26 December 2012

Fired By The Ring

A real gem ripped from the T_ape archives this is, even if I say so myself. Archive On 4: Fired By The Ring (2002) is a feature length look at how all kinds of artists from different disciplines have remade Tolkien's epic, with Brian Sibley, Philip Pullman, Peter Jackson and many other luminaries. Being originally broadcast on BBC Radio Four it's only fitting that the programme features heavily on the superlative 1981 BBC radio series and is thus  peppered with quotes, interviews and out-takes from the production that cannot be found anywhere else to my knowledge. I have also included in the download, scans of an old SFX Magazine article covering the history and making of the radio series. Well worth your time I reckon.


Further reading: Microphones In Middle Earth

23 December 2012

Tolkien In Love

Luthien Tinuviel by Alan Lee
"Novelist Helen Cross, who herself lives in Birmingham, uncovers the story of the young J.R.R. Tolkien, falling in love with Edith Bratt.
The love story of Beren and Luthien at the heart of his novel The Silmarillion was inspired by their relationship. They were both orphans, living in a boarding house in Edgbaston, Birmingham. The teenagers would talk out of their respective bedroom windows until dawn, and go for cycle rides to the Lickey Hills. However, when their romance was discovered, Tolkien's guardian, Father Francis Morgan, forbade Tolkien to see Edith until he came of age.Tolkien won an Exhibition to Oxford and Edith went to live in Cheltenham. But at midnight, as he turned 21, Tolkien wrote to Edith saying his feelings were unchanged. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, Edith had got engaged to someone else. 
Tolkien got on a train and she met him at Cheltenham station. They walked out to the nearby countryside and Tolkien persuaded her to break off her engagement and marry him instead. But the First World War was about to intervene, and Tolkien volunteered and was sent to the Somme.
Helen Cross visits key locations in Birmingham, Cheltenham and Oxford, to tell the story of Tolkien's young life and the love story at the heart of it.
 The readings are by the never not great David Warner as Tolkien and Ed Sear as the young Tolkien.

22 December 2012

The Aragorn Ballroom Orcestra

Boogie... Beyond Your Imagination! A bonkers disco version of Leonard Rosenman's Main Theme & Helm's Deep cues from the score of Ralph Bakshi's animated version of The Lord Of The Rings. Well, it was 1978 after all...

14 December 2012

The Hobbit, The Musical

"Actor Billy Boyd, who played a hobbit in the films of The Lord Of The Rings, narrates the story of the first ever stage production of J.R.R.Tolkien's The Hobbit, at New College School in Oxford in 1967. It was written by Humphrey Carpenter, with music by composer, Paul Drayton, then Director of Music at the school. We hear from the boys who performed it, who were choristers at the time and who are now renowned in the musical world: Choral conductor Simon Halsey, Martin Pickard Head of Music at Opera North, artist's agent Stephen Lumsden and composer Howard Goodall- who watched his older brother Ashley, now a marketing professional, perform. They talk about their memories and about Tolkien's presence in the audience on the last night.
The present-day Chamber choir at New College School sing some of the original songs, and we also play a never before broadcast recording of the production as it happened in 1967.

"You wait. Time passes..."

13 December 2012

Rare Books, Rare People: The Hobbit

Another from the T_ape Archives - Rare Books, Rare People: The Hobbit (2004) in which writer, broadcaster and antiquarian book dealer Rick Gekoski recounts the time he, as a student, had rooms in Oxford above none other than J.R.R. Tolkien, who was by then an old man. Every day Gekoski would see the sacks full of fan mail arrive for Tolkien and crowds of colourful, hairy fans, looking much like hobbits themselves, hanging around trying to catch sight of their hero. If only, Gekoski reflects, he'd got his elderly neighbour to sign a copy of the book...

10 December 2012

"Here Be Dragons"

"Last year Janet Ellis examined why mermaids continue to hold such a fascination; now she turns her attention to a figure every bit as resonant with audiences down the generations - the dragon. From the earliest days of story-telling the dragon has appeared across international cultures, occasionally a benign presence, as in the Chinese tradition, though most often a ferocious beast that lays waste to its enemies without a moment's hesitation. More recently the dragon has become a favourite of children's programmes and books from Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog to the How to Train your Dragon series of books - now turned into a major Hollywood film. Its close resemblance to real life creatures and formerly dinosaurs lends the dragon a particularly interesting position among mythological beasts, and Janet hears from poet Simon Armitage who says that those reading medieval stories including those about dragons would most likely have believed in the real possibility of meeting up with the beasts out on the crusades - lending them a special degree of excitement. She also speaks to Cressida Cowell the author behind the "How to Train..." books, as well as the co-creator of TV's Merlin which contains one of the most impressive dragon characters to appear in recent years, played with such relish by John Hurt.
"Here be Dragons" is a lively and informative ride on the back of one of the great stalwarts of the imaginative landscape.