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I was scared dad would fall flat on his back on the Moon; ITV'S The Day We Walked on the Moon tells the tale of that famous moment, including interviews with the astronauts' sons.

THE 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission is dominating the schedules this week. Moon Landing Live began yesterday on Channel 4, while BBC2 weighs in with Stargazing: Moon Landing Special tomorrow and BBC4 launches its own series, Chasing the Moon, on Tuesday.

But as ITV's The Day We Walked On the Moon reminds us, there's a reason why the celebrations are taking over our TVs - it's one of humanity's greatest achievements. And back in 1969, some 500 million people around the world tuned in to watch it live.

Among them were Andy Aldrin and Mark Armstrong, sons of Buzz and Neil respectively, and they recall in the programme what it was like for the family members following Apollo 11's progress.

The Andy told this week's TV Times: "My father soon joined Neil Armstrong on the Moon's surface. I was convinced he would trip and fall flat on his back in front of 600 million people - but most importantly, my classmates!" An impressive number of people were also involved in making the Moon landings happen - according to this documentary, more than 400,000 had a part to play in realising President Kennedy's goal of getting to the Moon by the end of the 1960s.

A few of them crop up in this documentary, including Michael Collins, who was one of the three astronauts on that incredible mission.

He served as the command module pilot, orbiting the Moon alone as his colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their iconic first steps. He has been described as the loneliest man in the universe, but it turns out he wouldn't agree. He says: "I considered myself to be a king."

However, he was aware that if something went wrong on the lunar surface, he could have been making the long trip home alone.

There are further reminders of just how dangerous the trip was from three of the key figures in Mission Control. Flight Director Gene Kranz, Capsule Communicator Charles Duke and Guidance Officer Steve Bales explain just how close Apollo 11 came to disaster during its hazardous descent.

If something had gone wrong, the first concern would have been for the astronauts, but Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8 who was NASA's liaison in the White House on the day, and President Nixon's executive assistant, Dwight Chapin, point out just how much was riding on the mission.

Although some of us may picture Apollo 11 crew the summer of '69 as a time of optimism (and the Woodstock festival), it was a difficult time for the US.

As well as huge social changes, the country had also endured several assassinations and was mired in an unpopular war, making the Moon landing a much-needed boost.

British perspectives on this world-changing event are provided by Professor Brian Cox, astrophysicist (and Queen guitarist) Brian May and space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, who explain how their future careers were inspired by Apollo 11.

Sir Trevor McDonald, who was then a young reporter, recalls the excitement of watching the event from his home in Trinidad, while his fellow journalists Adam Raphael and CBS reporter David Schoumacher share their memories of being in Mission Control, covering the biggest stories of their lives.

| The Day We Walked on the Moon, ITV, Tuesday at 9pm


The Apollo 11 crew

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 14, 2019
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