‘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 BBC radio series of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and I’m very pleased that I purchased it!
I became a ‘LOTR’ fan in 2003 from watching the movie trilogy. I discovered this radio series at a DVD/CD shop in Cardiff in 2004. It was broadcast in 1981 and is now re-arranged into three volumes. I decided to go for this radio series and I immensely enjoyed it, as it is a brilliant listening experience.
The ‘LOTR’ radio series stars Ian Holm as Frodo Baggins, who also played Bilbo Baggins in the ‘LOTR’ film trilogy. It also stars 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’, is spread out on a four-disc CD set. Inside, there is a sleeve notes booklet that contains the cast list, the track listings and production notes by Brian Sibley. The track listings with time durations are well-planned out. They’re as follows.
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 ‘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 ‘LOTR’ narrated by Gerard Murphy, who is a superb narrator throughout. The history of Middle-Earth is given of how Sauron forged the One Ring of power, before the battle of the Second Age with Men and Elves took place and before Gollum gets 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 hissing 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 were quite intense to listen to compared to the movies. He gets whipped and ‘turned by the wheel’ while he gets asked questions.
John Rye as the Mouth of Sauron questions Gollum 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 during ‘The Hobbit’. Gollum soon reveals Bilbo came from the Shire as he gets 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 those 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 him as Sgt. Wilson as Bilbo in ‘LOTR’. 😀
The Baggins soon receive letters of reply to party invitations from Sam Gamgee before they soon 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 announcing 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 Sackville-Baggins make of Bilbo’s speech as he says. Bilbo’s disappearance is a surprise to everybody, especially when 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 take places 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. This was before I read the scene in ‘The Hobbit’ book and before I saw that scene in ‘An Unexpected Journey’.
After the flashback scene, Gandalf persuades Bilbo to give up the ring. Bilbo agrees, as he leaves the ring behind with everything 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 do like 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 being gone before being told he’s been given the ring as well as Bag-End. Gandalf soon leaves, as he becomes worried about the ring. Gandalf tells Frodo to take care of himself, as Frodo is bemused once Gandalf is gone.
We then cut to 17 years later where Sauron becomes aware of Baggins and the Shire. He orders for 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 when I heard them.
Back at Bag-End, Gandalf returns to reunite with Frodo, before warning him about the ring being dangerous. This is different compared to the film, as Gandalf simply calls at Frodo’s doorstep rather than breaking in through the window in the film. Gandalf tells Frodo they’ll talk about this next day.
Next day, Frodo and Gandalf have breakfast. They also smoke some pipe-weed before Gandalf reveals to Frodo why the ring is so terribly 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 onto 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’ in Mordor language as Gandalf translates it for Frodo. Gandalf gives the history to Frodo about the One Ring and how Sauron lost it.
5. THE SHADOW OF THE PAST (7m 31s)
The conversation continues between Gandalf and Frodo, as Gandalf tells Frodo about Gollum. Another flashback scene occurs with Sméagol and Deagol finding the ring. This scene sounds the same as the movie version in ‘The Return of the King’, although Sméagol doesn’t say “My precious!”
Gandalf tells Frodo the rest of the ring’s history before telling him that Sauron knows about Baggins and the Shire. Frodo becomes afraid and wishes that Bilbo had killed Gollum. This scene is similar to the one in the movie version in Moria. Interesting how this scene was originally early on 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. 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 this 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. Gandalf then soon discovers Samwise Gamgee ‘eavesdropping’ whilst he is 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 movie series of ‘LOTR’. 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 with.
6. THE TREACHERY OF SARUMAN (5m 05s)
Days later, Gandalf announces to Frodo that he’s leaving the Shire for a short while. He suggests to Frodo that he’d make 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 getting 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 radio series of ‘LOTR’. This was the first time I had heard Radagast on audio before I watched him in ‘The Hobbit’ film trilogy.
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 to see him if he needs him. Gandalf tells Radagast to get the birds and animals to report any news of anything dangerous, before he sets off for Isengard.
In the Shire, there’s another scene between Gaffer Gamgee, Ted Sandyman and Daddy Two-Foot about Frodo selling Bag-End to the Sackville-Baggins. Meanwhile, at the Orthanc tower in Isengard, Gandalf meets the wizard Peter Howell as Saruman. Saruman reveals his true colours to join Sauron.
Gandalf refuses to co-operate with Saruman and gets 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 scene set in Edoras, 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 movie.
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 so he can be his way. Théoden bitterly agrees to Gandalf’s request.
The Black Riders meanwhile turn up at Isengard to meet 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 is and the Shire is. The Black Riders set off to find Gandalf.
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 intriguing how Wormtongue interacts with the Nazgul too. The Black Riders soon head for the Shire.
Meanwhile, Gandalf finds and takes a horse called Shadowfax to ride forth out of Edoras to the Shire. I’m equally surprised to hear Shadowfax make an appearance in ‘Fellowship’ before ‘Two Towers’ compared to film. This does establish how Gandalf managed to get Shadowfax as his horse.
8. GOODBYE, BAG-END (3m 54s)
The last chapter 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 liked how Frodo and Merry interact with other as they joke together.
Later on, Frodo has his last meal at Bag-End with Sam and John McAndrew as Pippin, before setting off for Buckland. Frodo has a sense of sadness as he leaves Bag-End behind, whilst also wondering about what’s happened to Gandalf. 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 as the Gaffer meets this Ringwraith. It’s also amusing as the Gaffer takes no nonsense and is not convinced the Black Rider is a ‘friend’ of Frodo’s.
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 how Frodo is frustrated with not having a comfortable bed as he wakes up Sam and Pippin. 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 mentions the familiar line given to him by Bilbo that’s in the film that 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 its 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 large overhanging tree root like 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 on the ring 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 and smelling for him. Pippin gets easily frustrated about Frodo’s secretiveness and about what to do next on the road. The hobbits then hear an unearthly cry which really scares them.
2. MUSHROOMS (7m 24s)
Eventually, Frodo, Sam and Pippin come to the farm of Farmer Maggot. This is different in the radio version compared to the film. In the film, all we saw was Farmer Maggot shouting at the hobbits to clear off. In the radio version, the hobbits actually meet John Bott as Farmer Maggot who is friendly.
But this friendliness is with an edge. Maggot still 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 as well.
As the hobbits meet Farmer Maggot and come inside his house, they get told about what happened before they arrived. Farmer Maggot received a visit from a Black Rider who was enquiring about Baggins. Maggot threatened the Black Rider to clear off with his dogs, but did find him intimidating.
Frodo decides that he and the hobbits should leave as soon as possible. But Maggot manages to persuade the hobbits to stay the night at his place before journeying to Buckland. Frodo gradually agrees. It’s so amazing that Farmer Maggot was keen to let the hobbits stay at his place for the night.
The next day, the hobbits with 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 revealed to be Merry. Frodo is given a bag of mushrooms by Farmer Maggot, which 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’s happened to them and tells him about the Black Riders.
Frodo soon discovers that Merry and Pippin also know the secret business of his regarding the ring. Merry and Pippin offer to go with Frodo, but Frodo is unwilling to take them on. It soon gets 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 this perilous journey. This scene is wonderfully played between the characters. Sam, Merry and Pippin show their determination to join Frodo, to which Frodo becomes 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 as ‘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 movie 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 when the four hobbits start making a show 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 a pretty unusual, 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 offers to accompany them on their journey as their guide. Frodo doubts Strider can be trusted. They’re soon interrupted by Butterbur who comes to visit them and to 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 didn’t send the letter because he frankly forgot. He promises to make amends. I really like how Butterbur gets developed as a character through this radio series of ‘LOTR’.
Strider also reveals himself to Butterbur. Butterbur is frustrated Strider is with the hobbits and doesn’t trust him. Strider challenges his suspicions. I really like the Black Riders are revealed to come from Mordor, shocking Butterbur. Butterbur becomes 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 that scene where a Black Rider was out at night, breathing deeply and Nob calling for Merry’s surname. I’m not sure what’s going 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 some suspicions from Sam, Strider confirms his identity as Aragorn by showing the hobbit the broken sword Narsil. It’s soon agreed for Strider to 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 has 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 with 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 troubled dreams 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 everything he can to find one pony for the hobbits’ luggage on the 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’ sounds similar to the movie. Sam asks what the midges ‘eat when they can’t get at a hobbit’.
Strider and the hobbits eventually come to Weathertop before them. 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 back-story 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 on Weathertop. They discover that Gandalf has been at Weathertop before them. It’s interesting how Gandalf manages to get to Rivendell before Frodo and the others do. Shadowfax must be a swift horse indeed. What did Gandalf do with him afterwards?!
Strider and the hobbits soon become aware that they’re not alone and are 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. It’s so intriguing Strider stays with the hobbits and not 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 hobbits a story which is the tale of Beren and Lúthien. I like how Strider tells this story to the hobbits around the campfire.
It also strengthens Strider’s character on who he is, since he as Aragorn is in love with Arwen. The tale of Beren and Lúthien was hinted at briefly in the extended movie version of ‘Fellowship’. Here in the radio version, there’s more detail given and it’s 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 Striders 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 when the affects of the blade take toll on him. Strider and the hobbits soon carry Frodo off from Weathertop.
They try to make for Rivendell to get 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 wood. Strider agrees as he and the hobbits head back on the road.
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. Very soon, a white horse turns up as the rider turns out to be Glorfindal (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 did try to give more screen-time for Arwen in ‘LOTR’.
Glorfindal has been searching for Frodo since they heard word in Rivendell that he’d been carrying a heavy burden. As Glorfindal 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 Brunien.
A wave of water gets summoned to drown the Black Riders at the Fords of Brunien. I’m not sure exactly what happens in that moment as it could be either Glorfindal 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 of 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’ which is very 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 little figure asleep and it turns out to be Bilbo Baggins.
Frodo is delighted and overjoyed when he’s reunited with Bilbo. I found the reunion with Frodo and Bilbo very 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 to find the Lady Arwen. I liked when Bilbo tells 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 and shared various viewpoints in discussing what they should do with the ring.
At ‘the council of Elrond’, Frodo is with Gandalf; Strider/Aragorn; Glorfindal 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 of Gondor during the meeting.
The council meeting is coordinated by Hugh Dickson as Elrond. Elrond introduces Frodo to Gimli, Legolas and Boromir before asking 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 speaks 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 deciding it to cast it into the fires of Mount Doom, despite some protests by Boromir about using 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 and Pippin tells Elrond he’ll have to ‘tie him up in a sack’ back to the Shire.
Later on, Aragorn has the king’s sword Narsil re-forged anew and gives it a new name: Andúril – Flame of the West. This is different compared to the movie, since 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 like 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 realising 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 anything about Moria if necessary. Gandalf chooses Caradhras instead.
The nine travellers journey up on 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 when the Fellowship hear voices in the air that try 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, since it’s never stated or confirmed it is Saruman doing it in the radio series. But based on what I’ve seen from the movie version, I’m willing to believe 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 anybody 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 in 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 in 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. Our heroes then hear wargs approaching as they’re climbing down the mountain.
The Fellowship soon gets attacked by wargs. This all seems to be in a snowy atmosphere, as Legolas fires his bow and arrow on the wargs and Gandalf sets trees on fire to scare the wargs away. It’s interesting the wargs appear in ‘Fellowship’ compared to the movies as they appear 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 it with his spells. It doesn’t work though as 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 as they get attacked by a ‘watching’ creature with tentacles. Once in Moria, the doors close on them as the Fellowship ventures deep in 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 feel laborious and grim, especially as our heroes have travel in the dark all the time. It does feel spooky when it seems noiseless whilst our Fellowship travels deeper in 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 does not 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 before 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 periods of rest, Sam learns from Gimli about the history of the dwarves. The way Gimli talks of the dwarves is in a poem or a song. It feels very deep and rich when Gimli says it. Gimli is in the radio series 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 also 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 as Frodo is put on the first watch.
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 so interesting how this different this is in the radio series of ‘LOTR’ compared to the film.
Next morning, the Fellowship come across a hidden chamber containing the tomb of Balin, Gimli’s cousin. The reaction that Gimli gives to Balins’ 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 it had been done on the previous 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 with Gandalf staying behind to deal with the orcs. Not sure what Gandalf was facing when he stayed behind as all we hear is a distant echo of it. Eventually however, Gandalf re-joins the Fellowship as 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 is red. Soon orcs come to try and attack them before the Balrog reveals itself. It was pretty dramatic listening to Gimil expressing cries of fear at the Balrog when it makes 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 when 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 and Aragorn uses his sword Andúril to fight them, shouting out “Elendil!” in the process. It did feel so 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’s 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 and he said that he felt like he had nothing on and 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, but we don’t know what that choice is. Boromir is suspicious of Lady Galadriel and asks Frodo what he experienced with her. Frodo does not 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 becomes upset with 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 in Galadriel’s mirror in the book and the radio version, as opposed to just Frodo looking in it in the movie version.
Sam and Frodo look into the mirror each in turn and see different images. I liked it when Sam looks into the mirror and becomes shocked at what he sees. He sees Frodo seemingly asleep; him climbing up some stairs and seeing ‘the scouring of the Shire’. Sam gets upset and is 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 in the mirror and sees very different images compared to what Sam saw.
Frodo sees a white wizard who 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 Rings 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 is just as powerful and graceful as the movie 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 seems 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 gets provisions from the Elves including the food, lembas bread. I found it funny when Gimli was eating 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 her 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 the star glass to light him in dark places where all other lights go out. The Fellowship are soon on their way as they leave Lórien behind them. I like 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 make further debate about whether to carry on with their journey to Mordor or break up the company. Boromir is keen to get 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 and begins 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 has vanished, claiming that he’ll take the ring to Sauron. Boromir soon comes out of his mad state and realises what he’s done before he goes to find Frodo.
Frodo sees Boromir going off and calling him and decides to make the journey to Mordor alone. Aragorn soon meets up with Boromir. Boromir tells Aragorn what happened and Merry and Pippin get 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. Sam 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 to be attacked by orcs before Boromir comes to their aid and sounds his horn.
9. EPILOGUE (3m 37s)
The CD 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 given by out by Brian Sibley, who details who’s who in the cast as well as in 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. This just matches to the movie version a lot more.
I’ve immensely enjoyed listening to this different version of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ on radio. It embraced 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. I was so looking forward to hearing the next instalment.
‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (BBC) rating – 10/10
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