Episode 3 - Fit The Third
In Episode 3, the starship "Heart of Gold" arrives in orbit around the legendary lost planet of Magrathea. The protagonists are attacked by an ancient computer system, but effect an improbable escape. They land on the planet and prepare to step out onto the surface. The door opens, and then...
A scene was deleted.
Approximately 75 seconds of material were edited here: these sound clips contain 10 seconds of audio at the beginning and end of the edited section to provide some context. The script of the missing scene is also available and I have provided some instructions for those wishing to restore the scene to a commercial CD release of HHGTTG.
The scene was deleted because of the backing music used within it. Most of the music in the first series of HHGTTG is commercial, taken from albums by Jean Michel Jarre, Ligeti, Terry Riley and various others. Adams explains (in the introduction to the script book) that:
I wanted Hitch-Hiker's to sound like a rock album. I wanted the voices and the effects and the music to be so seamlessly orchestrated as to create a coherent picture of a whole other world.This sounds very exciting and Adams even attempts to explain what it means:
Though it was now ten years since Sergeant Pepper had revolutionised the way that people in the rock world thought about sound production, it seemed to me, listening to radio comedy at the time, that we still hadn't progressed much.Adams had some idea about how he wanted each part of the script to sound, and for the surface of Magrathea, that would be Pink Floyd: specifically, the beginning of their classic album "Wish You Were Here". Perfect backing music for "an alien world, millions of light years from home". Adams cleared the inclusion of the piece with Pink Floyd, who just happened to be old friends of his.
Alas, a gentleman's agreement is not a copyright licence, and the scene was cut for subsequent repeats and commercial releases.
However, the scene did not disappear entirely, because it reappears in a modified form on the HHGTTG record, where Marvin really does "hum like Pink Floyd" rather than hum exactly Pink Floyd. Like all of the other music featured on the record, it is an original composition by Tim Souster and Paddy Kingsland.
In my view, its presence on the LP is an admission that the producers of the show did not wish to cut it, particularly as other material had to be removed to fit on the limited medium of four LP sides. The running time of one side of an LP is usually between 22 and 25 minutes, compared to the 28-30 minute running time of a radio episode.
In April 2014, several years after I first created this webpage, I received an email to say that a complete broadcast of episode 3 had been aired by BBC Radio 4 Extra. I listened to the broadcast, and indeed, the email was correct - the missing scene had been restored! Someone at the BBC was aware of the difference, and had thought it important enough to find the unedited version rather than simply playing the CD. The quality was also excellent, with no obvious transition between the "deleted" part and the rest of the episode.
I expect that this restored version will be used for future broadcasts, so if you are interested in hearing the whole thing, visit the iPlayer page from time to time to see if it is available for streaming.