Quite a few Christmases ago, my uncle Dennis gave our family a copy of The Hobbit radio-play on tape. A few years after that I learned that the Hobbit had a great sequel called, “The Lord of the Rings”. I loved the books and enjoyed BBC Radio 4’s 26-part adaptation of that one too.
In the credits of each episode I kept hearing the producers name and one day, on a lark, I decided to look him up. I discovered Brian Sibley’s blog which is full of interesting reading.
During my first reading of The Lord of the Rings, I remember not even liking the parts with Tom Bombadil when I first encountered the enigmatic figure. I didn’t get the weirdness of it all — who was this guy and why was he slowing down what was otherwise turning out to be a pretty great adventure? When I talked to friends who were fans of the book they encouraged me to expand my mind and appreciate the poetry, novelty, and esoteric nature of the character. Hearing that they loved Tom Bombadil made me reconsider my own opinion and I even found myself being disappointed when it was cut from the radio-play and subsequent movie.
But, it appears Mr. Sibley didn’t make the cuts lightly and eventually tried to make things right. From his post about his signed copy of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil he explains:
in 1992, eleven years after the BBC radio dramatisation of The Lord of the Rings, I attempted to make my peace with those fans who had been so outraged at the character’s omission from the original broadcasts. I created a six-part series for BBC Radio 5, based on Tolkien’s shorter fiction and, alongside Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf by Niggle, included The Adventures of Tom Bombadil which was, essentially, the previously-ignored chapters from The Lord of the Rings…
I’m going to add it to my long list of audio I’d like to listen to on my way to work.