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Summary

A sensational sci-fi serial from the birth of space exploration.

First broadcast in 1959, a fortnight after the Soviet Luna 2 space probe crash-landed on the moon, Orbiter X thrilled radio audiences with its gripping and topical story of plucky British astronauts and their bold plan to conquer space. The original recordings were presumed lost, but fortunately a set of discs made for overseas broadcast survived to be found and remastered by Radio 4 Extra in 2016. Included here are all 14 episodes of the rediscovered serial.

The road to the stars begins with the prefabricated components of a space station being rocketed into orbit. Shaped like a giant wheel and codenamed 'Orbiter X', the platform will boast synthetic gravity, produced by the rotation around the central hub, and is designed to circle the earth in a rapid polar orbit. Equipped with a laboratory, observatory and living accommodation for the crew, it will enable mankind to explore the solar system and perhaps even set foot on the moon....

But before construction can begin, the first assembly ship, Orbiter 1, loses contact with mission control following an apparent collision. A second craft, Orbiter 2, piloted by Captain Bob Britton, is sent out to rescue the first crew, but finds Orbiter 1 deserted and the ship's log missing. Orbiter 2 has been led into a trap - and before they can escape, Britton and his team find themselves under attack....

Written by prolific dramatist B. D. Chapman, whose credits included Dick Barton - Special Agent, this tense, suspenseful space serial stars John Carson as Captain Bob Britton, Andrew Crawford as Captain Douglas McClelland and Barrie Gosney as Flight Engineer Hicks.

Produced by Charles Maxwell.

Cast:

Captain Bob Britton - John Carson

Captain Douglas McClelland - Andrew Crawford

Flight Engineer Hicks - Barrie Gosney

Colonel Kent - Donald Bisset

Captain Jack Bradley - John Witty

UFO Commander - Arthur Lawrence

Control Officer Camm - Francis Hall

Radio Operator - John Matthews

Gelbin - Arthur Lawrence

Max Kramer - Gerik Schjelderup

Greta Ravel - Irene Prador

Sir Charles Day - Leslie Perrins

Control Officer Brown - Peter Noel Cook

Neasen - Ian Sadler

Letmann - John Cazabon

Captain Knight - John Graham

First broadcast BBC Light Programme, 28th September - 28th December 1959.

©2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2021 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

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Brexit In Space

Captain Britton fights an organisation called Unity, who all seem to be European, and aim at a New World Order. In space.

In itself it's a tolerable slice of sci-fi Dick Barton hokum but it's as subtle as a brick.

Given it's been in the BBC archives since 1959 I do wonder why it's only now been released.

A counter-factual Brexiteer fever dream ... in space.

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Journey into space (again)

Very similar to Charles Chilton’s classics, not just story but also casting and music. More of a militaristic theme and some inadvertently hilarious misconceptions. Whilst ‘of its time’, I found it enjoyable and listened to it all. Maybe it most reminds me of the endless serials (with its labyrinthian plot twists and cliffhangers) of my childhood!