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Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

About the book.

This is an excerpt from this book.


Listen to the reading and answer the questions.

Ford Prefect

Play the Audio


2 Read and understand these questions then listen to this extract from the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, before answering the questions.

True or False

  1. Arthur knew that his friend, Ford, was not from Guildford. _____
  2. Ford had done a good job of integrating into Earth society. _____ TRUE
  3. Ford had found an acting job in the Theatre. _____ FALSE
  4. Ford was not particularly tall or good looking. _____ TRUE
  5. Ford had made a mistake in his choice of name. _____ TRUE
  6. Ford's eyes usually stayed open and started to water. _____ FALSE
  7. Ford was invited to lots of parties. _____ FALSE
  8. Ford was pretending to look for flying saucers. _____ TRUE
  9. Arthur was trying to stop his home from being destroyed. _____ TRUE
  10. Ford did not understand what Arthur meant. _____ TRUE



Listen to the reading to see which adverbs are used.

  1. He smiled slightly too _____ .
  2. Then we would start _____ for a moment, relax and grin.
  3. 'Green ones' he would reply with a wicked grin and laugh _____ for a moment.
  4. He stared _____ into the sky.
Show Script


Listen and mark the word that you heard. Read one of each pair and ask your partner which word you read to them.

    1. Interrogating
    2. Intergrating

The Script

Arthur Dent and Ford prefect - Misunderstanding each other

Ford prefect
Arthur Dent had absolutely no idea that one of his closest friends was not descended from an ape, but was in fact from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and not from South London as he usually claimed. Arthur Dent had never, ever suspected this.

This friend of his had first arrived on the planet some fifteen Earth years previously, and he had worked hard to blend himself into Earth society with, it must be said, some success. For instance he had spent those fifteen years pretending to be an out of work actor, which was plausible enough.

He had made one careless blunder though, because he had skimped a bit on his preparatory research. The information he had gathered had led him to choose the name "Ford prefect" as being nicely inconspicuous.

He was not conspicuously tall, his features were striking but not particularly handsome. His hair was wiry and gingerish and brushed backwards from the temples. His skin seemed to be pulled backwards from the nose. There was something very slightly odd about him, but it was difficult to say what it was.

Perhaps it was that his eyes didn't seem to blink often enough and when you talked to him for any length of time your eyes began involuntarily to water on his behalf. perhaps it was that he smiled slightly too broadly and gave people the unnerving impression that he was about to go for their neck.

He struck most of the friends that he had made on Earth as an eccentric, but a harmless. For instance he would often gatecrash university parties, drink too much and start making fun of any astrophysicist he could find till he got thrown out.

Sometimes he would get seized with oddly distracted moods and stare into the sky as if hypnotised until someone asked him what he was doing. Then he would start guiltily for a moment, relax and grin.

"Oh, just looking for flying saucers," he would joke and everyone would laugh and ask him what sort of flying saucers he was looking for.

"Green ones!" he would reply with a wicked grin, and laugh wildly for a moment.

In fact what he was really looking for when he stared distractedly into the night sky was any kind of flying saucer at all. The reason he said green was that green was the traditional space livery of the Betelgeuse space fleet.

Ford prefect was desperate that any flying saucer at all would arrive soon because fifteen years was a long time to get stranded anywhere, particularly somewhere as mind-bogglingly dull as the Earth.

Later that day Ford prefect popped round to see Arthur, who was currently lying down the ground outside his house trying to prevent it from being demolished by men with bulldozers from the local town council. The sun was just beginning to dry out the mud that Arthur was laying in. A shadow moved across him. "Hello Arthur", said the shadow.

Arthur looked up and squinting into the sun was startled to see Ford prefect standing above him. "Ford! Hello, how are you?" "Fine," said Ford, "look, are you busy?" "Am I busy?" exclaimed Arthur. "Well, I've just got all these bulldozers and things to lie in front of because they'll knock down my house if I don't, but other than that ... well, no not especially, why?" They don't have sarcasm on Betelgeuse,

and Ford prefect often failed to notice it unless he was concentrating. He said, "Good, is there anywhere we can talk?"


Sarcasm Saying the opposite of what you really mean in order to make an unkind joke. Sometimes it is called The lowest form of wit. Some sarcasm can be quite funny, particularly when blended with other humorous remarks. See Jeeves and Wooster - p.G.Wodhouse.

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