Dirk Gently Series 1

or

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

1st Broadcast 3rd October-7th November 2007 1830-1900 on BBC Radio 4

 

Director

Dirk Maggs

 

Producers

Dirk Maggs

Jo Wheeler

 

Executive Producer

Helen Chattwell

 

Dramatised By

Dirk Maggs

John Langdon

 

Written By

Douglas Adams

 

Production

Above the Title Productions Ltd

 

Synopsis

“Dirk Gently has an unshakeable belief in the interconnectedness of all things but his Holistic Detective Agency’s only success seems to be tracking down missing cats for old ladies.

Then Dirk stumbles upon an old friend behaving bizarrely, and he is drawn into a four-billion year old mystery that must be solved if the human race is to avoid immediate extinction.”

 

Episodes

Episode 1:

In which Dirk Gently discovers that Richard Macduff is not himself and Gordon Way has a permanent out-of-body experience.

Episode 2:

In which there's a teaspoon in the metronome, a salt cellar in the earthenware and a horse in the bathroom.

Episode 3:

In which Dirk inspects the scene of the crime, Gilks behaves oddly and Gordon wakes up dead.

Episode 4:

In which Richard takes a dip, the Monk orders a milkshake and Dirk jumps to conclusions.

Episode 5:

In which matters come to several heads, and the dead walk among us ...

Episode 6:

In which the simple solution is not always the most obvious ... or helpful ... or correct.

 

Cast for all episodes

Character

Actor
Dirk Gently
Harry Enfield
Svlad Cjelli
Harry Enfield
Dirk Cjelli
Harry Enfield
Professor "Reg" Chronotis
Andrew Sachs
Richard Macduff
Billy Boyd
Janice Pearce
Olivia Colman
DS Gilks
Jim Carter
Constable Luke
Wayne Forester
Susan Way
Felicity Montagu
Gordon Way
Robert Duncan
Electric Monk
Toby Longworth
Michael Wenton Weakes
Michael Fenton Stevens
Steve Mander
Andrew Secombe
Professor Cawley
Jon Glover
George III
Jeffrey Holland
Psychiatrist
Andrew Secombe
Courtier
Wayne Forester
Lady Magna
Tamsin Heatley
Announcer
John Marsh
Petrol Attendant
Philip Pope
Salaxalan Engineer
Wayne Forester
Burger Flipper
Philip Pope
Newsreader
Neal Sleat
Porter
Andrew Secombe
Officer
Jon Glover
Neal Sleat
Neal Sleat
Housekeeper
Tamsin Heatley
Coleridge
Wayne Forester
Grand Equerry
Jon Glover

 

Production Crew

Mixers

Paul Deeley

Paul Weir

 

Live Effects Operator

Alison Mackenzie

 

Recorded at

Studio 3/6 The Soundhouse Ltd London England

 

Recorded on

4th -11th June 2007

 

Music composed & Arranged

Phillip Pope

 

Comment by Dirk Maggs

Nothing yet

 

Cast Pictures

Billy Boyd
Harry Enfield
Olivia Colman
Andrew Sachs
Billy Boyd
Harry Enfield
Olivia Colman
Andrew Sachs
Toby Longworth
Andrew Secombe
Toby Longworth
Andrew Secombe

 

Running Time

6 Episodes of 30 minutes Each 180 minutes in total.

 

Other Links

 

Above the Title Productions Ltd page on Dirk Gently

which has photo's and two trailers of the show audio and visual

 

The BBC Dirk Gently website

 

What Others Have Said

"... Dirk Maggs, the avatar of the sound effect whose radio adaptation of the last three books of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy made entirely superfluous the need to read them, returned ... Maggs officially becomes James Boswell to Adams’s Dr Johnson. Rarely can a technician - nay, artist – have spent so much time and care on reproducing the thoughts of a genius. Multilayered, multifaceted, the sound effects tell a story on their own. What goes on in the background is important – a news report, half-heard, is from “our environment correspondent, Jeremy Clarkson”. An answerphone carries a loop of Ravel’s Bolero. Maggs didn’t have to do that; it’s his little gift to us that he did."

CHRIS CAMPLING, The Times, October 5th 2007

 

Other Information

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dirk Gently (also known as Svlad Cjelli and Dirk Cjelli) is a fictional character created by Douglas Adams and featured in the books Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. Adams was working on a third Gently novel, The Salmon of Doubt, at the time of his death, although it may have turned out to be a Hitchhiker's novel instead if it had been finished.

Dirk bills himself as a "holistic detective" who makes use of "the fundamental interconnectedness of all things" to solve the whole crime, and find the whole person. In fact he is a con man, and the "holistic detective" label is basically an excuse to run up large expense accounts and then claim that every item- such as needing to go to a tropical beach in the Bahamas for three weeks- was, due to the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, actually a vital part of the investigation (Challenged on this point in the first novel, he claims that he cannot in fairness be considered to have ripped anybody off, because none of his clients have paid him yet). He also fails every attempt at being a fraud by being rather good at whatever it is he is trying to fake his way through.

Dirk's career as a confidence trickster has been dogged by persistent bad luck: whatever bizarrely improbable thing he claims in order to get money always turns out to be true (or at least appears, by some improbable coincidence, to have turned out to be true), invariably in a way that means that he does not get the money, and often in a way that means he gets arrested, loses his house, or is otherwise severely inconvenienced. Similarly, his various attempts to make money as a fake psychic have resulted in a perfect success rate that leads to awkward questions being asked. On one occasion, he attempted to acquire money by showing people exam papers for the upcoming tests that he had allegedly produced under hypnosis- in reality he had just studied previous papers and determined potential patterns in the questions- but he was arrested and sent to prison when the papers turned out to be exactly the same, to the very comma, of the official papers

Despite these problems, he has been shown to be extremely intelligent; on one occasion, based only on seeing a man clamber up a pipe and a tale of an unusual conjuring trick, Dirk managed to uncover the fact that a man in Cambridge had access to a time machine. Admittedly, the final revelation only came to Dirk when he asked a child's opinion, as children have not yet developed the barriers that prevent us seeing something we don't expect. Nevertheless, he was subsequently able to work out a means of saving the human race from extinction due to an interfering ghost attempting to avert the explosion that started life on the planet.

Dirk also claims to believe that Sherlock Holmes' principle "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth" is incorrect, and that in many cases the impossible has a certain credibility that the improbable sometimes lacks. He cited as an example a bizarre case of a young girl somehow recounting the prices of the stock market as they changed, but merely 24 hours behind schedule. It was impossible that she was pulling the prices out of thin air, but the only alternative, however improbable, was that it was all a massive hoax that brought her no practical benefit; the first suggested that something was happening that nobody knew about, while the second was contrary to a basic fact of human nature that they did know about.

Dirk Gently is actually not this character's "real" name; it is presented early on in the first book that it is a pseudonym for the much less memorable "Svlad Cjelli." Note, however, that this may not be his "real name" either; it is simply the name by which Richard MacDuff knew him at St. Cedd's College. Since "Svlad" took pains to cultivate a vaguely vampiric image (and then to vehemently deny that he was doing any such thing in order to give the notion credibility), this may be simply an alias intended to evoke Vlad the Impaler.

A dirk is a type of knife, and the verb "to dirk" is an archaic synonym for "to stab"; therefore a literal translation of the name "Dirk Gently" would be the odd phrase "stab gently". Dirk himself states that the name has a "Scottish dagger feel" to it.

or

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is a novel by Douglas Adams. It is described on its cover as a "thumping good detective-ghost-horror-whodunnit-time-travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic". Like many of Adams' stories, its plot defies easy encapsulation.

The book was followed by a sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, although the only recurring major characters are Gently himself, Janice Pearce and Sergeant Gilks. Adams began writing The Salmon of Doubt with the intention of it being the third book in the series.

Introduction: major characters and plot threads
The convoluted plot of Dirk Gently begins with the introduction of a number of seemingly unrelated situations. The connections between them are gradually revealed, although seldom explicitly. With time travel integral to the plot, the narrative's chronology is far from linear.

Richard MacDuff, lead software engineer for Way Forward Technologies II, has programmed his Apple computer to find out how to remove a stuck sofa from his flat's staircase. The computer says it is impossible to remove the sofa. Then, after Richard re-programs the application, the computer says it is impossible for the sofa to be wedged in its current position in the first place.

Richard attends the annual Coleridge banquet at his alma mater, St Cedd's, at the invitation of his old college tutor, Professor Chronotis. Chronotis is apparently anxious to discuss something, but acts oddly instead. Strange noises turn out to be a horse in the professor's bathroom, which is a great relief to Chronotis. Richard remembers that he had promised his girlfriend Susan that they would do something special together that night.

On a distant planet, an electric monk (a device that believes things to save the owner the trouble) suffers severe malfunctions and cycles through a series of brief but ever more ridiculous beliefs. Now useless, ejected from civilisation with only a horse, it now believes that an ordinary white door in a cliff leads into another world.

Technological entrepreneur Gordon Way, Richard's employer and Susan's brother, is driving home whilst talking to his sister's answering machine in a rambling stream of consciousness. He pulls over to investigate a noise in the car's trunk without hanging up on Susan's machine and is shot dead. His ghost now wonders why it still exists and in particular what he should do next. He sees his car phone, still connected to Susan's answering machine, and attempts to speak audibly into the phone, saying "Susan . . . help me, I'm dead . . . I'm dead, and I don't know what to do . . . ."

Michael Wenton-Weakes's late, wealthy father over-indulged him, but now his mother proves to be a conscientious and successful corporate officer. The pampered man is sacked from his magazine editor's post. For Michael, his perceived loss festers into obsessive rage.

Svlad Cjelli's checkered past includes a number of minor alleged hustles. A scam at college eventually lead to Cjelli's arrest. Now calling himself Dirk Gently, he is currently the sole investigator for a detective agency that exploits the "fundamental interconnectedness of everything" to solve any case. Although he can produce any number of absurd arguments and justifications for his padded expenses bills, he is staggeringly successful at accidentally finding the truth, no matter how insane.


Plot Summary
The Primeval past: The Salaxalan back-story
Four billion years ago, nine dozen malcontent multi-tentacled creatures called Salaxalans leave their home world and set out to colonise another. When they land on Earth, intending to explore and pick up minerals, the Salaxalan engineer—lazy, negligent, and over-dependent on automation—believes the Electric Monk when it reassures him the lander is functional, when in fact it was badly damaged by an asteroid strike. When the lander attempts to take off, it explodes.

This explosion is the trigger that sparks amino acids to create life from the chemical ooze on primeval Earth. The Mother Ship remains in orbit round Earth, while the spirit of the Salaxalan engineer stalks the Earth for billions of years, watching as the "slimy things with legs" develop into life on Earth.

Coleridge’s time
Four billion years later, the Salaxalan Ghost attempts to tell Samuel Taylor Coleridge its story after the poet had taken laudanum. The garbled message ended up in the (apocryphal) "second and altogether stranger" part of the completed Kubla Khan poem. Elements of the Ghost’s account also appear in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The possessed Coleridge visits Professor Reg Chronotis, where the Salaxalan Ghost intends to use the time machine to travel back to prevent the Salaxalan lander exploding. Unfortunately, the poet was too ‘relaxed’ (i.e. stoned) to do anything constructive. This thwarts the Ghost for hundreds of years, during which time it is too weak to act.

The late 1980s
In the late 1980s, the Salaxalan ghost tries to possess Reg (perhaps at Borley Rectory, as Richard finds a book on the famous haunted house on Reg’s reading pile). Reg becomes aware that something is trying to make him act against his character, and takes precautions against influence and temptation.

Despite this, during the Coleridge Dinner at St Cedd’s the Salaxalan ghost manages to prompt Reg into using his time machine to perform a trivial conjuring trick to amuse a little girl. This involves making a salt cellar appear, baked inside an ancient Greek pot. Reg uses sleight of hand to hide one of the salt cellars on the table, then pops out to get his hat as part of the trick ("You haven't got a hat," said the girl sulkily. "Oh," said Reg, "a moment please," and he went and fetched his woolly red one. This is a massive piece of understatement and misdirection by Adams.) Reg writes down a note to himself to remind himself of the last words he spoke before leaving the room.

Reg travels to ancient Greece, places a salt cellar in an ancient pot, then - owing to the Salaxalan ghost’s influence - detours to a distant planet to find dust to hide his tan. On this planet, the Salaxalan ghost brings a (faulty) Electric Monk into the time machine, hoping it will be an ideal carrier, but abandons it after discovering the Monk will not believe in the same idea for any length of time. Reg, meanwhile, returns to the dinner, meeting himself briefly in the ante-chamber.

The Monk leaves its horse in Reg’s bathroom, learns English in couple of minutes, and is told by a Cambridge security guard to “Shoot off!” Taking this literally, it goes to a petrol station, hides in the car boot of Richard's boss Gordon Way, and finds a shotgun. Way drives off, talking to his sister Susan's answering machine - something he routinely does as he is "the kind of person who can only think while talking", and also routinely sends his secretary to collect the tapes so he can play them back. When Way goes to check out the noise he hears from the boot, the Monk shoots him dead with the shotgun. Gordon's ghost tries to say into the phone "Susan, I'm dead" but ends up accidentally disconnecting the call. The Monk hides the body "in the holy broom cupboard" in Gordon's house.

Meanwhile, the Coleridge Dinner concludes with the reading of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, which unlike the real poem, has the longer, "altogether stranger" second part inspired by the Salaxalan ghost. Reg and Richard retire to Reg's chambers for tea. Hearing a noise in the bathroom, they discover the Monk's horse. As Gently hypothesises later, it is this point that the Salaxalan ghost transfers its attentions to Richard.

While driving home, Richard is on the phone to Susan's answering machine, promising they will go away for the weekend before realising Gordon has given him too much work to do. He says "Gordon can take a running jump..." just as Gordon's ghost takes a running jump at his car. He swerves, and is pulled over by a policeman, Sergeant Gilks of the Cambridge constabulary, whom he tells about seeing Gordon. Later, Gordon's ghost tinkers with objects at his house, trying to gain control of the material world. In doing so, he turns on the gas on his cooker. Then he finds his own corpse in a cupboard. Way’s ghost is so shocked that he faints, until woken a couple of hours later by the cooker exploding.

Having transferred its influence to Richard, the Salaxalan ghost prompts him to break into Susan’s apartment to steal her answering machine tape, to stop her from hearing the promise he cannot keep. While climbing the drainpipe he is spotted by Dirk Gently, who phones him during the ‘robbery’ and tells him to meet him at a pizza parlour. At the last moment, Richard decides not to steal the tape after all.

Susan returns while Richard is in her flat, accompanied by Michael Wenton-Weakes. The Salaxalan ghost takes Weakes as its new carrier. Susan does not bother to listen to her messages, instead asking Richard to give the tape to Gordon's secretary. Once Richard leaves the apartment he finds the pizza parlour closed. At home, the possessed Weakes mulls over how he lost his cushy job as editor of failing arts magazine Fathom to Al Ross, who made the relaunched magazine a success by publishing clever, interesting articles.

The next morning, Richard wants to call Dirk but finds him unlisted in the phone book. On a whim, he looks up private investigators and finds a listing for Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. He walks over to Dirk's work, a complete shambles with a secretary who Dirk never pays and so repeatedly resigns her position. Before talking to Richard, Dirk is on the phone negotiating his fee with a woman, Mrs Sauskind, who hired him several years ago to find her lost cat - the cat was never found, and would be 19 years old at that point. Dirk reveals to Richard that Gordon is dead and leads him to believe that he is a suspect for murder.

Richard eventually allows Dirk to hypnotise him so that he can be questioned about the previous night. From Richard's answers, Dirk picks up on events that - being completely impossible - are actually clues to the existence of the time machine. Dirk and Richard go for a walk along the tow path of the nearby canal; when asked why he broke into Susan's flat, Richard says it was a “perfectly sensible” attempt to retrieve the answering machine tape. Dirk says conversationally, "...my old maiden aunt in Winnipeg" and Richard strips off his clothes and dives into the canal. Once he gets out of the water, Richard rationalises that he was merely taking the swim he missed taking that morning. Dirk reveals the phrase "my old maiden aunt in Winnipeg" triggered a post-hypnotic suggestion to dive into the canal, and says Richard was attempting to rationalise his irrational action. Richard realises Dirk is right, and tells Dirk that the answering machine tape is in his flat.

Sergeant Gilks arrives at Richard's flat while Dirk is searching it. When Dirk finds Susan's answering machine tape, Dirk and Gilks listen to Gordon's last message - it has clear audio of Gordon being killed, and also exonerates Richard as he was at the Coleridge Dinner at the time. Once Gilks has left the room Dirk continues listening to the tape and hears Gordon's ghost say "Susan, help me, oh God, Susan, I'm dead." For Richard's welfare, Dirk blanks the tape from that point.

While investigating Gordon's death, Sergeant Gilks questions the owner of the petrol station where Gordon last stopped before being killed. When the station owner calls the previous night a normal night, Gilks dances in front of him with his fingers in his ears and asks if he considers that normal, to prove the point that the night was anything but normal. The Electric Monk watches Gilks do this from outside, and immediately believes that Gilks is a god. When Gilks leaves the petrol station the Monk reverently dances in front of him with its fingers in its ears. Gilks arrests it.

Listening to an old recording of Antonio Vivaldi's wind concerti, Wenton-Weakes' aesthetic and intellectual appreciation of music is massively enhanced by the Salaxalan ghost. This inspires him to read Richard MacDuff’s “Music and Fractal Landscapes” article in Fathom, which - aided by the Salaxalan concepts of mathematics and music - he finds deeply moving, pondering how a mathematical representation of nature would sound as music. Next, Wenton-Weakes reads Coleridge’s poems, finding loss, desolation and hatred that resonate with his own feelings, especially hatred of a rival who supplanted him. This coherence of feeling and motives makes him an ‘ideal carrier’ for the Salaxalan ghost.

Dirk is puzzling over the previous night's impossible clues, using what his secretary Janice calls "childish methods." When Dirk states that it is imperative he be childlike in order to see what is, rather than what he expects to see, Janice suggests he ask a child. He does so, and the street urchin immediately says "It's bleedin' obvious, innit, he must've 'ad a bleedin' time machine." Dirk realises he's right, and so he and Richard confront Reg, who admits the existence of the time machine. Dirk explains the Salaxalan ghost had coerced Reg into performing the magic trick for the girl during the Coleridge Dinner: he had thought he was justified in taking such drastic action to cheer the girl up, but just as Richard attempted to justify diving in the canal and breaking into Susan's flat, Reg was trying to rationalise his own irrational action.

The Salaxalan ghost inspires Wenton-Weakes to murder the magazine editor Al Ross at his flat in Noel Road, cementing its control over its carrier. En route from the murder, the possessed Weakes tells a group of wedding guests on a train the Salaxalan story of colonisation and the crash, then raves that if he can get rid of the bird, everything will be all right. (This a clever pun. The editor of Fathom, whom Weakes kills, is Albert Ross - Albatross). Gordon Way’s ghost, upon discovering the murder, leaves a message on Susan's answering machine informing her that Weakes has murdered Ross - then fades away.

The possessed Wenton-Weakes persuades Reg, Richard, and Dirk to travel back in time to prevent the disastrous launch. Before returning to primordial Bermuda, they visit the Salaxalan mother-ship. While orbiting the Earth for 4 billion years, it had been recording data and processing it into music in the same way Richard has been trying to do with his Anthem software. The exquisite music causes Richard to faint.

Richard is woken by a phone call from Susan, who asks ”Where are you?” Richard wanders off to check, only to discover he and the others are in the primordial past, near the Salaxalan tower. Weakes leaves the Time Machine, in SCUBA gear, and goes through the poisonous atmosphere to the Tower with the aim of repairing the ship.

Richard discovers from Susan that Weakes murdered Ross. They realise that Weakes’ willingness to kill the man who supplanted him as editor parallels the Ghost’s desire to wipe out the human race who has supplanted the Salaxalans. Since the ship's destruction was the trigger for the evolution of life on Earth, its successful repair will undo evolution and destroy all life. ("Come. Let us sit down. Let us think. We have two minutes ... After that, I very much suspect that the three of us, and everything we have ever known ... will cease ever to have existed." Noting that Weakes left behind a book of Coleridge's poems, Reg realises that the second part of Kubla Khan contains instructions for fixing the Salaxalan ship.

To sabotage the Salaxalan’s plan, the time travelers arrive in the 18th century when Coleridge is writing Kubla Khan after a drug vision – a time when in this novel he was susceptible to the Salaxalan Ghost. ("I was able to enter his mind at... certain times. When he was in an impressionable state.") Dirk prevents Coleridge from finishing his poem, and gives Coleridge the idea to feature an albatross in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This is the key to the ending, as the disrupted poems prevent the Ghost-possessed Weakes from repairing the Salaxalan lander. This in turn prevents him from destroying life on Earth.

As compensation for destroying Coleridge’s poem, Reg salvages a piece of the mathematically perfect music the Salaxalan star-ship was composing, then ensures it is attributed to the hitherto unknown J.S. Bach, whose compositions become a new part of the revised time-line. Reg blows up the Salaxalan mother-ship, which flares briefly in the sky, destroying the source of the heavenly music.

As a favour to Richard, Reg sends the time machine to a point three weeks before Richard's trip to Cambridge. This allows him to make a reservation at an exclusive restaurant, which has a waiting list three weeks long, so he can mollify Susan when they return. In the process, the door to Reg's apartment appears on the staircase to Richard's flat. Dirk answers a knock at the door, finding a furniture delivery man who wants the door opened to help bring a sofa around a corner on the staircase. This is how the sofa becomes irrevocably stuck. The sofa won't fit past the next turn, and the door has disappeared by the time they try to bring the sofa back down the stairs.

Returning to the present, Richard goes to collect Susan for their date at the restaurant. He discovers her practicing the music rescued from the satellite, instead of the Mozart she was rehearsing before the trip back in time. When Richard asks who wrote the music, she looks at him strangely and asks him how could he not know that it is Bach? Richard discovers from Reg that the time machine no longer functions. However, he has his date with Susan, so some good has come from his strange adventure.

At the very end of the novel, Dirk receives a phone call again from Mrs Sauskind - she is angry about having received a bill from him in the mail, as in this timeline her cat was never lost and died two years previously. Dirk tells his secretary to send a new bill to Mrs Sauskind, stating "Saving the entire human race from extinction - no charge".


Changing literary and musical history
The novel begins in an alternative time-line. At the beginning of the novel the music of Johann Sebastian Bach does not exist and Coleridge finished Kubla Khan uninterrupted. The first clue to this discrepancy in the book is the reference to "the second, and altogether stranger" part of Kubla Khan.

By the end of the novel, Bach's music exists, Kubla Khan contains only an introductory fragment, and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner features an albatross instead of an asteroid strike. Thus, the inconsistencies with our own universe are corrected throughout the course of the story.

Bach's music was introduced to Earth by Reg Chronotis, who salvages the "tiniest tiniest scrap" of the mathematically perfect music the Salaxalan star-ship was composing from its sensor perceptions of the universe, then used "a bit of a cheat" to ensure it is attributed to the hitherto unknown J.S. Bach.
Dirk Gently is the person from Porlock who interrupted Coleridge while he was writing Kubla Khan after a drug vision, preventing him from completing the poem. The opening lines survive because the time travellers arrive slightly late.
Dirk further disrupts Coleridge by asking about albatrosses. Although irritated, Coleridge realises that an albatross would be a "much better" idea for another poem was working on (i.e. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner). It is implied that the original draft of this poem referred to an asteroid strike.

Characters
Dirk Gently (also known by a number of other names, including Svlad Cjelli), the perpetually broke operator of the eponymous detective agency that operates based on the "fundamental interconnectedness of all things." He specializes in missing cats and messy divorces. At university, Dirk, seemingly deliberately, created rumours about having clairvoyant abilities by vigorously denying that he had any. He concocted a "get-rich scheme" offering a university exam preparation service and was eventually sent to prison when, by sheer coincidence, he accurately duplicated the exam papers for that year without having seen them before.


Richard MacDuff, a young software engineer working for WayForward Technologies II, owned by Gordon Way. His Anthem software, which is designed as a spreadsheet, but also has a unique feature to convert corporate accounts into music, was extremely popular, but he is falling behind in his deadlines to create an updated version.


Reg (Professor Urban Chronotis, the Regius Professor of Chronology), Richard's old college tutor, a fellow of St. Cedd's College, Cambridge with no apparent duties, who is "on the older side of completely indeterminate". He has a predisposition for childish conjuring tricks and an extremely bad memory.


Gordon Way, the owner of WayForward, who is pressuring Richard to complete his behind-schedule software project, and ends up getting shot for no immediately obvious reason a few chapters into the book.


Susan Way, sister of Gordon Way and professional cellist, and the "specific girl that Richard is not married to".


A malfunctioning Electric Monk from a planet very far from the Earth. "The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you from what was becoming an increasingly onerous task." The Monk in the book was discarded by its owners due to a series of malfunctions that cause it to believe "all kinds of things, more or less at random", including things like the world being pink and God wanting a lot of money sent to a certain address.


Michael Wenton-Weakes, the spoiled son of wealthy parents, known pejoratively as "Michael Wednesday-Week," which is when he promises to have the next issue of his poorly managed magazine Fathom ready. His mother sold Fathom to Gordon Way after his father's accidental death when the latter was changing an electric plug. While Michael seems largely apathetic and yielding to others, the loss of Fathom bothers him much more deeply than anyone realises.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge, writer and laudanum user. For the sake of the novel, he is made to have attended St. Cedd's College. His poems Kubla Khan and Rime of the Ancient Mariner figure prominently in the plot, but their significance is not explained entirely until the book's end.

Major themes
The central motif of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is the fundamental interconnectedness of everything. Many details may appear superfluous, but turn out to be integral to the plot. Chaos theory, in its accessible form popularized by writers such as James Gleick, is therefore an appropriate context for this novel. The novel's title mentions the idea of holism. There are quantum mechanics references as well; phenomena of non-locality, as in the EPR paradox, make appearances.

 

Allusions to other works
The life and works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge play a central role in the story, particularly The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. The novel cannot be fully understood without familiarity with these poems.

The piece of music by Bach that is heard aboard the satellite is "Ach Bleib Bei Uns, Herr Jesu Christ" from the cantata "Bleib Bei Uns, denn es will Abend Werden", BWV 6 (also an organ chorale BWV 649). Adams has stated that this is his personal "absolutely perfect" piece of music, and that he listened to it "over and over; drove my wife completely insane" while writing Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency


Allusions to Adams's life
In the novel, a sofa is irreversibly stuck on the staircase to Richard's apartment; according to his simulations, not only is it impossible to remove it, but there is no way for it to have got into that position in the first place. This is probably based on an incident that occurred while Douglas Adams attended St John's College of Cambridge University. Furniture was placed in the rooms overlooking the river in Third Court while the staircases were being refurbished. When the staircases were completed, it was discovered that the sofas could no longer be removed from the rooms, and the sofas remained in those rooms for several decades.

The South Bank Show revealed that Adams based Chronotis' rooms on the rooms he occupied in his third year at university. Likewise, Richard's room - filled with Macintosh computers and synthesisers - was based on Adams' own flat (visited and photographed by Hi-Fi Choice Magazine).

The story borrows elements from two Doctor Who serials written by Adams:

In City of Death an alien (Scaroth the Jagaroth) tries to change history by using time travel to avert a disastrous spaceship launch in the primeval past, at the cost of erasing humanity from existence. The Jagaroth are replaced by the Salaxalans in Dirk Gently. Scaroth is splintered throughout time, whereas the Salaxalan Ghost lives through all the billions of years.
In Shada, a professor called Chronotis is hundreds of years old. He has been living and working at a Cambridge college for centuries, without anyone noticing. He possesses an eccentric time machine. In Shada, Chronotis's longevity is due to him being a Time Lord, and his time machine is an early model TARDIS. These copyright elements from Doctor Who were removed by Adams for Dirk Gently. Shada, which never aired due to a production strike terminating its filming, was later released on VHS with Tom Baker narrating the unfilmed segments. Shada was completed as a webcast with slight alterations to the script, with Paul McGann as the Doctor and John Leeson as K9. The webcast is available at The Official Doctor Who Website and released on CD by Big Finish productions.


This novel caused Adams to become acquainted with the well-known scientist Richard Dawkins. As Dawkins explains, "As soon as I finished it, I turned back to page one and read it straight through again – the only time I have ever done that, and I wrote to tell him so. He replied that he was a fan of my books, and he invited me to his house in London." Adams would later introduce Dawkins to the woman who was to become his fourth wife, the actress Lalla Ward, best known for playing the character Romana in Doctor Who. One of her early serials on the programme was City of Death.

Adaptations
On 5 January 1992, Dirk Gently, Richard MacDuff, Dirk's secretary, and the Electric Monk all appeared in the Douglas Adams episode of the British arts documentary series The South Bank Show. Michael Bywater played Dirk, while Paul Shearer played both Richard and the Monk. Several characters from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy were also featured, played by the original television series actors.

The book has been adapted for stage performance as Dirk.

In 2005, some fans of Douglas Adams decided to produce a fan radio series based on the first book. Their efforts began and were coordinated on the Douglas Adams Continuum website. So far, three episodes have been completed.

A publishing company has been seeking the rights to produce a graphic novel adaptation, though art has been removed for legal reasons.


BBC Radio adaptation
Announced on 26 January 2007, BBC Radio 4 commissioned Above the Title Productions to make eighteen 30-minute adaptations of Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently books (including The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul and the unfinished The Salmon of Doubt,) running in three series of six episodes.

The first series began on 3 October 2007 and features Harry Enfield as Dirk, Billy Boyd as Richard, Olivia Colman as Janice, Jim Carter as Gilks, Andrew Sachs as Reg, Felicity Montagu as Susan, Robert Duncan as Gordon, Toby Longworth as the Monk, Michael Fenton Stevens as Michael, Andrew Secombe, Jon Glover, Jeffrey Holland, Wayne Forester and Tamsin Heatley.

The script is by Dirk Maggs, who also directs, and John Langdon. The show is produced by Maggs and Jo Wheeler. As with the previous Hitchhiker's series, the cd version features greatly expanded episodes.


Difference between BBC Radio version and the novel
There are a number of structural and detail differences between the radio adaptation and the book, mostly to aid the comprehension of the story when split into six half-hour episodes; this adaptation is a considered step away from the original Shada story structure.

In particular, the main characters have a closer relationship than in the novel. Dirk Gently is being employed by Gordon Way to monitor Richard McDuff's working hours, Michael Wenton-Weeks also went to St Cedd's College with Dirk and Richard. It was Michael (not Al Ross) who printed Richard's musical-fractals article in the magazine, and Michael's mother has just sold the magazine, rather than several months previously. There is a much closer relationship between Janice Pierce and Dirk, as she accompanies Dirk rather than being wholly absent.

There are a number of new details, such as the actual music played by the Anthem II Software playing the UK's Balance of Payments, the dock-leaf soup ("is it fresh?"/"Yes, sir, it says so on the tin"). Some other characters have been expanded, in particular the worker at the motorway service station.

Other structural changes include the use of a public telephone for a conversation between Richard and Susan outside the Greek restaurant (with the addition of a 42 reference), Janice being present at Richard's hypnosis, a much expanded Electric Monk part, and some minor details such as the actual location of the brick Wordsworth was sick on.

The alternate time-line of the whole story is noted by some interesting minor changes, such as the BBC's political editor being Davis Evans (rather than Evan Davis) and Kubla Khan being "the longest poem in English literature".

Dirk is possessed by the Ghost of Gordon Way to discover what happened to Gordon after his death, when he visits the murder scenes (as a "crime tourist") in Oxfordshire with Richard and Janice, which does not happen in the book.

The Radio version makes occasional references to the song "Hot Potato", a plot element from the second Dirk Gently novel The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, which puts Richard a performer who's work is released as Pugilism and the Third Autistic Cuckoo.

Wenton Weeks murders his mother in the radio version (making, momentarily, a third ghost), not Al Ross who is edited out.. The devotional interview between the Electric Monk and Gilks is not contained in the book,, but the encounter on the train to Cambridge between the wedding party and Weeks (mirroring Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner) has been removed] (but is reinstated in the extended CD version), as has his fingertapping taxi-ride.

Other Items

Dirk Gently Series 1

Dirk Gently Series 2

Dirk Gently Series 3

 

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