The Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2021

On March 11, 2021, Douglas Adams fans from around the world gathered online to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of his remarkable book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Douglas was a founding patron of Save the Rhino International. He once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in a rhino costume and even wrote about it in The Salmon of Doubt.

After Douglas’ death in 2001, his family began working with Save the Rhino to set up the Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture; an event with a number of speakers, each focusing on a topic that Douglas was interested in, such as science, exploration, conservation and comedy. The event is traditionally held in March around Douglas’ Birthday, 11th March.

The lecture brings Douglas’ fans together, shares an insight into many fascinating topics with brilliant speakers, and raises vital funds for rhino conservation. In recent years, speakers have included Alice Roberts, Brian Cox and Neil Gaiman.

This year, the event included: a fascinating lecture by Baroness Susan Greenfield (The Creative Mind: Insights from Neuroscience), and a presentation by Arvind Ethan David (On the Advisability of Writing Fan Mail), featuring the world premiere of “Socially Distanced Dirk” a new holistic short starring Samuel Barnett and Hannah Marks.

I was lucky enough to host the show from my living room!

About the speakers:

Baroness Susan Greenfield

Founder and CEO of Neuro-Bio Ltd, Baroness Greenfield is a neuroscientist, writer and broadcaster. She has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and is based mainly at Oxford University but has held research fellowships at the College de France Paris, NYU Medical Center New York and Melbourne University. Baroness Greenfield holds 32 honorary degrees from UK and foreign universities, has received numerous honours including the Legion d’Honneur from the French Government, an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians, The American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, and The Australian Medical Research Society Medal. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Arvind Ethan David

Arvind Ethan David is a writer, producer and cultural entrepreneur whose career started with Douglas Adams. David is a lead producer on Broadway’s 15-time Tony-Nominated Jagged Little Pill the musical, based on the seminal Alanis Morissette album. David has produced 9 feature films, including the Asian Academy Award-winning The Garden of Evening Mists, and works extensively in television, including producing Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency based on the Douglas Adams books for Netflix and BBC America.

David’s career began as a student when he adapted Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency as his school play – and Douglas Adams came to see the production and endorsed it as the official adaptation. That started a friendship with Adams and an association with his work that continues to this day.

Samuel Barnett

Samuel Barnett is an English actor best known for his roles in Dirk Gently, Penny Dreadful and The History Boys, and is an Olivier Award and two-time Tony Award nominee for his stage work.

Hannah Marks

Hannah Marks’ is an actress and filmmaker. Rolling Stone named her one of their 25 Under 25 artists changing the world, and she was recently one of FORBES magazine’s 30 trailblazers under 30. Hannah plays Amanda in Dirk Gently.

Stand Up for Towel Day at the British Library

The cast of the original Hitchhiker series, with Douglas Adams

To celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the original radio broadcasts of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the British Library are hosting a whole day of events.

Stand Up for Towel Day will be there, with Steve Cross, Cerys Bradley, The Underground Clown Club, Declan Kennedy, Jonathan Hearn and The Story Beast all performing homages to the late, great Douglas Adams’ work.

https://www.bl.uk/events/the-hitchhikers-guide-to-the-galaxy-at-42

This event is sold out but Stand Up for Towel Day will be back on international towel day, May 25th, in collaboration with Save the Rhino International.

Watch this space or join the Stand Up for Towel Day Facebook group for more information.

Amélie: BFI Comedy Genius Tour

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On Wednesday 12th December I’ll be presenting Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s fabulous Amélie, the classic comic fantasy that launched Audrey Tautou to stardom.

Tautou stars as the lonely waitress who finds ways to bring others the happiness (or comeuppance) they deserve, and eventually finds her own happy ending. It’s an imaginative, sassy romp through a Parisian dreamworld, filmed and acted with joyous flair.

This screening is part of Comedy Genius, a nationwide celebration of comedy on screen led by BFI, the Independent Cinema Office and BFI Film Audience network, supported by funds from the National Lottery. For more screenings go to bficomedy.co.uk. #bficomedy

Booking: http://www.davidleancinema.org.uk/event/amelie/

‘The Evolution of Truth’ at the Royal Institution

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I chaired a couple of talks at the Royal Institution at the beginning of the month, with Evan Davis and Richard Byrne.

Here is a somewhat upside-down action shot taken from the balcony, of the three of us during the Q&A at the end of the session.

Both talks were a fascinating insight into deception. First of all Richard Byrne spoke about primates and whether they have any understanding of the deception they sometimes practice, and then Evan spoke about bullshit, what it is, and why it’s suddenly an important force in global politics.

There was a lively Q&A afterwards with lots of people interested to know what we can do about the post-truth reality we now seem to live in.