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What can I expect from the BBC Radio Adaptation of LOTR?


Mar 23 2017, 9:46am

Post #1 of 4 (940 views)
What can I expect from the BBC Radio Adaptation of LOTR? Can't Post

I've been wanting to get this for years and years, and finally took the plunge and ordered the boxset of Amazon (the description wasn't entirely clear, but I think it is the 2002(?) re-edit with the new Frodo scenes), I've heard great things about this production, but I have little idea about what to expect from the script, so I was wondering if anyone who has listened to it could share a few (non-spoilery) thoughts, and answer a couple of questions?

What is the pacing like? Does it follow the same chronological order as the book, or does it chop and change like the Jackson version?

Does Ian Holm's Frodo voice sound similar to his Bilbo? He's a great actor but I'm worried I'll find his voice distracting...

I've listened to quite a few audio dramas (mostly full cast with little or no narration) but nothing as old as this, does the format/sound design sound 'old' and obviously staged (is there any narration? how much music?) or does it flow naturally as a drama?


Mar 23 2017, 8:39pm

Post #2 of 4 (915 views)
The one from 1981? [In reply to] Can't Post

Listened through this once, long time ago.

Out of memory you will get an amazing Gollum, an Arwen that sounds her age and more, a rather shouty Theoden, and a good Frodo & Sam pairing.

Again out of memory I think the radio drama shifts between the two story-lines in book two, rather than telling them one at a time, in an otherwise book-true, but long, play.

There's also some half-hearted sound-effects involved but I don't remember much about them.

I do seem to remember whoever played Barliman Butterbur gave a powerful performance...

(This post was edited by InTheChair on Mar 23 2017, 8:41pm)


Mar 23 2017, 9:28pm

Post #3 of 4 (908 views)
You've a good memory! [In reply to] Can't Post

I"ve listened to this a number of times, and I think you've hit the nail on the head with all your points.

Frodo, Sam and Gollum are very good indeed, as you say. Ian Holm's Frodo seems quite different to me than his Bilbo of the movies.

There are some sound effects, but both they and the music are very basic when you compare them to the movies. The battles are shortened, as you might expect when there are no visuals!

Barliman Butterbur is great, I agree! I believe he was played by a well-known character actor who will be familiar to Inspector Morse fans - he was Morse's boss, Chief Superintendant Strange.

The Scouring of the Shire is in there, and very good it is too. But Tom Bombadil didn't make it in.

An odd thing is that the prologue is taken from Unfinished Tales, with the Black Riders finding Gollum and Wormtongue and getting information from them. But once the story itself starts it follows the book pretty closely, except as you say for interweaving the two storylines after the Fellowship splits up.

One thing that works really well in this audio format is Shelob's Lair. The first time I heard it I was so creeped out listening to the hobbits inside there in the dark that when Frodo took out the vial and Galadriel's voice suddenly rang out I nearly jumped out of my skin!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Mar 26 2017, 10:14pm

Post #4 of 4 (831 views)
I will be honest [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that they did do a good job with the first two books and with Helm's deep in particular, nice to see a proper adaptation of that, but the last book maybe not so much. I think it is a bit hard to adapt that chess game in a radio format!


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