The race to the Moon – as told by the Radio Times

Today I learned about the BBC Genome Project, which has made TV listings information from the Radio Times – ever since 1923 – available on the net. Pretty cool, right?

I did what a few people have and checked out what was on TV on the day I was born (as well as the night before, when my parents were actually at home to watch TV), but there wasn’t much of interest there. So instead, I went looking for something else: how much coverage had there been of the space programme in the 1960s and 70s?

Admittedly, it doesn’t appear to be a complete picture. I couldn’t find any coverage for Apollo 8 beyond the launch, or for the first Space Shuttle launch, yet Youtube would indicate that both were covered by the BBC (see here and here). I also couldn’t find any special coverage relating to the Mercury or Gemini missions – but I was pleasantly surprised to find how much coverage the Apollo missions apparently got from Apollo 10 onwards. For each one, the Radio Times notes a live broadcast of the launch, and special reports of important manoeuvres and the moonwalks at least. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975 was similarly covered, though not so much Skylab.

That’s not surprising for Apollo 11, obviously, or even 12, but it’s interesting that the BBC planned to give a lot of time to Apollo 13, when at the same time no American network wanted to broadcast their live footage filmed on the way to the Moon, just before the oxygen tank explosion.  Admittedly, I don’t know if those networks were still going to broadcast the moonwalks, had they happened, but I’d always been under the impression that America was losing interest by that point – so the apparent investment of British television is quite interesting.

(Looking at these schedules is actually quite sad – not only do they promise coverage of Jim Lovell and Fred Haise’s second moonwalk on 17 April 1970, the day Apollo 13 actually returned to Earth after all the troubles, but they were apparently written up before Ken Mattingly was taken off the crew.)

It makes me wish I’d been there to witness it all, and I hope I’ll be around when humans leave Earth orbit again, so I can see how the media cover it with current technology. No doubt there’ll be constant live coverage on Internet video, and lots of different hashtags on Twitter. Should be fun.


About velociraptor256

Hi, my name's Richard. I created this blog to talk about my interests - and I have quite a few of those. I love zoology in general, herpetology in particular (especially snakes!), writing (have won National Novel Writing Month nine times so far), reading, astronomy, palaeontology, and travel. Thank you for coming to my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you here!
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