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The mystery of 42: Freetime talks to Hitchikers' Simon Jones
FOR anyone who has watched, read or listened to the various incarnations of The Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy the significance of the number 42 will not be lost.
After all, it is the ultimate answer to everything according to the well loved literary creation of Douglas Adams.
The tale pokes fun at that fundamental question posed for time immemorial – what is the meaning of life.
But for one of the guide's key figures, Simon Jones, for whom the role of protagonist Arthur Dent was specifically written for, that number has cropped up in some eerie ways.
Simon, is once again donning the famous bed robe for the latest outing of Hitchhikers, reviving the character who is one day suddenly catapulted to the centre of a bizarre intergalactic planning dispute.
Soon to appear at Aylesbury's Waterside Theatre for the radio show, he explained that 42 seems to follow him around.
The actor, who is a cousin of James Bond star Daniel Craig, told Freetime that the two digit combination seems to have featured particurlay prevalently since his friend Douglas died, increasing its spooky factor.
He said: “The flight I took back from Santa Barbara in California back to New York after Douglas' Funeral was Delta flight 42.
“I didn't realise until I saw the ticket stub which was weird.
“Another time, I was looking along the south Bank and looking out at the tallest building in the city and saw 42 emblazoned on the side of it. The developer at the time called it that, I thought it was maybe a sign from Douglas.”
Simon, who is also co-producing the show, also points to the tour, which takes in 24 cities, 42 backwards, though he admits this is when the link becomes somewhat tenuous.
Whether the giant 42 on the building was a sign from the esteemed writer or not, he remains very much in the mind, especially on the current hitchhikers tour, Simon revealed.
The sci-fi great died tragically aged just 49.
Simon said: “We salute his photograph at the end. Clearly it all came from his mind and we are using all his writing.
“He's always a presiding influence, he was a friend of all of us and we miss him dreadfully.”
Asked what it was like to have had that role written for him originally, he said: “It was hard to resist really.
It's fascinating because I suppose that's how he saw me and as I've got older I have become increasingly tetchy about my inability to get a decent cup of tea anywhere.”
The actor, who has appeared in many varied roles including a part in the cult film Twelve Monkeys, starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, said Adams' works were up there with the best science fiction around.
He said: “It's not Jules Verne or Ray Bradbury type fiction yet his imagination was as good as theirs and also he had the satire.”
In fact, Simon sees his old friend as a visionary.
He said: “Douglas was something of a prophet. I remember him saying many years back that operating a computer would become as easy as turning on a light switch.
“And what is the hitchhikers guide but an i-phone or an i-pad? And of course he was a friend of Steve Jobs (creator of Apple).”
Simon, who is married to the Monty Python team's former American manager, has just as much enthusiasm for the story as ever and said it was pleasing to bring it to a wider audience with the UK theatre tour.
The audience will have to use their imaginations for the show, which has gone back to its radio roots. It was a wireless production before it became a novel.
“The scenery has to be in the eye of the beholder because it's a radio show,” Simon said.
“But we've a band and live sound effects being performed before your very eyes.”
The voice of the book will be QI and Never Mind the Buzzcocks regular Phil Jupitus, but for the rest of the cast Simon is joined by the other original members.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live! is at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on July 9 and 10 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £18-£24 from 0844 8717607 or go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury.