69 Moon Landing

Wednesday 23 April 2008 9:00pm – 10:00pm

1969 Moon Landing – On Sunday July 20th, a billion people worldwide prepared to watch the first men land on the moon. In the first of this five part series British actor and star of Spooks Rupert Penry-Jones tells the real-life stories behind the headlines.

Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore is fronting the coverage at Television Centre and is getting increasingly anxious about the perils that await his friends, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin. He remembers the memorable moment when he heard his friend, Buzz Aldrin, declare “the eagle has landed”.

Bob Pritchard is at the Jodrell Bank space research centre in Cheshire keeping his eye on the Russian space craft, Lunar 15. The only man whose full-time job it is to track space craft, Bob is feeling the tension as he watches the Russian rival mission and is poised to catch any unexpected activity. He recalls listening in on the conversation between the astronauts aboard Apollo 11 and ground control as they were forced to switch to manual control for the tear-jerking touch down.

Beauty queen Pat Wheeldon is parading her assets before the judges at the Miss British Isles contest as spectators duck in and out of the room to check Apollo 11’s progress. She explains the sixties were a high time for beauty competitors and that Miss World drew the biggest TV audiences ever in a time of flower power and free love.

Marathon runner Ron Hill MBE is warming up for the race of his life as Armstrong and Aldrin are being propelled towards the moon. The first major international marathon in the UK is Ron’s big break after two failed Olympic attempts. He recounts the route he ran with 60,000 other athletes to achieve victory at Old Trafford Stadium – the turning point of his career.

Barry Gardner and Les Humphreys, two of the Sixpenny Six, are behind bars at Winchester prison for their protests against a charge to enter their local park. Unaware of the events unfolding in space, Barry and Les remember their feelings toward the life sentence they potentially faced.

Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman and Jack McCulloch of the band Thunderclap Newman are enjoying a chart topping success with their single Something in the Air, which is at number one for the third successive week. They reminiss about recording the track in The Who’s Pete Townshend’s bedroom and knocking The Beatles off the top spot. With six hours to go until Apollo 11 touches the moon’s surface, Thunderclap Newman are playing The Place Club in Hanley. They remember the crowd’s reaction to Deep Purple being bumped from headliner to their support act and being pelted with coins. They also recall the gig being interrupted with regular updates on Apollo 11’s journey to the moon.

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