martin freeman

This is the day that Tolkien fans in the UK have long awaited with the release of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.’

For actor Martin Freeman, it’s a moment in his career that he accepts he’ll be lucky to see again.

Global fame is the result of being in a huge movie franchise.

But that must have seemed far, far away when he was appearing at the Milton Keynes Theatre in early 2007 in front of what a generous audience estimate would put at no more than 40 people.

My wife and I were two of those 40, watching Martin in a two-hander with Roger Lloyd Pack called ‘The Last Laugh’ based on an original Japanese play.

The size of the audience was partly down to the peculiar time of 5.45pm for what was deemed an afternoon matinee ahead of that evening’s main performance at 8.45pm.

I’d been lucky enough to work with Martin on a couple of radio projects in 2005 and 2006, so when the play he was appearing in rolled into Milton Keynes, he kindly sorted a couple of tickets for us.

As the Hobbit goes viral, I think of that evening in MK as a parable for the highs and lows of an actor’s life.

Backstage afterwards, he was tucking into an shrink-wrapped sandwich in a far from palatial dressing room and listening to tunes on his iPod.

Which brings me to a quartet of songs hand-picked by Martin from the first hour-long Bank Holiday special he did for BBC Radio 2.

In my recent clear-out, I found a photocopy of his handwritten list of possible songs for the show.

So assuming I’ve called the right performing artist in each case, here’s an insight into the musical likes of Mr.Freeman circa 2005.

If an appearance on ‘Desert Island Discs’ results from his Hobbit role, I wonder how many of these tunes you’ll hear.

Donald Byrd – Places And Spaces

Steely Dan – My Old School

Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata

The (English) Beat – Sole Salvation

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – official website

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