B.D. Chapman

Orbiter X

Orbiter X

A BBC Radio sci-fi adventure


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 BD 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

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, 28 September-28 December 1959

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