By Melissa Davies
The great-grandson of The Hobbit author J.R.R Tolkien is on his way back to Wellington for the premiere of the film.
Royd Tolkien is travelling on the special Air New Zealand Hobbit-themed plane, and has spoken out about the recent controversy and claims of animal neglect on the set of the film.
Plane-spotters watched expectantly as the Hobbit plane landed at Heathrow, but this final leg of publicity for the film has been an unexpected journey indeed. The Hobbit brand has proven important for New Zealand tourism, and the legacy of the Tolkien family - a legacy Royd is keen to protect.
As he prepared to fly to Wellington for the premiere, he wanted to deflect the recent negative publicity.
"It's a shame," says Royd. "It takes the shine and the focus off what everyone should be celebrating which is the film and going to see it at the cinema, so it is a shame that things happen."
Royd was an extra in The Lord of the Rings and says he never saw evidence of animal neglect.
"When I was there for final pick up for The Return Of The King, there were horses on set. I didn't see anything going on. I wasn't there great deal of the time, but I couldn't imagine anything happening to the animals purely because of knowing Peter, the team and the production and the crew – they're so careful and detailed and conscious of everything that they do. I couldn't imagine anything like that happening, really."
He's less forthcoming about the case brought by the Tolkien estate against Warner Brothers for allegedly licensing Lord of the Rings characters for use in online gambling sites, although Tolkien says it was not a family-wide decision.
"I have no dealings with that side of things at all. I know probably as much as you actually."
He doesn't have a view on the gambling controversy, as he only "just found out on Monday of this week that it was announced in the press".
Soon there will be no escaping all things Hobbit-related as Tolkien and the stars of the film journey back to Middle-earth.