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Ford Prefect (also called Ix) is a in by the British author . He is the only character other than the protagonist, , to appear throughout the entire saga. His role as Arthur's friend – and rescuer, when the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass at the start of the story – is often expository, as Ford is an experienced galactic hitch-hiker and explains that he is actually an alien journalist, a field researcher for the titular itself, and not an out-of-work actor from as he had hitherto claimed.
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." The was a popular British car manufactured from 1938 to 1961, and Adams later clarified in an interview that Ford "had simply mistaken the dominant life form" of Earth. 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, this is how the pair meet. The graphics in the TV series provide a similar explanation by listing a sequence of names including 'Ford', beginning with director , , news reader , carmaker , the , the with the final name Ford Prefect being selected.
Adams later observed that this joke was lost on United States audiences who assumed it was a typing error for "perfect." In some versions, such as the French () and the Greek (), Ford's name was changed to "Ford Escort." Nowadays, the joke is largely lost on younger audiences in Britain as well, since the Ford Prefect is now a rare sight on British roads. In the film adaptation, his last name was never actually stated on-screen, but it is given in the film's credits as "Prefect."
David Dixon as Ford Prefect in Episode One of the BBC TV series
|First appearance||Fit the First (radio)|
|Created by||Douglas Adams|
|Portrayed by||Geoffrey McGivern (radio and LP versions)
David Dixon (television)
Mos Def (film)
|Occupation||Researcher for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy|
|Relatives||Zaphod Beeblebrox (semi-half cousin)|