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The Lord of the Rings (1955 radio series)

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The Lord of the Rings was a radio series broadcasted in 1955 and 1956 by the BBC, shortly after the release of The Return of the King. No known recordings of this broadcast are known to have survived, unfortunately. Six episodes detailing the events of The Fellowship of the Ring were aired in 1955, and six episodes finishing the story in 1956.


Role Actor
Gandalf Norman Shelley
Tom Bombadil Norman Shelley

Adapted by Terence Tiller.


This adaptation was made while J.R.R. Tolkien was still alive, and he expressed his criticism about the radio series in letters 175 (November 30, 1955), 176 (December 8, 1955) and 177 (same date). At this time, the episodes describing the chapter Many Meetings was apparently the most recently aired.

  • Tom Bombadil: Considered by Tolkien "dreadful".
  • Goldberry: She is for some reason portrayed as Bombadil's daughter.
  • Willowman: He is shown in league with Mordor, rather than just an antagonist of the Hobbits.
  • Glóin: He was "someone's idea of a German". Tolkien thought he was not too bad, though a bit exaggerated.

After Tolkien's criticism of the series, adapter Terence Tiller corresponded briefly with him. Letter 193 deals primarily on accents, while letter 194 shows more of Tolkien's criticism of changes made to the story.