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Maggs does Gently

Well, well, well. The more excellent among you will remember a few years ago, talented writer and producer Dirk Maggs, as part of Above the Title Productions, adapted the final three Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books into shiny new radio series, complete with the original cast and some excellent guest starts. I was a big fan of these adaptations as, where they might not have been as funny as the original two, the cast where such a joy to listen to, I didn’t really care much.

So, imagine my excitement now it has been revealed the BBC have commissioned Maggs and his team to adapt the brilliant Dirk Gently books to radio. Feel free to let out a yelp of cautious glee at any point.

Taken from Dirk Maggs personal site:

BBC Radio 4 has commissioned Above the Title Productions Ltd (with Dirk Maggs at the helm) to make an 18 x 30 minute adaptation of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently books, following Above the Title Productions Ltd successful production of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It will run over 3 series of 6 episodes and will begin in October 2007.

However, a couple of issues spring instantly to mind. Firstly: three series? Either they're going to split the two books into three blocks (very unlikely) or... well, they're going to be using Adams's unfinished Salmon of Doubt book. In its current state it'd make a very odd series of radio shows, obviously, so we can probably infer that Maggs would complete the story. All I can say is I hope he has access to previously unknown notes detailing Adams's plot ideas, as I'm not sure I'm comfortable with Maggs making up his own second half. I mean, he's clearly the best man for the adaptation job, and he's the best Adams proxy we're likely to get, but I really don't like the idea of him taking the step into what effectively would be co-writing.

Secondly: what of the cast? Nothing’s been revealed as yet, probably because they’ve not even begun rehearsals yet, but it’s an important detail. Still, I’ll be buggered if I can think of someone I’d like to see as Dirk Gently himself… As always, taking a character from a book and suddenly turning them into an audible being is going to be tricky and fraught with danger, and the casting needs to be perfect to carry off such a sinister, eccentric, lovable and brilliant character.

Anyway, that's by the by. Two of the finest books ever are being made into a radio series by the man who did such a great job on the final three series of Hitchhiker’s, and that, for now, is good enough for me.

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As cool as this is, the further prospect Salmon of Doubt being done does not sit well with me. Adams himself even admitted it wasn't really a Dirk book. It started as a Guide book, moved to a Dirk book, and was on its way to becoming a third property entirely before he died, so I feel like it's a bit cynical to "complete" the story. It's one thing to publish unfinished work, it's another entirely to ADAPT it even after the author's given up on it (then died).

I would, of course, listen to the whole damn thing, despite my reservations, but I'd almost prefer an entirely new story to a visitation of SoD. Though it is possible they'll somehow split threads from the 2 existing books into 3 discrete stories...

By James H
March 07, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

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They could always be doing Incompetence. That's practically a DG book, anyway.

By Seb
March 07, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

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I'll be honest - I heard the first episode of Maggs' HHGTTG adaptation, and it did nothing for me. I was just bored, and didn't laugh once.

But I've heard so many people say how great they were, that I should give it another chance. I might just have been in an off mood...

By John Hoare
March 07, 2007 @ 5:48 pm

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I'd seriously recommend giving the Tertiary phase another chance (then a few more after that) - the whole thing is literally dripping with subtle nods, discrete (and HILARIOUS!!!1!ONE1) SFX jokes and stuff to the extent that even listening to it last week, I heard something new in there.

It's a thing of beauty, to my mind, but I'll look at the Gently adaptation with caution for now; I didn't really get on with the first book... Felt a little fractured to me.

By Rosti
March 09, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

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Great, I love Dirk Maggs. I just bought Batman: Knightfall on Monday and it's fantastic. The new Hitchhiker radio series weren't perfect (even though I personally thought The Secondary Phase was rather awful - everything on that shoe shop planet in the second half was nowhere near the quality of the Ursa Minor Beta stuff in the first half - I can understand why people were unhappy with how it was dealt with) I was generally very happy with how it turned out.

By Rad
March 10, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

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I'm... pleased. Yes. This could work very well indeed.

By Jonathan Capps
July 15, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

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