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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Author Douglas Adams dies
Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams died of a heart attack
Author Douglas Adams, who wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has died suddenly aged 49.

Mr Adams died on Friday morning in Santa Barbara, California, following a heart attack, said his spokeswoman Sophie Astin.

The author became a household name when the cult science fiction novel was turned into a BBC TV series.

He managed to combine fantasy and humanity in books which enthralled generations of readers

Alan Yentob
Prominent figures at the BBC, who worked with Adams on many projects, have spoken of their shock and sorrow at his death.

Alan Yentob, the BBC director of drama and entertainment, said: "Douglas was a big character who will be hugely missed by a host of friends and millions of fans around the world.

"He was a gifted writer; a one-off talent who managed to combine fantasy and humanity in books which enthralled generations of readers. We'll miss him enormously."

The BBC's head of comedy, Geoffrey Perkins, who produced the original Hitchhiker's radio series, said: "I'm absolutely devastated. I've known Douglas for 25 years. He was absolutely one of the most creative geniuses to ever work in radio comedy.

"He probably wrote one of the greatest radio comedy series ever; certainly the most imaginative.


"For somebody who was so involved in breakthroughs in new developments in technology, it's a tragedy that he's died before most of the things he's talked about have come about."

Ashley Highfield, the BBC director of new media, who worked with Adams on his website, said: "I've been a huge fan of Douglas and working with him on the h2g2 website was the culmination of childhood dreams.

"He was pretty unique in being innovative in media after media - from radio to the web. He was still coming up with more new ideas than almost anyone I've met.

"His brainchild - the h2g2 website - which the BBC has taken forward, is groundbreaking in enabling an online encyclopaedia to be created by the people for the people."


Adams was born in Cambridge in 1952 and educated in Essex before returning to Cambridge to study at St John's College.

His career included work as a radio and television writer and producer before his life was changed by the publication of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 1979.

The satirical tale chronicled the journey of alien Ford Prefect and his human companion Arthur Dent throughout the Universe after the destruction of Earth.

It centred around the search for an answer to life, the universe, and everything - which turned out to be 42.

Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox and Sandra Dickinson as Trillian
Adams's novel was turned into a BBC series
The novel went on to sell more than 14 million copies worldwide and was followed by the sequels The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; and So Long and Thanks For All the Fish.

In recent years, the author had been working on a Hitchhiker's Guide movie.

There was much speculation about who would play Arthur Dent, with Hugh Laurie, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carrey, Ben Affleck and even Bruce Willis said to be in the running.

Adams was also an internet pioneer, presenting a series on it on BBC Radio 4.

He believed something powerful was created when people pooled experiences and information and the internet offered a unique opportunity to do just that.

He said part of the internet's extraordinary power was the fact that it "evolved as an organic entity, a bottom-up design rather than being hierarchically controlled from above".

Adams married Jane Belson in 1991 and had a daughter, Polly, in 1994.

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30 Mar 01 | New Media
Hitchhiker's Guide's game plan
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