Ford Prefect (character)

Last updated
Ford Prefect
David Dixon as Ford Prefect.jpg
David Dixon as Ford Prefect in Episode One of the BBC TV series
First appearance Fit the First (radio)
Created by Douglas Adams
Portrayed by Geoffrey McGivern (radio and LP versions)
David Dixon (television)
Mos Def (film)
Information
NicknameIx
SpeciesBetelgeusian
GenderMale
OccupationResearcher for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Relatives Zaphod Beeblebrox (semi-half cousin)
HomeworldBetelgeuse Five

Ford Prefect (also called IX) is a fictional character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the British author Douglas Adams. His role as Arthur's friend – and rescuer, when the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass at the start of the story – is often expository, as Ford is an experienced galactic hitch-hiker and explains that he is actually an alien journalist, a field researcher for the titular Guide itself, and not an out-of-work actor from Guildford as he had hitherto claimed. He also claims to have portrayed roles in several bootleg plays such as “David and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Godspell”.

<i>The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy</i> Series of five books by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a comedy science fiction series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, including stage shows, novels, comic books, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 video game, and 2005 feature film.

Douglas Adams British author and humorist

Douglas Noel Adams was an English author, screenwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist.

Guildford county town of Surrey in England

Guildford is a large town in Surrey, England, 27 miles (43 km) southwest of London on the A3 trunk road midway between the capital and Portsmouth.

Contents

Name

Although Ford had taken great care to blend into Earth society, he had "skimped a bit on his preparatory research," and thought that the name "Ford Prefect" would be "nicely inconspicuous." The Ford Prefect was a popular British car manufactured from 1938 to 1961, and Adams later clarified in an interview that Ford "had simply mistaken the dominant life form" of Earth. This was expanded on somewhat in the film version, where Ford is almost run over while attempting to greet a blue Ford Prefect. He is saved by Arthur and, in the film version of events, this is how the pair meet (this meeting also prompting Ford to rescue Arthur in particular when the Vogons come to destroy Earth). The graphics in the TV series provide a similar explanation by listing a sequence of names including 'Ford', beginning with director John Ford, Arthur Ford, news reader Anna Ford, carmaker Henry Ford, the Ford Anglia, the Ford Consul with the final name Ford Prefect being selected.

Ford Prefect car model

The Ford Prefect is a line of British cars which was produced by Ford UK between 1938 and 1961 as a more upmarket version of the Ford Popular and Ford Anglia models. It was introduced in October 1938 and remained in production until 1941. Returning to the market in 1945, it was offered till 1961. The car progressed in 1953 from its original perpendicular or "sit-up-and-beg" style to a more modern three-box structure. Some versions were also built and sold by Ford Australia.

John Ford American film director

John Ford was an American film director. He is renowned both for Westerns such as Stagecoach (1939), The Searchers (1956), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), as well as adaptations of classic 20th-century American novels such as the film The Grapes of Wrath (1940). His four Academy Awards for Best Director remain a record. One of the films for which he won the award, How Green Was My Valley, also won Best Picture.

Arthur Ford (psychic) American psychic and medium

Arthur Ford was an American psychic, spiritualist medium, clairaudient, and founder of the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship (1955). He gained national attention when he claimed to have contacted the dead son of Bishop James Pike in 1967 on network TV. In 1928 Ford claimed to have contacted the deceased spirits of Houdini's mother and later in 1929 Harry Houdini himself.

Adams later observed that this joke was lost on United States audiences who assumed it was a typing error for "perfect." In some versions, such as the French (Le Guide Galactique) [1] and the Greek (Γυρίστε τον Γαλαξία με Ωτοστόπ), Ford's name was changed to "Ford Escort." Nowadays, the joke is largely lost on younger audiences in Britain as well, since the Ford Prefect is now a rare sight on British roads. In the film adaptation, his last name was never actually stated on-screen, but it is given in the film's credits as "Prefect."

First birth name

In a footnote in the novel, we are told that Ford's original name is "only pronounceable in an obscure Betelgeusian dialect" which was almost wiped out by the "Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Gal./Sid./Year 03758," a mysterious catastrophe which took place on the planet of Betelgeuse Seven and which Ford's father was the only man to survive. Ford never learned to pronounce his original name, which was a matter that caused his father to die of shame (which is still a terminal disease in some parts of the Universe). At school, he was nicknamed "Ix," which translates as "boy who is not able satisfactorily to explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven".

Despite all this, his semi-cousin (in the film and radio show they are said to share three of the same mothers) Zaphod Beeblebrox calls him "Ford" the first time they are reunited in all versions of the story except for the film, where Zaphod addresses him as "Praxibetel Ix," then introduces him by saying "This is my semi-half brother, Ix... I'm sorry, sorry, Ford." While not explained in the book, a footnote of the original radio scripts explains that "just before arriving (on Earth) he registered his new name officially at the Galactic Nomenclaturoid Office, where they had the technology to unpick his old name from the fabric of space/time and thread the new one in its place, so that for all intents and purposes his name had always been and would always be Ford Prefect." [2]

Zaphod Beeblebrox Fictional character in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Zaphod Beeblebrox is a fictional character in the various versions of the humorous science fiction story The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Character and role

Ford takes a more existential view on the universe, sometimes bordering on joyful nihilism. He is eccentric and endlessly broad-minded – no doubt due to his vast experience of roughing it around the galaxy – and possesses of an off-key and often very dark sense of humour. He is described as being able to smile in a way that would "send hitherto sane men scampering into the trees". In his role as guide to the universe for the often bewildered everyman Arthur Dent, he serves to link the disparate elements of the story together. As well as rescuing Arthur, he introduces him to the other major characters – such as Zaphod, Trillian and Marvin the Paranoid Android – and to numerous mind-boggling concepts, from "teasers" (an explanation of UFO sightings on Earth) to the extraordinary usefulness of towels. Ford's other chief characteristic is his constant pursuit of an alcohol-fueled good time (in contrast to Arthur's quest for a cup of tea). Although his heart is in the right place and he is shown to be highly intelligent, resourceful and even brave, Ford is essentially a dilettante when it comes to causes such as the search for the question to the ultimate answer of "life, the universe and everything".

Nihilism is the philosophical viewpoint that rejects, denies, or lacks belief in any or all of the reputedly meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism, which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that morality does not exist at all. Nihilism may also take epistemological, ontological, or metaphysical forms, meaning respectively that, in some aspect, knowledge is not possible, or reality does not actually exist.

In literature and drama, the everyman is an ordinary individual with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances.

Trillian (character) fictional character

Tricia Marie McMillan, also known as Trillian Astra, is a fictional character from Douglas Adams' series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. She is most commonly referred to simply as "Trillian", a modification of her birth name, which she adopted because it sounded more "space-like". According to the movie version, her middle name is Marie. Physically, she is described as "a slim, darkish humanoid, with long waves of black hair, a full mouth, an odd little knob of a nose and ridiculously brown eyes," looking "vaguely Arabic."

Ford is approximately 200 years old, as supported by the books. When, in the first novel, Zaphod steals the spaceship Heart of Gold, it is on Zaphod's two-hundredth birthday. It is later mentioned that Ford and Zaphod attended school together, even having some of the same classes, which would indicate that they are roughly the same age. [3] He had originally planned to spend a week on Earth doing research for the Guide, but wound up being stranded there for 15 years prior to helping Arthur escape the planet when the Vogons demolish it.

Vogon fictional alien race in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The Vogons are a fictional alien race from the planet Vogsphere in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—initially a BBC Radio series by Douglas Adams—who are responsible for the destruction of the Earth, in order to facilitate an intergalactic highway construction project for a hyperspace express route. Vogons are slug-like but vaguely humanoid, are bulkier than humans, and have green skin. Vogons are described as "one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy—not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous", and having "as much sex appeal as a road accident" as well as being the authors of "the third worst poetry in the universe". They are employed as the galactic government's bureaucrats. According to Marvin the Paranoid Android, they are also the worst marksmen in the galaxy.

At the end of the final novel in the series, Mostly Harmless , Ford is apparently vaporised along with all the other main characters when the Vogons once again destroy the Earth. It is hinted, however, that he and the others may have survived. In the final episodes of the radio series Ford, along with all the other main characters, is teleported to safety by the Babelfish in one of his ears. The episode ends with a selection of possible outcomes for this last-second-teleportation, as the "unstable" nature of the section of galaxy Earth is in means that there are a variety of realities that the characters could find themselves in. The outcomes focus mostly on Arthur, but Ford features in the final (and most developed) possibility, where they all end up at Milliways (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), drinking and chatting - and in Ford's case, flirting. [4]

Portrayals

In the original and following radio series and subsequent LP adaptation, Ford was played by Geoffrey McGivern. On television he was played by David Dixon, [5] and in the film he was played by Mos Def. In The Illustrated Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy he is portrayed by Tom Finnis. Richard Hope played Ford in the first stage production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with Ken Campbell’s The Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool in May 1979 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London.

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References

  1. Le Guide Galactique, Denoël, ISBN   978-2-207-24914-7
  2. "The alt.fan.douglas-adams FAQ". Zootle.net. Archived from the original on 2013-09-07. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  3. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy omnibus edition, printed by Ballantine Books
  4. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Series, The Quintessential Phase, Fit the Twenty-Sixth
  5. "DAVID DIXON - The Dixionary - Unofficial fan page". Rabid.oneuk.com. 1947-10-28. Retrieved 2013-08-29.