BBC will celebrate 50 years since the first moon landings with a series of programmes across TV, Radio and online

Programming will commemorate the historic event, from those involved in the cockpit all the way to our own correspondents covering the first human moon walk, half a century ago.

Published: 7 June 2019

Part of the celebration will see Michael Palin take viewers on an adventurous journey in CBeebies Bedtime stories with By The Light Of The Moon by Tom Percival. While in a first, the Sci-Fi Prom features scores from cult space and sci-fi films, including Steve Price’s Gravity and Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar.

BBC Two will host special programmes which take viewers directly into the heart of the mission itself:

  • 8 Days: To the Moon & Back, a feature-length drama documentary which brings the real story of the mission as it really happened. With access to declassified cockpit audio, cutting-edge digital effects will be used to create a visual journey bringing the original audio to life.
  • Stargazing: Moonlanding Special: Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain travel to where the historic Apollo 11 mission began. They meet astronaut General Charlie Duke who shares what it was like to guide Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon, and how he followed in their footsteps three years later.

BBC Four will celebrate the moon landing with a mixture of new and archive programmes:

  • Chasing The Moon is the definitive history of the international space race. It will provide more of the facts confronting myths surrounding the Apollo Mission, detailing the breathtaking failures and successes of the race between the US and the Soviet Union to reach the moon.
  • The Sky At Night Special: The Moon, The Mission And The BBC will search through the archives to recount how the BBC reported the moonshot. Presented by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock with very special guests including Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman, NASA’s love for the BBC will be explained through accurate predictions and coverage at the time.
  • At the Royal Albert Hall this summer, the BBC Proms ponders how composers across the centuries have imagined and created the sound of space. On the exact anniversary of the moon landing, Holst’s world-renowned The Planets is complemented by John Adams’s ever-popular Short Ride In A Fast Machine (21 July).
  • Public Service Broadcasting recreate their ground-breaking 2015 concept album The Race For Space (25 July)
  • In a Proms first, the Sci-Fi Prom features scores from cult space and sci-fi films, including Steve Price’s Gravity (25 July).

CBBC will provide its viewers with fun and interactive ways to remember the moon landing:

  • Blue Peter’s Lindsey Russell and Richie Driss will host a special episode from the National Space Centre in Leicester, while Horrible Histories will see Moon Mayhem Comedian Dara O’Briain join Rattus in an episode that will include the Space Race, the first use of rocket power, and even poo floating in the Apollo 11 cockpit!
  • Newsround is launching a new interactive game on the CBBC website, where players must travel across the moon unlocking facts about the Apollo 11 mission as they go along.

CBeebies takes children and parents on an extraordinary journey to the moon:

  • CBeebies Bedtime Stories will host two extremely special guests including: award-winning actor, writer, presenter and comedian Michael Palin, as well as astronaut Tim Peake’s with his historic CBeebies Bedtime Story from the International Space Station.
  • CBeebies Stargazing: Mission Moon, a one-off special with Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Chris Jarvis, see’s Robert The Robot accompanying a group of young stargazers as they embark on their own special space mission.
  • Tiny, Small and Baby Soup Dragon In Clangers: The Visitor are playing outside when they hear the sound of something approaching from space. As it nears and eventually lands, a door opens and out steps a strange creature in a space suit–they don’t know what it is but we can see it’s a human astronaut!
  • A very special CBeebies Prom takes CBeebies and BBC Radio 3 audiences on a musical journey to the moon with live orchestral music. Presented from the Royal Albert Hall by some of CBeebies favourite presenters including YolanDa Brown, Maddie Moate and Justin Fletcher, as well as juniors and the first CBeebies Prom Choir made up of 400 voices.

The BBC will also broadcast a selection of previously aired, space-inspired programmes to mark the celebration including:

BBC Four

  • Neil Armstrong: First Man On The Moon (2012)
  • For All Mankind (1989)

CBBC

  • Absolute Genius Super Tech ‘Space Tech’
  • So Awks ‘Fly Me To The Moon’
  • The Dengineers: Observatory Den
  • 4oCC ‘Space’
  • All Over The Workplace

CBeebies

  • Hey Duggee - The Space Badge
  • Bitz and Bob Plipp & Zopp
  • Swashbuckle - The Space Ship
  • Go Jetters - Seattle Space Needle
  • Baby Jake Loves Space Painting
  • Postman Pat and the Spacesuit
  • The Furchester Hotel - Space Alien Party
  • Our Family - Gracie And Myla’s Journey To The Moon
  • Numberblocks - The Block Star
  • Messy Goes to OKIDO - Gravity / Moon Landing
  • Rastamouse - Mouse Space Mystery
  • Do You Know? Lift And Spacesuit
  • Apple Tree House - Letter To The Moon
  • Melody Rocket Trip
  • Arthur - Buster Spaces Out

BBC Teach will host a collection of free classroom resources to mark the anniversary of the Moon Landing. These include two films about Neil Armstrong, one for primary schools and one for secondary, as well as an interactive guide which uncovers the secrets and stories of Apollo 11.

Radio 4 have a series of dedicated programmes to celebrate the landing of Apollo 11, 50 years on:

  • Portrait Of The Moon - writer Oliver Morton explores science, art and mythology the history and future of our relationship with the Moon.
  • The First Man On The Moon And How They Done It has the award-winning comedy duo The National Theatre of Brent return to Radio 4 with their hilarious take on the moon landings.
  • Two further programme’s look at the landing in detail and what the future might hold: Moon is the story of the five-day journey to the moon’s surface, told in the astronauts’ own words taken entirely from the NASA transcripts. While Moonbase 2029 finds Dallas Campbell examining the various plans for a Moonbase: could the return of astronauts to the lunar surface be for all mankind or private gain?
  • Brian Cox and Robin Ince host an Apollo 11 Monkey Cage special from Florida, the home of the Kennedy Space Center, to mark the 50th anniversary of the first human moon walk in The Infinite Moonkey Cage.
  • James Burke, the key voice for the BBC’s coverage of the moon landings in 1969, revisits the momentous event in front of a live audience at the BBC Radio Theatre in James Burke Apollo Memories.

Radio 4 EXtra

Radio 4 Extra will air The First Men In The Moon, H G Wells' story about the invention which could take man to the moon... and perhaps the huge amounts of money for its inventor. But what the two adventurers discover is a world of freezing nights, boiling days and sinister alien life…

RC2

BBC Two

8 Days: To The Moon & Back
Eight days, three hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds. That’s the total duration of the most important and celebrated space mission ever flown - Apollo 11 - when we first stepped foot on the moon. Eight days that created some of the most iconic images in human history and changed the way we think about our place in the universe forever. But what was it really like for those three men in that high-tech tin can through each of those extraordinary eight days?

8 Days, a feature-length drama documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, will bring the real story of the mission as it happened. With access to hours of declassified cockpit audio recorded by the astronauts themselves, 8 Days will use cutting-edge digital effects and dramatised performances to create a stunning 21st century visual journey to bring the original audio to life.

Until now we’ve only glimpsed inside Apollo 11 with a handful of iconic stills and a few precious minutes of movie footage. But what if we could step inside that Saturn V rocket and for the very first time be on the inside to hear every word they said, from moments of high drama to the constant banter on that long and dangerous journey.

  • 8 Days (1x90’) is made by The Science Unit, BBC Studios, co-produced with PBS and NOVA and The Open University. The Executive Producer is Jonathan Renouf. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual.

Stargazing: Moonlanding Special
To celebrate the Apollo Moon Landing 50th anniversary, Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain travel to where the historic Apollo 11 mission began - Cape Canaveral in Florida. They hear first-hand from astronaut General Charlie Duke what it was like to guide Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the Moon in the Lunar Lander and how he followed in their footsteps three years later.

But they also look at the most exciting new developments and, with privileged access, they transmit from the top of launch tower that’s being prepared for manned missions and from the assembly line of a spacecraft factory.

They are joined by astrophysicist and medic Dr Kevin Fong, and mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, who explore the latest developments in human space flight - from cutting-edge spacewalk technology to a future Mars Buggy.

  • Stargazing: Moon Landing Special, is 1x90’ for BBC Two, is made by BBC Studios Science Unit. The Executive Producer is Helen Thomas. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two, and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Craig Hunter.

BBC Four

Chasing the Moon
Chasing the Moon is the definitive history of the space race. It details the Moon Landing of Apollo 11, from the early beginnings of the international space race all the way to the national attitude after the success of the landing.

The series begins in 1957 and tracks the early years of the space race, as the United States struggled to catch up with the Soviet Union. Revealed is the breathtaking failures and successes of the American space program, which demonstrates the high stakes of reaching the moon.

Moving through 1964-1968 sees four heady and dangerous years in the history of the space race. As Americans went through the 1960s and reflected on the challenges ahead, many began to wonder what exactly it was going to take to beat the Soviets to the moon.

The concluding years of 1969-1970, takes Americans to the moon and back. Dreams of space and democracy here on earth dramatically intersect in these last episodes, raising questions of national priorities and national identity in the US. The final episode considers what happens to scientific and engineering programs and to a country - after ambitious national goals have been achieved.

  • Chasing The Moon is 6 x 60 series made by PBS. It is produced and directed by Robert Stone and executive produced by Mark Samels. It was commissioned by Cassian Harrison, Channel editor, BBC Four, and Mandy Chang and Jo Lapping, BBC Factual Commissioning.

The Sky At Night Special: The Moon, The Mission And The BBC
Using long-forgotten archive footage, this special programme is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon shot. Veteran broadcaster James Burke, along with astronaut Helen Sharman, share their memories with the team about how this amazing event was reported at the time.

  • The Sky At Night Special: The Moon, The Mission And The BBC is made by BBC Studios Science Unit. Commissioned by Cassian Harrison, Channel Editor, BBC Four. The Executive Producer is Steve Crabtree, and the Producer is Ross Kirby.

Proms And The Moon
Fifty years after Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, the BBC Proms will ponder how composers across the centuries have imagined and created the sound of space.

The First Night Of The Proms
The First Night Of The Proms begins by hosting the world premiere of Zosha Di Castri’s Long Is The Journey, Short Is The Memory, a work that commemorates the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s mission to the Moon. On the exact anniversary of humankind walking on the moon, Holst’s world-renowned The Planets is complemented by John Adams’s ever-popular Short Ride In A Fast Machine.

Elsewhere, the UK premiere of Anna Thorvalsdottir’s Metacosmos - a musical metaphor of falling into a black hole - will be performed by the Orchestra of the Royal Academy of Music and The Juilliard School. Later that week, cult London band Public Service Broadcasting recreate their ground-breaking 2015 concept album The Race For Space, a mix of music and archive documentary material portraying the tale of the US/Russian space race.

In a Proms first, the Sci-Fi Prom features scores from cult space and sci-fi films, including Steve Price’s Gravity, Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar, Jed Kurzel’s Alien: Covenant, and Mica Levi’s Under The Skin, presented by the London Contemporary Orchestra under Robert Ames. Finally, there’s a re-conceptualisation of the Moon in a new work by Huw Watkins will feature settings of topical poems by Shelley, Larkin and Whitman.

Every note of the BBC Proms is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Sounds app will also take the audiences to the Proms with them to listen anytime, anywhere.

  • The BBC Proms is produced by the BBC and the offer on Radio 3 is edited by Emma Bloxham.

CBBC

Blue Peter
Lindsey Russell and Richie Driss present a special Blue Peter from the National Space Centre in Leicester to inform, educate and celebrate with viewers for the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing.

  • Blue Peter is made by BBC Children’s In House Productions.

Horrible Histories
Moon Mayhem Comedian and space-nerd Dara O’Briain joins Rattus for a show marking the 1969 Moon Landings, including the first use of rocket power, the Space Race, and poo floating in the Apollo 10 cockpit!

The Space Race really gets underway in the 1950s, as America and Soviet Russia fight it out to be the first to get into space and the episode ends with a swinging tune from JFK and Khrushchev about Flying To The Moon!

  • Horrible Histories is made by Lion Television.

Newsround
Newsround is launching a new Moon Landing game on the CBBC website to tie in with the moon landing anniversary. Players have to successfully jump across the moon and unlock facts about the Apollo mission as they go.

  • The Moon Landing Game is made by the Children's In-House Games team in collaboration with Mobile Pie.

CBeebies

CBeebies Bedtime Stories
Award-winning actor, writer, presenter and comedian Michael Palin takes viewers on a magical adventure when he reads a CBeebies Bedtime Story. He reads By The Light Of The Moon by Tom Percival.

Michael, who is also the narrator of Clangers on CBeebies, says: "There’s a special magic to a bedtime story. It's the last story of the day, the one that really sinks in. Having three children of my own and four grandchildren, I know that to be read to before bed is one of the great shared moments of childhood. And watching Neil Armstrong step onto the moon’s surface, with all the millions of people around the world holding their breath, was one of the great shared moments of my life."

To tie in to the moon landings anniversary, there is also another opportunity to see Tim Peake’s historic CBeebies Bedtime Story from the International Space Station, as he reads Goodnight Spaceman by Michelle Robinson and Nick East.

  • CBeebies Bedtime Stories is made by BBC Children’s In House Productions.

CBeebies Stargazing: Mission Moon
In a one-off special, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Chris Jarvis, Robert The Robot and groups of young Stargazers head to the seaside to explore the wonders of the universe. Maggie explains why we can sometimes see the sun and the moon in the sky at the same time, Robert the Robot accompanies the young stargazers as they embark on their space mission to view the Earth from the moon, and writer Robert McFarlane has composed a special poem celebrating the magic of the moon.

  • CBeebies Stargazing is made by BBC Children’s In House Productions.

Clangers: The Visitor
Tiny, Small and Baby Soup Dragon are outside playing when they hear the sound of something approaching from space. They look up and gaze in awe as they see a large space module hurtling towards the planet. It gets slower and slower as it nears them until eventually it lands a little way away, a door opens and from out of it steps a strange creature in a space suit - they don’t know what it is but we can see it’s a human astronaut!

Clangers is co-produced by CBeebies, Coolabi Group and Small films with BBC Worldwide for its international channels

The CBeebies Prom
The CBeebies Prom takes CBeebies and BBC Radio 3 audiences on a musical journey to the moon with live orchestral music. It is presented from the Royal Albert Hall by some of CBeebies favourite presenters, including YolanDa Brown, Maddie Moate and Justin Fletcher.

A variety of classical composers feature from Handel and Puccini, to 20th century favourites Benjamin Britten and John Adams, along with exciting live performances of CBeebies themes and animation. The CBeebies Prom also features the world premiere of a BBC Learning Ten Pieces Trailblazing commission–Earth by Hans Zimmer. Music is performed by Europe’s first majority Black and Minority Ethnic orchestra, Chineke! and conducted by Kwamé Ryan joined by members of Chineke! Juniors and the first CBeebies Prom Choir made up of 400 voices.

  • The CBeebies Prom is made by BBC Children’s In House Productions.

Radio 4 and 4 Extra

Radio 4

The Moon
A portrait of the moon, ranging across science, art and mythology. Writer Oliver Morton explores the different spaces that Earth’s closest neighbour occupies in our lives and lays out the history and future of our relationship with the moon.

  • The Moon is produced by Eilidh McCreadie, for BBC Radio 4. Abridger, Anna Magnusson.

The First Man On The Moon And How They Done It
The award-winning comedy duo, The National Theatre of Brent return to Radio 4 with their hilarious take on The Moon Landings.

  • The First Man On The Moon And How They Done It is made by CPL Productions Ltd for BBC Radio 4 and Produced by Liz Anstee.

Moon
On 20 July 1969, Apollo 11 put human beings on another world. This is the story of the five-day journey to the moon’s surface told in the astronauts’ own words, taken entirely from the NASA transcripts of the mission. A unique perspective on the most historic journey in the history of humanity.

  • Moon is adapted by Anita Sullivan and produced by James Robinson for BBC Radio 4.

Moonbase 2029
Fifty years after Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, the world is heading back. Dallas Campbell examines the various plans for a Moonbase and asks if this time the return of astronauts to the lunar surface will be for all mankind - or private gain.

  • Moonbase 2029 is a Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4, produced by Richard Hollingham.

The Infinite Moonkey Cage
Brian Cox and Robin Ince host an Apollo 11 Monkey Cage special from Florida, the home of the Kennedy Space Center, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first human moon walk

  • The Infinite Moonkey Cage is produced by Alexandra Feachem for BBC Radio 4.

James Burke’s Apollo Memories
James Burke, the key voice for the BBC coverage of the moon landings in 1969, revisits the momentous event in front of a live audience at the BBC Radio Theatre.

  • James Burke’s Apollo Memories is produced by Peter McManus for BBC Radio 4.

Radio 4Xtra

The First Men In The Moon
The First Men In The Moon is a five-part series which details H G Wells' story about an invention which can take man to the moon - and potentially make huge amounts of money for its inventor. But what the two adventurers discover is a world of freezing nights, boiling days and sinister alien life.

BBC Education

BBC Teach will host a collection of free classroom resources to mark the anniversary of the Moon Landing. These include two films about Neil Armstrong, one for primary schools and one for secondary, as well as an interactive guide which uncovers the secrets and stories of Apollo 11.