1m listen to BBC's Hitchhiker's Guide on the web

4pm: BBC Radio 4's serialisation of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series has proved more popular on the internet than The Archers or the Today programme. By Julia Day.

BBC Radio 4's serialisation of the last three books in the Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series has proved more popular on the internet than The Archers or the Today programme.

Twenty-five years after the original radio series about bewildered hero Arthur Dent was broadcasting, the new series is proving an unprecedented online hit for the BBC with 1 million people listening to repeats of the series via the internet over the past six weeks.

And one episode in the six-episode series got double the number of listeners online than the top-rating rural soap The Archers.

Head of BBC radio Jenny Abramsky say the figures vindicate the corporation's investment in the internet.

"We are completely amazed by the impact of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

"It's important to listeners. We have to continue making these kind of programmes to make people go to the web."

She added that audiences are now so accustomed to catching up with their favourite shows on the web, that it is now like "radio on demand".

The 'listen again' button on the BBC's websites allows people to hear shows that have already been broadcast on the radio at their own leisure.

After each Hitchikers programme has been broadcast on Radio 4 at Tuesday teatime and repeated late night on Thursdays, it can then be accessed for seven days on the station's website.

Since September 21 almost a million people have listened again to the five episodes broadcast so far, with Tuesday's sixth and final instalment going online after tonight's radio repeat.

The original programme fired the imagination of radio listeners 25 years ago rather like War of the Worlds had youngsters glued to their radio sets in the 1950s.

Now fans are listening online as the mainly original cast bring the last three Hitchhikers' books to life with, thanks to the wonders of digital technology, Adams himself playing the part of Agrajag.

The Archers is Radio 4's most accessed "listen again" programme, but the station is reluctant to make its figures public. But a spokesman confirmed that one Hitchhikers episode had double the amount of listen-again hits as The Archers.

Radio 4's daily flagship Today programme attracts 30,000 listen-again requests a week, behind quiz show Just a Minute, the second most popular, and ahead of John Peel's Home Truths.

On Radio 1, Pete Tong's Essential Mix and Essential Selection are the programmes replayed the most on the net, with Essential's Mix following the One Big Weekend event attracting more than 61,000 listen-again hits.

Chris Moyles' breakfast show had a surge of hits when he promoted it on the radio, and the weekly Chart Show is consistently high with between 36,000 and 39,000 listen-again hits every week.

On Radio 2, Jonathan Ross's Saturday morning show is regularly in the BBC's weekly listen-again top 10, and Lost Boy - the story of the cult singer-songwriter Nick Drake became the most requested on-demand Radio 2 programme ever, attracting more than 60,000 listen-again requests in a week in May.

Five Live's top listen-again show is Christian O'Connell's satirical quiz show Fighting Talk, with 56,000 requests its biggest ever figure in August and a weekly average of between 11,000 and 22,000.

The last three Hitchhiker books - Life, The Universe And Everything; So Long and Thanks For All The Fish; and Mostly Harmless - have been dramatised as two new series, the second will be broadcast in May.

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Contributor

Julia Day, radio correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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