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on 10 February 2015
Classic audiobooks
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on 13 February 2012
Still magical and just as fresh today as it has ever sounded, nearly 60 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 this 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 as a teenager, though my persnal favourite is still the second series, 'The Red Planet'.

Journey to the Moon (Operation Luna) was penned by BBC producer Charles Chilton and originally broadcast in weekly 30 minute episodes from September 1953 to 1954. Set in 1965 (a pretty good estimate for the first moon landing), it charts the attempt of Captain Jet Morgan (Andrew Faulds, later a Labour MP), Doc (guy Kingsley-Poynter), Stephen `Mitch' Mitchell (Bruce Beeby) and Lemmie Barnett (Alfie Bass) to land a spacecraft on the moon. But what will they find when they get there? And will they be the only ones there? The series was originally 18 episodes long but the first four episodes (which took place on Earth) were not very well received by listeners. Popularity increased when the rocket `Luna' blasts off on its journey in episode 5. The series was re-recorded for broadcast in 1958 when all the original tapes were erased, omitting the first four episodes , giving us the 13 episode series that was to become known as `Operation Luna'.

Part of what makes Operation Luna such a joy to listen to is simply the quality of the storytelling and the strength of its very well-defined characters. Jet Morgan is courageous and strong, Mitch (an engineer) is practical but short-tempered, Doc is calm and intelligent. How radio-operator Lemmy Barnett ever became an astronaut is anybody's guess, but what he lacks in his knowledge of the solar system he makes up for with wit and resourcefulness.

Chilton's script is hugely inventive and filled with plenty of very sound science and philosophy at a time when landing on the moon was still a distant dream. There is also some neat social and environmental commentary provided by a mysterious `voice' first heard by the four crew members in episode 9. There are plenty of dangers for the four men to face during their voyage. In one high point in the story, all power systems aboard the ship have failed and Luna is stuck on the moon for a number of weeks, plunged into darkness and running low on food and oxygen. Jet reads from H.G Wells' classic novel `The First Men in the Moon' to keep their spirits up. It is a superb, imaginative production, rightly regarded as classic radio.

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 on 7 discs, and at an attractive price. The quality of the transfer to CD is excellent, given the age of the production. The first disc also contains a PDF file with a 16 page booklet about the series. Also included is a half-hour documentary about the series and the last remaining very brief snippet of recording from the original `Journey to the Moon'.
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on 17 April 2016
Journey Into Space is a BBC Radio science fiction programme written by BBC producer Charles Chilton. It was the last UK radio programme to attract a bigger evening audience than television. Each half-hour episode ends with a dramatic cliffhanger. This was a ploy to increase the audience's incentive to tune into the next episode.

The series is set in 1965, the year in which Chilton believed humans would first walk on the Moon. It was first broadcast in 1953–1954 .

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. The rocket hits Las Vegas, killing at least 35 people. The result is the closure of the Poker Flats site.. Meanwhile, Jet joins Mitch in his Operation Luna project – a rocket to reach the Moon.

Jet is 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's dead!

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.

The rocket "Luna" sets off for the Moon with Jet, Doc, Mitch and Lemmy aboard. The crew loses radio contact with Earth. Lemmy hears odd 'music' on the radio. Contact is resumed, and a tiny meteor hits Luna. While the ship does no sustain damage Lemmy hears the strange music again outside the ship and panics.

Luna turns for the Moon landing, and Lemmy hears the 'music' again during the final approach. The crew narrate their first moonwalk by radio to Earth on October 22, 1965. While exploring a crater, Jet vanishes from sight.

The crew experience strange things. Jet has visions of the past and the future. The music disturbs Lemmy again. Doc sees a strange dome over a crater, and writes an odd diary entry without realising. Their last week on the moon passes without incident, but as they prepare to leave for home, the ship completely loses all power.

The crew are stuck on the Moon and unable to trace what has caused the power failure. A fortnight passes, with the air temperature rising in the absence of air-conditioning. The crew sees a UFO on the televiewer on the seventh day. They hear strange noises on the tenth. When they have just enough oxygen to reach home, power is restored to the ship. The UFO lands outside.

Mitch is inquisitive and enters the UFO, where an alien intelligence posseses him. Luna takes off and orbits the Moon; on the far side, the crew encounter a fleet of UFOs, which pursues them.

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.

The crew land Luna on the planet and discover that it shares many of Earth's characteristics. For example, oxygen atmosphere, drinkable water, carbon-based vegetation and ice-caps at both the poles. After studying the stars one night, Jet deduces that they in fact are on Earth, but that they've travelled thousands of years through time. Jet discovers a prehistoric stone knife near Luna. This suggests that they've travelled back in time. But there is some confusion over this when the crew discover the tracks of a great tank-like machine near their ship. One morning, a UFO exactly like the one seen on the moon lands nearby, and a voice asks: "Hello Luna!" The crew talk with 'the voice'. They learn that the strange music they've been hearing is from a strange, omnipresent power that 'the voice' and his people use to drive their ships. 'The voice' warns them that they are in great danger, and persuades them to enter the UFO, which takes off. Eventually it lands again, in a city of domed buildings. They learn more about 'the voice' and his people. They are a peaceful, scientific race from the opposite side of the universe. They learnt to travel through time when their solar system was threatened by its expanding sun. The crew explore the city, and are disturbed by a close encounter with a sabre-toothed tiger. The creature does not attack them, but they now realise that they have travelled back through time instead of forward. They enter a domed building, walk down a long dark tunnel, and emerge in a huge underground city. They are invited into another building to meet 'the voice', but are terrified by what they find inside...

'The voice' consoles the crew, who are embarrassed by their shock, and guides them to another dome where they have a meal and beds to sleep in. Next morning, 'the voice' tells the crew about the Earth's native 'forest creatures'. They are destructive and hostile animals, and promises to help the crew get back to their own time. While preparing Luna for take-off, the crew are horrified to realise that the 'forest creatures' are, in fact, prehistoric humans.

'The voice' is not pleased to learn that the crew are descended from the 'forest creatures', but in the end agrees to help them as arranged. Luna takes off and is accelerated by the UFOs; the crew blacks out. They start to ponder on the nature of time. They become concerned about their shortage of fuel, and whether they will remember their adventures when they reach their own time.

The crew return to the Moon in 1965, but with no memory of their adventure on prehistoric Earth. Their rations have been replaced by water and an unknown bread-like substance. Doc's diary contains a detailed account; and there's a prehistoric stone knife on board Luna.

A great slice of nostalgia. Dramatic music and hammy acting. Recommended if you like old school pulp sci-fi, with moralistic overtones.
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on 21 July 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm not really a sci-fi fan. Like the majority of (mostly) sane folks, I love Red Dwarf, but that's about as sciency as I've ever got. Well, aside from loving Star Trek as a kid, and that was mainly down to dual fascinations with Captain Kirk's eyebrows and Commander Riker's chest hair, respectively.

Still, my mum told me that one of her earliest memories was listening to this series as a child and loving it so much that she couldn't bear to miss an episode. Now, my mum (bless her lovely self) is quite possibly the least likely science-fiction fan imaginable... she's scared of the remote control, for god's sake, so I was very intrigued by this unexpected admission. Being a bit of a sentimental so-and-so, I decided to give this series a try and took it along with me on my last visit to see her. There was nothing on the box - is there ever these days? - so we settled down after dinner and stuck on the first disc.

I wasn't expecting much, to be honest. I thought, given its age, the audio quality would be patchy at best, and the acting a bit stylised and tally-ho whatwhat-ish. I certainly didn't expect such a beautifully crafted piece of drama. But that's what I got. And the audio was practically perfect! We slobbed out on the sofa with a bag of mini cheddars and some lethal m&s 'extremely chocolatey mini-bites' (off topic, I know, but don't ever try these unless you want to develop a fanatical addiction) and we listened to nearly 3 whole episodes. The time flew by, and it was just a really lovely evening, seeing mum re-experiencing something she'd enjoyed so much all those years ago, and discovering exactly why for myself.

The acting is first rate. Yes, the delivery is recognisably of its period, but that can't be a real criticism. You don't miss a word or a nuance. Crystal clarity. The plot is gripping, the pacing is nicely measured, and it's a tribute to the BBC team at the time that they were able to create such suspense and atmosphere on what must have been a very limited budget. It just goes to show what some real talent and imagination can achieve - no need for flashy bells and whistles when the writing and production values are both superb.

Can't recommend this enough. I agree with other reviewers that the packaging is pretty slipshod and the series deserved better presentation, but you can't really whine when you get several hours of priceless entertainment to enjoy time and again. Many, many thanks to the BBC for releasing this.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I`m too young to have heard this series when it was originally broadcast, but I was already aware of "Journey Into Space" having heard the half-hour documentary included on disc 1 of this set when it was broadcast some years back. Allowing for it's age, it remains an enjoyably listenable adventure, surprisingly contemporary in some of its themes, but for the most part a pleasant "retro-sci-fi" experience. At 7 hours there's a lot to listen to, but the half-hour episodes are well paced and the story absorbing.
The character of Lemmy - for me anyway - was initially a bit irritating; he's there for a certain amount of comic relief and as a sounding-board for some of the ideas and situations the team encounter, but he's something of a stock character in the mould of mechanic/able seaman/rear-gunner/ salt-of-the-earth type - in this case radio operator. The rest of the cast are excellent, especially dear old Derek Guyler`s warm-toned voice of the alien. As others have stated, the sound quality is very good and clear.
A brief word on Van Phillip`s music; though its main function is to highlight points of drama, there are often short interludes of surprisingly haunting beauty; this is down to his use of the clavioline, an early keyboard synthesiser which lends an ethereal quality to the orchestral sounds. Impressive electronica, and pre-dating the formation of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, probably by a matter of months.

I enjoyed this more than I expected to, a classic piece of BBC radio drama and Sci-Fi history, presented as a very reasonable package.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an engaging period piece, a science fiction epic complete with cliff-hangers that speaks of the wonder and imagination, now seeming fresh with innocence, which informed such dramas in the 1950's.
This is a 13 episode re-recording (1958) of the original drama now lost (1953). It has been beautifully restored and is as clear as a bell.
Charles Chilton drama pits his intrepid rocket crew, in their first manned flight to the moon, against paranoia, claustrophobia, time travelling aliens and homicidal cavemen in roughly that order. It's an absolute blast. Characterisation is clear and distinct, to the clipped ramrod straight Jet Morgan (he is well acted by Shakespearean actor of the time Andrew Faulds), the by standard comedy number 2 , plain talking and bumbling Lemmy (Alfie Bass), calm and reassuring Doc (GK Poynter) and hot headed Mitch (David Williams). There's also the `voice' (David Jacobs, who also does the bit parts), an alien entity who turns out to look like a cross between a baboon and an armadillo. Heady stuff, and reminiscent of days when sci-fi had an emphasis on fun and wonder.
This package also contains an informative pdf guide full of great background and an episode guide (fascinating when detailing the 4 `lost' episodes) and original artwork, plus a Charles Chilton and cast hosted documentary "Journey into Space...again" broadcast 1999. This also has some fascinating insights, such as the revelation that the BBC mailrooms used to be staffed by facially disfigured war veterans employed by Reith, himself a disfigured veteran. This in turn apparently inspired Chilton in his depiction of an alien that looks frightening but sounds and is benevolent.
This is recommended especially for sci-fi buffs with a love of the genres history, and those with a nostalgic fondness for radio drama serials of the time.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'd never heard of Journey Into Space but started catching the odd episode on good old Radio 7.

The series is set in the future time of 1965 (it was recorded in the late 50s), which incidently was the year I was born, so it's nice to know I'm a space aged kid.

This drama was re-recorded in the late fifties and the original series (recorded some years before) were lost. The sound (considering it's age) is superb. I've been listening to this on my iPhone for the last few days and it sounds great, it really does. It's only really the plummy accents of some of the actors that really gives the age away.

The drama is excellently produced and you soon get sucked into the story right from the start when they "blast off".

As for the packaging, yes it is a little odd what with the "stacking" system, but to be honest I don't have too much problem with that. The lack of a booklet (although there is a PDF document on the discs) is a little disappointing as I like to have a read of these kind of things while I listen.

Brilliant, simply brilliant.
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VINE VOICEon 11 July 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I love vintage radio sci-fi and so "Journey into SPAAAAACE Operation Luna" has been an enjoyable listen. Yes, it's cliched (including slightly cowardly, slightly thick but loyal "servant" class Engineer "Lemmy" played by Alfie Bass, and upper class, brave, intelligent officer class "fighter pilot" Jet Morgan) and, given its 1950s genesis the requirement to educate listeners about stuff we'd find obvious today (weightlessness, vacuum, time delay in radio signals) but it still manages to entertain, albeit sometimes unintentionally.

7 hours of rip roaring, rollicking fun and terribly, terribly British. Turn off your brain and switch into 1958 and have a blast!
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VINE VOICEon 16 September 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Charles Chilton was a superb science fiction author, and the series "Journey into Space" one of his crowning achievements. Although most of the original 1953 recording was lost, the BBC had the wit to re-record it in 1958 with a brilliant cast, and these 13 episodes are in this set - plus the sole surviving recording of the original series. Whether you are old enough to have heard them 50 years ago or not, I strongly recommend them as an example of fully-cast radio plays at their best.
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VINE VOICEon 18 June 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is superb, quite simply superb. I could leave it at that because that says it all really.

Operation Luna is the rerecording of Journey Into Space, the latter was made, transmitted and then lost. The rerecording was done minus the first four episodes of the original and begins where the crew are ready to blast off rather than several installments of build up. This gives the whole thing a pacey feel about it that the original probably lacked.

I always state when writing about dramas/comedies etc that I will not go into plot details as I hate spoilers and others probably do to.

Now this thirteen part radio drama was, as stated, rerecorded from the original using mostly different actors, it was then lost just like the original for many many years before finally being found by a BBC engineer and cleaned up for broadcast in 1996, released onto tape and finally this CD set.

It sounds like it was recorded yesterday, the clean up is that good and the sound design crystal clear.

The packaging is rather hit and miss though. It has a lovely cover with retro 50's sci fi imagery which is bright and colourful.

The downside is that it doesn't have a physical booklet to acompany the set, instead Audio Go have resorted to giving us a PDF file of one on disc one and is a little mean and stingy if I'm being honest even though it is very informative and enjoyable I do prefer a copy that I can hold in my hands and it surely wouldn't have been that expensive to produce one, after all they have been doing it for years so why stop now.

The other problem is that all seven discs are stacked on top of each other which will eventually lead to scratching, this isn't the first time I've complained about this. I love my radio dramas and it does annoy me when they are not packaged properly.

The set is nicely rounded off with a documentary chronicling the eveolution of the whole Journey into Space legend and also includes a five minute extract from the original recording, which is lost forever and. although brief, does give us a glimpse ito something that can never be heard again and is very welcome indeed.

I had the misfortune to buy the updated stories The Host and Frozen In Time and I thought they were very disappointing, this is far superior and prove that they really did know how to make quality radio dramas in those days, something that the people who have taken on the job todday can really learn from.

A wonderful seven hours of historic radio and even if you are not a sci fi fan but have a general interest in old time radio then you all really need to buy this set.
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