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Hordes of the Things

"The Sphynx of the Caverns is the deadliest of all. It possesses the head of a snake… the body of a snake… and the feet of a snake."
"Sounds like a snake to me."

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Where sci-fi and comedy collide
The genuine article: JRR Tolkien
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Pioneers in sound effects
The Even Deeper Meaning of Liff
Tolkien parody Hordes of the Things tells the tale of the Kingdom of Albion, the only land that still evades the grasp of 'The Evil One'.

Elves have entrusted one mystic device to the men of Albion - the wondrous number seven - but it doesn't work, and the supposed powers of the gift have been forgotten. Radox the wizard takes on the unenviable task of trying to find a hero who will protect Albion from the wrath of The Evil One.

Hordes of the Things sprang from the pens of A. P. R. Marshall (a.k.a. Andrew Marshall, who wrote 2 Point 4 Children) and J. H. W. Lloyd (John Lloyd of The Meaning of Liff fame). The series was seen as the BBC's attempt to recreate the success of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and was produced, like Hitchhiker, by Geoffrey Perkins.

Martha Knight was the show's studio manager, "Of course it's a long time ago now, but as far as I remember, the recordings were very jolly and stimulating. It wasn't long after I'd worked on The Burkiss Way that Andrew Marshall also co-wrote and that was considered a hot property at the time."

Studio managers are often called upon to invent strange noises - some of them vocal - for comedy shows. Most don't expect to be given an actor's credit, but if you listen out at the end of the Fourth Chronicle, you'll hear Martha's name. "I was given the part of Stephen the Minotaur because Stephen was considered a sound effect. I 'played' him by pre-recording a lot of semi-bovine noises, with various inflections, which were slowed down to make them sound larger - and less female!"

More than twenty years on, Hordes of the Things still crops up in conversation, "One of the lines has been subsumed into our familial language. Simon Callow's character was trying to recruit 'stout, brave soldiers' in a pub and has to drop his standards until his request goes 'some of them ladies even'. It's a phrase we use sometimes. I also think of wizards if I put some Radox in the bath!"

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