Jim Broadbent, Lenny Henry and Ed Byrne cast in new The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series

Broadbent will play classic character Marvin the Paranoid Android to mark the 40th anniversary of the series’ radio debut

Jim Broadbent (Getty, HF)

Earlier this year it was revealed that Douglas Adams’ cult radio series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is returning to BBC Radio 4 for its 40th anniversary, with many of the original cast reuniting for a script based on Eoin Colfer’s novel And Another Thing (which was commissioned as a posthumous sequel to Adams’ works) as well as some of Adams’ unused material.

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The station first broadcast the sci-fi radio comedy in 1978, followed by four further series between 1980 and 2005. A hit series of books ensued, as well as a 1981 TV show, a computer game and a 2005 movie starring Martin Freeman.

And now some new famous faces have been added to the voice line-up for latest entry in the franchise’s Hexagonal Phase (a preview of which can be listened to here), with Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones’s Diary star Jim Broadbent cast as iconic character Marvin the Paranoid Android after original actor Stephen Moore couldn’t be persuaded out of retirement.

“Sadly Stephen Moore is retired,” director Dirk Maggs told the crowd at MCM comic-con on Saturday, in statements first reported by Bleeding Cool and confirmed by RadioTimes.com.

“He’s hung up his acting boxing gloves and he’s taken retirement, so we have a very special person… which is Jim Broadbent who’s going to play Marvin the Paranoid Android, coming back from the first series (where Broadbent played philosopher Vroomfondel in a minor role).”

Maggs added: “We have another surprise guest cast who we will reveal next year because he’s so utterly special.”

Lenny Henry and Ed Byrne (Getty, HF)
Lenny Henry and Ed Byrne (Getty)

And Broadbent isn’t the only new voice to be added to the mix this year, with actor and comedian Lenny Henry set to play a previously-unused figure called The Consultant (originally planned for previous book/series Life, the Universe and Everything by Adams before the character was cut) and Irish comic Ed Byrne playing Hillman Hunt, a character from Colfer’s novel.

“There’s a character called The Consultant, which was never used in Life, the Universe and Everything and we bought back The Consultant in a special scene with Ford and Arthur meeting The Consultant, who’s played by Lenny Henry,” Maggs said.

“And from Eoin we have the whole story of the planet Nano and the colonists there from Earth led by a character called Hillman Hunter. And Hillman Hunter is played by Ed Byrne, who we’re thrilled to get because he’s a very funny stand-up comedian but he’s turned out to be a fantastic actor as well.”

They’ll be joining original radio actors Simon Jones (Arthur Dent), Geoff McGivern (Ford Prefect), Mark Wing-Davey (Zaphod Beeblebrox) and the TV series’ Trillian Sandra Dickinson (Jones and Wing-Davey also portrayed their characters in the TV series) with special guest star Jane Horrocks as Arthur Dent’s love interest Fenchurch.

Meanwhile, Douglas Adams’ friend, co-author and former flatmate (and QI creator) John Lloyd will voice the titular Book, following the death of original star Peter Jones.

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The series (directed by Dirk Maggs for BBC Radio 4) will air next Spring, 12 years after the previous instalment of the series.