3rd January 2013, 9:57am
The truth about the man on the Moon
Neil Armstrong A pioneering documentary film created by a Lincoln professor premiered on BBC Two on Sunday 30th December, revealing the incredible life story of iconic astronaut Neil Armstrong.

As told by Armstrong’s closest friends and family, many of whom have never spoken publicly before, ‘Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon’ draws heavily on previously un-broadcast archive footage to offer an exclusive insight into the life of the first man to set foot on the Moon.

Dr. Christopher Riley, Visiting Professor of Science and Media at the University of Lincoln, approached the Armstrong family this autumn to film the biopic; which celebrates the American astronaut’s extraordinary life. From his childhood and growing up during America’s Great Depression to the heady days of the space programme, his historic first step on the Moon and his notoriously private later life, the new documentary exposes the man behind the myth.

Globally renowned as an aeronautical engineer and advocate of contemporary human spaceflight, Neil Armstrong led the first Apollo Moon landing mission and changed history. However, Armstrong’s life after the flight of Apollo 11 was in many ways equally challenging, as he came to terms with life outside of NASA and the relentless demands of fame, which followed him for the rest of his life.

Forty years after the last Apollo flight to the Moon, Riley was granted access to the Armstrong family archives and conducted a series of revealing interviews with his relatives. The resulting film is the first to explore the life of one of the most iconic men of the 20th century, through the perspective of those who knew him best.

‘Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon’ includes interviews with Armstrong’s first wife Janet, their two sons, Rick and Mark, Neil’s brother and sister Dean and June, his best friend Kotcho Solacoff and second wife Carol. Also featured are anecdotes from fellow astronauts Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Duke and Dave Scott.

Riley comments: “It was a huge privilege to be allowed such access to Neil’s family and close friends like this.  His sons Rick and Mark had seen a previous feature documentary I’d made called ‘In the Shadow of the Moon’, and wanted to collaborate on this film to tell the story of their father.

“The family’s stories have allowed us to create a truly rounded portrait of an extraordinary life spanning an extraordinary century. From the origin of what is arguably one of the most famous statements in the world, ‘that’s one small step…’ to the lasting effects of his experiences as a 20 year old Navy pilot in the Korean war and his life post-Apollo, this biopic provides a complete picture of just who Armstrong really was.”

‘Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon’ premiered on BBC Two on Sunday 30th December 2012 at 9pm. Riley also wrote and presented a Radio 4 documentary on Apollo, ‘For All Mankind’, which was broadcast on Wednesday 19th December 2012.
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