I've seen that Douglas Adams was a screenwriter for Doctor Who. In HHGG, Slartibartfast initially wouldn't tell his real name. Similarly, the Doctor won't tell his real name. Slartibartfast picks Arthur Dent and takes him on a trip to save the universe, just like in a Doctor Who episode with a companion and the Doctor.

Of course, there are some difference between the reason to not tell his name between these universes. While Slartibartfast wouldn't tell his name because its ridiculous, the Doctor won't tell his name because

silence will fall and The Doctor will die,

according to the last episode of season 6.

So: Was the Slartibartfast character inspired in some way by the Doctor?

So: is there any (out-of-universe) relation between Slartibartfast and the Doctor?


1 Answer 1


This is more or less the truth, although it wasn't an "inspiration" so much as a "reappropriation". As a matter of fact, Life, the Universe, and Everything was indeed adapted from a screenplay that Douglas Adams had written entitled "Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen".

As far as whether Slartibartfast was inspired by the Doctor, of course Slartibartfast was around prior to LtUaE. But multiple sources independently verify that in LtUaE Slartibartfast was "revamped" as the Doctor, and further that the TARDIS became the Bistromath:

This storyline was eventually used for the third Hitchhiker's Guide novel, Life, The Universe And Everything, with Slartibartfast as the Doctor and Arthur Dent replacing Sarah Jane Smith as the confused Earthling. - The Pocket Hitchhiker's Guide

Neil Gaiman et al. discuss this further in Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion "Appendix V: Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen".

The joke behind the name of Slartibartfast goes further than merely being a send-up of the Doctor's own unrevealed name:

1) Adams wanted a name that was nonsense but also vaguely obscene-sounding. It was originally "Phartiphukborlz".
2) He wanted to troll his typist, who was forced to repeatedly type the name even though the character only spoke it once.

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    But Slartibartfast predates Life, the Universe, and Everything. So taking on the role of the Doctor in it doesn't mean he was based on the Doctor -- it just means he was the closest equivalent to the Doctor that Adams had lying around in the HHGG continuity.
    – Micah
    Aug 23, 2012 at 0:21
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    Quite true - but if you think about it, the character of Slartibartfast was considerably changed in LtUaE from HHGG. I will make sure that is clear. Aug 23, 2012 at 0:53
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    It's worth noting that this wouldn't be the last time Adams does that, either. "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" also borrows heavily from two Doctor Who scripts that Adams had worked on, especially the unfinished Shada. The not-very-subtly-named Prof. Chronotis was originally a Time Lord, but was readapted as a "simple" time traveller for the book. Aug 23, 2012 at 5:38
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    Well, now I have the theory that he first created Slartibartflast as an alias for The Doctor in "Life, the Universe, and Everything", but he needed the other characters to trust him. He then went back in time and rewrote HHGG to include him, and his initial resistance to tell his name is a hook to its true origin! Thanks for your answers and comments, people.
    – Bruno Kim
    Aug 28, 2012 at 17:51

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