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Old 03-18-2008, 04:14 AM   #145
Brian Sibley
Haunting Spirit
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: London
Posts: 54
Brian Sibley has just left Hobbiton.
Originally Posted by davem View Post
Hmm, you know, listening to the Church House recording, I got the feeling that David Collings was in the same position of not really knowing the story. I don't know why - of course, Peter Woodthorpe tended to take over the discussion a bit! Did you have Ian or David doing an 'Ian McKellan', wandering the studio with a copy of the book & making 'suggestions'?
Maybe my memory is at fault regarding Collings, but I thought he knew the book pretty well. Woodthorpe was a lovely man and a great actor, but he never found it easy to share the spotlight!

Originally Posted by davem View Post
More seriously - how much of the recording was out of sequence - I think I heard Jane Morgan mention that the last few episodes at least we're recorded in order, but was there a lot of jumping around Bag End one day, Pelenor Fields the next, then Lothlorien the day after, etc...
Not sure where or when Jane said that - or why... To teh best of my recall, with a few exceptions (to accommodate actors who would otherwise have had to come in for one day in order to deliver a couple of lines) the series was recorded episode by episode following the schedule I illustrated a few posts ago...

However, once the Fellowship had been broken and we were following three or more strands of story, it would be usual to record, say, all the Frodo and Sam scenes and then the Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas scenes and then those with Merry Pippin and the orcs.

The only other reason why scenes might be recorded significantly out of order would be because there were a couple of hours when we had access to the RDC (Radio Drama Company) and they were needed for 'crowd' scenes such as the party at Bag End and the bar of The Prancing Pony.

Otherwise, the recording schedule was pretty tightly followed - a day and a half per episode, two days for difficult sequences.

Originally Posted by davem View Post
I didn't realise that John Le Mesurier was in the same boat as Michael Hordern & didn't know what was going on - still, the magic of radio (or Middle-earth) worked in both cases.

Originally Posted by davem View Post
I see what you mean - Frodo's vision on Amon Hen, with the armies massing for the coming war, is one of the scenes from the book that sticks in my mind most strongly, but I don't see that working as a soliloquy, & you can't keep using the narrator to describe what's happening. Was there a temptation to keep resorting to the narrator - I think you hit the right balance, but it must be tempting to avoid the soliloquies, (or giving poor Pippin all the obvious questions to ask!) by just having the narrator tell the listener what's happening? Were there points at which you struggled over when to use a soliloquy & when to use the narrator - in other words did you only use the narrator when you couldn't use a character, or were there points where you could have written a scenes for the characters, but chose to use the narrator instead? What I'm getting at is did you decide to have a narrator in the series because there were things you couldn't handle any other way - was he a last resort - or was he seen as another character whose role was essential to telling the story?
I think, now, that the remarks about the Narrator being another character which we made immediately after the series had been recorded, were probably something of a post-rationalisation.

The truth is that the radio style at the time was for someone to be telling the story (a character in the story or an authorial-voice-type Narrator); I don't think we ever thought of trying to do the story without a narrative voice and I'm pretty much certain that we primarily wanted to use that voice to get us as quickly as possible from A to B or to set a scene without having too many lines like "Look at those huge stone figures standing on either side of the river..."

Certainly I never consciously thought I was writing something specifically for the Narrator as a character - although Michael Bakewell has described writing a scene (the Balrog, perhaps?) for which, he said, he wrote a note in the script to the effect that even the Narrator should be astonished by this scene...

My initial choice was for Tolkien-like figure (authoritative, professorial) who would be telling you about his world. I later did something like that in my dramatisations of the Gormenghast books where the Narrator was 'The Artist' and whilst not sounding like Mervyn Peake was definitely intended to be the creative voice behind the stories...

I was, however, persuaded by that the argument (not that I actually had any choice in the matter!!) that it would be better to have a younger voice that could describe Middle-earth more in the style of a reporter describing a real place with real events.

I think it worked well, but if such a production were ever to be mounted today, the narrative device would be seen as too 'old fashioned' and it would probably be made without it. Narrator-less productions can be done: I did five of the seven Chronicles of Narnia in this way (the first two had a narrator), but it is difficult and sometimes the problems it creates and the loss to the richness of the story just aren't worth it!

By the way, we do seem to be having a very close-knit conversation on this list - considering how many people are apparently reading it!!
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