Tuesday 19 July 2016

Archive on 4, BBC Radio 4, Tolkien - the Lost Recordings

I have gathered and tidied this information, below, about the forthcoming Archive on 4 programme on BBC Radio 4, about the 1968 Leslie Megahey BBC film, 'Tolkien in Oxford'.  This Archive on 4 is an Overtone Productions Ltd. Programme for the BBC...

Regular readers will know that a number of us, led by Leslie Megahey, have worked to restore and mend the film, and to explore its place in Tolkien Studies.  My colleague, Dr. Stuart Lee, Oxford, is writing the academic article about the film and the background, and - as can be seen - he is a lead player in the Archive on 4 programme.  So, as regards this project, the work is done...

There is a delightful symmetry in bringing Joss Ackland into this project - I have remarked before on what a lovely job he did on the readings in the original 1968 film.  

One ring to rule them all...

Patrick O'Sullivan
Glucksman Ireland House, New York University http://irelandhouse.fas.nyu.edu/page/faculty

Tolkien - the Lost Recordings
Archive on 4
6 August 2016
8pm BBC Radio 4

Joss Ackland narrates a quest through BBC archives for unheard gems from JRR Tolkien, as Oxford Academic, Dr Stuart Lee, discovers the un-broadcast offcuts from an interview given by the author of the Lord of the Rings. 

Tolkien gave the interview for a BBC film in 1968, but only a tiny part of it was used in the broadcast programme. It was one of only a handful of recorded interviews he gave, and was to be his last. Dr Lee’s search for the un-broadcast rushes takes him to the depths of the BBC film archives, and back to the making of the original film: ‘Tolkien in Oxford.’

For the director, Lesley Megahey, only 23 at the time, this was his first film, and the one that launched a prestigious career. The programme reunites him with three others: researcher, Patrick O’Sullivan; Tolkien fan, Michael Hebbert - and critic Valentine Cunningham, who describes how he was brought in to be the voice of dissent challenging the burgeoning Tolkien cult spreading from America.

What emerges is a picture of a playful academic, whose fiction was little respected by adults at the time and looked down on as a lesser form of literature. But he is robustly defended by Professor Tom Shippey and remembered fondly by his colleague Dr Roger Highfield.

Stuart Lee presents the results of his search through the archives to Dr Dimitra Fimi who considers any new words from Tolkien’s mouth as ‘gold’. While, for Dr Lee, the real ‘dragon’s hoard’ is the privilege of hearing Tolkien in relaxed mode reflecting on his life as never before.