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Stackyard News May 05

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JCB's starring role in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

JCB’s famous yellow excavator

Intergalactic blockbuster 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' is set to take cinemas by storm this year - with a helping hand from a dozen JCBs which make a spectacular cameo appearance.

Douglas Adams' sci-fi classic has received the Disney treatment and been turned into a feature film starring a whole host of household names.

But stars of the movie's opening scenes are none other than JCB's famous yellow excavators.

Hitchhiking hero Arthur Dent awakes to find a convoy of roaring machines poised to bulldoze his home - but luckily for him he is whisked to safety by his alien friend Ford Prefect before Planet Earth is demolished in a huge explosion to make way for a hyperspace highway.

The novice space traveller then embarks on the greatest adventure in the universe - finding the meaning of life and discovering that everything he needs to know can be found in one book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Excavator giants JCB were signed up for the multi-million pound production after impressing movie bosses with their huge range of machinery and highly-skilled operators.

They star alongside a whole host of familiar faces, including The Office's Martin Freeman as hero Arthur Dent, Love Actually star Bill Nighy and US rapper Mos Def as Dent's best friend Ford Prefect.

Twelve JCB machines and a team of operators were whisked down to a secret location in rural Bedfordshire for eight days to film the movie's explosive opening scene.

As well as starring in front of the cameras, the JCB team also played a vital role behind the scenes constructing sets and in the post-film clear up.

The JCB “demolition” team included a cast of 8060 midi excavators, a JS200 wheeled excavator, a JS130 wheeled excavator, a 722 dump truck, a 456ZX wheeled loading shovel, a 4CX backhoe loader, a 3CX backhoe loader, a 411 wheeled loading shovel and a 532-120 Loadall telescopic handler.

One of the film's “demolition crew” was JCB Demonstrator Paul Knapper. The 52-year-old, of Tean, Staffordshire, admitted the chance to star in a big budget movie was a great experience.

He said: “In 30 years of driving for JCB it is the first time I've had to jump out of the cab to escape from an alien invasion. But it was great fun and a fantastic opportunity.

“We worked in close proximity to all the film stars and film crew. They were all really friendly and there was a brilliant atmosphere on set.”

Other JCB stars appearing on screen in front of movie-goers worldwide are JCB demonstrators Ian Bell, of Cheadle, Will Riley, of Cheadle, Craig Slaney, of Hollington and Oliver Keates, of Cheadle.

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