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.