Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2023

Jim Al-Khalili and John Lloyd, this year’s Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture speakers

Please join me for the 16th Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture!

Professor Jim Al-Khalili and TV producer John Lloyd will be the guest speakers at this year’s Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, an annual event organised by Save the Rhino International, to be held on Thursday, 18 May, at the Royal Geographic Society in London.

The event, a tribute to the late Douglas Adams, one of the charity’s founding patrons, will bring people together for an evening of science, exploration, and comedy, all in support of rhino conservation.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili will share his perspective on the nature of infinity, time and space, giving answers to the questions many people want to know, but have been too afraid to ask.

John Lloyd will be reading from the hilarious The Meaning of Liff, a book that he co-wrote with Douglas Adams, whilst reflecting on his life and career in his trademark witty yet insightful style.

The audience will also hear from Jon Taylor, Managing Director of Save the Rhino International, who will provide insight into the world of rhino conservation. The evening will be hosted by me, Rachel Wheeley, comedian and fan of Douglas and his work.

Douglas Adams, famous for writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, helped establish Save the Rhino in the early 1990s. Before his untimely death in 2001, Douglas was passionate about supporting the charity’s conservation efforts, including by hiking to Kilimanjaro in a rhino costume in 1994. 

Since 2003, Save the Rhino has held Memorial Lectures in Douglas’s honour. The events have featured comedians, explorers, and scientists, including Alice Roberts, Stephen Fry, Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Mark Carwardine, Baroness Susan Greenfield, and Benedict Allen.

The lecture will be live-streamed for audience members around the world to join. Both online and in person tickets for the event can be purchased via the link below:


All proceeds will go towards Save the Rhino International’s work to support vital rhino conservation projects across Africa and Asia.

I hope you can join me for this very special 16th Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture. I’m so excited to be hosting this event again, and keen to build the profile of the event to encourage more people to come and hear inspiring talks by scientists in Douglas’s honour. 

Thank you for reading, and I hope to see you there.

Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2022 – Thursday 26 May

Friends, we’re Belgium well doing it again!

Join me on Thursday 26th May at the Royal Geographic Society for the 2022 Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture!

Douglas Adams was a founding patron of Save the Rhino International. He once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in a rhino suit to raise money for the fledgling charity. 

When Douglas Adams died in 2001, Save the Rhino International worked with Douglas’s family to establish the Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, inviting conservationists, wise and funny people to speak about the universe.

The lecture has been delivered by Neil Gaiman, Professor Alice Roberts, Baroness Susan Greenfield and this year, I am delighted to announce that our lecturer is Professor EJ Milner-Gulland, Professor of Biodiversity and Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science at Oxford University.

Why am I personally so excited that Professor Milner-Gulland is delivering DAML this year? Because she co-founded a movement that resonates very strongly with me, the Conversation Optimism movement. 

Their website explains a bit about their mission:

As nature erodes and the response of human systems is inadequate or destructive, it can seem like the only rational response is despair. 

Yet if you zoom in from the big picture, a mosaic appears; in amongst the stories of loss there are inspiring stories of regeneration and positive change, with nature making a difference in people’s lives, and people valuing and nurturing their natural environment. 

These stories are the key to securing our planet’s future; we need to learn from them, replicate them and thereby build a world in which nature and people can coexist. 

Our mission is telling these stories of conservation optimism — large and small — so as to inspire change.

Please join me on Thursday 26th May to celebrate Douglas’s life, writing, and conservation with me, Professor EJ Milner-Gulland, and a host of funny people. 

And if that wasn’t enough, Douglas’s archivist Kevin Jon Davies curator of 42, The wildly improbable ideas of Douglas Adams will be presenting an exhibition of archival material and photos at DAML in the Royal Geographic Society’s Map Room (where the bar is). 

Thank you, and I hope to see you there.

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.

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.

Stand Up for Towel Day – we’re Belgium well doing it again!

Douglas&suitMarch 8th marks the 40th anniversary of the very first broadcast of a radio series called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Douglas Adams was inspired to write a guide to the galaxy while lying drunk in a field near Innsbruck with a copy of The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Europe and looking up at the stars. Obviously it didn’t start exactly there. It must have come back to him later.

It is an absolutely extraordinary series, brought to life by the series producer, Geoffrey Perkins, with a little help from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

When Adams died in 2001, Hitchhiker fans across the world celebrated his life by carrying a towel with them for the day, after one of the show’s central tenets, “always know where your towel is.”

Since then, #towelday has been an annual celebration. In 2016, I looked around for a comedy gig to do on that night with a H2G2 theme, only to find that there wasn’t one. So in 2017, I organised one, complete with poetry, towels, copious amounts of #tea or alternatively, Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, if you’re that way inclined.

That night was a whole bunch of fun, so we’re doing it again. Do come and join us if you’d like to.

The gig is in aid of Save the Rhino International.

Adams became interested in conservation in 1985 after the Observer Magazine sent him to investigate Madagascar’s endangered Aye-aye, accompanied by zoologist Mark Carwardine.

This resulted in a radio series for the BBC and a book, both entitled Last Chance to See, in which he and Mark visited rare species including the northern white rhinos of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Douglas Adams became a founder patron of Save the Rhino in 1994 and was a dedicated spokesperson for SRI right up until his death in 2001 at the age of 49.

At his virtual 60th birthday party there were 8 tap dancing rhinos on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo:

Save the Rhino International’s top priority is to protect and increase rhino numbers and population distribution in Africa and Asia. The charity currently supports field programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and Indonesia.

Stand Up for Towel Day is proud to donate all our proceeds to SRI. There will be donation boxes at the gig if you would like to make an additional donation (think of it as buying your favourite rhino a gargle blaster.)

The photo is of Douglas climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in a rhino suit in aid of the charity.

See you on #towelday!