March 8th marks the 40th anniversary of the very first broadcast of a radio series called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Douglas Adams was inspired to write a guide to the galaxy while lying drunk in a field near Innsbruck with a copy of The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe and looking up at the stars. Obviously it didn’t start exactly there. It must have come back to him later.
It is an absolutely extraordinary series, brought to life by the series producer, Geoffrey Perkins, with a little help from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
When Adams died in 2001, Hitchhiker fans across the world celebrated his life by carrying a towel with them for the day, after one of the show’s central tenets, “always know where your towel is.”
Since then, #towelday has been an annual celebration. In 2016, I looked around for a comedy gig to do on that night with a H2G2 theme, only to find that there wasn’t one. So in 2017, I organised one, complete with poetry, towels, copious amounts of #tea or alternatively, Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, if you’re that way inclined.
Adams became interested in conservation in 1985 after the Observer Magazine sent him to investigate Madagascar’s endangered Aye-aye, accompanied by zoologist Mark Carwardine.
This resulted in a radio series for the BBC and a book, both entitled Last Chance to See, in which he and Mark visited rare species including the northern white rhinos of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Douglas Adams became a founder patron of Save the Rhino in 1994 and was a dedicated spokesperson for SRI right up until his death in 2001 at the age of 49.
Save the Rhino International’s top priority is to protect and increase rhino numbers and population distribution in Africa and Asia. The charity currently supports field programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Indonesia.
Stand Up for Towel Day is proud to donate all our proceeds to SRI. There will be donation boxes at the gig if you would like to make an additional donation (think of it as buying your favourite rhino a gargle blaster.)
The photo is of Douglas climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in a rhino suit in aid of the charity.