Peter Jackson has announced the first round of casting for his much anticipated return to Middle Earth for The Hobbit, and the news that most expected was confirmed as Jackson named Martin Freeman as the man who would be Bilbo Baggins.

Taking over from Ian Holm, Freeman clearly made an excellent impression on the director who had this to say in the Deadline article,

Despite the various rumors and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us…There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo

Joining Freeman in another lead role is Richard Armitage, who will play Thorin and spend a lot of time sitting down, singing about gold along with other Dwarf characters, named below –

Aidan Turner and Rob Kazinsky will play Kili and Fili, Graham McTavish will be Dwalin, John Callen is Oin; Stephen Hunter play Bombur, and Mark Hadlow takes  Dori, and Peter Hambleton will play Gloin. Still no confirmation on the rumoured Sylvester McCoy, Stephen Fry, James Nesbitt or David Tennant but those big names may have overshadowed Freeman in this announcement of casting, so expect more to come soon.

A nice crop of known and unknowns there, with a number of UK based actors, not least Freeman, lending perhaps a little more weight to Jackson moving the entire shoot over here as has recently been rumoured.