Moon Landing 50th anniversary guide: TV, film and radio shows celebrating Apollo 11

From films to documentaries, TV shows to radio programmes, here are our best picks to celebrate the Moon Landing and the Apollo 11 mission

Eight Days to the Moon and Back

July 2019 marks 50 years since the historic Apollo 11 mission and the Moon Landing. Since the landmark event, directors, producers and documentary-makers have all tried their hand at capturing the big moment, whether that’s looking at the space race or Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s famous first steps on the surface of the moon or their lives before the mission.

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The main TV channels and radio stations are all getting on board to celebrate by airing special shows in the build-up to 20 July as well as on the day. We’ve rounded up the best picks for you to watch from films to TV shows, radio shows and children’s programmes. We’ll update this page with air dates as they’re announced.

Read on for a list of Apollo 11-inspired TV programmes, films and radio shows – updated. 

Film

Apollo 11 

Release date: Friday 28th June

Buzz Aldrin in real footage from Apollo 11
Buzz Aldrin in real footage from Apollo 11
Apollo 11/Universal

What’s it about? The team including director Todd Douglas Miller worked through 11,000 hours of never-before-seen footage and audio recordings to make this drama documentary, the result is a film that takes you straight into the heart of Nasa’s most celebrated mission as astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins embark on a historic trip to the moon. Watch it if you’re less about the facts and more about feeling what it’s like to be on a Nasa mission. The film is made up entirely of original footage: there’s no narration, cut-away interviews or re-created scenes.

Armstrong

Release date: Friday 12th July

What’s it about? Harrison Ford lends his voice to this film documenting Armstrong’s life from from his childhood in Ohio to his days as a fighter pilot to his first steps on the Moon. Armstrong’s sons Rick and Mark were also involved in the production calling it a “wonderful portrait of our dad” featuring interviews with the legendary astronaut’s family and some never-before-seen home movies.

First Man

On Sky now, you can also get a NOW TV pass or sign up for the Sky TV packages.

The riveting story behind the first manned mission to the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the decade leading to the historic Apollo 11 flight. A visceral and intimate account told from Armstrong's perspective, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the film explores the triumphs and the cost—on Armstrong, his family, his colleagues and the nation itself—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.
Sky Cinema

What’s it about? Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and star Ryan Gosling team up again in First Man, the story of Nasa’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. The first-person account, based on the book by James R Hansen, looks at the sacrifices and the cost — on Armstrong and on the nation — of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

For All Mankind

When is it on? Sunday 14th July, 11pm, BBC4

Apollo 13

When is it on? Sunday 14th July, 11:05pm, ITV4 and Friday 18th July, 9pm, ITV4


TV

Friday 5th July

Truth behind the Moon Landing, 10pm

Sky’s five-part series looks at everything from the conspiracy theories to the lost tapes (ep 5).

Monday 8th July

Apollo’s Moon Shot, 8pm, Smithsonian

This gripping series has the additional benefit of Nasa insights, detail and footage of the Moon Landing. The series started in June looking at the astronauts training schedule and the lead-up to Apollo 11. We now hear about why the landing was nearly aborted from those in Mission Control while Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins add their own view to the moment the Eagle landed.

Moon Landings: World’s Greatest Hoax?, 8pm, Yesterday

Tuesday 9th July

Moon Landing: One Hour That Changed the World, 11am/3pm/6pm/10pm, Eden

Wednesday 10th July 

Eight Days: to the Moon and Back, 9pm, BBC2

eight days
BBC

Eight days, well, eight days, three hours, 18 minutes, 35 seconds, is the total duration of Apollo 11’s space mission. The feature-length drama documentary tells the true story of the mission. With access to hours of declassified cockpit audio recorded by the astronauts themselves, the drama uses cutting-edge digital effects and dramatised performances to bring the original audio to life. Before now we’ve only seen inside the mission via stills and a few minutes of footage, but the drama tries to take you into the Saturn V rocket as you hear what was said from the drama to the jokes. Starring Patrick Kennedy as Michael Collins, Rufus Wright as Neil Armstrong and Jack Tarlton as Buzz Aldrin.

Thursday 11th July

Space Age: Nasa’s Story, 9pm, Sky and PBS America

The final part in the four-part series, Life & Death in Space: after visiting the moon, humanity seeks to explore deep space. This requires extensive experimentation, and the building of Nasa’s first space station – Skylab. The previous episodes are available to watch still, episode two is worth a watch for the Moon Landing.

Saturday 13th July

Moon Launch Live, 8pm, Channel 4 

This documentary combines Nasa archive with global television footage from the day to relive the drama of the launch of Apollo 11. It also uses contemporary references, flashes of the Vietnam War, adverts from the era and interviews from around the world to fully immerse viewers in the world of the summer of 1969.

Sunday 14th July 

Neil Armstrong – First Man on the Moon, 9pm, BBC4

Close family and friends – many of whom have never spoken publicly before – tell the story of former astronaut Neil Armstrong. The film examines his childhood during the Great Depression, his transfer to America’s space programme and his historic mission as commander of Apollo 11 in July 1969.  There’s also a look at his life after Apollo 11.

The Sky at Night: the Moon, the Mission and the BBC, 10pm, BBC4

Using long-forgotten archive footage, the BBC4 programme celebrates 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.

 Monday 15th July

Stargazing: Moon Landing Special, 9pm, BBC2 

Professor Brian Cox, Dara Ó Briain in front of a Saturn V rocket, Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
(C) BBC – Photographer: Tom Hayward
BBC

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. The duo also look at new developments in space travel and get a chance to transmit from the tower.

James May on the Moon, 10:30pm, BBC4

In a programme first shown in 2009, the presenter embarks on a mission to learn about the heroes of the first manned lunar landing.

Tuesday 16th July

Chasing the Moon, 8pm and 8:50pm, BBC4

Chasing the Moon looks at the history of the space race journeying from 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.

Moving through 1964-1968 the documentary works through the 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 take 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.

The Day We Walked on the Moon, 9pm, ITV

The Day We Walked on the Moon tells the dramatic story of how astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins got there, from the perspective of key figures in and around the Apollo 11 mission.

Three of the key figures in Mission Control, iconic Flight Director Gene Kranz, Capsule Communicator Charles Duke and Guidance Officer Steve Bales, explain just how close Apollo 11 came to failure at a number of points during its hazardous descent to the lunar surface. Narrated by Mark Strong.

Wednesday 17th July

The Moon: Our Gateway to the Universe, 11am/3pm/6pm/10pm, Eden

Wonders of the Moon, 12 noon/7pm, Eden

Apollo’s Daring Mission, 7:50pm, PBS America

Journey to the Moon: a Horizon Special, 10:35pm, BBC4

Professor Brian Cox takes a journey through the BBC science archive to explore the story of mankind’s relationship with the moon.

Thursday 18th July

Blue Peter: We Have Lift Off!, 5:30pm, CBBC

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.

Back to the Moon, 7:50pm, PBS America

A look at the next generation of engineers aiming to return mankind to the moon and begin a new era of lunar exploration.

Apollo: Back to the Moon, 9pm, National Geographic Channel

Part one of two. A history of the Apollo space programme, beginning with the first eight missions, and how the backdrop of the Cold War affected the race to land on the moon.

Friday 19th July 

Rise of the Rockets, 9pm, PBS America

Examining the latest rocket technologies being developed for space exploration and the growing role private citizens may have.

BBC Proms 2019, 7:30pm, BBC2 and BBC Radio 3

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.

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.

Everything will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Sounds app.

Saturday 20th July

The Clangers: The Visitor, 6:10pm, CBeebies

This special episode marks not just the 50th anniversary of the moon landing but also of the much-loved children’s animated series – which was commissioned in 1969 to commemorate the event – paying homage to the original Clangers moon landings episode The Tablecloth.

New episode The Visitor features the first female astronaut to land on the Clangers’ Little Blue Planet and the first human to return for 50 years. And what’s more, she’s inspired by none other than The Sky at Night and CBeebies presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Neil Armstrong – First Man on the Moon, 7pm, BBC4

Close family and friends – many of whom have never spoken publicly before – tell the story of former astronaut Neil Armstrong. The film examines his childhood during the Great Depression, his transfer to America’s space programme and his historic mission as commander of Apollo 11 in July 1969.  There’s also a look at his life after Apollo 11.

Moon Landing Live, 8pm, Channel 4

Fifty years ago today humans first set foot on the moon. A montage of archive news and Nasa footage lets us re-live history.

The Sky at Night: the Moon, the Mission and the BBC, 8pm, BBC4

Using long-forgotten archive footage, the BBC4 programme celebrates 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.


Radio

Saturday 13th July 

Drama: The First Man on the Moon and How They Done It, 2:30pm, BBC Radio 4

Monday 15th July 

Moon, 7:45pm, BBC Radio 4

Fact-based drama about Apollo 11’s mission to the moon using the original Nasa transcripts, starring Nathan Nolan, Ronan Summers and Edward Hogg, and narrated by space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock. Broadcast daily in five parts, as part of Woman’s Hour.

Tuesday 16th July

Moonbase 2029, 11am, BBC Radio 4 

Dallas Campbell hears from scientists at Nasa, the ESA and the German Aerospace Centre DLR who are working to make the practicalities of building a base on the moon a reality.

Saturday 20th July

Archive on 4: James Burke – Our Man on the Moon, BBC Radio 4

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James Burke, the voice behind the BBC coverage of the moon landings in 1969, revisits the momentous event in front of a live audience at the BBC Radio Theatre.