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'First Man on the Moon' Revisits Neil Armstrong's Saga

The NOVA documentary "First Man on the Moon" tells the story of late astronaut Neil Armstrong's life in the words of his family and friends.
Image: Neil Armstrong
Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong grins at the camera inside the Eagle lunar module after completing a moonwalk on July 21, 1969.NASA file

First moonwalker Neil Armstrong was famously reluctant to talk about himself — but "First Man on the Moon," airing Wednesday night on PBS, tells the late astronaut's story in the words of his family and friends. And in Armstrong's own words as well, thanks to recordings made before his death in 2012.

A couple of years ago, a different version of the documentary that aired on the BBC in Britain made a big splash, primarily due to Dean Armstrong's claim that his brother gave him an advance peek at the "One Giant Leap" speech that marked the first steps on the moon. This NOVA version doesn't deliver any fresh shockers; nevertheless, it's a good opportunity for American TV audiences to hear firsthand about the twists and turns in the tale of a reluctant space hero. In addition to brother Dean, the on-camera speakers include Neil Armstrong's sister June, first wife Janet, second wife Carol and son Rick, Apollo 11 crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins, other fellow astronauts, a childhood friend and space historian Andrew Chaikin.



— Alan Boyle