwoop's hiding place. Zarniwoop begins "dismantling" the artificial universe, and causes the cup to head to the surface outside.

After the narrator describes who might be ruling the universe, we hear the voice of an old man attempting to feed his cat a bit of fish. This old man seems to have his own unique perspective on things, but had noticed a white ship approaching. This ship, the Heart of Gold, discharges four of its passengers: Ford, Zaphod, Arthur and Zarniwoop, who approach the old man's shack. They attempt to question him about the decisions he makes about the galaxy, but he gives everything a vague answer. He does however reveal that he may have given his assent to the men who regularly seek his advice, thus giving Zaphod permission, under the pressure of the galaxy's psychiatrists, to destroy Earth before the Ultimate Question was revealed, thus securing their jobs. Arthur leaves angrily. Zarniwoop attempts further questions, but is eventually brushed off, and it's discovered that Arthur has made away with the Heart of Gold, with Lintilla and Marvin aboard. This leaves Ford, Zaphod and Zarniwoop stranded on the "Old Man in the Shack"'s planet, and here the episode ends - though open-ended with a spoken possibility of another series.



  • The story is divided into 'fits' / episodes, as was the Primary Phase.
  • Trillian is not present for any of the Secondary Phase, but does reappear in the Tertiary Phase.
  • The character Lintilla is entirely absent from any of the books.
  • In the books, Milliways is built on the ruins of Frogstar World B, but in the TV series and radio plays, it's built on the ruins of Magreathea.
  • The Secondary Phase was adapted into book form as The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.