Audio Drama Wiki

Journey Into Space is a BBC Radio science fiction programme, written by BBC producer Charles Chilton. It was the last radio programme in the UK to attract a bigger evening audience than television.[1] Originally, four series were produced (the fourth being a remake of the first), which went on to be translated into 17 languages[2] (including Hindustani, Turkish and Dutch[3]) and broadcast worldwide (including the United States, New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands).[3] Chilton went on to write three best-selling novels and several comic strip stories, based upon the radio series.

The first series was created in 1953, soon after Riders of the Range (a popular Western, also written by Chilton) ended its six seasons on the BBC Light Programme. Michael Standing, then Head of the BBC Variety Department, asked Chilton if he could write a sci-fi programme, and Journey to the Moon (later known as Operation Luna) was the result.[1] Each half-hour episode would usually end with a dramatic cliffhanger, to increase the audience's incentive to tune in to the next episode.

The original magnetic recordings of the show were erased shortly after broadcast, and for several decades, it was believed that no recordings of the show still survived. However, in 1986, a set of mis-filed Transcription Service discs (produced for sale to overseas radio stations) were discovered, containing complete copies of the three original series (more accurately, the surviving version of the first season is a cut-down remake of the original, produced for the Transcription Service during the 1950s). This discovery enabled the BBC to begin re-broadcasting the show in the late 1980s, and release copies of the show, first on audio cassette, and more recently on CD and internet download.

Fans of Journey Into Space include Colin Pillinger,[4] Kenny Everett,[5] John Major,[5] Stephen Hawking,[5] Miriam Margolyes[5] and former Doctor Who producer Philip Hinchcliffe.[6]

The main characters[]

The four main characters appear in all the original series, as well as the later special episodes:

Captain Andrew
"Jet" Morgan
Doc Matthews Stephen "Mitch" Mitchell Lemuel
"Lemmy" Barnet
Journey to the Moon Andrew Faulds Guy Kingsley Poynter Bruce Beeby (episodes 2 to 6) David Kossoff
Don Sharp (episodes 7 to 18)
The Red Planet Bruce Beeby
The World in Peril Don Sharp Alfie Bass
Operation Luna David WilliamsTemplate:Dn
The Return from Mars John Pullen Ed Bishop Nigel Graham Anthony Hall
Frozen in Time David Jacobs Alan Marriott Michael Beckley Chris Moran
The Host Toby Stephens Alan Marriott Jot Davies Chris Pavlo

Guy Kingsley Poynter (who played Doc) had worked with Charles Chilton before Journey Into Space, and Chilton once commented that Poynter "was a very good poetry reader".[1] Chilton also observed that Bruce Beeby was like his character Mitch, and was "always blowing his top".[1]

David Kossoff asked Chilton if his character (the ship's radio operator) could be called Lemuel (a name he loved), and Chilton shortened the name to Lemmy. Chilton based Lemmy's character on himself, since he had been a radio operator in the RAF.[7] Originally, Chilton had chosen John Glen to play Jet, but later decided to use Andrew Faulds instead, because Chilton's secretary fancied him.[7]

David Jacobs' ability to play a wide variety of characters, each with his own distinctive voice, resulted in him playing 22 different characters during the course of Journey Into Space. He used to mark up his script using different colour pencils, to help him remember what each character was supposed to sound like. In episode 1 of The Red Planet, Jet is interviewed by a group of newspaper reporters, all of whom were played by David.[7]

Light-hearted pranks were often played on David Jacobs just before a recording session was about to begin. On one occasion, Andrew Faulds poured a jug of water inside his trousers, totally soaking him, and he "did the rest of the programme in a raincoat!"[1] On another occasion, some of the actors smeared mustard on his lip microphone, causing him some difficulties during the recording session.[7]

The original three series[]

Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna[]

Initially, the first series was simply known as Journey Into Space, with the subtitle A Tale of the Future added by the Radio Times, but within the BBC it became known as Journey to the Moon.[1] The series was set in 1965 (the year in which Chilton believed humans would first walk on the Moon[7]), and was first broadcast in 1953–1954 on the BBC Light Programme, which later became BBC Radio 2. The series was originally intended to have 12 episodes[1] (one source claims 8 episodes[2]), and 5.1 million people tuned in to the first episode, but the first four episodes (which took place on Earth) didn't prove very popular, and the audience soon shrank to less than 4 million.[1] However, once the rocket set off for the Moon in episode 5, the audience reaction was much more favourable. The series was extended to 18 episodes, and by the time the final episode was broadcast, 8 million people were tuning in.[1]

In 1958, Journey to the Moon was re-recorded for the BBC Transcription Services (retitled as Operation Luna), because the original recordings had been erased.[1] The first four episodes of the original series were omitted, and episodes 12 and 13 were merged into a single episode.[1] Today, the only surviving recording from Journey to the Moon is a 5-minute extract from the final episode.[1]

In addition to the main characters, other characters in Journey to the Moon included:[1]

Actor Character
Wilfred Walter Sir William Morgan
Robert Perceval Mackenzie
Deryck Guyler The Time-Traveller ("The Voice")
Mark BakerTemplate:Dn
Errol McKinnon
Jessica Dunning
David Jacobs
Duncan McIntyre
Wyndham Milligan

Other characters in Operation Luna included:[1]

Actor Character
John Cazabon Earth Control
Alan Keith (*) London correspondent
Duncan McIntyre Jet's great uncle, Hector
Deryck Guyler The Time-Traveller ("The Voice")
David Jacobs Miscellaneous characters

(*) Alan Keith (born Alec Kossoff) was the brother of David Kossoff, who played Lemmy.

Chilton wrote episode 8 of Journey to the Moon in response to a challenge from a TV producer, who considered the success of the series to be "a fluke". The producer challenged Chilton to write an episode "that could not be played equally well on television", and Chilton succeeded – a large proportion of the episode takes place in total darkness.[7] During the episode, Jet reads to the rest of the crew by torchlight from The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells, the only work of fiction carried on board the ship.[7]

Andrew Faulds' adopted uncle, Hector MacPherson, was an astronomer, and wrote a book called Practical Astronomy. Chilton bought a copy of the book, which first sparked his interest in astronomy, and later led him to write Journey Into Space. In episode 7 of Journey to the Moon, Jet's childhood flashback features his great uncle Hector, who was based on Hector MacPherson.[7]

In November 1957, Chilton wrote an episode of the BBC Schools Radio science series Our Own and Other Worlds, titled A Trip to the Moon, which featured edited material from episodes 5 and 6 of Journey to the Moon.[8]

The table below indicates the correspondence between the episodes of Journey to the Moon and Operation Luna.[1]

Journey to the Moon Operation Luna Brief plot summary
Episode First broadcast Episode First broadcast
1 21 Sep 1953 The year is 1965, and Jet's father (Sir William Morgan) launches his A.24 rocket from the Rocket Research Station at Poker Flats. But something goes wrong, and the rocket heads towards Las Vegas, out of control.
2 28 Sep 1953 The rocket hits Las Vegas, killing at least 35 people, and the Poker Flats site is shut down. Meanwhile, Jet is invited by Mitch to join his Operation Luna project – a rocket to reach the Moon.
3 5 Oct 1953 Jet is appointed the rocket's pilot, and he and Lemmy travel to Australia to meet Mitch at the secret Operation Luna base. On arrival, Mitch takes them to meet Smitty, the team's doctor, but he is found dead.
4 12 Oct 1953 Doc Matthews replaces Smitty (who died from a coronary), and Lemmy is to be the radio operator. Mitch spots a plane flying around the launch site, suspects spies are active, and advances the launch date.
5 19 Oct 1953 1 26 Mar 1958 The rocket "Luna" sets off for the Moon with Jet, Doc, Mitch and Lemmy aboard. Radio contact with Earth is lost. Lemmy hears odd 'music' on the radio, before contact is resumed, and a tiny meteor hits Luna.
6 26 Oct 1953 2 2 Apr 1958 Luna is turned round for the Moon landing, and Lemmy hears the 'music' again during the final approach. The crew narrate their first moonwalk by radio to Earth. While exploring a crater, Jet vanishes.
7 2 Nov 1953 3 9 Apr 1958 The crew experience strange things: Jet has visions of the past and the future; Lemmy is disturbed by the 'music' again; Doc sees a strange dome over a crater, and writes an odd diary entry without realising.
8 9 Nov 1953 4 16 Apr 1958 Luna loses power just before taking off – the crew are stuck on the Moon. A UFO is seen on the televiewer, and strange noises are heard. Power is suddenly restored, and the UFO has landed outside.
9 16 Nov 1953 5 23 Apr 1958 Mitch is inquisitive and enters the UFO, where he is temporarily possessed by an alien intelligence. Luna takes off and orbits the Moon; on the far side, the crew encounter a fleet of UFOs, which pursues them.
10 23 Nov 1953 6 30 Apr 1958 The UFOs accelerate Luna to an incredible speed, and the crew blacks out. On recovering, they find themselves out in deep space, with no sign of the Earth or Moon. In the distance, a planet is approaching.
11 30 Nov 1953 7 7 May 1958 The planet looks similar to Earth, and the crew land Luna on it. After studying the stars, Jet realises that they are on Earth, but they've travelled thousands of years through time.
12 7 Dec 1953 8 14 May 1958 Jet discovers a prehistoric stone knife near Luna, proving that they've travelled back in time. A UFO lands nearby, and a voice is heard over the radio: "Hello Luna!"
13 14 Dec 1953
14 21 Dec 1953 9 21 May 1958 The crew talk with 'the voice', which warns them that they are in great danger, and persuades them to enter the UFO, which then takes off. Eventually it lands again, in a city of domed buildings.
15 29 Dec 1953 10 28 May 1958 The crew learn more about 'the voice' and his people (they are a peaceful, scientific race). They enter a domed building, walk down a long dark tunnel, and emerge in a huge underground city.
16 5 Jan 1954 11 4 Jun 1958 'The voice' tells the crew about the native 'forest creatures' (destructive animals), and promises to help the crew get back to their own time. The crew realise the 'forest creatures' are prehistoric humans.
17 12 Jan 1954 12 11 Jun 1958 'The voice' is not pleased to learn that the crew are descended from the 'forest creatures', but reluctantly helps them. Luna takes off and is accelerated by the UFOs; the crew blacks out.
18 19 Jan 1954 13 18 Jun 1958 The crew return to the Moon in 1965, but with no memory of their adventure on prehistoric Earth. However, Doc's diary contains a detailed account, and there's also a prehistoric stone knife on board Luna...
1 operation luna

The Red Planet[]

File:Radio Times 5 Dec 1954.jpg

Journey Into Space featured on the cover of the Radio Times.

The second series, The Red Planet, followed the adventures of the crew in their first attempt to reach and explore Mars. Several new characters were introduced, the most notable of which were Frank Rogers and James Edward Whitaker, the two original crewmen of freighter #2. Chilton took the name Whitaker from a copy of Whitaker's Almanack which was sitting on his desk.[3]

In addition to the main characters, other characters in The Red Planet included:[3]

Actor Character(s)
David Jacobs Frank Rogers and miscellaneous characters
Anthony Marriott James Edward Whitaker
Miriam Karlin Mrs Barnet (Lemmy's mother)
John Cazabon Australian control voice, dingo hunter, flying doctor, John Bodie (sheep farmer), Bill Webster
Madi Hedd (*) Martha Bodie (sheep farmer's wife)
Don Sharp Sam (factory controller)

(*) Married to Bruce Beeby, who played Mitch.

The most memorable catchphrase from this series was "Orders must be obeyed without question at all times", which was often repeated by many of the 'conditioned' characters, especially Whitaker. Episode 19 of the series rated a 17% audience share, whereas the newsreel broadcast simultaneously on BBC TV had an audience share of 16%. This was the last time that a radio show achieved a higher rating than its TV opponent.[3]

During the first broadcast of this series, the Radio Times featured Journey Into Space on its cover, showing Andrew Faulds as Captain "Jet" Morgan. His spacesuit (which was used by several of the cast members for publicity photos) was a prototype being developed in Britain at the time.[3]

During the recording of The Red Planet, Guy Kingsley Poynter was also starring in The Teahouse of the August Moon at Her Majesty's Theatre.[3]

The British Empire Exhibition was referred to throughout the episodes.

In the table of episodes below, the numbers marked with # refer to the numbered freighters of the Mars fleet.

Episode First broadcast Brief plot summary
1 6 Sep 1954 April 1971. Jet and Mitch travel from Earth to the Moon by rocket. The Mars fleet (the flagship Discovery, 8 freighters and 20 men) begins its journey. During an EVA, Mitch's safety line fails, leaving him adrift.
2 13 Sep 1954 Jet manages to rescue Mitch, using a miniature rocket unit. Frank tells Lemmy he's not getting on at all well with Whitaker, his shipmate. Whitaker starts behaving very strangely while Jet is questioning him.
3 20 Sep 1954 While Whitaker is in a strange deep sleep, both Frank and Lemmy have nightmares. Radar suddenly reveals a huge meteor swarm ahead of the fleet, blocking its path. A large meteor destroys #7.
4 27 Sep 1954 Control discovers very odd information about Whitaker (apparently born in 1893, disappeared in 1924, etc.). The fleet changes course twice to avoid the meteor swarm, but both times it moves to block their path again.
5 4 Oct 1954 The fleet enters the swarm. Peterson reports an emergency on board #6 with Whitaker. On leaving the swarm, #6 is nowhere to be seen, and the swarm is now blocking radio contact with Control.
6 11 Oct 1954 A radio message (apparently from Control) orders the fleet to return home, but the message is later found to be a fake. #6 is sighted ahead of the fleet, and Discovery draws up alongside it.
7 18 Oct 1954 Whitaker is found badly injured in #6, but Peterson has vanished. Jet has a strange dream, and Whitaker dies, suddenly transforming into an old man. Recordings reveal Whitaker faked the radio message.
8 25 Oct 1954 Peterson's suicide recording is found, and radio contact with Control is restored. The fleet enters orbit round Mars, and Discovery lands at the North Pole, but a strange soporific noise troubles the crew.
9 1 Nov 1954 #1 lands alongside Discovery, and Jet and Mitch explore outside, but they soon get lost in a dense fog. They see a mysterious orange light, and a soporific noise causes them to lose consciousness.
10 8 Nov 1954 Doc and Frank rescue Jet and Mitch, and Jet says he dreamed of a ruined city in a valley. Discovery's crew begin the exploration of Mars in the land trucks, but #2 hears the soporific noise and crashes.
11 15 Nov 1954 During the night, Discovery's crew see a moving white light in the direction of #2. Once they reached the crashed freighter, there's no sign of its crew, and there are strange marks in the ground nearby.
12 22 Nov 1954 While #1's crew is occupying #2, a 'sphere' (spherical UFO) arrives and its crew (three humans) attempt to enter the freighter. Discovery's crew reach a valley which is identical to the one in Jet's earlier dream.
13 29 Nov 1954 Discovery's crew explore the valley's ruined city, but Lemmy vanishes, and experiences a hypnotic dream. He's later found with McClain (pilot of #2), who is now mysteriously able to breathe the Martian air.
14 6 Dec 1954 Doc realises that Whitaker and McClain had been 'conditioned' (hypnotised), allowing them to be controlled. Mitch becomes separated from the others, and meets a man who claims to be a dingo hunter in Australia.
15 13 Dec 1954 McClain, pretending to be Mitch, enters the land truck and tries to overpower Lemmy. Meanwhile, Mitch comes across a house inhabited by a man and woman who claim to be sheep farmers living in Australia in 1939.
16 20 Dec 1954 Jet, Doc and Lemmy discover the same house, and find Mitch inside it. But Mitch is now 'conditioned' to believe he's in Australia, and doesn't recognise the others. He refuses to rejoin them, and attacks Jet.
17 27 Dec 1954 A 'flying doctor' arrives in a sphere, and manages to capture Doc and Lemmy. He tries to 'condition' them using the soporific noise, but they manage to resist. Meanwhile, Jet escapes back to the land trucks.
18 3 Jan 1955 The sphere arrives at Lacus Solis (the Martian capital), and the flying doctor reveals the Martian plan to invade the Earth in 1986. Frank, flying in #1, hears the soporific noise and his freighter crashes.
19 10 Jan 1955 Doc and Lemmy overpower the flying doctor, and escape in the sphere with Mitch, who recovers from his 'conditioning'. Jet is contacted by Webster, a man trying to return to Earth, and learns more about the Martians.
20 17 Jan 1955 Jet, Lemmy and Webster try to rescue Frank, but they fail, and Webster is injured and dies. The crew return to Discovery at the North Pole, and take off for home, escaping a pursuing fleet of spheres.

The World in Peril[]

The third series was a direct continuation of the story begun in The Red Planet, and followed Jet Morgan and his crew's return to Mars in an attempt to avert the impending Martian invasion.

In addition to the main characters, other characters in The World in Peril included:[8]

Actor Character
David Jacobs Frank Rogers and miscellaneous characters
Alan Tilvern Jack Evans (lunar controller)
John Cazabon Jenkins (rocket station supervisor)
Fred Yule Mr Moore
Pat Campbell Paddy Flynn

During the recording of The World in Peril, Alfie Bass was also starring in the revue The Punch Bowl at the Duke of York's Theatre.[8]

Episode First broadcast Brief plot summary
1 26 Sep 1955 April 15, 1972. The Discovery and two freighters return to the Moon from the disastrous Mars expedition. The crew are subjected to intense questioning about their experiences on Mars, and Lemmy discovers that the Discovery is being readied for take off. Back on Earth, they visit an astronomical observer who has spotted suspicious objects in the heavens.
2 3 Oct 1955 Jet and Lemmy go to investigate the objects in an orbital rocket, but are sent to sleep for 24 hours by a strange noise. Film footage suggests the asteroids are actually spacecraft carriers. Jet discovers that a spaceship has crashed in the Lake District. Jet and Doc enter the ship.
3 10 Oct 1955 The crew and the Lunar Controller try to locate the crew of the crashed ship. They interview Moore, a commercial traveller who may have had contact with the crew of the ship, who recounts his experience. The crew are ordered back to Mars and are driven to an airfield, but the car crashes when the crew tackle the 'Conditioned Type' driver.
4 17 Oct 1955 The crew fly to Australia, then on a ship to the Moon. While preparing for the voyage to Mars, they spot unidentified objects on the lunar horizon. The take off is complicated by strange communication with control, suggesting the Moon base has been infiltrated.
5 24 Oct 1955 The Discovery gets away safely; however, they cannot establish contact with Moon control, so Lemmy contacts Earth. After ships from Earth to the Moon are lost, the crew concludes that the Moon has fallen under Martian control. While refuelling from freighter #1, Jet and Lemmy hear a strange wailing voice.
6 31 Oct 1955 The crew slow the ship down, and discuss where on Mars to land and the objectives of the trip. They regain contact with the strange voice, discovering it is a very confused Frank Rogers, ex-crew man of Freighter #2.
7 7 Nov 1955 Thinking Frank may be there, the crew decide to land near the wreck of freighter #2, but Jet and Mitch discover it to be empty. From the Discovery, Doc and Lemmy spot a fleet of Martian spheres approaching.
8 14 Nov 1955 Jet and Mitch fail to make it back to Discovery, and the crew all pass out as the ships approach. They wake up in a dark room and figure that they must be on one of the moons of Mars. They discover an unconscious man in the room, that Jet is missing, and a door in the floor opens.
9 21 Nov 1955 Jet is found under his bed and the unconscious man is found to be Frank Rogers. Doc tries to bring Frank out of his conditioned state, and he reveals that the invasion is under way. Jet and Lemmy go through the floor, and are directed by the voice of Paddy Flynn.
10 28 Nov 1955 Frank regains some of his memory, revealing that the crew are aboard an asteroid ship. Jet and Lemmy meet Paddy face to face, and he reveals that he is the rebel captain of the asteroid, working with Jack Evans. Paddy receives orders to join the invasion fleet.
11 5 Dec 1955 Paddy leaves the crew, who learn how to manipulate the 'visionphone'. As Mitch and Frank follow them along a circular corridor using the cameras, Jet, Lemmy and Doc hear a voice they assume to be a Martian, ordering them back.
12 12 Dec 1955 Jet, Lemmy and Doc ignore the Martian's warnings to turn back, and Jet is knocked out after touching a door at the end of the corridor. The crew persuades Paddy to set the ship on course for Mars, so they can warn Earth of the invasion. However, he loses control, and is injured.
13 19 Dec 1955 The asteroid is in chaos and the crew discover Asteroid 786/738 is on its way to sort it out. Mitch and Lemmy go to fetch a bed for Paddy, but become lost and enter the Martian's lair. They hear a familiar voice but can't place it. Paddy dies, and Jet and Mitch discover that Jack Evans is really the Lunar Controller, in league with the Martians from the start.
14 26 Dec 1955 The Lunar Controller tells Mitch and Lemmy that the invasion will be facilitated by a hypnotic television broadcast. Jet and Doc go on a search for the others, and follow conditioned crew members onto the asteroid surface. Wearing Martian suits, they investigate a large sphere, but become stranded on the surface.
15 2 Jan 1956 While the Lunar Controller is away, Jet and Doc enter his quarters from the asteroid surface. Mitch and Lemmy explain what has happened to them, and they hatch a plan to imprison the Lunar Controller and escape.
16 9 Jan 1956 The crew imprison the Lunar Controller, and gain his assistance by threatening to release him into space. Lemmy smashes up the computerised brain, to stop messages being sent to the rest of the Martian fleet. Frank pilots the ship as they escape the asteroid and set course for Mars, but they discover the Discovery to have been plundered.
17 16 Jan 1956 They head into orbit, transfer to Freighter #1, and attempt to contact Earth, but they cannot get their warning about the invasion through. They spot the asteroid invasion fleet approaching them from behind. Jet decides to use all remaining fuel to set on course for Earth, in order to increase their chances of warning Earth of the invasion.
18 23 Jan 1956 The asteroid fleet increases speed and overtakes Freighter #1. Jet records a warning to Earth, to be transmitted on a loop. Attempts to hypnotise the crew fail, so the Martian contacts the crew using their voices. Freighter #1 crashes onto the surface of a large asteroid.
19 30 Jan 1956 Lemmy fails to contact Earth, but they are contacted by the Martian who tells them to enter the asteroid ship. The Martian reveals that he is the only one left of a race of giants, and explains his reasons for the invasion. A crew from the asteroid, including ex-freighter man Harding, forcibly remove the crew from Freighter #1.
20 6 Feb 1956 The crew are shown to luxurious quarters aboard the asteroid, and cruise to Earth as part of the invasion fleet. They are commanded to the Martian's quarters, where they are dismayed to discover that Earth has not followed their instruction to shut down all television channels. However, upon returning to their quarters, they discover the channels have been shut down. The Martian allows all those in his command to return to Earth, although many choose to remain in the Martian's fleet, and to establish a perfect civilisation in another solar system, free from persecution, hunger, misgovernment and war.

Critical reaction[]

Public reaction to the show was mixed. Some comments received by the BBC described the show as "a first class affair" and "the best serial for ages".[1] After episode 5 of Journey to the Moon was first broadcast, the Daily Express commented: Template:Quote Midway through the original broadcast of The Red Planet, a BBC Audience Research Report indicated that the series Template:Quote However, others commented that the plot often featured scientific inaccuracies,[1] even though Chilton had received technical advice from Flight Lieutenant Roger Burton[1] and Kenneth Gatland of the British Interplanetary Society.[8] One reviewer in the Radio Times issue of 4 February 1955 commented that: Template:Quote Chilton has admitted that he is not a science-fiction writer, astronomer, or scientist, and that his "pursuit of astronomical studies is clumsy and very amateurish".[3] He often "worked very late to deadline", sometimes not starting to write an episode until two days before recording.[1]

Journey Into Space remains popular today, thanks to the discovery of mis-filed recording of the show, which enabled the BBC to begin re-broadcasting the show from the late 1980s onwards. Template:Quote


Van Phillips composed and conducted the music for all three series.[2] The music was initially recorded beforehand, and played from acetate discs during the recording sessions.[1] Later, an eight-piece orchestra was actually present in the studio, and played the music live.[9] Phillips liked the sound of the clavioline, and obtained one for use during Journey Into Space. He composed music especially for it, and it was "bolted onto the piano" in the studio.[9] Titles of his compositions include "A Picture of the Universe", "Rocket Away", "Music for Outer Space",[1] "The Red Planet", "Crossing the Plains",[3] and "Sunrise".[8]

In 1955, Decca released a 78rpm record of the Journey Into Space theme, performed by Frank Weir and his orchestra (catalogue number F.10435),[3] and sheet music of a piano solo of the theme was also published. In 1978, the recording was included on the 33⅓rpm BBC compilation record BBC Space Themes (catalogue number REH 324),[3] and in 2005, Vocalion/Dutton Laboratories included it on their digitally remastered compilation CD Presenting Frank Weir And His Saxophone (catalogue number CDLK 4266).

In Journey to the Moon, Lemmy occasionally provided musical entertainment for the crew on his mouth organ, playing songs such as "Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road" and "My Old Dutch".[1] Excerpts of popular music were often used during the episodes, and sometimes played an important role in the plot. In episode 8 of Journey to the Moon, an excerpt from "Honeymoon on a Rocket Ship" by Hank Snow and The Rainbow Ranch Boys is heard by the crew on the ship's radio.[1] "When It's Night Time In Italy", by James Kendis and Lew Brown, was an important part of episodes 7 and 8 of The Red Planet.[3] Other popular music used in The Red Planet included:[3]

  • "Flat Foot Floogie", by Bulet Galliard, Leroy Stewart and Bud Green, performed by the Benny Goodman Orchestra
  • The theme tune to the Billy Cotton Band Show
  • "Somebody Stole My Gal", by Lee Wright
  • "Friends and Neighbours", by Marvin Scott and Malcolm Lockyer
  • "Selection of Hebrew Dances Part 2", by Ambrose and his orchestra
  • Banjo music by Billy Bell

The World in Peril featured a 'rebel song', sung by the 'conditioned' men aboard the Martian asteroids. This song was actually a musical arrangement of The Green Hills of Earth (a poem taken from Robert Heinlein's short story of the same name), performed by the George Mitchell Choir.[8] In the final episode of The World in Peril, Chopin Opus 34: No. 2: Valse brillante in A minor is heard playing over the radio.

Sound effects[]

A variety of sound effects were used in the episodes, and played a major role. In addition to basic sounds, such as feet walking along a corridor or tunnel, more advanced effects were created, such as the mysterious haunting 'music' which is heard over the rocket's radio in many episodes of Operation Luna.

The most distinctive effect was the dramatic rocket take-off, which was played at the beginning of each episode, and whenever necessary during the episodes. This was actually a recording of a jet aircraft at Heathrow airport.[9] Often, this would be followed by a slowly ascending tone (representing the rocket accelerating), which "was actually a recording of a thermionic valve played through an echo chamber down at the Physical Research Laboratory at Kingston".[9] Other sound effects were created at Battersea Power Station, and the sound made by the televiewer on board Luna was actually a naval ASDIC.[1]

The BBC had an echo chamber in the studio, which was greatly utilised during the episodes. Whenever the crew were in contact by radio with Earth control, or another distant location, the echo chamber would be applied to the voice of the remote character. Various sound effects were also created "live" in the studio. For example, in episode 8 of Journey to the Moon, the crew hear a mysterious tapping on the outside of the ship; this effect was created "by tapping the needle of the gramophone pickup head, and playing that through an echo chamber".[9]


Template:Expand section Chilton wrote three Journey Into Space novels, one for each of the three original series. The novels were originally published in hardback by Herbert Jenkins, and later in paperback by Pan. The first novel, simply titled Journey Into Space, was first published in 1954, and told the story of Journey to the Moon.[1] This was the first book that Chilton had ever written.[1] Chilton's novel of The Red Planet was first published in 1956,[3] followed by The World in Peril in 1960.[8]

On 8 May 2008, BBC Audiobooks released a complete and unabridged audiobook of the first novel, read by William Hope.[10]

Comic strips[]

In 1956, the Junior Express comic began publishing Journey Into Space comic strips, with scripts by Charles Chilton and artwork by Italian artist Ferdinando Tacconi.[8] The first adventure, titled Jet Morgan in Planet of Fear, was a 35-episode sequel to The World in Peril. Tacconi spent some time with Chilton absorbing the atmosphere of the saga, and portrayed (in full colour) the radio actors' likenesses to match the clever dialogue.

The story was continued in 1957 in the 32-episode adventure, Shadow over Britain. In March 1957, Bruce Cornwall took over from Tacconi as artist, and Chilton lost his enthusiasm for the cartoon strip; thereafter it became a contractual chore for him. Terence Patrick took over from Cornwall in April 1957, and by the time the third adventure began (The World Next Door), Chilton was no longer writing the scripts.

The 1956 Express Weekly annual contained a short black & white comic strip called Jet Morgan and the Space Pirates, illustrated by Tacconi. The 1957 annual included a short story called Jet Morgan and the Space Castaway, written by Chilton and illustrated by Cornwall.

Discovery of Transcription discs[]

The programmes were recorded in the studio on 15ips magnetic tape, and were later copied onto 33⅓rpm 16-inch coarse groove transcription discs for the BBC Transcription Services (except for Journey to the Moon episodes).[1] The master tapes were erased three months after broadcast, in accordance with BBC policy at the time. The Transcription discs were sold overseas, and their fate was unknown, so for many years it was believed that all the episodes had been lost forever.[11]

However, in 1986, a set of mis-filed Transcription discs were found by Ted Kendall, a BBC recording engineer, which turned out to be copies of Operation Luna, The Red Planet and The World in Peril. The BBC no longer possessed a suitable turntable on which to play the discs, but Kendall eventually managed to obtain an EMT 927 turntable. To clean the discs, he soaked them in warm water containing Fairy Liquid, brushed them with a goats-hair brush, and dried them using kitchen towels.[11]

Kendall then transferred the recordings to magnetic tape, removing "clicks" from the sound using a device which he designed and built, called the Mousetrap (or Front End). He removed more severe clicks after the transfer, by scraping the oxide off the magnetic tape in appropriate places.[11]

The BBC took the opportunity to re-broadcast all three series on Radio 2, beginning with Operation Luna in 1989,[1] followed by The Red Planet in 1990[3] and The World in Peril in 1991.[8] Abridged versions of the three series were also released on audio cassette. In 1998, Kendall digitally remastered the recordings for new abridged releases on audio cassette, and in 2004, the unabridged remastered recordings began to be released on CD and internet download. The three series have also been broadcast on BBC 7.

Special episodes[]

The Return from Mars[]

Template:Expand section In 1981, Radio 4's Saturday Night Theatre slot ran a special science fiction season, featuring stories such as The First Men in the Moon, The Chrysalids, A Fall of Moondust and The Technicolor Time Machine. Charles Chilton was asked to write a new one-off 90-minute episode of Journey Into Space for this slot, and The Return from Mars was the result. The plot was an approximate continuation from the end of The World in Peril (one major contradiction being that the crew return aboard Discovery, which was left behind on Mars in The World in Peril). After more than thirty years in space, and missing presumed dead, the crew finally return to Earth. The episode was broadcast on March 7, 1981.

In addition to the main characters, other characters in The Return from Mars included:[8]

Actor Character(s)
Elizabeth Proud Cassia
Patrick Barr Nichols
David Bradshawe Wrist radio / Countdown voice
Graham Faulkner Pilot / Talian
Stephen Garlick Controller / Radio voice
John McAndrew Videophone / Junior officer
Sion Probert Control / Sotteer 2
Christopher Scott Sotteer 1 / Harry
John Webb Supervisor / Radio

Frozen in Time[]

A new episode based on the original series, with David Jacobs finally taking the role of Jet Morgan (who has aged while the rest of his crew were in suspended animation due to a systems malfunction). Charles Chilton wrote the one hour play which was set in the year 2013. Broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday April 12, 2008. This was released by BBC Audio in January 2009. ISBN 9781408401040

Part Played by
Captain Jet Morgan David Jacobs
Mitch Michael Beckley
Doc/Ed Alan Marriott
Lemmy Chris Moran
Astrid Emma Fielding
Jensen Stephen Hogan
Radio Operator/Film Voice Kate Harbour

Music by David Chilton; producer/director Nicholas Russell-Pavier.

Episode First broadcast Brief plot summary
1 12 Apr 2008 March 2013. Ares' crew awakens from suspended animation, low on fuel, and technology out classed, goes to rescue a mining operation on Mars.

The Host[]

A further new episode based on the original series by Chilton, written by Julian Simpson starred Toby Stephens as Jet Morgan. Another one hour play, it was set in the year 2079. Broadcast as The Saturday Play on Radio 4 on Saturday June 27, 2009.

Part Played by
Captain Jet Morgan Toby Stephens
Mitch Jot Davies
Doc/Enceladus Control Alan Marriott
Lemmy Chris Pavlo
The Host David Jacobs
Edie Jana Carpenter
JJ Andreev Basher Savage

BBC releases on audio cassette and CD[]

Series Format Abridged? Release date Released by ISBN Extras
Operation Luna 4 cassettes Yes 1989 BBC Enterprises Ltd 0-563-22632-3 None
6 cassettes Yes 1996 BBC Worldwide Ltd 0-563-38893-5 None
4 cassettes Yes 1998 BBC Worldwide Ltd 0-563-55752-4
7 CDs No 5 July 2004 BBC Audiobooks Ltd 0-563-52489-8 Journey Into Space... Again documentary
Excerpt from Journey to the Moon
The Red Planet 6 cassettes Yes 1991 BBC Enterprises Ltd 0-563-40992-4 None
4 cassettes Yes 1998 BBC Worldwide Ltd 0-563-55757-5
10 CDs No 3 Jan 2005 BBC Audiobooks Ltd 0-563-52494-4 Charles Chilton interview, Round Midnight
The World in Peril 6 cassettes Yes 1994 BBC Enterprises Ltd 0-563-39437-4
4 cassettes Yes 1998 BBC Worldwide Ltd 0-563-55762-1 None
10 CDs Planned release 4 October 2006, cancelled
(internet download only)
The Return from Mars 2 cassettes No 2000 BBC Worldwide Ltd 0-563-55361-8 Journey Into Space... Again documentary


Currently, only the first novel has been released as an audiobook.[10]

Novel Release date Released by Format ISBN
Journey Into Space 8 May 2008 BBC Audiobooks 6 CDs 9781405688680
Internet download 9781405646628

Other related series[]

Chilton followed Journey Into Space with two other radio series – Space Force in 1984 and Space Force II in 1985 – which were based on a similar theme. Indeed, Space Force had originally been intended as a new Journey Into Space serial, following on from The Return from Mars, until relatively late in the day, so its four central characters are clear 'doubles' for the Journey Into Space team. In the version that was actually recorded and transmitted, one character (Chipper Barnett) refers to his grandfather Lemmy.

External links[]

The BBC releases of the three original series on CD and internet download are accompanied by 16-page booklets with text written by Andrew Pixley. These booklets provide detailed information about the series, and are available online:

Other links:


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 Booklet accompanying the 2004 release of the Operation Luna CD boxset by BBC Audiobooks
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Summary by Charles Chilton, Operation Luna audio cassette boxset, released by BBC Worldwide Ltd, 1996
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Booklet accompanying the 2005 release of The Red Planet CD boxset by BBC Audiobooks
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Template:Cite web
  6. Voice-over commentary on the BBC DVD "The Robots of Death" (1977, 2000)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Journey Into Space... Again, BBC Radio 4, 20 July 1999
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 8.9 Booklet accompanying the release of The World in Peril internet download
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Interview with Charles Chilton, Round Midnight, BBC Radio 2, 1989
  10. 10.0 10.1 Template:Cite web
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Template:Cite web