If you happen to be a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, then you likely have seen the Lord of the Rings more times than you can count. Those films may have been out for over a decade by now, but as it turns out, it wasn’t the first time that they were making the rounds.

There were actually some earlier adaptations that came in the form of cartoons in the late 1970s. So, depending on when you became a fan of The Lord of the Rings, you may automatically think about the cartoons or you could think about the films.

Photo: Pixabay/paxillop

Regardless of which type of fan you happen to be, you will likely love what was recently uncovered and reported on by The Guardian.

It seems as if the Lord of the Rings was considered for a radio dramatization back in the mid-1950s. That original adaptation was thought to be lost but the scripts had recently been found. Interestingly, those were the only scripts that were around from the time that the author was still alive. He took an active interest in the adaptation, and some of the notes were handwritten by Tolkien.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

According to The Guardian, Oxford academic Stuart Lee, who unearthed the radio dramatization, had the following to say about finding the scripts:

“They said the scripts had been lost, but they have survived—the only professional dramatization of The Lord of the Rings made during [Tolkien’s] lifetime. It was not seen as important by the BBC then. It shows how the reception of the book has changed—minor interest in 1955-56, now a global phenomenon, with Amazon reportedly investing more than $1 billion in the latest series.”


As he said in his statement, the BBC did not get nearly as excited as we do today about the Lord of the Rings. That being said, there were two series of 12 radio broadcasts that were planned and they did run from 1955 to 1956.

Each episode in the first series was associated with The Fellowship of the Ring and lasted about 45 minutes each. In the second series, they combined The Two Towers and The Return of the King into only 12 episodes and only gave each episode 30 minutes.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Because of the episodes being cut, down to size, Tolkien became increasingly dissatisfied with what he was seeing. It’s really no surprise, however, because The Return of the King had only been published in the same year that the radio series was on the air.