Christopher Riley

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For other people of the same name, see Chris Riley (disambiguation).
Christopher Riley
Born (1967-09-21) 21 September 1967 (age 47)
Bridlington, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater Imperial College
Occupation Documentarian
Known for In the Shadow of the Moon
First Orbit
Moon Machines
Space Odyssey
Moonwalk One
The Girl who talked to Dolphins

Christopher Riley (born 1967) is a British writer, broadcaster and film maker specialising in the history of science. He has a PhD from Imperial College, University of London where he pioneered the use of digital elevation models in the study of mountain range geomorphology and evolution. He is currently Visiting Professor of science and media at the University of Lincoln.

He makes frequent appearances on British television and radio, broadcasting mainly on space flight, astronomy and planetary science. He is a veteran of two NASA astrobiology missions (Leonid MAC) from 1998 and 1999 – reporting on their progress for BBC News. He co-presented the BBC's coverage of the 1999 and 2001 solar eclipses, and fronted their astronomy magazine show Final Frontier, their cosmology series Journeys in Time and Space, and their live All Night Star Party – a co-production with the Open University. In 2006 he wrote and presented BBC Radio 4's cosmology series The Cosmic Hunters. Other documentaries he's written and presented for BBC Radio 4 include "Save the Moon" (2014) and "For All Mankind" (2012).

Behind the camera he has written and directed more than 50 films for the BBC's classic science magazine show Tomorrow's World and was a producer and director on series six of Rough Science. In 2004 he produced the BBC's two part drama documentary Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets. He was the science consultant on the BBC's remakes of their science fiction cult classics A for Andromeda (2006) and The Quatermass Experiment (2005). He directed and produced on the feature documentary film In the Shadow of the Moon, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Audience Documentary Award. The film was released in the US and Europe during the autumn of 2007. He produced Kevin Fong's 2011 portrait of the Space Shuttle for BBC Two and Produced and Directed a 2012 film presented by Dallas Campbell which celebrated thirty-five years of NASA's Voyager Program for BBC Four. The same year Riley collaborated with Neil Armstrong's family to produce and direct the biopic 'First Man on the Moon', which premiered on BBC TWO at the end of 2012. The film included interviews with Armstrong's sister June, brother Dean, and childhood friend Kocho Solacoff.

In 2013 Riley produced and directed a biopic of Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard Feynman for the BBC. "The Fantastic Mr Feynman" aired on BBC TWO in May that year, in time for what would have been Feynman's 95th birthday.[1] It was the first biographical film about Feynman which the BBC had commissioned since Christopher Sykes' groundbreaking documentaries in the early 1980s. The film includes interviews with his son Carl, his daughter Michelle and his sister, physicst Joan Feynman who Riley subsequently wrote a short biography about.[2]

At the Cheltenham Science Festival in 2009 he presented research conducted with forensic linguist John Olsson on the recordings of Neil Armstrong's first words spoken on the surface of the Moon in July 1969. Their study confirmed that the "a" was missing – contradicting previous conclusions presented by Peter Shann Ford in 2006.[3] Olsson and Riley went on to show that the words were spoken spontaneously and were not rehearsed or composed by some 'wordsmith' beforehand as many have speculated they might have been.

During the making of In the Shadow of the Moon, he rediscovered the only surviving 35mm print of the complete version of NASA's original Apollo 11 documentary film Moonwalk One which had been stored under the film's director Theo Kamecke's desk since it was made. With NASA's blessing the pair worked to restore and remaster the feature film and re-released it in time for the 40th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11 in July 2009.

The following year, Riley teamed up with the European Space Agency and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli to make the feature length documentary First Orbit which re-created Yuri Gagarin's pioneering spaceflight Vostok 1. The film was recorded by matching the orbit of the International Space Station to the ground path of Vostok 1, and released for free to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the pioneering human space flight.[4]

Awards & Honours[edit]

In 2005 he was given a Sir Arthur Clarke Award for his work producing the BBC's Space Odyssey series. The same year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society for his endeavours in communicating astronomy to the public. His films and TV series on the history of science have won a nomination from the Royal Television Society and the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival 2007. He received a second Sir Arthur Clarke Award in 2008 for In the Shadow of the Moon and a Grand REMI from the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival in 2009 for his Moon Machines episode on the Command Module. His 2012 documentary 'Voyager – to the final frontier' was nominated for a British Science Writer's award, and his 2014 film "The Girl who talked to Dolphins", was nominated for a BAFTA.[5]

Films & Television[edit]

He has directed, produced, science consulted or hosted on the following films & TV series (incomplete):

  • 2014 The Girl who talked to Dolphins, BBC Scotland, BBC FOUR
  • 2013 Richard Hammond Builds a Planet, BBC Scotland, BBC ONE
  • 2013 The Fantastic Mr Feynman, BBC Scotland, BBC TWO
  • 2012 Neil Armstrong. First Man on the Moon, Darlow Smithson, BBC TWO
  • 2012 Voyager: to the final frontier, BBC Scotland, BBC FOUR
  • 2011 Dark Matters, Wide Eyed Entertainment, Science Channel
  • 2011 Space Shuttle – the final mission, Ricochet Television, BBC TWO
  • 2011 First Orbit, The Attic Room, YouTube, BBC Big Screens
  • 2011 Destination Titan, BBC TWO/FOUR
  • 2010 Dust, Stylus Films, The Attic Room, Shorts International
  • 2009 One Small Step – The Australian Story, Freehand, BBC Worldwide
  • 2009 Moonwalk One – the director's cut, BHP Group, DVD, Discovery Channel (UK)
  • 2004 Space Odyssey: the robot pioneers, BBC FOUR, Discovery Channel
  • 2003 All Night Star Party, BBC TWO
  • 2002 Can't Get Enough, BBC TWO
  • 2001 Secret Life of Ghosts and Werewolves, BBC ONE
  • 2001 Final Frontier, BBC TWO
  • 2001 Journeys in Time and Space, BBC KNOWLEDGE
  • 1999 Eclipse Live, BBC ONE

Video Installations[edit]

In 2009, to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11, he collaborated with the London Science Museum on a novel video installation called "Apollo Raw and Uncut" which projected all 23 hours of NASA's 16mm Apollo flight film, shot on Apollo missions AS-501 (Apollo 4) to AS-512 (Apollo 17). Much of this footage, including an almost 8-minute sequence documenting a long drive across the rugged Descartes Highlands had never been screened in its entirety in public before. The aim of the installation was to present the story of Apollo in as unedited and unfiltered form as possible.[6] The work was screened again in Montreal, Quebec, in November 2009, as part of an exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture called 'Intermission: Films from a Heroic Future', which Riley also helped to curate,[7] and a third time in 2013 at Lincoln's Digital Culture Festival Frequency[8]

Continuing the presentation of overlooked space film archives in public gallery spaces Chris collaborated with the London based creative science agency super/collider on his 2011 show Cone Crater – a 40th anniversary celebration of Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell's exploration of the Frau Mauro lunar highlands, which played at The Book Club, London as part of the Apollo's End project.[9]

Books[edit]

He has co-written or contributed to the following books:

  • Charman-Anderson, Suw, ed. (October 2013). A Passion for Science. Stories of Discovery & Invention. Ada Lovelace Day. p. 106pp. 
  • Harris, Gemma, ed. (October 2013). Does my Goldfish Know who I Am. Faber and Faber. p. 336pp. ISBN 0571301932. 
  • Riley, Christopher, Woods, David and Dolling, Phil (November 2012). Apollo Lunar Rover owners' workshop manual. Haynes. p. 192pp. ISBN 0857332678. 
  • Harris, Gemma, ed. (October 2012). Big Questions from Little People. Faber and Faber. p. 336pp. ISBN 0571288510. 
  • Cox, Kenneth, ed. (October 2012). International Cooperation for the Development of Space. Aerospace Technology Working Group. p. 518pp. ISBN 1478186232. 
  • Rose, Andrea, ed. (July 2011). Gagarin in Britain. Corner House. p. 158pp. ISBN 0863556639. 
  • Riley, Christopher and Dolling, Phil (June 2009). Apollo 11 owners' workshop manual. Haynes. p. 160pp. ISBN 1-84425-683-9. 
  • Haines, Tim and Riley, Christopher (October 2004). Space Odyssey: voyage to the planets. BBC Books. p. 192pp. ISBN 90-5210-593-6. 
  • Ridpath, Ian, ed. (June 2001). Collins Encyclopedia of the Universe. Collins. p. 384pp. ISBN 0-00-710585-1. 

Articles[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] – The Fantastic Mr Feynman, BBC TWO
  2. ^ [2] – Joan Feynman: From auroras to anthropology
  3. ^ [3] – An analysis of the recording of Armstrong's statement on stepping on the Moon in July 1969
  4. ^ [4] – Movie recreates Gagarin's spaceflight, BBC News
  5. ^ [5] – 2014 BAFTA Nominations - SIngle Documentary
  6. ^ [6] – Apollo raw and uncut, London Science Museum
  7. ^ [7] – Secrets of Apollo, Canadian Centre for Architecture.
  8. ^ [8] – Frequency Artists 2013.
  9. ^ [9] – Apollo+40, super/collider