Hordes of the Things (radio series)

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Hordes of the Things
Genre Comic fantasy
Running time 30 minutes
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Language(s) English language
Home station BBC Radio 4
Starring Simon Callow
Frank Middlemass
Paul Eddington
Maggie Steed
Christian Rodska
Jonathan Lynn
Creator(s) Andrew Marshall and John Lloyd
Writer(s) Andrew Marshall and John Lloyd
Producer(s) Geoffrey Perkins
Narrated by Patrick Magee
Air dates since 25 November 1980
No. of episodes 4
Audio format Stereo
Website http://www.nigel-baker.co.uk/hott/

Hordes of the Things is a 1980 BBC radio comedy series parodying J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and the fantasy genre in general, in a style similar to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was written by "A. P. R. Marshall and J. H. W. Lloyd" (Andrew Marshall and John Lloyd) and produced by Geoffrey Perkins. It is unrelated to the game of the same name.

Cast[edit]

There are other minor characters named after brands of bath products: Badedas the Blue, and Matey the White.

Broadcasts and Recordings[edit]

The series consists of four half-hour episodes or "Chronicles", originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from 25 November – 16 December 1980. This was the only uncut broadcast; all subsequent repeats have omitted part of the opening narration from "The First Chronicle".

The series was launched with a lot of hype.[citation needed] A full-page feature in Radio Times included a map of Albion and a spoof interview with Marshall and Lloyd.[citation needed] Despite this, the series was repeated only once, never released on cassette or CD, and largely forgotten until BBC 7 dusted off the (still abridged) tapes for a rerun in May 2003, December 2003, and again in July 2008.

Only six months after Hordes of the Things was first aired, the first episode of the BBC's radio production of The Lord of the Rings began its 26-week run.

CD Release[edit]

BBC Audiobooks Ltd. released the series on CD on 8 October 2009.[1]

The plot[edit]

The plot concerns the threat to the small kingdom of Albion by "The Evil One" (a Dark Lord) and her ravening hordes, which have completely surrounded the country and are preparing to move in. Since Albion is an ancient name for Britain or England, the contemporary audience could choose to find references in this to their concerns about the new female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, the European Common Market, the labour or trade union movement, or feminism. That The Evil One is female is barely mentioned as the story runs – she is off-stage.

Prince Veganin has raised a mighty army to defend Albion, only to see them all call in sick; his father King Yulfric thinks he is exaggerating the danger, and suggests that allowances should be made for foreign customs (like human sacrifice). In any case, Yulfric is too busy changing clothes with a commoner to have any time for affairs of state – the commoner in question being the woodcutter's daughter.

The great wizard Radox recruits the young hero Agar to find the mighty horn Summontrumpet which can call forth the six heroes of legend. To Agar's chagrin, Radox sends him a companion in the shape of the gluttonous dwarf Golin Longshanks, who is under the delusion that Radox's programme of height exercises has turned him into a giant.

Radox himself attends the Great Conference of All Wizards, but most of the wizards are too busy with the food and entertainment to bother with the heavy stuff about destroying evil.

Meanwhile Veganin has set off on his own quest to slay the leaders of the evil hordes, beginning with the High Bishop of Zylbor, whose priests baptise people by holding their heads under water until they stop struggling. What Veganin doesn't realise, until it is seemingly too late, is that the Bishop's gaze will turn anything it falls upon to ashes.

Agar and Golin finally wrest Summontrumpet from the clutches of the Dread Sphynx, which has the body of a snake, the head of a snake, and the feet of a snake, and arrive upon the plains of Albion as the Seven Armies of Hell begin their invasion. The only thing that could possibly go wrong would be if the wrong person should sound the horn by mistake....

Critical reaction[edit]

The British Comedy Guide found it interesting with some good ideas, despite being largely forgotten 20 or 30 years later.[2] TV Cream says it was "widely loved by ‘proper’ Tolkien buffs".[3] Van Arnold-Forster in the Guardian praised the high quality of the cast but said they seemed bemused by the script, in "obvious doubt as to whether the lines are meant to be funny".[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hordes of the Things on CD (ISBN 978-1-4084-2623-4)
  2. ^ "Hordes Of The Things". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Hordes of the Things". TV Cream. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Arnold-Forster, Val (29 Nov 1980). "Riddle of the stone: Val Arnold-Forster reviews the week on radio". Guardian (UK). p. 13. 

External links[edit]