Top positive review
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Orders must be obeyed without question at all times
on 5 February 2012
Still magical and just as fresh today as it has ever sounded, more than 55 years after it was first broadcast on BBC radio, Journey Into Space is surely one of the most engaging productions in radio history. I remember listening to the first series (`Operation Luna') during a repeat run as a small boy in the late 80s and being totally captivated. I have loved it ever since and subsequently bought all three series on cassette, though my favourite is and has always been `The Red Planet'.
The Red Planet was penned by BBC producer Charles Chilton, and originally broadcast in twenty 30 minute episodes from September 1954 to January 1955. It charts the attempts of Captain Jet Morgan (Andrew Faulds, later a Labour MP), Doc (Guy Kingsley-Pointer), Lemmy Barnett (David Kossoff), Stephen "Mitch" Mitchell (Bruce Beeby) and a number of other crew members to lead a successful space voyage to Mars in a fleet of ships taking off from the moon. Needless to say, there are those who will stop at nothing to ensure the mission is a failure, and the crew must overcome great resistance if they are to return home alive. The series is riveting listening; by turns dark, exciting and thoroughly absorbing, a bona-fide classic.
What makes The Red Planet such a joy to listen to is simply the quality of the storytelling and the likeability of the very well defined and developed characters such as the short tempered Mitch and the courageous Jet. God alone knows how Lemmy ever became an astronaut, but what he lacks in knowledge of the solar system he makes up for in resourcefulness and a sound sense of humour in the face of adversity. The supporting characters are, in one way or another, vital to the unfolding of the plot and kudos must go to both David Jacobs and John Cazabon, who play the parts of multiple characters. Chilton writes with great wit and inventiveness and throws in a surprising amount of very sound science for us to chew on.
The BBC released this series on CD a number of years ago, but only in a small run and at rather a high price. Thankfully they saw fit to do so again and this new release contains every 30 minute episode in its full glory (not the abridged 12 part version released on cassette) on 10 discs, and at an attractive price. The quality of the transfer to CD is excellent. The first disc also contains a PDF file of a 16 page booklet about the series.