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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 2 September 2012
I am not going to go on about the positives of this series. It was ground breaking and has stood the test of time (time being the best judge of all).

What's my gripe then?

Stacked CDs = cheap packaging (if you want disc 13 you have to pull the whole lot out...which is going to slip out of your hand at some point)

No booklet = just PDF (It was a present for my Uncle - who does not own a computer)

This modern trend to get the buyer to spend money on printer cartridges to print instruction booklets has now pervaded into descriptive texts. I am sure some middle management got some brownie points for coming up with this idea, but I have a feeling many who buy this are going to have the same gripe (memories of listening to the series next to the speaker of the radio come flooding into your mind as you excitedly peel of the plastic wrapping, only to be greeted by bewilderment.)

I would have gladly paid more for better packaging and presentation.
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on 11 August 2011
I first heard 'The Red Planet' on the radio when I was about eleven, not having heard the earlier series. I was thrilled by this exciting, imiginative and scary tale of space travel and could hardly wait for Monday nights to hear the next episode. I bought the tapes over ten years ago and was surprised to find the tales still fresh and enjoyable so many years later. My son - then eleven too - also got hooked on the series and listened to it over and over again. So even in the days of computers and fast moving imagery, 'Journey into Space' must have stood the test of time. Yes the characters and acting are products of the 50's; it would have been difficult for them to be otherwise. All citizens of the British Empire, well of course, assuming that Doc is meant to be a Canadian whereas the actor who played him was an American, I believe.
I really have little to add to what has already been said about 'Operation Luna'
The transfer to CD is first rate, everything being crisp and clear.
The BBC certainly knows how to do things superbly but they also know how to do things poorly:
The CD's are stacked which is unsatisfactory from the point of view of access as well as possible damage. There is no booklet but rather a pdf file; this in itself could be better as it would have been interesting to see photographs and mini biographies of the cast. Andrew Faulds and David Kossof are well known but who were Guy Kingsley Pointer and Bruce Beeby?
However don't let these minor moans deter you from buying the three CD's, it was and still is a wonderful series.

-SPOILER- I always find it amusing that the Martian plans to use television to hypnotise and subdue us Earth Folk. I'm sure that's happened; either Charles Chiltern was a good predictor of the future or perhaps it's true. What are your orders?....
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I was too young to have appreciated this story which was the second in a series of 3 first broadcast on radio between 1953 - 1958. The first story, 'Journey into Space: Operation Luna', and the third story, 'Journey into Space: The World in Peril', and of course the second, were all written by Charles Chiltern who died in January 2013.

This CD collection, as well as the other 2 stories on CD, are the original radio series which have lost none of their impact after more than 60 years.

Charles was employed by the BBC and after a long career became a noteworthy writer of stories for the radio. Prior to writing the 'Journey into Space' trilogy, Charles wrote a western series called, 'Riders of the Range' but it was not until 'Journey into Space' was broadcast that the BBC realised they had an instant hit and a future classic on their hands. Charles was an amateur astronomer which doubtless helped him give body, detail and credibility to these stories which feature the interplanetary exploits of Jet Morgan, Doc Matthews, Stephen 'Mitch' Mitchell and Lemmy Barnet.

Charles Chiltern attempted to resurrect the exploits of the quartet some years later but these stories were not as popular as the original trilogy.

One might think that in 2013 these stories would have become dated but this is definitely not the case. Some of the technical detail is now known to be incorrect but the stories remain as fresh, imaginative and as atmospheric as when they were first broadcast.

I have the complete series on CD, which I love listening to, and I purchased the books too mainly in homage to Charles Chiltern but also to see how the written stories differed, if at all, from the radio and CD series.

I would thoroughly recommend the books and CDs to anyone with an interest his sci-fi.
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on 17 June 2015
Pull your chair closer to the roaring fire, ignore the haze from your dad’s pipe, and fine tune the brown Bakelite wireless to the Light Programme. Yes, it’s Monday night in late 1954, that special night when you’re allowed to stay up and listen to ‘Journey into Space - The Red Planet’. Clutching a hot mug of Ovaltine, the next half hour will see you joining Jet Morgan and his crew in the unforgettable radio series that hooked the nation’s kids, and was the main playground topic of the time. Believe it! – you will be there again via this wonderful BBC audio restoration. Inside the magnificent ten CD box lies the magic key to one's distant past – a place where they do things very differently.

Roger Hopkins
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on 16 June 2013
Bought the complete set of Charles Chilton's Journey into Space on impulse. It was fantastic to listen again to the series I heard as a boy. I even remembered some of the story line. Who can forget 'Lemmy'. I still have the remaining two episodes to listen to, so I am rationing my listening to make them last. For fans of the series, a must.
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on 4 June 2016
A very worthy successor to Operation Luna, the Red Planet tells the story of the first flight to Mars.

The science behind it is very well thought out and believable (Even from a 21st century perspective).

The story is excellent as is the casting and production. There's nothing not to like.

Chiltern's version of the future (from the 1950s) would make a great setting for an RPG (Role playing game).
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on 1 November 2013
For me this took me back to my childhood and listening to the wireless to programs like "Journey into space" and "Dick Barton Special Agent" the time when you used your imagination and be garranteed there would be no profanities , there is still the suspense .
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on 22 October 2013
I really like this segment of the Journey Into Space saga. The atmosphere builds very well and the characters are believeable. I know the storyline almost backwards; however every time I slip the first CD into the car player it all seems fresh and new. Yes, there are a few minor, unexplained aspects of the story as it unfolds. If they worry, work 'em out yourself. "Orders are to be obeyed without question at all times".
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on 16 August 2014
Journey into Space is quite simply an astonishing piece of work. The brainchild of writer/producer Charles Chilton who, with very little knowledge of science, managed to create a mesmerizing tale of adventure which is utterly timeless. Of the three series (Luna, Red Planet, Peril), this is undoubtedly the best. The journey to mars itself is filled with adventure and intrigue all marvelously intertwined with a sinister undertone of something afoot - personified by the creepy Whittaker. Someone clearly doesn't want them to get to Mars. But why? And who? Upon arrival at Mars, those questions are gradually answered as the plot deepens with evermore revealing plot twists before the finale which comes all too soon.

The acting is quite simply top notch. Lemmys apparent route to qualified astronaut doesn't quite bear thinking about but he provides the good-natured comic relief and more than once delivers one liners that make me chuckle every time I hear it ("flat footed cabbages"?). Doc supplies a soothing common sense approach although little else. This is not a criticism in any way it's just that I don't know what his function is apart from narrating! Were he not there I'm not sure the story would change at all. Mitch is the hard nosed, ill-tempered engineer who often deserves a smack (Jet duly obliges). Jet, meanwhile, exudes confidence as the commander and is utterly believable as a leader. The sound effects compliment the acting perfectly and still have me in awe considering that the time this was made WW2 rationing was still in effect and people were struggling to find bacon let alone a device complex enough to represent all the myriad of sounds present here.

What makes this series even more remarkable is that it is 60yrs old. If we imagine space travel now we superimpose the space shuttle into our imaginations and recall scenes from numerous movies. No such luxuries back then when even Sputnik hadn't been launched let alone men in spaceships. Pure imagination and fantasy was the order of the day. The audience share back then was equivalent to 16million (UK) today! Can you imagine 16million listening in at the same time for 30mins each week.

Probably never before and certainly never since has it been so much fun to shut your eyes and let science fiction audio stimulate your imagination and take you to places in your mind you never even knew were there. If ever there is a radio show hall of fame or museum, this deserves top billing as a supreme example of wonderful story-telling, terrific acting and good old fashioned science fiction fun. Legendary.
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