‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (Audio)

  

‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Road Goes Ever On…

This is a great ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio series! I’m very pleased I purchased it! 🙂

I became a ‘LOTR’ fan in 2003 from watching the film trilogy! I discovered this radio series at a DVD/CD shop in Cardiff in 2004. First broadcast in 1981, it was later re-arranged into three volumes. I decided to go for this radio series and I immensely enjoyed it, as it’s a brilliant listening experience.

The ‘LOTR’ radio series stars Ian Holm as Frodo Baggins (who also played Bilbo Baggins in the ‘LOTR’ film trilogy). There’s also Michael Horden as Gandalf, Robert Stephens as Aragorn, John Le Mesurier (Sgt. Wilson from ‘Dad’s Army’) as Bilbo Baggins, Peter Woodthorpe as Gollum and Bill Nighy as Sam.

The first of the ‘LOTR’ radio series – ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ – was spread out on a 4-disc CD set in 2001. Inside, there’s a sleeve notes booklet containing the cast list, track listings and production notes by Brian Sibley, who adapted and dramatised the ‘LOTR’ radio series with Michael Bakewell. 🙂

The track listings with its time durations are well-planned out. I know the ‘LOTR’ radio series has been reissued over the years and is available to purchase as a download from Audible. I treasure the 2001 CD editions of the ‘LOTR’ radio series and I’m pleased to review them on ‘Bradley’s Basement’.


Michael Horden, John Le Mesurier and Ian Holm in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio series.

DISC 1
1. THE HISTORY OF THE RING (8m 44s)

‘Fellowship’ begins with a ‘prologue’, featuring newly recorded material of Ian Holm as Frodo in Bag-End after the events of the ‘LOTR’. I like this new opening sequence with Frodo. I believe Ian Holm recorded these new ‘prologue’ scenes for the radio series whilst he played Bilbo Baggins in the films.

We then cut to the actual story of the ‘LOTR’, narrated by Gerard Murphy, who is a superb narrator throughout. The history of Middle-Earth is given about how Sauron forged the One Ring of power, before the battle against Mordor in the Second Age takes place and before Gollum acquires the ring.

There’s then Peter Woodthorpe as Gollum searching for his ‘precious’ in Mordor. I love Peter Woodthorpe’s performance as Gollum in the ‘LOTR’ radio series. It’s not Andy Serkis, but it’s just as gurgling and hissy as in the movies. It’s funny when Gollum said “agessss” and went “Gollum!” in this. 🙂

Gollum is then found by Philip Voss as the Lord of the Nazgûl who takes him to Barad-dûr in Mordor to be questioned and tortured. The torture scenes with Gollum are quite intense to listen to compared to the movies. He gets whipped and ‘turned on the wheel’ whilst he’s being questioned. 😐

John Rye as the Mouth of Sauron questions Gollum on why he came to the land of Mordor. Gollum gives answers through torture that he was looking for his ‘precious’, which was stolen by Bilbo Baggins in ‘The Hobbit’. Gollum soon reveals Bilbo came from the Shire as he’s being interrogated. 😦

2. A LONG EXPECTED PARTY (9m 26s)

17 years earlier before Gollum was captured in Mordor, we cut to the Shire where we meet the hobbits. I like the early scenes where the hobbits are chatting to each other in a pub. There’s John Church as Gaffer Gamgee, Gordon Reid as Ted Sandyman and Leonard Fenton as Daddy Twofoot. 😀

It turns out that Mr. Bilbo Baggins is having a birthday party, as he’s 111 years old. Wow! Even for a hobbit, that’s quite a good age. We soon meet Bilbo and his nephew Frodo in Bag End. I love John Le Mesurier’s performance as Bilbo Baggins. It’s hard to imagine Sgt. Wilson is playing Bilbo in ‘LOTR’. 😀

Bilbo and Frodo soon receive letters of reply to the party invitations from Sam Gamgee before they receive a visit from Gandalf the wizard. Michael Horden is brilliant as Gandalf in the ‘LOTR’ series. I can’t help imagine him as Gandalf from the movies, but Michael Horden’s voice is wonderful to hear.

The party scenes soon take place. They don’t last long, as we have a number of fireworks setting off before Bilbo announces that supper is ready. We then cut to Bilbo Baggins making his birthday speech to everyone at his birthday party. He soon vanishes by putting a magic gold ring on his finger.

I liked how John Le Mesurier’s Bilbo Baggins makes his speech, which feels more fleshed out and detailed compared to the movie version. We hear what the two Sackville-Baggins make of Bilbo’s speech in this. Bilbo’s disappearance is a surprise to everyone, especially once a few fireworks go off.

3. THE PRECIOUS (8m 30s)

Bilbo soon returns to Bag-End with Gandalf seeing him off. It’s interesting how Gandalf’s entry to find Bilbo at Bag-End differs from the film. From the audio and I believe the book, Gandalf seems to walk into Bag-End via the front door instead of appearing to Mr. Bilbo into the living room by magic.

There’s more conversation between Bilbo and Gandalf about Bilbo’s decision to leave Bag-End and the Shire compared to the film. There are familiar lines such as Bilbo feeling ‘stretched, like butter scrapped over too much bread’ included in this scene in the radio series compared to movie version.

In the radio drama, Bilbo is reluctant to part with the ring as he was in the film. I like how it’s handled in the radio version compared to the film. John Le Mesurier doesn’t sound angry as Ian Holm did it as Bilbo. Gandalf also gives Bilbo a warning to not make him angry compared to the film.

A flashback sequence then takes place, featuring Bilbo and Gollum from the ‘Riddles in the Dark’ chapter of ‘The Hobbit’. This was the first time I came across something ‘Hobbit’-related. It was before I read that scene in ‘The Hobbit’ book and before I saw the scene in ‘An Unexpected Journey’.

After the flashback, Gandalf persuades Bilbo to give up the ring. Bilbo agrees, as he leaves the ring behind with everything else in Bag-End for his nephew Frodo. Bilbo soon leaves the Shire, as he says goodbye Gandalf and sings ‘The Road Goes Ever On’ on his way. I enjoyed John Le Mesurier’s singing.

4. ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL (13m 39s)

Frodo later turns up at Bag End with Gandalf there. Frodo is saddened about Bilbo now gone before he’s told he’s been given the ring as well as Bag-End. Gandalf soon leaves, as he’s become worried about the ring. Gandalf tells Frodo to take care of himself. Frodo is bemused once Gandalf is gone. 😐

We then cut to 17 years later where Sauron has become aware of Baggins and the Shire. He orders the nine Black Riders of Mordor to seek for the Shire; find Baggins; and recover the ring. The Ringwraiths in the radio series are terrifying. Their hisses and snarls send shivers once I heard them. 🙂

Back at Bag-End, Gandalf returns to reunite with Frodo, before he warns him about the ring being dangerous. This is different compared to the film. Gandalf simply calls at Frodo’s doorstep rather than breaking in through the window in the film. Gandalf tells Frodo they’ll talk about it tomorrow. 🙂

Next day, Frodo and Gandalf have breakfast. They also smoke some pipe-weed before Gandalf shares with Frodo about why the ring is very dangerous. I enjoyed how Gandalf gives his explanations to Frodo, which are fleshed out and detailed compared to the film. Gandalf soon asks to see the ring.

He then puts the ring on Frodo’s little house fire, before the ring glows its markings and a voice seemingly speaks out from it. It says the “One Ring to Rule Them All” verse in Mordor language whilst Gandalf translates it. Gandalf gives the history about the ring to Frodo and how Sauron lost it.

5. THE SHADOW OF THE PAST (7m 31s)

The conversation between Gandalf and Frodo continues, as Gandalf tells Frodo about Gollum. Another flashback scene occurs with Sméagol and Déagol finding the ring. This scene sounds the same as the film version’s in ‘The Return of the King’, though Sméagol doesn’t say “My precious!” 😐

Gandalf tells Frodo the rest of the ring’s history before informing him that Sauron knows about Baggins and the Shire. Frodo becomes afraid and wishes Bilbo killed Gollum. This scene is similar to the one in the movie version in Moria. Interesting how this scene was originally occurred in Bag-End.

Frodo tries to offer the ring to Gandalf, but Gandalf tells Frodo not to tempt him. Frodo then suggests trying to destroy it, but Gandalf tells him a hammer and an ordinary fire wouldn’t destroy it. He then tells Frodo that the only way to destroy the ring is to throw it into the fires of Mount Doom.

It’s amazing how Frodo seems to bravely take on the task, as he considers leaving the Shire and going on his own to destroy the ring by taking it to Mordor. Gandalf, like in the movie, is amazed by Frodo’s spirit. Eventually, Gandalf discovers Samwise Gamgee ‘eavesdropping’ whilst he’s gardening.

I love it when Bill Nighy plays Sam in the ‘LOTR’ radio series. You wouldn’t believe it was Bill Nighy, as he sounds like Sam as depicted in the ‘LOTR’ movie series. Sam reveals to Frodo and Gandalf what he overheard. It’s then decided that Sam should go with Mr. Frodo, to which Sam is overjoyed about.

6. THE TREACHERY OF SARUMAN (11m 54s)

Days later, Gandalf announces to Frodo that he’s leaving the Shire for a short while. He suggests to Frodo that he makes for Rivendell, where he can take the ring out of the Shire. He also tells Frodo to go by a travelling name which is ‘Mr. Underhill’ in order to avoid being recognised as ‘Mr. Baggins’. 🙂

As Gandalf leaves the Shire and makes for Bree, he meets with Donald Gee as Radagast the Brown, another wizard. Yes! That’s right! Radagast makes an appearance in the ‘LOTR’ radio series. This was the first time I came across Radagast on audio before I saw him in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy. Amazing!

Radagast tells Gandalf about the nine Black Riders that are ‘aboard again’. He tells Gandalf that he was sent by Saruman the White, who suggests he’d see him if he needs anything. Gandalf tells Radagast to get the birds and animals to report any news of anything at Isengard, before he sets off.

In the Shire, there’s another scene between Gaffer Gamgee, Ted Sandyman and Daddy Twofoot as they talk about Frodo selling Bag-End to the Sackville-Baggins. Meanwhile, at Orthanc in Isengard, Gandalf meets the wizard, Peter Howell as Saruman. Saruman reveals his true ‘colours’ to Gandalf. 😐

Gandalf refuses to cooperate with Saruman and he’s sent up to the top of Orthanc for two months, but with no wizard fight. After two months, Gwaihir of the eagles (voiced by Alexander John) rescues Gandalf and takes him to Edoras. It’s interesting the eagles can talk in radio compared to film trilogy.

7. THE BLACK RIDERS (5m 05s)

At Edoras in Rohan, Gandalf seeks help from Jack May as King Théoden. I’m amazed that there’s a scene set in Edoras in Rohan in ‘Fellowship’ before ‘The Two Towers’ takes place in the ‘LOTR’ radio series. 😀 It helps to explain how Gandalf had escaped from Isengard to find Frodo compared to film.

However, Gandalf receives no help from King Théoden. Paul Brooke as Gríma Wormtongue turns up to say that Saruman is their ally, matching to what he said in ‘The Two Towers’ film. Gandalf asks Théoden to let him take a horse to be on his way. Théoden bitterly agrees to Gandalf’s request here.

The Black Riders meanwhile turn up at Isengard to meet with Saruman. I enjoyed this scene and how Saruman interacts with the Lord of the Nazgûl on what they want. Saruman tells the Nazgûl to seek out for Gandalf who knows where the ring and where the Shire is. At that, the Black Riders set off. 😐

But as they ride off to find Gandalf, the Black Riders meet up with Gríma Wormtongue who’s on his way to Isengard. The Lord of the Nazgûl gets from Wormtongue to tell him where the Shire is. It’s interesting how Wormtongue interacts with the Nazgul. The Black Riders soon head off for the Shire.

Meanwhile, Gandalf finds and takes a horse named Shadowfax to ride forth out of Edoras to the Shire. I’m equally surprised to find Shadowfax making an appearance in ‘Fellowship’ before ‘Two Towers’ compared to the film. It does establish how Gandalf managed to get Shadowfax as his horse.

8. GOODBYE, BAG-END (3m 54s)

The last track on Disc 1 of ‘Fellowship’ returns us to Bag-End in the Shire. Frodo moves out of Bag-End with Richard O’Callaghan as Merry helping him, as he makes to settle in Buckland. Merry goes on ahead of Frodo for Buckland. I like how Frodo and Merry interact here since they joke together. 🙂

Later on, Frodo has his last meal at Bag-End with Sam and John McAndrew as Pippin, before they set off for Buckland. Frodo has a sense of sadness as he leaves Bag-End behind, whilst also wondering what’s become of Gandalf lately. As Frodo, Sam and Pippin leave for Buckland, they all sing a song. 🙂

As soon as Frodo, Sam and Pippin have gone, Gaffer Gamgee receives a visit from one of the Ringwraiths at his door. It was disturbing and creepy when the Gaffer met the Ringwraith. It’s also amusing, as the Gaffer takes no nonsense and isn’t convinced the Black Rider is a ‘friend’ of Frodo’s. 🙂


Ian Holm, Robert Stephens and John Le Mesurier in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio series.

DISC 2
1. THE ROAD GOES EVER ON (7m 31s)

Disc 2 of ‘Fellowship’ begins with Frodo, Sam and Pippin waking up after a long walk before continuing their journey to Buckland. It was funny that Frodo gets frustrated about not having a comfortable bed and he wakes Sam and Pippin up. Pippin plays a joke on Sam to get breakfast ready.

I like how Frodo reflects on his journey with his friends, questioning on what he has in mind. He quotes the song ‘The Road Goes Ever On’ for this reflection. He also says the familiar line given to him by Bilbo that is in the film, which goes, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door….”

As Frodo, Sam and Pippin continue their journey; a Black Rider soon turns up looking for the hobbits. Frodo initially assumes it is Gandalf and he suggests he and the hobbits get out of sight to give the wizard a surprise. I assume the hobbits get underneath a big clearing under a tree root as in the film.

This Black Rider scene where the hobbits hide is quite scary, as it is in the film. But they’re soon out of danger. What’s interesting about that scene is that Frodo is tempted to put the ring on, as he hears Gandalf’s voice echoing words about what the One Ring is all about from Disc 1 of ‘Fellowship’.

The hobbits are understandably scared once the Black Rider is gone. Frodo suspects that the Black Rider is looking for and smelling for him. Pippin is easily frustrated about Frodo’s secretiveness and what they should do next on the road. The hobbits soon hear an unearthly cry that terrifies them. 😐

2. MUSHROOMS (7m 24s)

Eventually, Frodo, Sam and Pippin come to the farm of Farmer Maggot. This is different in the radio series compared to the film version. All we saw of Farmer Maggot was him shouting at the hobbits to clear off. In the radio series, the hobbits meet John Bott as Farmer Maggot and he’s quite friendly.

But this friendliness has an edge to it. Maggot doesn’t like trespassers and can be a terror to them with his ferocious dogs. Frodo is terrified about seeing Farmer Maggot again, since he remembers the time when he was caught stealing mushrooms from him. The dogs made matters worse for him.

As the hobbits meet Farmer Maggot and go inside his house, they’re told about what happened before they arrived. Farmer Maggot received a visit from a Black Rider who had enquired about Baggins. Maggot, with his dogs, threatened the Black Rider to clear off, yet he found him intimidating. 🙂

Frodo decides that he and the hobbits should leave as soon as possible. Maggot manages to persuade the hobbits to stay the night at his place before they journey to Buckland. Frodo gradually agrees. It’s amazing that Farmer Maggot was keen to let the hobbits stay at his place for the night. 🙂

The next day, the hobbits and Farmer Maggot meet up with Merry. I found it tense and amusing when Farmer Maggot and the hobbits didn’t know who it was at first before it was revealed to be Merry. Frodo is given a bag of mushrooms by Maggot. This must be a running joke in this chapter. 😀

3. A CONSPIRACY UNMASKED (5m 50s)

In this chapter, Frodo sits with Sam, Merry and Pippin in his new home in Buckland. It’s meant to feel like Bag End. Such a shame Frodo didn’t spend enough time in Buckland to enjoy his new home. Pippin then shares with Merry about what happened to them, as he tells him about the Black Riders.

Frodo soon discovers that Merry and Pippin know about the secret business concerning him and the ring. Merry and Pippin offer to go with Frodo, but Frodo is unwilling to take them on. It’s soon revealed that Sam was responsible for telling Merry and Pippin about Frodo’s business with the ring.

This gets Frodo annoyed and angry with Sam, despite Sam’s best intentions to get more companions to help his master on his perilous journey. This scene is wonderfully played between the characters. Sam, Merry and Pippin show their determination to accompany Frodo, at which Frodo’s overjoyed. 🙂

Pretty soon, the four hobbits set off for Bree. They sing a song on the journey from Buckland to Bree. This is something that the four hobbits never did when they journeyed to Bree in the film. In fact, they were escaping for their lives from a Black Rider who was trying to chase them and catch Frodo.

The four hobbits eventually arrive at Bree without any trouble at all. Merry suggests that they stay at the Prancing Pony inn, which is of course where Gandalf is expected to meet them. Frodo reminds his friends that he’s to be called ‘Mr Underhill’ from now on in Bree; not to be called ‘Mr. Baggins’. 😐

4. STRIDER (12m 10s)

The four hobbits arrive at the Prancing Pony inn and they meet James Grout as Barliman Butterbur. I like James Grout’s performance as Barliman Butter in this version of ‘LOTR’ on radio. He’s funny and forgetful when he runs the Prancing Pony. I wish we’d seen more of Barliman Butterbur in the films.

Frodo and his friends manage to settle in nicely at the Prancing Pony. This is different to the uncomfortable, queasy atmosphere of the Prancing Pony in the film version of ‘LOTR’. Butterbur enters in to kindly invite the four hobbits ‘to join the company’ and entertain them in the main bar. 🙂

Frodo, Sam and Pippin decide ‘to join the company’ in the main bar whilst Merry decides to go for a walk outside. They soon meet Robert Stephens as Strider, who seems to know about Frodo’s business. This is uncovered as the four hobbits begin making a show of themselves ‘to the company’.

Frodo tries to stop Pippin from showing them up. But it’s not long till Frodo sings a song to everyone about ‘the cow that jumped over the moon’. This results in Frodo tripping over and soon vanishing with the ring on his finger. This is an unusual and amusing take on the scene compared to the film. 🙂

When Frodo, Sam and Pippin meet Strider in their private home, he tells them what he knows about their business and he offers to accompany them on their journey as their guide. Frodo doubts Strider can be trusted. They are soon interrupted by Butterbur who comes to visit them and say ‘goodnight’.

5. A LETTER FROM GANDALF (9m 12s)

Butterbur also apologises profusely to Frodo. He reveals that he was meant to be looking out for hobbits of the Shire on Gandalf’s behalf. One of these hobbits was called Baggins going by the name of ‘Underhill’. Butterbur gives Frodo a letter from Gandalf, which he was supposed to deliver to him.

I like how Frodo gets agitated with Butterbur, taking the letter from him and asking Butterbur why he never sent it. Butterbur never sent the letter because he frankly forgot. He promises to make amends. I really like how Butterbur gets developed as a character throughout the ‘LOTR’ radio series.

Strider also reveals himself to Butterbur. Butterbur is frustrated when Strider is with the hobbits and doesn’t trust him. Strider challenges his suspicions. I like how the Black Riders are revealed to come from Mordor, shocking Butterbur. Butterbur is soon willing to help the hobbits out of their danger. 🙂

It soon transpires that Merry is missing. Butterbur sends his servant Nob to look for him. I found it very creepy when a Black Rider was out at night, breathing deeply and Nob was calling for Merry. I’m not really sure what went on in that scene, but it was very disturbing and eerie to listen to on audio.

Frodo eventually reads Gandalf’s letter. He learns that Strider is a friend of Gandalf, whose true name is Aragorn. After answering a few suspicions from Sam, Strider confirms his identity as Aragorn by showing the broken sword Narsil to the hobbit. It’s then agreed Strider will be the hobbits’ guide.

6. A RAID ON THE PRANCING PONY (7m 08s)

This chapter begins with Merry running in to tell Frodo that he’s seen the Black Riders. I like how Nob and Merry share what they saw when they went out at night. Merry’s story of seeing the Black Riders was disturbing. Strider makes suggestions to the hobbits on protecting themselves at night. 🙂

Strider and Nob work with Butterbur on these arrangements and Butterbur agrees to keep watch at night. It’s interesting how this differs from the film, as the hobbits do stay in different bedrooms during the night. But we don’t hear the actual sequence of the Black Riders breaking into the rooms.

During the night though, Frodo does have a troubled dream about the Black Riders. Whether these dreams were true or not, it’s hard to say. But it does make for scary audio drama, as Frodo wakes up the next morning and he, Strider, Sam, Merry and Pippin get ready to make an early start of the day.

But Butterbur runs in to tell Strider and the hobbits that there’s been ‘a raid on the Prancing Pony’. This alters things for their plans, as the hobbits have lost their ponies and can’t set off as originally planned. Butterbur does all that he can to find one pony for the hobbits’ luggage on their journey. 😐

Butterbur does manage to find a pony for Strider and the hobbits. The pony happens to belong to an evil man named Bill Ferny, who may have given away the hobbits to the Black Riders at night. I like how Frodo says goodbye to Butterbur and hopes to return, as he and the others set off for Rivendell.

7. WEATHERTOP (7m 59s)

A while later, Strider and the hobbits make a rugged journey into the wild. They make their way through the Midgewater Marshes. I like how the Midgewater Marshes scene in the radio version of ‘LOTR’ echoes the film version, since Sam asks what the midges ‘eat when they can’t get at a hobbit’.

Strider and the hobbits eventually come to the summit of Weathertop. I like how the hobbits ask questions to Strider about the history of Weathertop in connection to Elendil and Gil-galad. Sam soon bursts into song about ‘Gil-galad was an Elven king’. I think Bill Nighy’s got a good singing voice.

More backstory is given to Sam, as he learnt the song from Bilbo Baggins who translated it from an Elven text. Aragorn confirms this further when he mentions the Fall of Gil-galad. There’s also mention of Mordor which shudders the hobbits and Aragorn suggests they don’t talk about Mordor.

Very soon, Strider and the hobbits arrive at Weathertop. They discover Gandalf had been to Weathertop before them. It’s intriguing how Gandalf manages to get to Rivendell before Frodo and the others do. Shadowfax must be a pretty swift horse. 🙂 Where did Shadowfax go next afterwards? 😀

Strider and the hobbits soon become aware that they’re not alone and they’re being watched. They prepare in case the Black Riders attack. I found it eerie and unnerving that Strider and the hobbits were being watched at this point. Intriguing that Strider stays with the hobbits and he doesn’t leave them. 🙂

8. A KNIFE IN THE DARK (8m 19s)

The last chapter on Disc 2 of ‘Fellowship’ has Strider and the hobbits staying the night at Weathertrop. During the night, they gather around a campfire. Strider tells the story of Beren and Lúthien to the hobbits. I really like how Strider shares this tale to the hobbits around the campfire. 🙂

It also strengthens Strider’s character about who he is, as he as Aragorn is in love with Arwen. The tale of Beren and Lúthien was hinted at briefly in the extended film version of ‘Fellowship’. Here in the radio version, more detail is given and it’s so interesting how Strider shares this with the hobbits.

Pretty soon, Strider and the hobbits are attacked by the Black Riders. It was tense when the Black Riders turned up and they and the ring (I think) managed to persuade Frodo to put the ring on. Frodo soon gets stabbed by the pale king with a poisonous blade, before Strider scares them away.

Strider and the hobbits check up on Frodo to see how he is. Ian Holm’s interpretation of Frodo suffering from the wound of the Morgul blade was unnerving to listen to. Frodo gasps a lot as the blade’s effects take toll on him. Soon, Strider and the hobbits have Frodo taken from Weathertop. 😐

They try to make for Rivendell to have Frodo cured. But the beginning of their journey to Rivendell is more dangerous with the Black Riders still about. Pippin suggests that they should go back on the road instead of going through the woods. Strider agrees, as he and the hobbits head back on the road. 🙂


Ian Holm, Michael Horden and John Le Mesurier in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio series.

DISC 3
1. FLIGHT TO THE FORD (4m 17s)

Disc 3 of ‘Fellowship’ begins with Strider and the hobbits getting off the road and hiding, as they hear a horse coming. By this point, Sam has named the pony Bill after his former owner Bill Ferny in Bree. Soon, a white horse turns up. Its rider turns out to be Glorfindel (not Arwen) from Rivendell. 🙂

It’s interesting that the book and the audio differ from the movie version, as Arwen doesn’t have a major part to play in the story. I mean, okay, she didn’t have a major part to play in the films either, but at least Peter Jackson’s movie-making team tried to give more screen-time to Arwen in ‘LOTR’. 🙂

Glorfindel has been searching for Frodo since the elves in Rivendell heard word he’d been carrying a heavy burden. As Glorfindel takes Frodo on his horse, they ride for Rivendell. The Black Riders of Mordor soon catch up, as they attempt to take the One Ring off from Frodo at the Fords of Bruinen.

A wave of water gets summoned to drown the Black Riders at the Fords of Bruinen. I’m not exactly sure what happens in that moment, as it could be either Glorfindel or Frodo that summoned the wave of water. The movie version is different, as Arwen summoned the wave while Frodo was weak.

2. MANY MEETINGS (13m 36s)

In the next chapter, Frodo wakes up to finds himself in bed with Gandalf at his bedside. Frodo is cured at Rivendell, after Elrond took a splinter of the Morgul blade out from him. Frodo and Gandalf catch up with each other. Frodo learns that Gandalf was held captive and a lot of exposition occurs.

Later on, Frodo meets up with Sam. That moment where Sam holds Frodo’s hand matches to how it was in the movie version. Sam soon takes Frodo down to meet up with Merry and Pippin. They reunite with Gandalf, who warns Pippin not to call Frodo ‘the Lord of the Ring’. This is quite unusual.

The four hobbits and Gandalf soon head off to have a feast with Elrond, which never gets heard on audio. They soon explore Rivendell and Frodo notices a little figure sleeping in one of the halls. Gandalf and the hobbits go over to meet the sleeping little figure. It turns out to be Bilbo Baggins. 😀

Frodo is delighted and overjoyed once he’s reunited with Bilbo. I found the reunion between Frodo and Bilbo lovely. It was tense when John Le Mesurier got to do his ‘Gollum’ moment when wanting the ring. It’s not like how Ian Holm did it as Bilbo in the movie, but it was effective and tense to hear.

Strider/Aragorn then turns up to meet Frodo and Bilbo, before going off to find Lady Arwen. I liked it when Bilbo told Frodo about Aragorn and Arwen, although we don’t get to hear Arwen speak in the audio version of ‘Fellowship’. Sam turns up to collect Frodo, as there’s a council meeting tomorrow.

3. THE COUNCIL OF ELROND (14m 34s)

We then have the Council of Elrond scene. This is a pretty lengthy scene, matching to how lengthy the scene was in the book and not much happening except people talking. But I enjoyed how the characters interacted with each other and shared viewpoints, discussing what to do about the ring. 🙂

At the Council of Elrond, Frodo is with Gandalf, Strider/Aragorn, Glorfindel and Bilbo. Frodo also meets Douglas Livingstone as Gimli the dwarf, David Collings (who’s been in many ‘Doctor Who’ stories) as Legolas the elf, and Michael Graham Cox as Boromir, ‘a man from the south’ at the meeting.

The council meeting is coordinated by Hugh Dickson as Elrond. Elrond introduces Frodo to Gimli, Legolas and Boromir before he asks Gimli to speak first on why he’s come to Rivendell. Gimli shares a flashback scene with a messenger from Mordor. Elrond tells the full tale about the ring to everyone.

Boromir also shares a dream he had which features the song ‘Seek for the Sword That Was Broken’. Bilbo also contributes to the meeting by recounting his adventure with Gollum. Gandalf later says the words of the ring in Mordor language before he translates the words for everyone to hear about.

More debate is made about the ring before it’s decided to cast it into the fires of Mount Doom, despite some protests by Boromir about utilising the ring. The scene ends with Frodo making the decision to take the ring to Mordor. Sam then joins in at the end to accompany Frodo off to Mordor.

4. THE NINE WALKERS (7m 49s)

Months later, Elrond gathers Frodo and Sam, as the time for their journey to Mordor must begin soon. Elrond then assembles a company of nine to Mordor to help Fordo on his journey. As well as Frodo and Sam, Elrond chooses Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas and Gimli to join in on the quest.

Merry and Pippin also join the company, much against Elrond’s wishes. I like how Elrond expresses his reluctance to let Merry and Pippin go with Frodo and the others to Mordor. Gandalf manages to convince Elrond otherwise. Pippin informs Elrond he’ll have to tie him up ‘in a sack’ back to the Shire.

Later on, Aragorn has the king’s sword Narsil reforged anew and it’s given a new name: Andúril – Flame of the West. This is different compared to the movie version. Aragorn received his new sword Andúril in ‘ROTK’. Aragorn also seems less vulnerable in the radio series compared to the film trilogy.

Meanwhile, Bilbo gives Frodo his elf sword Sting and a shirt of dwarf mithril to protect him on his journey to Mordor. I liked this scene, as the dialogue between Frodo and Bilbo is wonderfully performed by Ian Holm and John Le Mesurier. I’m astonished John Le Mesurier is playing Bilbo here.

The next day, Boromir sounds his horn of Gondor, which annoys Elrond a bit. The nine travellers seem to be ready, just as Sam takes Bill the pony with them on their journey. Sam checks everything before he realises he has no rope. The Fellowship departs, as Elrond wishes them well on their journey.

5. CRUEL CARADHRAS (8m 05s)

The first part of the Fellowship’s journey begins when they make their way up the Misty Mountains. As they climb higher, they attempt to pass Caradhras, the snowy mountain and the Red Horn Gate. There’s a lot of debate between our heroes, as they choose going either for Caradhras or into Moria.

There’s a scene between Gandalf and Aragorn that Frodo overhears when he’s supposed to be asleep at night. Gandalf and Aragorn talk about choosing between Caradhras and Moria. Aragorn begs Gandalf not to mention Moria unless absolutely necessary. Gandalf chooses Caradhras instead.

The nine travellers journey up the snowy mountains and are uncomfortable with the freezing blizzards. Sam expresses his discomfort and wishes that the snow would go to Hobbiton instead. There’s this moment where the Fellowship hear voices in the air trying to bring down the mountain.

I’m not sure if it’s Saruman who’s casting a spell on the mountain to delay the Fellowship’s journey to Mordor. It’s never stated or confirmed in the radio series that it’s Saruman doing it. But based on what I’ve seen from the film version, I’m willing to believe that it was Saruman casting those spells. 🙂

Very soon, the nine travellers begin to climb back down Caradhras after being defeated. Aragorn and Boromir attempt to fork a path through the snow, but even that fails them. I like how Gimli calls out, “Enough! Enough, Caradhras!” It seems that Gimli treats a mountain as a person than anyone else. 🙂

6. AT THE DWARF GATES TO MORIA (12m 39s)

As our heroes get back down from the mountain, Gandalf suggests another way to get past the Misty Mountains. He suggests the way by going into the Mines of Moria. Many are against this path, including Legolas and Boromir, who have heard bad things about Moria and don’t want to enter it. 😐

Gimli supports Gandalf’s suggestion, whilst everyone debates the decision. It soon comes to Frodo to make the final decision. He doesn’t want to go to Moria either, but he doesn’t want to refuse the advice of Gandalf. As they climb down the mountain, our heroes then hear some wargs approaching.

The Fellowship soon gets attacked by wargs. This all seems to be in a snowy atmosphere, as Legolas fires his bow and arrows at the wargs and Gandalf sets trees on fire to scare the wargs away. It’s interesting the wargs appear in ‘Fellowship’ compared to the film, as they appeared in ‘Two Towers’.

Eventually, our heroes come before the dwarf gates of Moria. Sam is reluctant to part with Bill the pony, despite Gandalf saying they won’t be able to get the pony into Moria. Gandalf soon finds the dwarf gates to Moria and tries to open them with his spells. This doesn’t work and he gets annoyed.

Thankfully, Merry (not Frodo) gives Gandalf the answer, as he uses the elvish word for ‘friend’ to open the doors. The Fellowship manages to get inside Moria, after being attacked by a ‘watching’ creature with tentacles. Once in Moria, the doors close on them. The Fellowship ventures deep into the dark.

7. A JOURNEY IN THE DARK (11m 03s)

The Fellowship journeys deeper into Moria and they have some rests on the way. The journey into Moria does seem laborious and grim, especially as our heroes have to travel in the dark all the time. It does feel spooky when it seems noiseless, as our Fellowship travel deeper into the dwarf kingdom.

Frodo spots something whilst they’re journeying deeper into Moria. He notices that someone with bare padded feet is following them. He doesn’t know who it is, but it’s of course Gollum. It’s interesting Frodo notices Gollum following them, but doesn’t mention it to Gandalf or anyone else.

One of my favourite moments from this chapter is when Pippin drops a stone into a well. It takes a while for the stone to hit the water and a splash occurs. Gandalf hears the splash; Pippin admits dropping the stone; and Gandalf gets to say the immortal line “Fool of a Took!”, which is very funny.

Later on, when the Fellowship has one of their rest periods, Sam learns from Gimli about the history of the dwarves. The way Gimli talks about the dwarves is in a poem or a song. It feels deep and rich when Gimli says it. In the radio series, Gimli is very different to how Gimli is in the movies. 🙂

Gandalf soon comes by to join Sam and Gimli about dwarves and Moria. Frodo is in that scene too. Gandalf talks about mithril and mentions the mithril coat Thorin Oakenshield gave to Bilbo years ago. Disc 3 of ‘Fellowship’ ends with everyone resting for the night, whilst Frodo is put on first watch.


Ian Holm and John Le Mesurier in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ BBC radio series.

DISC 4
1. DRUMS IN THE DEEP (8m 16s)

Disc 4 of ‘Fellowship’ begins with Frodo amazed that his mithril shirt from Bilbo is worth the price of the Shire. He then notices a creature approaching and watching him, which happens to be Gollum of course. It’s very intriguing how different this is in the ‘LOTR’ radio series compared to the film trilogy.

Next morning, the Fellowship comes across a hidden chamber containing the tomb of Balin, Gimli’s cousin. The reaction that Gimli gives to Balin’s death is different in the radio series compared to the movie version. The reaction is more subdued and calmer compared to be very tearful and mournful.

Gandalf and the others soon discover the book, which happens to be a diary of Moria by Balin. It contains the familiar lines of “Drums, drums in the deep” and “They are coming”. Interestingly, it doesn’t end with Pippin dropping something in the well, since this had been done on the third disc. 🙂

Very soon, orcs attack. I suppose Pippin’s stone dropping from the previous chapter caused that to happen. There’s no cave troll in the Moria chamber scene for this radio version and it seems to happen very quickly. Frodo does get stabbed by an orc spear, held by an orc, and not by a cave troll.

The Fellowship soon escapes from the chamber. Gandalf stays behind to deal with the orcs. Not sure what Gandalf was facing when he stayed behind, since all we can hear is a distant echo of it. Eventually however, Gandalf rejoins the Fellowship and they head off for the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

2. THE BRIDGE OF KHAZAD-DÛM (6m 21s)

As the Fellowship makes it way to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, they soon stop for a rest. Gandalf relates to everyone about what happened to him and whether he met the beater of drums. He then has concern for Frodo as does everyone else on how he managed to survive that orc spear into him.

They continue their way to the bridge before Gimli spots a light up ahead. But it turns out not to be daylight since it’s red. Soon, orcs come to try and attack them before the Balrog reveals itself. It was really dramatic listening to Gimil expressing cries of fear at the Balrog when it made it appearance. 🙂

Gandalf soon confronts the Balrog and tells it, “You cannot pass!” Listening to those scenes made me think of the movie version of ‘LOTR’ when Gandalf fought the Balrog. When Gandalf actually plunges the Balrog into the abyss and falls in himself, it happens so quickly once he cries out, “Fly, you fools!”

Frodo and the others are upset about what’s happened before Aragorn leads the way outside. They get attacked by orcs on the way out and Aragorn uses his sword Andúril to fight them, shouting out “Elendil!” in the process. It felt really fast when Frodo, Aragorn and the others were escaping then. 😐

They’re soon out in the open and they mourn for Gandalf. Aragorn is mournful that his prophecy of saying “Beware!” came true. Aragorn assumes leadership, as they make for Lothlórien. The scene of everyone discovering Frodo wearing the mithril coat takes place here after they’ve been to Moria. 😐

3. LOTHLÓRIEN (11m 18s)

The Fellowship soon enters Lothlórien. It’s interesting how Legolas reflects on the sorrow Lothlórien had when the dwarves caused evil to awake, creating the tension between elves and dwarves in Middle-Earth. The Fellowship soon meet Haydn Wood as Haldir, who escorts them further in Lórien.

They soon take refuge in the trees and sleep. Frodo gets woken up when Haldir pulls up a ladder, as orcs rampage through the woods of Lórien. Frodo then sees a hideous creature coming up the tree, which happens to be Gollum of course. Gollum then falls down from the tree once Frodo sees them.

The Fellowship soon comes to the city of Caras Galadhon where they meet Simon Cadell as Lord Celeborn and Marian Diamond as Galadriel. They welcome the Fellowship into Lórien, including Gimli, as apparently this is the first time that the elves have allowed a dwarf to enter into their lands.

Galadriel then asks to see Gandalf, as she desires to speak with him. This is before Celeborn and Galadriel are told the sad news that Gandalf fell in Moria. Celeborn starts to regret allowing Gimli into Lórien because of them going into Moria, but Galadirel tells him not to put blame on the dwarf.

I like Marian Diamond’s performance as Galadriel in this version of ‘LOTR’. She delivers a soft yet dangerous quality to her performance as Galadriel, which matches to how Cate Blanchett played her in the film version. Galadriel soon reads the Fellowship’s minds before she tells them to go and rest.

4. MITHRANDIR (4m 12s)

The Fellowship takes rest in their lodgings in Lothlórien as they talk about the Lady Galadriel. I liked it when Pippin asked Sam what he was blushing for. Sam says that he felt like he had nothing on and he didn’t like it. He shares that Lady Galadriel was looking into his mind and asking what he’d want.

Merry mentions feeling the same thing, but doesn’t say anymore. Gimli also mentions about being offered a choice by Lady Galadriel, yet we don’t know what that choice was. Boromir is suspicious of Lady Galadriel and asks Frodo what he experienced with her. Frodo doesn’t mention anything of it.

During the night, Frodo and Sam talk about Gandalf. Frodo puts together a poem that’s in the style of the ‘In Moria, in Khazad-dûm’ poem recited by Gimli at the end of Disc 3. Sam is impressed with Frodo’s rhyming, matching to the style of Bilbo. Frodo is very soon upset by the memory of Gandalf.

They then talk about something else, as Frodo asks Sam what he makes of the elves now. Sam finds Lothlórien far more elvish than any other place he’s ever visited. Frodo and Sam wonder whether the elves will help them. Sam is reluctant to leave Lórien and doesn’t think the elves will help much.

5. THE MIRROR OF GALADRIEL (10m 26s)

At that moment, Galadriel comes by and beckons to Frodo and Sam. She leads them to her glade and invites them to look into her mirror. It’s interesting that it’s Frodo and Sam that look into Galadriel’s mirror in the book and the radio series, as opposed to just Frodo looking into it in the movie version.

Sam and Frodo look into the mirror each in turn and see different images. I liked it when Sam looked into the mirror and became shocked by what he saw. He sees Frodo seemingly asleep; him climbing up some stairs and seeing ‘the scouring of the Shire’. Sam becomes upset, determined to go home. 🙂

Galadriel cautions Sam about returning home and says that these images may never come to pass. Sam reluctantly agrees to go home by the long road with Mr. Frodo, but hopes to get back home someday. Frodo then looks into the mirror and he sees different images compared to what Sam saw.

Frodo sees a white wizard, and he’s not sure if it’s either Gandalf or Saruman. He then sees Bilbo in the mirror as well as seeing images of what I presume are emblems of Gondor. The last thing he sees is the Eye of Sauron and the One Ring begins to drag closer to the mirror’s water as Frodo sees in it.

After Frodo’s finished, Galadriel reveals to Frodo that she bears one of the elven rings of power. Frodo offers to give her the One Ring, which she refuses. Marian Diamond’s performance as Galadriel in these scenes is mesmerising to hear, as she’s powerful and graceful as the film version. 🙂

6. FAREWELL TO LÓRIEN (9m 18s)

Next morning, Celeborn and Galadriel gather the Fellowship together to debate about what to do next as they leave Lórien. Boromir is very determined to return to Minas Tirith, which causes the indecision. Celeborn gives boats to the Fellowship for their journey through the great river Anduin. 🙂

The Fellowship also receives provisions from the elves, including the food – lembas bread. I found it funny when Gimli ate a lot of the stuff and the elves told him to eat no more. It’s different to Merry and Pippin eating the stuff. The Fellowship are also given elvish cloaks to shield them from evil eyes.

Galadriel also gives gifts of Lórien to the Fellowship. She gives Aragorn a sheath for his sword Andúril. They also talk about Arwen, which feels reminiscent from the extended movie version of ‘Fellowship’. Galadriel also gives a belt of gold to Boromir, whereas he was given nothing in the film.

Sam is given a box with the word ‘G’ on it, which Galadriel advises him to use wisely when the time comes, perhaps for a garden. The scene between Galadriel and Gimli where he asks one hair from her head was nice to hear. The performances of Marian Diamond and Douglas Livingstone are great.

Frodo is the last to be given a gift by Galadriel, as she gives him the star glass to light his way in dark places where all other lights go out. The Fellowship are soon on their way, as they leave Lórien behind. I really liked the conversation Gimli and Legolas have, as Gimli shares her love of Galadriel to Legolas.

7. THE GREAT RIVER (3m 46s)

The Fellowship soon stops for a rest at night during their journey through the great river Anduin. Sam wakes Frodo up in the middle of the night and tells him that he saw something. He mentions seeing a log with padded feet on it. He asks Frodo what he makes of it and Frodo shares his opinion.

They both agree that they’re being followed by Gollum. It’s interesting how Frodo and Sam seem to be the ones who notice Gollum following them, as opposed to the movie version where Gandalf, Aragorn and Boromir know about Gollum following them. Sam readily agrees to keep watch tonight.

Next morning, the Fellowship continues their journey in their boats through the great river. They come across the Argonath, which are statues carved into the shapes of kings of men. Aragorn is delighted to see these statues, connecting to his ancestry. The Fellowship soon reaches Amon Hen. 🙂

8. THE BREAKING OF THE FELLOWSHIP (11m 55s)

At Amon Hen, the Fellowship have a further debate about whether to carry on with their journey to Mordor or break up the company. Boromir is keen to go to Minas Tirith in Gondor and almost lets out his desire for the ring. Frodo cannot make up his mind on what to do, as he asks to be left alone.

Frodo takes a stroll in the forests of Amon Hen before he meets up with Boromir. I liked the scene between Frodo and Boromir in the radio version, as the conversation feels real and dramatic, especially when Boromir expresses his desire for the ring, as he starts to show his madness to Frodo.

Boromir tries to take the ring from Frodo, before Frodo manages to escape by putting the ring on his finger. Boromir lets out his rage after Frodo vanished, claiming that he will take the ring to Sauron. Boromir soon comes out of his mad state and realises what he’s done, before he goes off to find Frodo.

Frodo sees Boromir going off and calling him, as he decides to make the journey to Mordor alone. Aragorn soon meets up with Boromir. Boromir tells Aragorn what happened and Merry and Pippin are worried about Frodo, as they go off to find him. Aragorn, Sam and the others go to find him too.

Sam eventually finds Frodo back at the boats. He eventually starts drowning in the river before Frodo saves him in the boat. Sam soon joins Frodo, as they head off for Mordor. ‘Fellowship’ ends with Merry and Pippin about to be attacked by orcs before Boromir comes and he sounds his horn. 🙂

9. EPILOGUE (3m 37s)

Disc 4 ends with an epilogue that takes place after ‘LOTR’ with Frodo writing his book at Bag-End. Frodo is curious about how he and Sam didn’t hear the sound of Boromir’s horn. It’s interesting how these prologues and epilogues are made after the story of ‘LOTR’ takes place with Frodo in Bag-End.

There’s then the end credits read out by Brian Sibley, who details who’s who in the cast as well as the behind-the-scenes crew of the ‘LOTR’ radio series. I enjoyed these end credits, even though they’re quite lengthy, but not as lengthy as the movie versions. A lot of talented people made ‘LOTR’.

It’s interesting to note that the ‘LOTR’ radio series was originally made as a 26 episode series, with each episode lasting for 30 minutes. I prefer that this version of ‘LOTR’ is divided into three movie-styled parts as opposed to 26 half hour episodes, since it matches to the movie version a lot more. 🙂


I immensely enjoyed this radio version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ back in 2004 and still enjoy it to this day. It embraces my love for ‘LOTR’ in a new light. I enjoyed exploring more of the story; comparing what was different from the book to radio to film. The films are clear in my mind as I heard the story.

The performances of the cast are equally good, including Ian Holm, Michael Horden, Robert Stephens, John Le Mesurier, Peter Woodthorpe and Bill Nighy. I was really looking forward to checking out the next instalment on the ‘LOTR’ radio series and hoped I would enjoy it even more. 🙂

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (Audio) rating – 10/10


The story continues in

Return to Middle-Earth

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