Follow TV Tropes


Radio / Journey into Space

Go To
The cast of The World in Peril photographed in Radio Times
Journey into Space was a BBC radio series written by Charles Chilton. It was originally broadcast from 1953 to 1958 but set in the distant future of 1965 to 1972.

It was the last British radio programme to achieve higher ratings than its television rival. At 19:30 on January 10, 1955, the penultimate episode of The Red Planet received a 17% audience share in comparison to 16% for the daily newsreel on the BBC Television Service (now BBC One).

The original series consists of:

  • Journey to the Moon (1953-4), remade in 1958 as Operation Luna as the original tapes had been wiped.
  • The Red Planet (1954-5)
  • The World in Peril (1955-6)

Several further one-off instalments were produced after the original run:

  • The Return from Mars (1981), set in 2026
  • Frozen in Time (2008), set in 2013
  • The Host (2009), set in 2079

The main characters are:

Notable tropes include:

  • Absent Aliens: Played with, even though the series at first merely appears to a fairly realistic drama about the struggle to achieve a manned moon-landing.
  • Alien Abduction: In The Red Planet, the Martians have abducted many humans from Earth since at least 1879. The abductees include Bill Webster (who was taken in 1910), James Edward Whitaker (who was taken in 1924), John and Martha Bodie and a dingo hunter (who were taken in 1939) and the flying doctor (who was taken in 1956).
  • Alien Invasion: In The Red Planet, the crew learns that the Martians intend to invade Earth in 1986. In The World in Peril, the Discovery returns to Mars in 1972 and the formerly conditioned Frank Rogers tells Doc and Mitch that the Martian invasion fleet has already been launched.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: In The World in Peril, a Martian spaceship crash-lands in the Lake District. Three other spaceships land in remote areas of Australia, India and South America.
  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Travellers have no concept of music.
  • Alternate Continuity: The standalone instalments produced in later decades take place in different continuities from each other:
    • In The Return from Mars, the Discovery is caught in a time warp after leaving Mars at the end of The World in Peril and eventually returns to Earth in 2026, decades after they left.
    • In Frozen in Time, the Ares, crewed by Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch, left Earth on June 8, 1973 and began a mission of exploration around The Solar System.
    • The Host also takes place in a different continuity from the original series. The Ares was launched approximately 100 years later, at some point between 2071 and 2079.
  • Ancient Astronauts:
    • In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Travellers attempted to colonise Earth thousands of years ago.
    • In The Red Planet, the Martians were a race of giants and their visit to Earth gave rise to myths about giants, who were often believed to live in the sky.
  • Arc Words: In The Red Planet, people who have been conditioned by the Martians often say "Orders must be obeyed without question at all times." The phrase is repeated in Episode 14 of The World in Peril in which Doc sardonically notes that he has heard it before.
  • Audience Surrogate: Lemmy does not possess very much scientific or engineering knowledge. As such, he often needs things explained to him by Jet, Mitch and, to a lesser extent, Doc.
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Travellers cannot kill any living creature.
  • Bizarre Human Biology: In The Red Planet and The World in Peril, the Martians altered the biology of many humans so that they could survive in the Martian atmosphere.
  • Brain Uploading: In The Host, J.J. Andreev's personality was coded onto the computer of the Vardis after his death in 2071.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Jet: "Good heavens!"; "Good grief!"; "Quiet, Lemmy!" (when chastising Lemmy for saying something foolish or unhelpful)
    • Lemmy: "Oh, blimey!"; "Do me a favour!"/"Turn it up!"(when arguing with a crewmate); "Yes, Jet"/"No, Jet" when chastised by Jet)
    • Doc: "Land's sakes!"
    • Mitch: "Streuth!"
  • Character Narrator: The series is narrated by Doc through the medium of his diary.
  • Chromosome Casting:
    • The Red Planet was the only entry in the original series to feature women in the cast: Miriam Karlin played an hallucination of Lemmy's mother in Episode 13 while Madi Hedd played Martha Bodie in Episodes 15 and 16.
    • Cassia is the only female character to appear in The Return from Mars.
    • Edie Harper is the only female character to appear in The Host.
  • Cliffhanger: Discounting the final episode of each season, every episode ends in a cliffhanger.
  • Les Collaborateurs:
    • In The Red Planet, the flying doctor is one of the few humans on Mars who does not believe that he is still living a perfectly normal life on Earth. He willingly participates in the Martian plan to invade Earth in 1986.
    • In The World in Peril, the Lunar Controller has been collaborating with the Martians since his abduction several years earlier.
  • Colonized Solar System:
    • The space programme's long-term goal is to establish colonies on The Moon, Mars and Venus. In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Mitch believes that the construction of a lunar colony will be a matter for their children or grandchildren. However, The Red Planet reveals that there is already a lunar colony by 1971. In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Jet experiences a premonition of the launch of a ship bound for Venus on October 30, 1965.
    • In The Host, there is a research station in orbit of Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons.
  • Comm Links: In The Return from Mars, the Talians use wrist communicators.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Operation Luna, the remake of Journey to the Moon, had only 13 episodes compared to the original's 18. It omitted the original's first four episodes set on Earth and combined its 12th and 13th episodes into one episode.
  • Cool Ship:
    • The Luna in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna.
    • The Discovery in The Red Planet and The World in Peril.
  • Cyberspace: In The Host, Jet enters a virtual reality environment in order to confront the personality construct of J.J. Andreev.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lemmy. For example,
    Time Traveller: Have we harmed you up to now?
    Lemmy: Oh no - apart from knocking us right out of our own time into heaven-knows-where, you haven't harmed us at all!
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: In The Red Planet, Mitch almost drifts off into space but he is rescued by Jet and Lemmy.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By: In The Red Planet, Whitaker's presence causes Jet to have a dream about visiting the British Empire Exhibition with Whitaker in 1924. He hears the 1923 novelty song "When It's Night Time in Italy, It's Wednesday Over Here" by James Kendis and Lew Brown and sees London as it existed in 1924 as opposed to how it exists in his own time of 1971. Prior to this, Jet had never heard of either the Exhibition or the song.
  • Energy Beings: Discussed in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna. Lemmy theorises that the Time Travellers may not have physical bodies.
  • The Evils of Free Will: In The World in Peril, the conditioned Harding tells Jet that it is in Earth's interest to be conquered as all of humanity's societal problems will cease to exist when choice is removed from the equation. The Martian similarly argues that humans are inherently destructive and that conditioning them en masse will be beneficial.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Travellers do not wear clothes due to their armoured shells.
  • Failed Future Forecast: In Frozen in Time, which was produced in 2008, it is mentioned that the Ares embarked on a mission to explore The Solar System on June 8, 1973 and had reached Neptune by 1977.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Space travel is limited to the inner planets and takes a very long time, until the Time Travellers show up in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna.
  • First Contact: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Luna crew makes first contact with the Time Travellers on The Moon in November 1965.
  • Floating Continent: In The World in Peril, each of the Martians' asteroid ships are populated by hundreds of people and are essentially self-sustaining flying cities.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Jet is sanguine, Mitch is choleric, Doc is melancholic and Lemmy is phlegmatic and/or supine.
  • Human Popsicle:
    • In Frozen in Time, Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch were placed in the suspended animation pods of Ares on May 10, 1977. Pod 4, containing Jet, failed after several weeks. As such, Jet was forced to operate the ship alone for almost 36 years until the other three crewmembers were revived on March 9, 2013.
    • In The Host, the Ares crew are awakened from suspended animation when the ship receives a Distress Call from the Vardis on May 17, 2079. Edie Harper later tells the crew that the other 47 crewmembers of the Enceladus research station entered stasis two years earlier after their funding was cut off.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Travellers encountered a vicious, violent species on Earth: early humans. They're not convinced that modern humans are any better.
    • In The World in Peril, it is revealed that the Martians had previously attempted to settle on Earth. They found the inhabitants too violent and were driven off.
  • Humans Are Ugly: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Traveller tells the crew that his people were originally shocked by their appearance and that it took that quite some time to get used to it.
  • Humorless Aliens: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Jet doubts that the Time Travellers have a sense of humour.
  • Immune to Mind Control:
    • In The Red Planet, Doc and Peterson are the only members of the Martian expedition who are immune to the Martian conditioning. Doc tells Lemmy that the Director of the Department of Hypnotic Medicine was unable to place him in an hypnotic state when he attended medical college.
    • In The World in Peril, Jet and Lemmy meet Paddy Flynn, who was likewise immune to the Martians' attempts at mind control.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Traveller resembles a bipedal armadillo with a blue and red face, which Mitch compares to that of a mandrill. Doc estimates that he is seven foot tall. However, Jet says nine feet and Mitch says twelve feet.
  • Interplanetary Voyage:
    • In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch travel from the Earth to The Moon in 1965.
    • In both The Red Planet and The World in Peril, the crew journey from The Moon to Mars, first in 1971 and then again in 1972.
  • Invisibility: Discussed in The World in Peril. Lemmy speculates that the Martians may be invisible. Mitch describes this as "about the worst suggestion made to now."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Mitch, especially in Operation Luna. His short fuse and over-protectiveness of his self-designed and constructed spaceship and lunar mission makes him downright unreasonable towards his crewmates, particularly Lemmy, whom he even describes as "psychologically unsuitable" and "a psychological misfit" in Episode 1. He mellowed a great deal throughout the second and third seasons.
    • Jet Morgan himself can also be one to a lesser extent. Although a very capable leader and ultimately concerned for his crew's safety, he has a tendency to be overly impatient and occasionally insensitive. He is often condescending towards Lemmy. For instance, in The Red Planet:
      Lemmy: (upon waking from an undescribed nightmare) Oh, thank goodness. That was about the most horrible dream I ever had!
      Jet: But it was only a dream! Now pull yourself together and get down out of that bunk. I've got work for you to do!
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: This trope is given a Time Travel variation in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna. Once they return to their own time, the Luna crew lose all memory of everything that happened after they saw the Time Travellers' fleet on the dark side of The Moon. However, both Lemmy and Doc experience a sense of Déjà Vu.
  • Last of His Kind: The Martian in The World in Peril.
  • Long-Lived: In The World in Peril, it is mentioned that Martians have a lifespan of more than 300 years.
  • Mass Hypnosis: In The World in Peril, the Martians plan to conquer Earth by having the conditioned Professor Brewer hypnotise the vast majority of humanity over the television. Those who are already conditioned will be immune to its effects while those who do not watch the broadcast will be either conditioned or killed. In 1966, Professor Brewer attempted to hypnotise all of the viewers in the Commonwealth as a sort of trial run.
  • Mega-Corp: In The Host, large parts of Earth are controlled by huge corporations in 2079. There are only a few remaining governments.
  • Mental Time Travel: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the presence of the Time Travellers causes Jet's mind to travel back in time to his childhood in Edinburgh when his great-uncle Hector was tutoring him about The Moon.
  • The Mole:
    • In The Red Planet, James Edward Whitaker, who was abducted and conditioned by the Martians in 1924, serves as their spy in the Discovery expedition.
    • In The World in Peril, the crew discover that the Lunar Controller has been working with the Martians all along. He used his influence to bring conditioned personnel such as Whitaker into the space programme.
  • More than Three Dimensions: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Traveller states that, unlike humans, his people can control their movement through the fourth dimension: time.
  • The Morlocks: Subverted in The Return from Mars. The Talians tell Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch that the Sotteers are primitive and aggressive genetic rejects who detract from their perfection. While the Sotteers lack the Talians' so-called physical perfection, it turns out that they are every bit as intelligent and civilised as the Talians.
  • Multi National Team: The crew is British (Jet and Lemmy), Canadian (Doc) and Australian (Mitch).
  • No Name Given:
    • In the original series, the frequently heard Control operator's name is never stated.
    • In The Red Planet, the dingo hunter and the flying doctor are not named.
  • Older Than They Look:
    • In The Red Planet, James Edward Whitaker claims to have been born on September 12, 1940, which is consistent with his appearance being that of a man in his early 30s. However, his actual date of birth is September 12, 1893. Records indicate that he disappeared in 1924. He has not aged a day in the intervening 47 years. After he dies, his body reverts to its true age of 78. The crew later discover that the same is true of every human brought to Mars. They are all at least 15 years older than they appear to be.
    • In The Return from Mars, Cassia appears to be 17 but she tells Jet that she is 38 Tribosian years old. Jet believes that this equates to approximately 54 Earth years. However, Cassia tells him that he has miscalculated and her true age in Earth years is 152.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Doc's first name is never revealed in the original. However, it is said to be Daniel in The Host.
  • Plant Aliens: Discussed in The Red Planet. Lemmy suspects that the Martians may be vegetable men.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: At the beginning of every episode of Operation Luna and The World in Peril, a voice - usually David Jacobs but sometimes Guy Kingsley Poynter (Doc) - intones "JOURNEY. INTO. SPACE!" Jacobs does so once again at the beginning of both Frozen in Time and The Host, which were produced 50 years after Operation Luna.
  • La Résistance: In The World in Peril, Paddy Flynn tells the Discovery crew and Frank Rogers that he is the leader of a resistance against the Martians. He composed a rebel song, "The Green Hills of Earth", that he and the other resistance members sing on a regular basis. However, Paddy later admits that the so-called rebellion had been mostly talk and that he had never intended to take direct action against the Martians.
  • Retro Rocket: The Luna.
  • Rousseau Was Right: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Jet delivers something of a Kirk Summation, admitting that although humanity has made some terrible mistakes, it is learning and will better itself if allowed to develop in freedom.
  • San Dimas Time: Discussed in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna. Lemmy speculates that all of time happens at once. He compares time to a book, saying that you have to read the first six chapters of a book in order to reach Chapter 7 but Chapter 7 still exists when you are reading Chapter 1. Lemmy theorises that Henry VIII is marrying his sixth wife (Catherine Parr) on the proper page (in 1543) and that his girlfriend Becky is concerned about him on her proper page in 1965.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, while under the control of the Time Travellers, Mitch claims that their ship is from hundreds of lightyears away: the other side of the universe.
  • Screens Are Cameras: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, this seems to be the case with the televiewer of the Luna.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the eighth episode of Journey to the Moon (remade as the fifth episode of Operation Luna), Jet reads The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells four times during the seven days that the Luna is without power on the surface of The Moon. To help them to stave off their boredom, he later reads it out to Lemmy, Doc and Mitch. When a UFO is seen on the televiewer, Lemmy suggests that it may belong to the Selenites.
    • In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Lemmy sarcastically compares the voice of the initially unseen Time Traveller to the Wizard of Oz.
    • In The Red Planet, James Edward Whitaker was named after the reference book Whitaker's Almanack.
    • Also in The Red Planet, Lemmy has a hypnotic dream about returning to his childhood home in the East End of London. He sees his autographed photographs of Charlie Chaplin and the World War II flying ace Neville Duke in his bedroom and hears the song "Somebody Stole My Gal", the theme tune of The Billy Cotton Band Show, playing on Mr Bamburg's radio from upstairs.
    • In the eleventh episode of The World in Peril, the human rebels sing "The Green Hills of Earth", the most famous song of Rhysling, blind singer of the spaceways, in the Robert A. Heinlein short story of the same name. More specifically, it is the revised version featured in the Dimension X radio adaptation in 1950.
  • Shown Their Work: Charles Chilton was interested in the idea of space travel and researched the then purely theoretical concept before writing the series. The prehistory of Earth and the movement of the stars over millennia are also discussed at length in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna. Although there are numerous examples of Artistic License, Chilton's research is very much in evidence throughout the series.
    • In stark contrast to many science fiction works in the 1950s, the point is made in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna that scientists believe that Mars is the only other planet in The Solar System that could possibly support or have supported any form of life.
    • There is a time delay when the crew communicates with Earth. It is of little over a second when the Luna exchanges messages with Control after landing on The Moon in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna. In The Red Planet and The World in Peril, it grows longer as the fleet approaches Mars. It is of several minutes duration by the time that they land on the planet.
    • In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, Polaris is identified as the current pole star in 1965 but it is acknowledged that this status is not permanent. Jet is aware that Earth's axial precession cycle means that Vega was the pole star 13,000 years ago and will be again in 13,000 years' time, Thuban was the pole star 5,000 years ago and a star in the constellation Cepheus will be the pole star in 5,000 years' time.
    • Also in Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, it is mentioned that there were four ice ages and that anatomically modern humans existed 200,000 years ago.
    • In The Red Planet, the climate, temperature, atmosphere and geography of Mars are accurately described, discounting purely science fiction elements.
    • In The World in Peril, it is mentioned that there are twelve moons of Jupiter, which was consistent with the best available data in 1955.
  • Sick Captive Scam: In The Red Planet, after they are captured by the flying doctor, Lemmy pretends to faint so that Jet, who is rapidly losing oxygen due to his helmet having been punctured, can escape.
  • Single-Biome Planet: In The Return from Mars, the Discovery becomes trapped in a time warp and arrives on a desert planet named Tribos. Doc determines that the planet's axial tilt is virtually zero, accounting for its single biome. The crew eventually discover that Tribos is in fact Earth in the very distant future.
  • Space Pirates: In The Host, Edie Harper believes that Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch are space pirates from a rival corporation who are trying to steal the research being conducted on the Enceladus station.
  • Space Plane: In The Return from Mars, Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch are brought back to Earth on a stratoplane, which is described as a cross between an airplane and a spaceship.
  • The Spock: In The Red Planet, James Edward Whitaker is cold, emotionless and never makes small talk due to his conditioning by the Martians. His shipmate Frank Rogers finds him creepy and off-putting and can hardly even stand to be in his presence after only two days. This presents a problem considering that the two of them must share Freighter No. 2 during the fleet's six month journey to Mars. Lemmy has much the same reaction to Whitaker as Rogers does. Several members of the Martian expedition, including Rogers, Grimshaw, McLean, Dobson and Harding, are later conditioned and display the same characteristics as Whitaker.
  • Sub Space Ansible: Averted. This becomes a plot point in The Red Planet, when the lack of any significant delay in communicating with Earth alerts the Discovery crew to the fact that the voice is an impostor, that of James Edward Whitaker.
  • Super Breeding Program: In The Return from Mars, the Talians are dedicated to creating perfect beings. As such, breeding is strictly regulated. Anyone who has a child without permission is exiled from Talia and is forced to join the Sotteers, a group of genetic rejects.
  • Take That!:
    • In The World in Peril, after learning of the Martians' plan to hypnotise humanity through a television broadcast, Lemmy remarks that they will slaves of the television. The Lunar Controller replies, "They're hardly more than that now." Lemmy later comments that television has been a major weapon of people from Earth for years.
    • In Frozen in Time, Charles Chilton takes numerous shots at 21st Century society. When Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch arrive on Mars in order to rescue the Earth Saviour Operation, they meet a media officer, a health and safety officer and an IT officer but they are informed that Saviour does not have any engineers as it is operated by an artificial intelligence named Crystal. Lemmy describes these job titles as "modern lingo" and "mumbo jumbo." Doc later notes that the Saviour crew seem to spend all of their spare time playing games on computers.
  • Telepathy: In The Red Planet, the six-legged Martian giant beetle-like creature (which John and Martha Bodie believe to be their dog Bob) is telepathic.
  • Time-Travel Romance: In The Return from Mars, the Discovery becomes trapped in a time warp. Jet falls in love with Cassia, a native of the planet Tribos which turns out to be Earth in the far future.
  • Translator Microbes: In The Return from Mars, Cassia gives Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch necklaces that read their thoughts and translates her language into English and vice versa.
  • Trapped in the Past: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the proximity of the Luna to the Time Travellers' fleet near The Moon causes it to be sent at least 13,000 years back in time. Jet believes that they have travelled about 50,000 years into the past. The announcer gives the date as 20,000 years prior to 1965 in the introductions to the twelfth and thirteenth episodes of Operation Luna. This is confirmed in-universe by Jet in the latter.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future:
    • In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the rocket ship Luna lands on The Moon on October 22, 1965. Mitch is the first person to walk on its surface. The first moonwalk is broadcast to Earth over the radio.
    • In The Red Planet, a fleet of nine ships, consisting of the flagship Discovery and eight freighters, bound for Mars is launched from The Moon on April 1, 1971. They arrive at their destination in October. By this time, there is a lunar colony.
    • In The World in Peril, the Lunar Controller notes that no weapon has been fired in war in the ten years since 1962.
    • In The Return from Mars, Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch arrive back on Earth in 2026.
    • In Frozen in Time, the Ares arrives on the Earth Saviour Operation base on Mars on March 9, 2013, which was then five years in the future.
  • Underground City: In Journey to the Moon / Operation Luna, the Time Travellers built an underground city on Earth thousands of years in the past. It is located under a desert which would later become the Mediterranean Sea. They destroy the city once they abandon Earth and take up residence in another underground city on Venus.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: In The Host, the Orion Simulation is a training simulation that military cadets undergo as part of their training. J.J. Andreev is the only person in history to have ever penetrated its defences. The simulation involves a booby trap which is designed to demonstrate that focusing all of your energy on an attack leaves you vulnerable to counterattack.
  • Video Phone:
    • In The World in Peril, the control rooms of the asteroid ships are equipped with one way vision phones which are used for surveillance as well as communication.
    • In The Return from Mars, the crew's living quarters in Talia is equipped with a video phone operated by an artificial intelligence.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The Red Planet is a Whole Flashback Season. The first episode begins with Doc making an ominous diary entry: "June 15, 1972. Earth time. Seven years since man first conquered space. Two hours ago, we took off from Mars on the first stage of our 355 million mile journey back to Earth and home. Of the twenty men who went out on this mission, only eight are returning." It then flashes back to the flagship Discovery and eight freighters departing from Mars on April 1, 1971. Doc's retrospective narration is heard throughout The Red Planet.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Martian in The World in Peril believes that invading Earth and enslaving humanity will bring about an unprecedented era of peace and happiness and prevent the problems that doomed the Martian civilisation.