Ford Prefect (character)

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Ford Prefect (also called Ix) is a fictional character in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the British author Douglas Adams. He is the only character other than the protagonist, Arthur Dent, to appear throughout the entire Hitchhiker's saga.

Contents

Biography

Ford is a good friend of the main character, an ordinary Earthman named Arthur Dent who has known him for several years and believes him to be "an out of work actor from the town of Guildford" in Surrey. (In the novel, Ford reinforces this impression by carrying around scripts of plays he is supposed to be auditioning for, such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Godspell; when the Earth is about to be demolished, he finally throws these scripts away.) However, Ford is actually from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and had originally only come to Earth to do some research for an article he was writing on it for the Guide.

Ford came to Earth for a week, and got stuck there for fifteen years, departing only when a fleet of Vogon constructor ships appear in the first episode, taking Arthur Dent with him. Ford is the source of much explanation of the weird universe that Arthur finds himself in; for example, the importance of knowing where your towel is, sticking a fish in your ear, and why the greatest cooks in the universe cook on Vogon spaceships. Ultimately, however, his personal mission is to find a nice party and get incredibly drunk.

Ford's life story diverges into alternative versions in the radio series, TV series and books. In the original radio series he finds himself dangling from a mile-high statue of Zaphod Beeblebrox suspended in the air, and after surviving a fall from the statue he ends up stranded on the planet of the Ruler of the Universe when Zaphod steals the Heart of Gold. At the end of the TV series, he is marooned with Arthur on prehistoric Earth. In the books, he survives a series of adventures including a present-day invasion of Earth by aliens and almost being beaten to death by a disembodied arm in a sleazy bar only to (presumably) perish along with all the other characters when all the alternative Earths are finally destroyed. However, the radio adaptation of the books details that the characters have been transported to Milliway's by the Babel fishes, and therefore have survived the final destruction of Earth (though it is an interesting note that Milliway's previously had been misidentified as being the afterlife by the characters).

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." Adams later clarified in an interview that Ford "had simply mistaken the dominant life form." The Ford Prefect was, in fact, a British car manufactured from 1938 to 1961. 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 at least, this is how the pair meet. The graphics in the TV series provide a similar explanation by listing director John Ford, psychic Arthur Ford, news reader Anna Ford, carmaker Henry Ford, the Ford Anglia, the Ford Consul and finally Ford Prefect.

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