MEDiA: The Hobbit, Tolkien (BBC R4) [Audiobook]

“One morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green…”

More archival doings. Opening up a new (old!) chapter on Tolkienian Middle-Earthiness!

Whilst I’ve read very varied views on this adaptation, personally I love it. Anthony Jackson is good as the ‘Tale Bearer’, a story telling device of the producers (i.e. not of a strictly Tolkien-ian pedigree), Paul Daneman is a lovably flustered Bilbo (slightly posh and middle aged, which is as Tolkien wrote him), and Heron Carvic – more famous, perhaps, as the original author of Miss Seeton novels – is, for me, an excellent Gandalf.

A full-cast dramatisation, with excellent sound from the radiophonic workshop, this production also benefits from some highly unusual and individual music. This is an aspect of the production some find unattractive, according to my researches, but I’m with the actor Michael Kilgariff, who adapted the 1937 book for this 1968 radio play/serial, and agree that the music actually helps make the production.

Like the books, The Hobbit is aimed at a younger audience than the LOTR, and this version stands, in relation to the BBC LOTR, in exactly the right relation, like a younger sibling. There are aspects that I’m less keen on, such as the voices of some of the creatures, e.g. the Spiders of Mirkwood, or Roarc the old talking crow. But, all things considered these are minor gripes. 

Even now, as ‘big kids’, we love listening to this. It’s atmospheric, fun, by turns ‘epic and homely’, evoking a world at once alien and yet familiar. Love it!

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