The Road Goes Ever On: The Lord of the Rings BBC Radio Series fanlisting

The Radio Series

The three volumes of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings were adapted into 13 one-hour episodes by Brian Sibley and Michael Bakewell. The first episode was broadcast on 8 March 1981; the series has been periodically repeated, and in cassette and CD format has gone on to become one of the most successful BBC 'audiobooks'. To coincide with the release of the Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, the series was restructured and marketed in three volumes corresponding to the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings, with newly recorded prologues and epilogues read by Ian Holm as Frodo reflecting on the task of recording the History of the Ring.

Even 13 hours of air time was not quite enough for the entire story, and the part set in the Old Forest and the Barrow Downs, in which the Hobbits meet Tom Bombadil, was omitted from the dramatisation. However, unlike the later film trilogy, the radio series does include the scouring of the Shire. With the exception of the omission of a couple of other characters such as Fatty Bolger, the series makes very few changes in the story as told by Tolkien - far fewer than the movies. The order in which events are narrated is a little different, as the dramatisation of the story required Frodo and Sam's story to be interwoven with that of the other members of the fellowship, rather than told in two distinct narratives as it is in the books.

The Cast

Fans of the movies will recognise the name of Ian Holm (Bilbo in the films) who played Frodo for the radio series. Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum), provided the voice of the same character in the 1978 animated version by Ralph Bakshi.

Gríma Wormtongue
Farmer Maggot
Lord of the Nazgul
Mouth of Sauron

The Narrator
Ian Holm
Michael Hordern
Robert Stephens
Peter Woodthorpe
John Le Mesurier
William Nighy
Richard O'Callaghan
John McAndrew
David Collings
Douglas Livingstone
Michael Graham Cox
Peter Vaughan
Andrew Seear
Jack May
Anthony Hyde
Elin Jenkins
Peter Howell
Paul Brooke
Hugh Dickson
Marian Diamond
Simon Cadell
Stephen Thorne
James Grout
John Bott
Philip Voss
John Rye

Gerard Murphy

The Music

Music for the series was composed by Stephen Oliver. His musical settings allowed the series to include many of the the poems from the books, including 'A Elbereth Gilthoniel', 'The Battle of Pelennor Fields' and 'Gil-Galad was an Elven King'. The series also included a setting of 'Bilbo's Last Song', an additional poem written by Tolkien in 1966 and published posthumously.

The Episodes

Episode descriptions are taken from the cassette inserts

Episode 1: The Shadow of the Past: Bilbo Baggin's birthday ends with a bang and Frodo is entrusted with the magic ring, and counselled by Gandalf to keep it safe and to keep it secret.

Episode 2: The Black Riders: Frodo sets out on his long journey carrying the Ring with him. He's accompanied by Sam Gamgee, and two other hobbits, Merry and Pippin, though they know that the Black Riders, servants of the Dark Lord, are in pursuit. Then at the Prancing Pony they meet a man called Strider.

Episode 3: The Knife in the Dark: At Weathertop Frodo is wounded by the Nazgûl, but Sam's wish to see the elves is granted and the company arrive at Rivendell, where Frodo is made happy by the presence of Bilbo. The decision is made to destroy the Ring and Frodo realises that he must take it, even though he doesn't know the way.

Episode 4: The Ring Goes South: The Company of Nine, with Frodo as the Ring-bearer, set off on their journey. They are attacked by wargs and Gandalf leads them to the mines of Moria, where they have their first encounter with orcs and Gandalf is faced by the most powerful and terrible of Sauron's servants - the Balrog.

Episode 5: The Mirror of Galadriel: The Company of the Ring reach Lothlórien, the fairest of the dwellings of the elves and Frodo and Sam look into the mirror of Galadriel and see something of the future. Galadriel resists the temptation of the Ring, but when the company set off again it proves too much for Boromir.

Episode 6: The Breaking of the Fellowship: With the death of Boromir the Fellowship is irretrievably broken: Frodo and Sam set off on their own to Mordor, but take an unlikely guide - Gollum. Pippin and Merry follow Treebeard, and the rest of the company are led by Gandalf who has found his way back from the darkness.

Episode 7: The King of the Golden Hall: Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes on their way to Mordor, while Pippin and Merry follow Treebeard and the Ents in their assault on Isengard. And King Théoden, Lord of the Mark, goes to war against the enemy in company with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, and battle is joined at Helm's Deep.

Episode 8: The Voice of Saruman: Saruman's honeyed words fail to win over Théoden, and he, Gandalf and Aragorn decide that they must fight the enemy at Minas Tirith. Pippin inadvertently looks into the Palantir but Aragorn takes the deliberate risk of showing himself to Sauron, hoping to divert attention from the Ring-bearer who is having to follow Gollum ona dangerous route to Mordor.

Episode 9: The Two Towers: Faramir, son of Denethor, gives his friendship to Frodo and Sam and shows his quality - he, unlike his brother Boromir, does not desire the Ring. He warns Frodo of the danges of the route Gollum is taking them on, but Frodo has no choice. Pippin gives his service to Denethor, the Lord and Steward of Minas Tirith, and Aragorn takes the Paths of the Dead and calls upon the oathbreakers of Dunharrow to join in the fight against the enemy.

Episode 10: The Choices of Master Samwise: In Shelob's lair Frodo is attacked and Sam leaves him for dead, taking the Ring so that he can finish the task. But orcs capture Frodo and prepare to take him to the stronghold of Barad-dûr. In Minas Tirith Denethor seems defeated by the odds against him as the Lord of the Nazgûl rides out with the Morgul army.

Episode 11: The Battle of Pelennor Fields: In the Battle of Pelennor Fields the Lord of the Nazgûl is killed but Théoden is slain and Éowyn and Merry are injured and taken ot the Houses of Healing where Aragorn proves that the hands of the king are the hands of a healer. He also brings balm to Faramir whom Gandalf prevented from dying in the funeral pyre which Denethor built for himself and his son. It is decided to march towards Sauron to keep the Eye away from Frodo and Sam who make their escape disguised as orcs.

Episode 12: Mount Doom: Frodo brings the Ring to the Crack of Doom, and the deeds of the halflings are celebrated in music. Aragorn is crowned King and the hobbits set out to return to the Shire.

Episode 13: The Grey Havens: The hobbits have one more task to do: to remove Saruman from the Shire and to put it to rights. And then comes the final parting as Frodo goes beyond the Sundering Seas.