Der Hobbit (1980 German radio series)

From Tolkien Gateway

Der kleine Hobbit (German. The Little Hobbit), later shortened to just Der Hobbit, was a German radio adaptation based on The Hobbit. It first aired in late December 1980 as a four-part radio miniseries on German public radio broadcaster WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk).

The radio series had a relatively small cast, and used various accompanying incidental music and sound effects to create an atmospheric retelling of the novel. Each of the four episodes of the Der Hobbit radio miniseries had a runtime of about 55-60 minutes. The series was adapted for radio by Ingeborg Oehme-Tröndle and Heinz Dieter Köhler, and directed by Heinz Dieter Köhler. The music for the series was composed by Enno Dugend. [1]

Episodes[edit | edit source]

The series aired in four episodes, each an hour long.

  1. Episode 1. First aired on the 21 December 1980.
  2. Episode 2. First aired on the 24 December 1980.
  3. Episode 3. First aired on the 25 December 1980.
  4. Episode 4. First aired on the 26 December 1980.

The overall runtime of the series in the original radio version is 240 minutes. However, the published version of this radio adaptation is longer, 276 minutes overall.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The series follows the storyline of The Hobbit fairly closely.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Role Actor
Narrator Martin Benrath
Bilbo Baggins Horst Bollman
Gandalf Bernhard Minetti
Thorin Oakenshield Heinz Schlacht
Balin Wolfgang Spier
Dwalin Friedrich W. Bauschulle
Glóin Herbert Weissbach
Bombur Herbert Grünbaum
Dori Rolf Schult
Fíli Rolf Schult
Kíli Rolf Schult
William Huggins Heinz Theo Branding
Bert Rolf Schult
Tom Martin Hirthe
Elrond Friedrich W. Bauschulle
Elves Uta Hallant
Lieselotte Rau
Great Goblin Heinz Theo Branding
Gollum Jürgen von Manger
Lord of the Eagles Friedrich W. Bauschulle
Beorn Martin Hirthe
Mirkwood spiders Uta Hallant
Lieselotte Rau
The Elven-king Martin Hirthe
Galion Heinz Theo Branding
Master of Lake-town Heinz Theo Branding
Bard the Bowman Rolf Schult
Smaug Benno Kusche
Roäc Friedrich W. Bauschulle
Elven commander Rolf Schult
A man Heinz Theo Branding

The cast includes a separate abstract narrator who fulfills the same basic role as the narration in the original novel.

Gollum was voiced by well-known German comedian Jürgen von Manger.

The overall voice cast in this radio adaptation was fairly small, only consisting of 13 actors in total.

Bolg and Dáin Ironfoot do not have any lines in this radio adaptation.

Credits[edit | edit source]

  • Based on the work by: J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Adapted by: Ingeborg Oehme-Tröndle, Heinz Dieter Köhler
  • Assistant director: Christoph Pragua
  • Directed by: Heinz Dieter Köhler
  • Music: Enno Dugend (composer), Collegium Vocale ensemble, Köln
  • Sound engineers: Dieter Stratmann, Christiane Preckel
  • Recording director: Johannes Hertel
  • Produced by: WDR Köln

Music[edit | edit source]

The music for the series was composed by Enno Dugend. [2] It has an emphasis on traditional instrumentation.

Adapted songs[edit | edit source]

The play adapts Far over the misty mountains cold. The solemn singing of the dwarves and the instrumentation recall secular music of the Middle Ages and early modern era. [3]

Translation[edit | edit source]

To date, there are two published book translations of The Hobbit into German. The first, 1957 translation by Walter Scherf, Kleiner Hobbit und der grosse Zauberer ("The Little Hobbit and the Great Wizard"), abbrievated to Der kleine Hobbit ("The Little Hobbit") since its second edition in 1967, and the second, 1997 translation by Wolfgang Krege, Der Hobbit oder Hin und zurück ("The Hobbit or There and Back").

Due to the era the Der Hobbit radio series was produced in, it used the terminology and some of the excerpts from the earlier translation by Scherf. The title of the radio series was also originally Der kleine Hobbit, for the sake of consistency with the then-in-use title of the first translation. The published editions of this adaptation from more recent decades have simplified the title to just Der Hobbit. This is the title that the radio series can be found under these days, for anyone looking to purchase a physical medium or digital copy of it.[4]

Releases[edit | edit source]

To date, this radio series has been commercially released on home media and for digital purchase by several publishers. The series was first published in spring 1987 by audio drama and audiobook publisher Cotta’s Hörbühne on 4 audio casettes. [5] Since 1993, new-releases of the series on home media (e.g. in 1996, 2002) have been handled by audio drama and audiobook publisher Der Hörverlag, with their re-releases of the series published on 4 CDs since 1996. (Der Hörverlag had also published an audio casette release between 1993 and 1996, after the rights passed to them from Cotta’s Hörbühne, closed in 1993 and defunct.} [6] August 2013 saw the release of a new edition of the series on vinyl, on 7 LPs. [7] In more recent years, the series has also been made available for digital purchase and download at The series has a total runtime of 240 minutes in the radio edit version and 276 minutes in the retail edit version. [8]


  1. Most of the information in this article are translated from the article on Ardapedia, the German-language Tolkien wiki affiliated with Tolkien Gateway. Retrieved on 1 June 2021.
  2. Enno Dugend article at the German-language Wikipedia. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  3. Sample of the 1980 German radio series' version of Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold (with brief line by the play's narrator)
  4. Elrond's - Published German translations of Tolkien's works (not entirely up to date). Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  5. Cotta’s Hörbühne article at the German Wikipedia. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  6. Der Hörverlag article at the German Wikipedia. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  7. Vinyl Edition of the Der Hobbit radio series. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  8. The home media releases of the Der Hobbit radio series can be found under the ISBN codes ISBN 3-89584-067-X / ISBN 3-89584-167-6 / ISBN 3-8445-1218-2.

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]