Operation Luna

Series One


Initially, the first series was simply known as Journey Into Space, with the subtitle A Tale of the Future added by the Radio Times, but within the BBC it became known as Journey to the Moon. The series was set in 1965 - the year in which Chilton believed humans would first walk on the Moon - and was first broadcast in 1953–1954 on the BBC Light Programme, which later became BBC Radio 2.

The series was originally intended to have 12 episodes, and 5.1 million people tuned into the first episode, but the first four episodes (which took place on Earth) did not prove very popular, and the audience soon shrank to fewer than 4 million. But once the rocket set off for the Moon in episode 5, the audience reaction was much more favourable. The series was extended to 18 episodes, and by the time the final episode was broadcast, 8 million people were tuning in.

In 1958, Journey to the Moon was re-recorded for the BBC Transcription Services (retitled as Operation Luna), because the original recordings had been erased. The first four episodes of the original series were omitted, and episodes 12 and 13 were merged into a single episode. Today, the only surviving recording from the original 1953 series Journey to the Moon is a 5-minute excerpt from the final episode.

Original series' extra episodes

Episode 1 - broadcast 21 Sep 1953

The year is 1965, and 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.

Episode 2 - broadcast 28 Sep 1953

The rocket hits Las Vegas, killing at least 35 people, and the Poker Flats site is shut down. Meanwhile, Jet is invited by Mitch to join his Operation Luna project – a rocket to reach the Moon.

Episode 3 - broadcast 5 Oct 1953

Jet is appointed 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 is found dead.

Episode 4 - broadcast 12 Oct 1953

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.