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Old 02-27-2008, 03:24 AM   #81
Brian Sibley
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Back on 5th March 1981 (as Brian must remember)....
Er... just!

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Anyway, at the event Brian played the first few minutes of the tape Christopher recorded as a pronunciation guide, & Christopher points out there that the correct pronunciation is the one used in the series (& by Tolkien himself) - ie 'Smeegol' & 'Deegol' as opposed to 'Smay-a-gol' & 'Day-a-gol'.
Phew! That's a relief!
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:17 AM   #82
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and, despite Andy Serkis' remarkable film performance, Woodthorpe's voice is still the one I hear when I read the book...
And for me as well - you wouldn't believe the trouble I had trying to copy this accent when reading the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings out to my son during bed times over the past year or so. And he loves listening to the radio adaptations in the car too.

Just a couple of questions if I may Brian? (and apologies if they've been asked before - i haven't read through all the posts fully)

I used to have the original 13 cassette version until someone 'borrowed' it! So I went out and got the updated CD version you mentioned earlier on in the thread. Did you have any concerns on having Frodo narrate the bookends to each part of the trilogy in the new version, i.e. 'giving away' the point that Frodo survived? Or do you think, becasue of the mass exposure lotr now has across all media that most people would know he survived anyway?

One silly thing, I usually have the music cd from the new collection on the car - was there a reason why 'In Western Lands beneath the Sun' is earlier on in the list when the rest are in chronological order? Sorry for such a silly question - it is a beautiful song - I was seriosuly hoping for SOMETHING like this to be in the films - Sam's hopelesness - feeling utterly defeated as he can't find Frodo - then singing this beautiful song - it brings a tear to my eye when both reading the book or listening to your adaption.

Last thing (for now!) - I think the way Robert Stephens changes his voice from 'yokel' Strider to more 'kingly' aragorn as we travel with him from weathertop to rivendell and beyond was a marvel. your idea or Robert's? PS - One of the biggest regrets of my life was not seeing Mr Stephens in King Lear before he died a few years ago- hang on I've just read his biog - he died 12 years ago. - I can't believe it!
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:35 AM   #83
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Just a couple of questions if I may, Brian...

I used to have the original 13 cassette version until someone 'borrowed' it! So I went out and got the updated CD version you mentioned earlier on in the thread. Did you have any concerns on having Frodo narrate the bookends to each part of the trilogy in the new version, i.e. 'giving away' the point that Frodo survived? Or do you think, becasue of the mass exposure lotr now has across all media that most people would know he survived anyway?
Well, the second part of your question pretty much sums it up....

We deliberately chose NOT to use Frodo as narrator when the dramatisation was written, for the very reason you mention. And, of course, he couldn't narrate to the end of the story, since he leaves BEFORE the end! (Which is why the 'new' version only has a prologue and no epilogue to TROTK.)

We did consider using Sam, but felt that would reduce the tension and - despite the arguments of one reviewer who said we SHOULD have used him - it would have been difficult for Sam to narrate the events in which he was not involved...

By the time we did the 'new' version, I thought - because of the films - that it no longer mattered quite as much and it enabled me to create a 'story-so-far' introduction so that TTT and TROTK could be sold and listened to as stand-alone recordings...

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One silly thing, I usually have the music cd from the new collection on the car - was there a reason why 'In Western Lands beneath the Sun' is earlier on in the list when the rest are in chronological order? Sorry for such a silly question - it is a beautiful song - I was seriosuly hoping for SOMETHING like this to be in the films - Sam's hopelesness - feeling utterly defeated as he can't find Frodo - then singing this beautiful song - it brings a tear to my eye when both reading the book or listening to your adaption.
Not silly, but I honestly don't know why Stephen Oliver made that decision - unless it was dictated by the length and number of tracks that would fit on the original LP... We ought to have fixed that on the CD...

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Last thing (for now!) - I think the way Robert Stephens changes his voice from 'yokel' Strider to more 'kingly' aragorn as we travel with him from weathertop to rivendell and beyond was a marvel. your idea or Robert's? PS - One of the biggest regrets of my life was not seeing Mr Stephens in King Lear before he died a few years ago- hang on I've just read his biog - he died 12 years ago. - I can't believe it!
I think this was down to an inspired combination of Robert's performance and Jane Morgan's direction.
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:58 PM   #84
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Mithalwen & I have been praising this series on various threads here over the years & I'm sure she will be as thrilled as I am about Brian's appearance here on the Downs.

Thrilled? I nearly fainted when I had a quick look at lunchtime and have been in a similar state to Sam on hearing he would go to meet the elves all afternoon!

As Dave has said, we have been praising this on other threads for years so to get any discussion going was wonderful (I will be participating more, I was anticipating some time off, or at least a reduced workload which hasn't yet materialised). I still can't quite believe it.

I was quite young when it first came out - I heard the hour episodes and am afraid I made my own recordings which I listened to endlessly (I bought the true recordings as soon as I could! and are one of the few things I wouldn't lend anyone!). I did have the music cassette which I wore out.

The series had a great effect on me . It turned me into a Radio four listener younger than most ) and also a fan of Counter tenors [ on a side issue that has been raised I would point out that it is not unusual to use the countertenor voice for non-human roles - eg Oberon in Britten's Midsummer Night's Dream].

It may even have been the radio series that led me to finish reading the LOTR. I had been given it after reading the Hobbit (after the Jackanory production) but had stopped at the end of the Two Towers the second half of which had been a long bleak haul for a very young reader. Those chapters I found so difficult are perhaps my favourite parts of the Radio production - the interaction between Frodo, Sam and Gollum (and Faramir) was just perfect.

Although I listen to the series at least a couple of times a year, and know the plot I still find myself on tenterhooks. I hope you will stay around because once I have calmed down I shall have as many questions as Pippin. But don't let taht put you off!

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Old 02-27-2008, 01:09 PM   #85
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I hope people won't be too outraged when I say I was very surprised to discover that the radio series was on YouTube and, whilst I love the fact that people are still discovering this series, I am sorry that it is out there is a form that disregards the copyright interests of a lot of people including the Tolkien estate, the dramatists, composer, musicians and actors or their estates.
It seems I am the only one posting to this thread that is using Youtube to listen to the BBC radio adaptation. I am not downloading it anywhere, however, and now that I listened to, and greatly enjoyed, the first three episodes, I definitely intend to purchase it in the near future.

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Maybe it was a mistake to include The Hunt for the Ring; I wonder whether people feel the same about the Gandalf/Saruman/Gwaihir scenes that (in the book) are not revealed until the Council of Elrond at Rivendell?
It has its benefits and drawbacks, I would say, but whereas the Black Riders are a real mystery in the Book, I think the disappearance of Gandalf is a lesser one. One always has the feeling that Gandalf is going to appear again eventually (certainly after Weathertop), and it is only the circumstances under which this happens that one wonders about.


I have to say that, during the third episode, I am more and more getting used to the voice of Aragorn. Maybe it is really nothing more than “getting used”, maybe it has something to do with the more kingly voice that Essex mentioned.

I take back all my criticism of the Nazgűl not being scary. In this episode they were, especially on Weathertop. What I really liked was the way Frodo described the Ringwraiths the way he saw them when he wore the ring. That was very tense.

Handling the Council of Elrond was probably not easy, but the immense amount of information was conveyed without significant loss and, more important maybe, without a loss of dramatic fluidity. The criticisms I have about it are minor in comparison to this. One is Legolas’s role, which is very brief and, although it is hard for me to say it, almost redundant, because we already learnt of his news from Gwaihir. The other one is, that it is not clear how much courage Frodo shows in saying “I will take the ring”. In the book, there is a long meaningful silence before he speaks. This has to be very tricky to convey in an adaptation for the radio.

The sound effects have been talked about a lot. Even though I am listening to them now for the first time, and not when they were first released (only shortly after my birth!), I actually don’t think they’re that bad. The effects are in the background and do not distract from the story, which is just like effects ought to be ideally. Their quality might not be breathtaking, but because of this, it is never a problem.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:40 PM   #86
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Please Mr Sibley....

May I ask whether you knew who was playing the major roles before you finished the script? And whethet that influenced you at all. I have to say I think most of the casting was at least equal if not superior to the films. Highly superior in regard to Frodo, Sam, Gollum and Gandalf.

The film seemed to base the character of Sam purely on Gollum's stupid, fat hobbit jibe. Bill Nighy got him just right to my mind but he surely was quite young then and certainly a lot less well known than now - I know he had done some good TV work before he achieved Hollywood fame in Love Actually et alia but I knew him because of the Radio production of LOTR - or at least wondered if William Nighy and Bill were one and the same.

I also think that David Collings was a great choice as Legolas. His voice is very distinctive and happily still heard regularly on R4, but it conveys that elvish otherness without being at all camp.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:33 PM   #87
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Handling the Council of Elrond was probably not easy, but the immense amount of information was conveyed without significant loss and, more important maybe, without a loss of dramatic fluidity.
A good example of superb writing by my co-adaptor, Michael Bakewell. I laid out a precise of which topics had to be covered, but he was the one who crafted the whole and made sense of it.

Yes, it did need a longer pause before Frodo's declaration... And I hate the tinny dinner-bell that sounds so feeble, but there are some great performances and I particularly like the way in which Hugh Dickson as Elrond steers the event...
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:52 PM   #88
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May I ask whether you knew who was playing the major roles before you finished the script?
No, I think most of the scripts had been written before casting began, although we were talking about possible actors from the moment we started work and I suspect that everyone was in agreement that Woodthorpe would have to be Gollum!
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:54 PM   #89
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Thrilled? I nearly fainted when I had a quick look at lunchtime and have been in a similar state to Sam on hearing he would go to meet the elves all afternoon!
Er... thanks...
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:55 PM   #90
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Crickhollow to Weathertop

Well, today I listened to the journey from Crickhollow to the Prancing Pony to Bree, then through the Midgewater Marshes to Weathertop.

What I enjoyed:
I really enjoyed how though by-passing the Old Forest the four hobbits make it clear that they are "going off the road" and going through the Old Forest on their way to Bree. This gave me the possibility that the events on the book on the Old Forest occurred, while allowing the adaptation to move on. I enjoyed this and again, this is something I wish the movies could have done.

I love Barliman's character and the actor doing his voice nailed it. I know that Gollum may be the Gollum others hear when they read the series, this is what I hear for Barliman's voice.

I enjoyed the 'fiddle" in the Prancing Pony and felt it was a good back drop since inn's have been associated with music and "fiddles" at least here in the US. I was glad that the song was included because I think it shows Frodo in a different light than at any other time during the journey. I enjoyed the Inn scene.

I know there is a thread on Aragorn, and I still have not seen or heard someone who is Aragorn for me. Robert Stephens does a very good job with Aragorn, but I still haven't found the Aragorn in my mind. Not sure why.

The journey from Bree to Weathertop I felt is done nicely and moves the story forward. I love the Gil-Galad song by Sam, and it was this song that got my daughter to read LOTR. Before hearing this, she felt it was something for me and my son and she wanted to read her own fantasy selections/choices, for which I'm glad I've worn off on her).

Questions on this Segment:

I understand the need to cut Tom Bombadil out of the adaptation but was the hobbits conservation about going through the Old Forest to avoid the riders and the road a way to allow listeners familiar with the story the notion that the advents of the Old Forest occurred, while allow for the story to move forward?

Tolkien himself said that Tom was important or he wouldn't have kept him in the story. What do you think we lose by taking Tom out of any adaptation, and what is gained?

Perhaps this leads to another question, what was the process for deciding what to add in, what to not include to the story? Is there still anything you would want to add if you still could to the adaptation, or are you happy with the overall product now?


I look forward to listening again tomorrow.
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:06 AM   #91
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It seems I am the only one posting to this thread that is using Youtube to listen to the BBC radio adaptation. I am not downloading it anywhere, however, and now that I listened to, and greatly enjoyed, the first three episodes, I definitely intend to purchase it in the near future.
Thank you! I'm sorry to have made everyone so jumpy about this issue - I think the age we live in makes us all (myself included) take the availability of things (books, music, films and facts) via the internet for granted... I'm told that, in surveys, the current generation think that all music is FREE and I suspect they think the same about movies...

Anyway, if and when you do buy the radio LOTR, you'll find most of the still available versions (past and present) listed at the end of the article, The Ring Goes Ever On, on my web-site.
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:42 AM   #92
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I really enjoyed how though by-passing the Old Forest the four hobbits make it clear that they are "going off the road" and going through the Old Forest on their way to Bree. This gave me the possibility that the events on the book on the Old Forest occurred, while allowing the adaptation to move on. I enjoyed this and again, this is something I wish the movies could have done.
Well done! You got it!!

I don't think anyone has ever picked up on that before. That is why, when I later did the Bombadil/Barrow-Downs episodes in my radio dramatisation, Tales of the Perilous Realm, I felt that I was able to just tell listeners what had happened on that pat of the journey they didn't hear!

I was disappointed that we weren't able to get the original cast back together (it was several years later and Ian Holm was already spending quite a lot of time in Hollywood) because, sadly, this meant that it could never really work for anyone who had listened to the original LOTR broadcasts and didn't make much sense on its own to anyone who hadn't!

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I love Barliman's character and the actor doing his voice nailed it. I know that Gollum may be the Gollum others hear when they read the series, this is what I hear for Barliman's voice.
Me too! James Grout: superb!

When I was shown the first sneak footage of Jackson's FOTR and I saw the scene where Barliman peers over the top of the bar at the hobbits when they enter 'The Prancing Pony', I was convinced they had lifted the voice from the radio serial! Unfortunately, as with many 'minor' characters in the film trilogy, there was so little of Mr Butterbur on the screen that he was never able to develop...

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I enjoyed the 'fiddle" in the Prancing Pony and felt it was a good back drop since inn's have been associated with music and "fiddles" at least here in the US. I was glad that the song was included because I think it shows Frodo in a different light than at any other time during the journey. I enjoyed the Inn scene.
I just wish that Ian had been able to SING 'The Man in the Moon'.

I remember the agonies and frustrations (for him and composer Stephen Oliver) at the recording session... Speaking the lines didn't quite work for me and I always found myself asking: "WHO is playing the fiddle?" and "How do they KNOW what song he is going to perform?"

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Questions on this Segment:

I understand the need to cut Tom Bombadil out of the adaptation but was the hobbits conservation about going through the Old Forest to avoid the riders and the road a way to allow listeners familiar with the story the notion that the advents of the Old Forest occurred, while allow for the story to move forward?
As I say, above: you got it in one!

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Tolkien himself said that Tom was important or he wouldn't have kept him in the story. What do you think we lose by taking Tom out of any adaptation, and what is gained?
I think Dave and others have already said most of what can be said about this... What is lost? A fascinating character... A episode of unexpected dangers... A indication that TREES are not always what they seem to be... An oasis of peace at Tom's house providing a moment's respite on the trail... An opportunity to know that there are those (or at least one) who is untouched by the power of the Ring...

What is gained by cutting Tom? Keeping up the momentum of Frodo's flight and the Riders' pursuit... In Tales of the Perilous Realm, these chapters took TWO half-hour episodes, so, if it had been included in the original broadcasts, these scenes would have needed to be compressed to a point of being, probably, meaningless...

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Perhaps this leads to another question, what was the process for deciding what to add in, what to not include to the story? Is there still anything you would want to add if you still could to the adaptation, or are you happy with the overall product now?
Dave discussed the process in one of his first posts: it was, basically, down to me (with suggestions from Michael Bakewell, and the producers Jane Morgan and Penny Leicester); the arrangement of the material after the breaking of the Fellowship follows, as closely as possible, the dates given by Tolkien in his appendices.

Of course I would do it differently NOW... But, yes, I am happy with it as it stands - except for the mistakes, which irk me, and one or two moments where I wish we'd had more time - either for the script to escape being cut or to have been able to better perfect a scene... But, then, I've lived with it for 27 years!!
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:18 AM   #93
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Since Mac lives, as I do, in Germany, I'd like to point out that there is yet another possibility for obtaining the recordings here. der hörverlag has LotR, Hobbit, Sil, and Perilous Realm available not only in German translation, but also in the original English: LotR They can be ordered in bookstores and are usually delivered within a day or two.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:29 AM   #94
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Since Mac lives, as I do, in Germany, I'd like to point out that there is yet another possibility for obtaining the recordings here. der hörverlag has LotR, Hobbit, Sil, and Perilous Realm available not only in German traslation, but also in the original English: LotR They can be ordered in bookstores and are usually delivered within a day or two.
Cool cover art! I'll have to buy a copy!
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:38 AM   #95
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The cover looks like it must be a John Howe illustration, though I haven't yet found the small print that says so. However, in the booklet I did find that the introductory words are written by: Brian Sibley!


edit - I found the small print. It is by John Howe.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:46 AM   #96
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The cover looks like it must be a John Howe illustration, though I haven't yet found the small print that says so. However, in the booklet I did find that the introductory words are written by: Brian Sibley!


edit - I found the small print. It is by John Howe.
Then I really AM going to have to buy it!!
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Old 02-28-2008, 07:12 AM   #97
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I was disappointed that we weren't able to get the original cast back together (it was several years later and Ian Holm was already spending quite a lot of time in Hollywood) because, sadly, this meant that it could never really work for anyone who had listened to the original LOTR broadcasts and didn't make much sense on its own to anyone who hadn't!
I've said before that I've always felt that the Old Forest/House of TB/Barrow Downs section is pretty self contained, with a beginning, middle & end, & can be done as a stand alone story. Nigel Planer as Frodo took a bit of getting used to if you know him as Neil from the Young Ones.

I was pleased that in the LotR adaptation you took into account that we hadn't been told that Merry had a sword from the Barrow & that when he stabs the Witch King his sword only serves as a 'distraction' (I think the Witch King says something like 'Halfling, you sting like a flea!').

One thing I will always be grateful to you for is in showing (as with Faramir later) that this episode, & Tom in particular, can work in a dramatisation. It annoys me when people simply dismiss the possibility as an excuse for not attempting it. The fact is that an adaptor who knows what they're doing can make the episode work well. Its the same with Faramir - the movie makers' constant refrain that they 'had to change Faramir's character because he woudln't have worked in a movie' always irked me. Tolkien's Faramir does not have to be changed into a thug (the beating of Gollum) who's only concern is getting Daddy's approval in order to be believable. In short, I think your adaptation worked so well because you clearly both loved & trusted Tolkien, whereas the movie makers always seemed afraid to just do that, & as a result a lot of stuff was changed unnecessarily or simply invented as a way of avoiding taking any 'risks'.

And I'll always be grateful for the fact that the Balrog in your adaptation didn't have wings
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Old 02-28-2008, 07:53 AM   #98
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And I'll always be grateful for the fact that the Balrog in your adaptation didn't have wings
It didn't?
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:28 AM   #99
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I think Dave and others have already said most of what can be said about this... What is lost? A fascinating character... A episode of unexpected dangers... A indication that TREES are not always what they seem to be... An oasis of peace at Tom's house providing a moment's respite on the trail... An opportunity to know that there are those (or at least one) who is untouched by the power of the Ring...

What is gained by cutting Tom? Keeping up the momentum of Frodo's flight and the Riders' pursuit... In Tales of the Perilous Realm, these chapters took TWO half-hour episodes, so, if it had been included in the original broadcasts, these scenes would have needed to be compressed to a point of being, probably, meaningless...
Now here's a thorny question. If you had been given a whole extra hour of Auntie's time, would you still have cut out Tom?

At least, speaking as an out and out Tom-nut, you did the cut coherently. What bothered me with the films was that where a change had to be made, it so often messed about with the integrity of narrative and character. It might be fun to listen to the early episodes but with the further adaptation of the three Tom chapters inserted into place.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:59 AM   #100
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Now here's a thorny question. If you had been given a whole extra hour of Auntie's time, would you still have cut out Tom?
Unfair!! I might have done, but a lot of other good material was also cut that - had there been time - might have cried out for reinstatement...

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At least, speaking as an out and out Tom-nut, you did the cut coherently. What bothered me with the films was that where a change had to be made, it so often messed about with the integrity of narrative and character. It might be fun to listen to the early episodes but with the further adaptation of the three Tom chapters inserted into place.
I tried this - some years ago - but the changes in everyone's voices (and having 'Gandalf' as narrator) was just too distracting. However, content-wise, I think, it works...
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:24 PM   #101
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from davem

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One thing I will always be grateful to you for is in showing (as with Faramir later) that this episode, & Tom in particular, can work in a dramatisation. It annoys me when people simply dismiss the possibility as an excuse for not attempting it.
One listens to the radio with their ears and supplies the pictures in their mind. That is a huge difference compared to a film in that we get the whole thing and the mind does not do much other than process it. What you see is what you get.

Tom Bombadil was a visual train wreck as written. On the screen he would have been a total disaster and that would have started with that dreadful costume. On radio, that visual handicap is removed quite nicely.

One cannot compare two different types of medium and draw conclusions about the quality of one based on the essence and features of a different one.
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:48 PM   #102
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from davem
One listens to the radio with their ears and supplies the pictures in their mind. That is a huge difference compared to a film in that we get the whole thing and the mind does not do much other than process it. What you see is what you get.
But if a listener 'supplies the pictures in their mind' then they do experience the episode 'visually'. If the episode is not a 'visual train wreck' in my head when I read it/listen to the radio adaptation then I can't see that it would inevitably be so if it was put on screen.

Now, I accept that it wouldn't have worked in Jackson's movie, but I don't think that means it couldn't have worked per se. Talking eagles would not have worked (let alone singing ones) in Jackson's movie either. If you claim that 'x' couldn't work in a movie or other visual dramatic representation you're also saying, by extension that its impossible to visualise - because if a reader/listener can picture the episode as they read it/listen to it then it can also be put on screen. Now, you may not want to see it on screen, or want anyone else to see it on screen, but that is not at all the same thing as saying its impossible to put it on screen. Certainly I've heard plenty of people say that the Bombadil/Old Forest/Barrow Downs episode is impossible to dramatise in any form, but I think Brian's adaptation disproves that completely - because it does work[/i]. Of course, you'd have to hear it to appreciate how well it works. And I think if you do hear it you'll see that it could be translated into a visual form.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:01 PM   #103
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Davem ... I have not one iota of criticsim of the radio play including Bombadil. And I take no issue with you at all that his inclusion worked in that medium. Kudos to Brian Sibley and the others responsible for that accomplishment.

I imagine if one were making a film of the LOTR as something rather surreal or an other wordly, other dimensional like Dr. Seuss then you could try to include Bombadil and it might work. But Jackson opted for a realistic world, and a more serious one which had no room for that character.

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If you claim that 'x' couldn't work in a movie or other visual dramatic representation you're also saying, by extension that its impossible to visualise - because if a reader/listener can picture the episode as they read it/listen to it then it can also be put on screen.
Just because some people can see it in their minds eye does not mean it can be put on film successfully. A person can read the most disgusting description of violence but process it so that it is softened and they can accept it. The same with anything else they read. On a film screen that does not happen because it is all there for you and your only choice is to look away or reject it by laughing at its absurdity. I am afraid that when you combine the visual of TB along with his doggerel poetry, the result would have been the latter one in theaters around the world. And that does not make for a successful film.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:12 PM   #104
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I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. We've argued over this point before on other threads & I want to keep this one focussed on the radio series - of course, if you want to start up a thread on different possible approaches to adapting Tolkien to film I'd be happy to jump in.
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:53 PM   #105
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Weathertop to a Hall of Fire

Today I listened to the period of Weathertop and the Lay of Luthien, to the attack by the five Nazgul, to the journey to Weathertop to the reunion with Bilbo.

Before I begin, I want to share one thing on Frodo and the Cow Jumped Over the Moon. I think it is ok for Ian Holm not to have 'sung' the song. I think that of the many wonderful characteristics of Frodo, he may not have been able to carry a tune. Then again, I am one of those people who can do a lot of things, but I cannot sing well (well, my wife says if I sing alone I have a wonderful voice!).

So today I had a little less time as I was on the cell with someone about a rather large presentation I have tomorrow.

I began with the four hobbits and Strider on Weathertop. The shadows of evening were falling and night had come on. The hobbits wanted to learn more of Gil-Galad and Frodo started, but when they go to the part on Mordor, Strider changed the subject and told them of Luthien and Beren. I really enjoyed here how Strider let them know of the lay without all the in depth details. I feel this is really in tune with the story in the FOTR. I could see the moon rising and meaning it was late; something as a backpacker and camper I can readily imagine!

As the Nazgul attacked, I realized today that their noise reminded me of a snake hiss, or even a cat hiss. Maybe some Cryptozoologist would love to decipher that sound, (any hints on what it is?), but I think it is very appropriate because it does remind me of a creature who is bold and treacherous, using every means to hunt it's prey. Not sure that is what you met, but it is what comes into my mind. It reminds me of a big cat hiss like a mountain lion, and since the Nazgul to this point seem to use cunning, their senses like smell to hunt, it might be a good connection. I imagine their actions to be almost cat like as well, bold and swift, strong and silent.

I felt that the actual attack on Weathertop was handled as I would want an adaptation to be. The main points were covered and it reached the image into my mind. A question I have here for anyone is we know that the daggers of the hobbits carried magic/spells on them that were hurtful to the Nazgul (or at least the Witchking). So was it the name of Elbereth that was hurtful by itself, or did the Witch King see the threat of the dagger and that was his fear? Perhaps a combination of both?

The journey to Rivendale was quick for me today. I need to re-listen because I thought that the part where the travellers discover Bilbo's trolls was missing. I could be wrong as I am really tired today but would love to hear if anyone else missed it? I like that part in the book and in adaptations because it links The Hobbit to the FOTR.

I am SO glad also in this part that Glorfindal's horse did not sound like sleigh bells, or a big cow bell, or Santa and his merry reindeer. I think that part is hard to come up with, a sound to distinguish Asfaloth from the horses of the Nazgul. The transition of the flood and Frodo fading to waking up with Gandalf was well handled.

I know some will differ with me, but I like the adaptation in the audio. I felt that the conversation between Frodo and Gandalf seemed to shine, and for the first time, Michael Hordern really seem to capture the role for me. He is able to show Gandalf in a variety of roles. I think for me, this is where he began to emerge in the adaptation.

Again we can see where mention to an event in the story is given a nod towards, but in earnest to move the story along the actual feast scene is only mentioned. Thus there is no Gloin interaction. Instead, Gloin's role is given to his son, Gimli. I'm fine with this as Jackson also did something similar in FOTR by showing several dwarfs with an older one with Gimli at the council. The conversation between Frodo and Bilbo in the Hall of Fire was a nice reunion and one that has to be done. I agree with this decision to keep the reunion in the adaptation and just giving a nod to the feast, with an emphasis on the most important part . . . Arwen's life and her and Aragorn's love.

Well, Sam came for Frodo so he could get his rest, and I have a rather large day tomorrow so it is off to bed for me. Tomorrow will be the Council I do believe!

Brian, I haven't added my two cents, but I want to thank you so much on a personal level for the adaptation. I love and enjoy listening to it once or twice a year and it makes a commute enjoyable. As a father and someone who was raised to read, this was a gift I wanted to give to my children. Your adaptation played a huge role in getting my kids when they were young to become readers, and I mean readers, people who digest a book and enjoy it.
More importantly, the adaptation got my kids using their imaginations to see things in their minds, and this carried over to their reading (into their play and thus into their lives). As a result, besides becoming critical thinkers, they are very, very creative. So thanks again for all your efforts. None of us never know when something we do will have an impact on someone so many years later!

Cheers!
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Old 02-29-2008, 02:37 AM   #106
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I want to share one thing on Frodo and the Cow Jumped Over the Moon. I think it is ok for Ian Holm not to have 'sung' the song. I think that of the many wonderful characteristics of Frodo, he may not have been able to carry a tune.
True... I think it would have been better for him to have recited the verses... Still, unlike the film, at least it is there!!!

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As the Nazgul attacked, I realized today that their noise reminded me of a snake hiss, or even a cat hiss. Maybe some Cryptozoologist would love to decipher that sound, (any hints on what it is?), but I think it is very appropriate because it does remind me of a creature who is bold and treacherous, using every means to hunt it's prey. Not sure that is what you meant, but it is what comes into my mind. It reminds me of a big cat hiss like a mountain lion, and since the Nazgul to this point seem to use cunning, their senses like smell to hunt, it might be a good connection. I imagine their actions to be almost cat like as well, bold and swift, strong and silent.
An interesting interpretation of the sound. If I remember rightly and my memory may well be faulty, the actors playing the Nazgul exhaled at the microphone and this sound was then 'treated' radiophonically.

My recollection is hazy, but I think that our reasoning was that the name of 'Elbereth' was what repelled the Witch King, since the knives were not those taken from the Barrows...

Except, of course, if you follow the argument put forward on this forum that the Tom Bombadil/Barrow-Downs incidents COULD have occurred but are simply not reported, then they may, indeed, have had those blades!

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The journey to Rivendale was quick for me today. I need to re-listen because I thought that the part where the travellers discover Bilbo's trolls was missing. I could be wrong as I am really tired today but would love to hear if anyone else missed it? I like that part in the book and in adaptations because it links The Hobbit to the FOTR.
No, the trolls were omitted. Sorry. I remember being envious when I first saw the Trollshaws figures created for the Jackson film and thinking that he's done something visually that we hadn't done... But in the end, I believe, we had to wait for the extended version to see them!

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Brian, I haven't added my two cents, but I want to thank you so much on a personal level for the adaptation. I love and enjoy listening to it once or twice a year and it makes a commute enjoyable...

...More importantly, the adaptation got my kids using their imaginations to see things in their minds, and this carried over to their reading (into their play and thus into their lives). As a result, besides becoming critical thinkers, they are very, very creative. So thanks again for all your efforts. None of us never know when something we do will have an impact on someone so many years later!
Wow... You (and everyone on this forum) are terribly kind... And now I'm going to share a small confession with you all...

For several years after TLOTR, I used to get very frustrated about being described and introduced to people as "The man who did the radio Lord of the Rings..." It was especially irksome when reviewers referred to it when writing about whatever my current project was...

I was employed to write the 'narrative' on Jeff Wayne's long-forgotten concept album, Spartacus, on the strength of LOTR... I was allowed to dramatise C S Lewis' 'Chronicles of Narnia' and, later, Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan and Gormenghast for radio because of it (and won a Sony radio Award for the Peake plays) but I was still described as "The man who....." And I resented it like H***!

Nowadays, when I can't get a single project on radio and most people in the BBC have never heard of me and haven't the faintest idea what I have done, I am rather more humble!

I have learned - as well need to do - that, for the most part in life, we do not know what effect our work or deeds have in the wider world --- which is, perhaps, the best arrangement for things!

Like Tolkien's Niggle we may aim to create the most beautiful painting of a tree imaginable, but if we are remembered for even a single leaf then that is an achievement - a blessing - for which the artist should be very grateful... And, believe me, I am!
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Old 02-29-2008, 04:42 AM   #107
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Brian, sorry for going off the beaten track, but have you ever thought of using this leverage on being 'the guy who created the radio lord of the Rings' into perhaps touting the idea of making a TV mini series of Lord of the Rings, over three 'Seasons' if you like.

I remember touting this idea on the Downs here a while back. I worked out (after finding out how long the unabrdiged narrative of lotr recordings takes) that one could split the work to three 18 episode Seasons - (i.e. an hour long, with commercial breaks - so just over 40 mins an episode to make the 54 hours up that the narration takes)

I know this is pie in the sky - but have you ever thought of the idea of making an (almost) word for word adaptation of the books for TV? (re costs, maybe the DVD market could help the BBC pay for this, rather than adding to my licence fee of course!)

I even started a script on this for a laugh a year or so back - it's actually quite fun - my only issues were how, from a dramatic point of view, you show stuff in real time or how Tolkien wrote the book - ie Gandalf's escape from Orthanc and the Balrog - and Frodo and Sam in Mordor at the same time as other members of the fellowship etc.

anyway, perhaps you'd like to be known as the guy who created the TV mini series of LOTR as well as the radio adaptation!
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Old 02-29-2008, 05:11 AM   #108
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Brian, sorry for going off the beaten track, but have you ever thought of using this leverage on being 'the guy who created the radio lord of the Rings' into perhaps touting the idea of making a TV mini series of Lord of the Rings, over three 'Seasons' if you like.
It's a cool idea, but I've no doubt that the TV rights are now well and truly sewn-up. I'm sure they were owned by Zeantz at one time and I suspect they have passed on to New Line/United Aritists/MGM or some combination thereof... For example, a few years ago the amateur rights in 'The Hobbit' were retained by the estate (and I got permission to do a production of my own adaptation) but then, a year or eighteen months ago, those rights were signed over to Zaentz...

Besides, I'm not sue I'd have the stamina for a second quest...
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:15 AM   #109
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Actually what I'd really like to see is book about the series, including the full scripts, pictures, cast interviews, transcript of Christopher's pronunciation tape, etc. I suspect there would be a lot of interest in such a project. Maybe BBC Books, or Harper Collins would bite? After the slew of books about the movies (mostly by Brian himself) it would be nice to get something about the series as well. A nice large format p/b (like the movie tie-ins) with the wonderful Eric Fraser painting on the cover ....

Maybe we should start a petition....
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:05 AM   #110
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Unfair!! I might have done, but a lot of other good material was also cut that - had there been time - might have cried out for reinstatement...
Hmmm, does this mean there are some 'out-takes' and deleted scenes lurking in the cellars of Broadcasting House?

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No, the trolls were omitted. Sorry. I remember being envious when I first saw the Trollshaws figures created for the Jackson film and thinking that he's done something visually that we hadn't done... But in the end, I believe, we had to wait for the extended version to see them!
I think that leaving them out was a sensible move myself. The stone trolls don't 'do' anything beyond prompting more tales and to try to portray them coherently in an audio format would have taken up far too much time I think. The one benefit of film/TV is that you can simply make a sculpture of something like that (or the fallen 'head' decked in flowers at the Crossroads - for another example) and have it sitting in the background while dialogue or action is happening.

Of course the listener to the radio version is always free to imagine the things the group might be passing on their way to Rivendell.

Anyway. I'm intrigued about these radio plays of the Gormenghast books now and I'm going to have to see if I can find a copy of those! I hope I can - and maybe they will become more widely known because one thing I've noticed is that Peake's work is finally getting a bit more recognition these days - he even shares double billing with Tolkien in next week's episode of The Worlds of Fantasy!
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:18 AM   #111
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That's a great idea, davem! I'd buy that book for sure. "Making of.." books and documentaries are quite popular, and Tolkien fandom is large enough to make such a project financially feasible.

Now to the second CD - I'm gradually catching up. Aragorn's voice did take some getting used to for me - he's one of my most favouritest ( ) characters, and though my inner voice is vague, it definitely lets me know what's not quite right. I did get used to it though, and he sounds older and more mature than FilmAragorn.

Though I missed the bath song, among other things, it's quite understandable that it should be left out. After all, I can still read the missing passages in the book. I really enjoyed the number of songs and poems that were included as well as dialogues such as the testimony to friendship in the 'conspiracy' scene. Tolkien's words there can't be topped - "You can trust us..."

"All that is gold..." is included, which I enjoyed very much, as well as the "fair/foul" lines. I liked Sam's singing of the Gil-Galad song. And that most important moment at the Ford of Bruinen, which makes the scene infinitely better than the weakness of MovieFrodo - "By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me!" is triumphant!

I grew up in a family that read a lot, and family readings were a regular thing even when we children were able to read on our own. I dearly love the experience of being read to that these recordings give me!
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Old 02-29-2008, 09:10 AM   #112
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Hmmm, does this mean there are some 'out-takes' and deleted scenes lurking in the cellars of Broadcasting House?
I wish! None of that material was kept and all the music tracks were later 'wiped'...

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I'm intrigued about these radio plays of the Gormenghast books now and I'm going to have to see if I can find a copy of those! I hope I can - and maybe they will become more widely known because one thing I've noticed is that Peake's work is finally getting a bit more recognition these days - he even shares double billing with Tolkien in next week's episode of The Worlds of Fantasy!
The BBC never issued the plays on CD, but there are still copies of the audio cassettes. You'll find details on my website (on this page - towards the bottom!) Brian's CD and Cassette recordings. The plays starred Sting (as Steerpike) with Freddie Jones, Bernard Hepton, Sheila Hancock, Eleanor Bron, Judy Parfitt et al...

Now... BACK TO MIDDLE-EARTH, PLEASE!!
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Old 02-29-2008, 09:13 AM   #113
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Actually what I'd really like to see is book about the series, including the full scripts, pictures, cast interviews, transcript of Christopher's pronunciation tape, etc. I suspect there would be a lot of interest in such a project. Maybe BBC Books, or Harper Collins would bite? After the slew of books about the movies (mostly by Brian himself) it would be nice to get something about the series as well. A nice large format p/b (like the movie tie-ins) with the wonderful Eric Fraser painting on the cover ....

Maybe we should start a petition....
Yep! Good idea, Dave, except... The BBC considered the idea of a Scripts Book some years ago, but felt, in the end, that the time for TLOTR - in terms of wide-ranging, popular merchandising - was past... Sorry to keep being a wet-blanket... Who knows, maybe, if The Hobbit happens...

Last edited by Brian Sibley; 03-01-2008 at 03:16 AM. Reason: correction
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Old 02-29-2008, 11:32 AM   #114
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For example, a few years ago the amateur rights in 'The Hobbit' were retained by the estate (and I got permission to do a production of my own adaptation) but then, a year or eighteen months ago, those rights were signed over to Zaentz...
Interesting- so the Estate is not nearly so anti-adaptations as its detractors would have us believe.
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Old 02-29-2008, 11:53 AM   #115
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Which reminds me of something I wanted to ask Brian....

I've heard you say a couple of times that when you first suggested adapting LotR for Radio 4 you were surprised to be told that the BBC were actively negotiating the radio rights. What I was wondering was whether Christopher Tolkien required, as part of those rights, that he should approve the scripts, or was your sending them to him merely a matter of courtesy? And did he retain any right to 'veto' anything he didn't approve of - not that I'm suggesting he'd need to, just wondering whether he had that right included in the original contract. And if there had been something in the scripts that you liked but he didn't, would you have changed it?

Actually, I'm just interested to know the extent of his involvement beyond making the tape (oh, & do you know what actually happened to that tape? I wish you'd played more of it on that far distant day at the Church House Bookshop.....)

And, now I think of it, does the BBC still own the radio rights, or did they just negotiate for this one production?
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Old 02-29-2008, 06:45 PM   #116
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Rivendell to the Red Horn Pass

I didn't have much listening time today (but will tomorrow driving home from the conference). Today I listen to the council of Elrond, to the departure, to the Red Horn Gate and the snowfall blocking them.

I enjoyed the Council of Elrond and especially liked Elrond's adaptation. He is more in line with what I feel Elrond is like (at least for me). No disrespect to Hugo Weaving, I just didn't like the adaptation that Elrond actively tried to stop the union of Aragorn and Arwen in the movie adaptations. In the movies Elrond reminds me much more of Thingol. In this adaptation Elrond recognizes that he cannot control who his daughter falls in love with (and isn't that so very true for those of us who have daughters!) but he is in a position to set the terms that her husband will have to fulfill.

Not sure if this is the place, and this might be a new thread to make in the book section, but I have always marveled at the contrast between Elrond and Thngol. Both had daughters who fell in love with mortal men and plodded their troths to them. Both fathers set conditions to that had to be fulfilled prior to the marriage occurring. This is where I go back and forth for Thingol gave Beren such a insurmountable task, almost a certain death sentence in his mind. Was Elrond's condition as drastic as Thingol's? Was becoming king of both Gondor and Arnor also almost a insurmountable task? Based on the book and the radio adaptation I have always felt that Elrond felt there was a hope, even if it was only a fool's hope. I still feel that Thingol was spiteful to Beren to where Elrond was securing his daughters future legacy. Also, I think Elrond might have guessed that this was the way that Luthien's line would continue on til the end of the world. Or it just could be that Elrond was a overly protective father. Guess I am just thinking aloud.

Anyway, I have to say that whenever I hear Michael Cox's speaking as Boromir I see in my mind's eye Ralph Bakshi's version of Boromir and I don't know why. Boromir to me has never looked like an Viking warrior (Viking's didn't wear horns). I imagine Boromir as a noble Norman knight from William I's era. I think that is because of his instance to use the ring for victory, not thinking of the cost, just full steam ahead and ram it down the enemy's throat. Please don't take this to mean that I don't enjoy Mr. Cox's Boromir, I do, and I think his portrayal brings to me a strong willed Boromir who is like all of us, susceptible of falling to the evil and temptations of the ring. I just have to get that image out of my head though.

One of the things that stuck out to me (and I know the pause before Frodo's acceptance of the task of ringbearer has been discussed) is that Elrond and for that matter, I think Gandalf have seen something in Frodo that is fore-ordained for taking this task. I guess the question that came to me today in listening then is what did Elrond see in Frodo that made him guess that if Frodo did not find a way, no one would? Was it Frodo's ability to withstand the evil of the ring? Did Elrond's relationship with Bilbo give Elrond insight into hobbits ability to withstand the evil of the ring? For me it goes to what Bilbo and Frodo were focused on, others and not themselves; unselfishness vs. selfishness; friendship vs animosity; hope vs. despair etc.

This nature also I think is why Gandalf convinces Elrond to allow Merry and Pippin to go. One thing I noticed and I may have to look back on the thread is the bell that rings right before Frodo accepts the task. Is that just because the bell was letting us know sometime had pass and then Frodo accepts?

The journey south is uneventful. The scene with the carrion is removed and that is easy to understand why. The debate between Gandalf and Frodo follows the book and the march up the RedHorn is one I enjoy. I love the banter between Gandalf and Legolas on the sun and the actors here nailed the dialogue I felt. I love Sam's "if this is a shelter then a house is one wall with no roof" comment also. What an interesting contrast this scene with Sam will be versus how he acts in Mordor and on Mt. Doom.
Another thing I love in this scene are the fell voices in the storm. If you listen carefully, they are there in the background and that was a very nice and subtle affect. I love how this scene shows how the power of Sauron has grown long enough to reach out 300 leagues and bring that bad of weather on the ground.

Another thing I noticed today is that Caradhras was evil in nature long before Sauron was every heard of. This for me shows much like the Matterhorn and other mountains in the Alps (and in the world for that matter), have developed a bad reputation about them.

Well, I guess I got more out of the short listening today that I thought. An observation though. I read the complete trilogy once a year and yet in listening to the adaptation it still brings many new insights and thoughts to me. Just another sign of what an excellent work it is!
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:15 AM   #117
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Now you see, there's always one who has to charge ahead of everybody else...

We're only up to Episode Three, & Frodo has just accepted the Quest. He'll be setting out with his Fellows on Sunday. At the moment he's still safely in Rivendell

I suspect, AJ, that you've been following a set of cunningly disguised decoys sent out by Elrond to distract the Servants of the Enemy...
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Old 03-01-2008, 03:12 AM   #118
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Which reminds me of something I wanted to ask Brian....

I've heard you say a couple of times that when you first suggested adapting LotR for Radio 4 you were surprised to be told that the BBC were actively negotiating the radio rights. What I was wondering was whether Christopher Tolkien required, as part of those rights, that he should approve the scripts, or was your sending them to him merely a matter of courtesy? And did he retain any right to 'veto' anything he didn't approve of - not that I'm suggesting he'd need to, just wondering whether he had that right included in the original contract. And if there had been something in the scripts that you liked but he didn't, would you have changed it?
I can't now remember - and, indeed, was probably not even told - the terms of the BBC deal with the Tolkien Estate.

Before I came onto the project, the BBC had been negotiating - for some time, I believe - with Saul Zaentz whom, it was assumed, owned the radio along with the film and theatrical rights in TLOTR. Only after the BBC had paid SZ the agreed fee did it somehow emerge that the radio rights were never part of the original deal with JRRT.

Zaentz returned the payment and fresh negotiations were entered into with the Tolkien Estate.

I doubt that the BBC would have agreed to his having a power of veto and I do remember very clearly that we were not allowed to say that the series was 'approved' or 'endorsed' by Christopher Tolkien. My understanding was that CT was shown the scripts as a courtesy and because we wanted his advice and the benefit of his knowledge.

He was shown my original 'synopsis' (the scene-by-scene breakdown of the 26 episodes) which included the page numbers of each section (one volume paperback for convenience) and similar references where material was taken from The Hobbit and Unfinished Tales, as well as indicating cuts and omissions.

He was then show each of the finished scripts which he critiqued - pointing out errors in detail or chronology, asking questions and making suggestions. I know Michael Bakewell has said that CT asked why Pippin was so stupid (Michael frequently used Pippin to ask questions so that other characters could deliver passages of essential information necessary for the audience's understanding of what was going on) but I can't recall other specific instances of his responses... Sorry! It is over 25 years ago...

Somewhere, someone probably has those letters... Or maybe, like the original tapes, they have been 'lost'...

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Actually, I'm just interested to know the extent of his involvement beyond making the tape (oh, & do you know what actually happened to that tape? I wish you'd played more of it on that far distant day at the Church House Bookshop.....)
I have a copy of the tape -- or, I should say, a tape because I have since heard the Church House Bookshop recording in which I say that we had to ask Christopher for more tapes...

Anyway, I have the first and included, with permission, a snippet of it on the 'bonus' disc to the 'Collector's Edition' [the 'Ring' tin] -- titled, like everything else, 'Microphones in Middle-earth' -- which, as you will have seen on my website, is currently being sold by Amazon for somewhere in the region of Ł200!

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And, now I think of it, does the BBC still own the radio rights, or did they just negotiate for this one production?
I doubt it... Not that the present-day BBC would ever embark on a re-make. In fact I doubt they will ever re-broadcast the series on Radio 4. They wanted to broadcast it on their archive channel - Radio 7 (who only give minuscule token payments for repeats) - but abandoned the idea because of the copyrights involved - which would include those of the rights-holders. It is possible that the Estate don't even control the radio rights any longer.
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Old 03-01-2008, 06:08 AM   #119
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Thanks so much for that

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I have a copy of the tape -- or, I should say, a tape because I have since heard the Church House Bookshop recording in which I say that we had to ask Christopher for more tapes...
I really wish I could have heard more of that recording - CT seemed quite self-effacing: I'm thinking of the 'Thengel/Thenjel' thing & the mention of the error on the map being his fault (Hithaeglin rather than Hithaeglir). Now, I note from checking my first edition copies that Hithaeglin only appears on the First edition maps, & was corrected to Hithaeglir for the Second Edition - so, were you working from the First Edition map or was that just an interesting typo on the list you sent CT?

I love that Church House recording - though I'm not sure Stephen Oliver's annecdote on the afternoon he spent teaching the Ambrosian Singers the song from the Field of Cormallen would be quite acceptable in these more PC times ('Like teaching disabled children to sing God save the Queen'!). I also had to laugh at the reaction he got from the audience when he said that he found Tolkien's verse to be 'poor' - I'm surprised he got out of there alive


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I doubt it... Not that the present-day BBC would ever embark on a re-make. In fact I doubt they will ever re-broadcast the series on Radio 4. They wanted to broadcast it on their archive channel - Radio 7 (who only give minuscule token payments for repeats) - but abandoned the idea because of the copyrights involved - which would include those of the rights-holders. It is possible that the Estate don't even control the radio rights any longer.
I did read somewhere that LotR is the most requested programme for a repeat on Radio 7. I don't expect to hear the series broadcast again, sadly the BBC seems to be a lot less adventurous as regards radio drama these days. I doubt they'd commision anything like LotR again. Puts paid to my dream of a Silmarillion dramatisation - or even a Children of Hurin...
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Old 03-01-2008, 06:53 AM   #120
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Now, I note from checking my first edition copies that Hithaeglin only appears on the First edition maps, & was corrected to Hithaeglir for the Second Edition - so, were you working from the First Edition map or was that just an interesting typo on the list you sent CT?
I was working from the 2nd Impression of the Second Edition (1967) and the map in that edition shows Hithaeglir as Hithaiglin.

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I did read somewhere that LotR is the most requested programme for a repeat on Radio 7. I don't expect to hear the series broadcast again, sadly the BBC seems to be a lot less adventurous as regards radio drama these days. I doubt they'd commision anything like LotR again. Puts paid to my dream of a Silmarillion dramatisation - or even a Children of Hurin...
A few years ago, I had a short-lived discussion with the BBC about The Silmarillion when they were thinking of having a Tolkien Day with sections of TS broadcast throughout the day. It came to nothing...
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