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Journey Into Space

Journey Into Space was a science fiction BBC Radio series written by BBC producer Charles Chilton. Originally planned as a six-episode series, it was extended to 18 after unexpected popularity. In all there were three series, running for a total of 58 episodes.

Series 1, Journey Into Space, was first broadcast on September 21, 1953 on the Light Programme (which later became BBC Radio 2). The cast included Andrew Faulds[?] as Captain "Jet" Morgan, David Kossoff[?] as Lemmy Barnet, Guy Kingsley Poynter[?] as Doc Matthews and Bruce Beeby[?] as Stephen "Mitch" Mitchell (replaced after the first six episodes by Don Sharp[?], who later became a film director). Other than the main cast, David Jacobs[?] provided voices for the majority of characters. The music was composed and conducted by Van Phillips[?].

Series 2, The Red Planet, ran for 20 weeks starting on September 6, 1954 with Beeby returning as Mitchell.

Series 3, The World in Peril, also consisted of 20 episodes and was first broadcast September 26, 1955. Mitchell was once again played by Don Sharp. Kossoff, who left to pursue a stage career, was replaced by Alfie Bass[?].

With the trilogy complete it was realised that the quality of the original recordings was not good enough for repeat broadcasting or sales overseas. A new 13-episode version, called Operation Luna, was therefore produced by the BBC Transcription Service[?]. This used the cast from The World in Peril with the exception of Don Sharp who was replaced by David Williams[?]. This was broadcast weekly from March 26, 1958.

The series has been translated into 17 languages, broadcast world-wide, and in the UK it was the last radio series to attract a higher audience than that watching television. Chilton went on to write three best-selling novels based upon the radio shows. At the time the Express Weekly[?] newspaper also ran a comic strip with suggestions submitted by Chilton.

All four series were unfortunately destroyed in a purge of the BBC archive. However, a pile of misfiled transcription discs where found in 1986 by Ted Kendall, a BBC recording engineer, which turned out to be spare disc copies of Operation Luna, The Red Planet and The World in Peril. Kendall reportedly had to buy vintage 16" transcription disc turntables as the BBC had junked theirs years before. Kendall then transferred the discs to analogue tape and removed some of the worst scratches by carefully spot-erasing them.

The BBC took the opportunity to repeat the series on Radio 2 between 1989 and 1991, followed by releases on audio cassette.

As part of a special science fiction season, a 90-minute special (scripted by Chilton) was broadcast on Radio 4 on March 7, 1981, entitled The Return From Mars.

Chilton followed these with two other radio series - Space Force[?] in 1984 and Space Force II in 1985 - which were based on a similar theme.

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