"A journey into space. What is space? It is nothing: yet it exists everywhere. Space - the limitless, infinite, awful, lonely, utter blackness to be found beyond the universe...But the imaginative human mind is a fast traveller, so let's move in and take a closer look..."
These words, spoken by Guy Kingsley Poynter, opened the first episode of a new BBC Light Programme serial Journey into Space, on 21 September 1953. The show was a replacement for Riders of the Range, a popular Western with music which had begun on 13 January 1949 and, after six seasons, had concluded the previous week. Like Its predecessor, journey into Space was written and produced by Charles Chilton.
Born in 1917, Chilton had joined the BBC as a messenger boy In 1933. After producing jazz programmes and serving with the RAF in the war, Chilton continued with the BBC Variety Department. 'A lot of scripts began to arrive with the idea of doing science fiction, ' recalled Chilton. 'Michael Standing, the Head of Department, called me in and said, "Look, you write pop adventures. Couldn't you write science fiction?" So I said that I'd try.. At the time, true space travel was about to begin'.
Chilton himself was a member of the British Astronomical Association who had built a small observatory In his garden, helped by Charles Irwin who played Luke in Riders of the Range. Originally it was planned that the series would run for twelve episodes, and Chilton wanted good cliffhangers, reminiscent of the chapter serials he recalled from his youth.
Veteran actor Wilfred Walter was recommended to Chilton to play rocket pioneer Sir William Morgan. The main hero, his son Captain Andrew 'Jet' Morgan, was played by Scots Shakespearean actor Andrew Faulds, who later became Labour MP forWarley. Playing cheerful Cockney Jewish radio operator Lemuel 'Lemmy' Barnet was David Kossoff, an actor well known for his Jewish folk humour. Writer/actor Guy Kingsley Poynter, whom Chilton had used before ('he was a very good poetry reader') played the team's soft-spoken American medical officer, Doc Matthews.
Cast and credits:
Andrew Faulds (Jet Morgan), Alfie Bass (Lemmy), Guy Kingsley Poynter (Doc), David Williams (Mitch) with John Cazabon [I-2], Alan KeitH , David Jacobs [3-8. II-I 3], Duncan Mclntyre , Deryck Guyler [9-13]
Orchestra conducted by Van Phillips who also wrote the musicJourney into Space was written and produced for the BBC by Charles Chilton
Episodes first transmitted on the BBC Light Programme
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