Saturday, January 31, 2009

May 19, 1966 - Thank Your Lucky Stars

Taped: Thursday 19 May 1966
Aired: 25 June 1966

At Abbey Road, beginning at 10am, The Beatles taped promotional clips of 'Paperback Writer' and 'Rain' in both colour and black and white for television stations around the world. Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg had worked with them before at Ready Steady Go! and they were to use him again in the future.

On June 25, the promotional film for 'Paperback Writer' was shown in the UK on the final edition of ABC TV's Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Filming of Magical Mystery Tour

by Mal and Neil

On the first day there was an immediate delay because the "Magical Mystery Tour" posters took longer to fix than anyone expected. George, Ringo and John were to meet up with the bus at Virginia Water on the A30, not too far from Weybridge. Meanwhile Paul was waiting with the rest of the cast in a side street close to the London Planetarium. His time wasn't wasted because, at the last moment, white uniforms had to be purchased for the Driver, Courier and Hostess. Paul and Mal nipped off to look for a suitable shop and found one in Soho.

A bit of filming was done on the way down to Teignmouth but it was raining hard and nothing more than a few ice-breaking shots inside the bus could be attempted under such conditions.

The arrival at Teignmouth was much more spectacular than we had imagined it would be. People lined both sides of the street with policemen to hold them back. The hotel foyer was just jammed with cameramen, reporters and sightseeing holidaymakers!

Tuesday wasn't much better so far as weather is concerned. We got a few bits of dialogue filmed--the bit where Miss Wendy Winters the Tour Hostess introduces herself to the passengers, for instance. We NEARLY went to Widdicombe Fair but the bus couldn't get across a narrow bridge and we had to turn back! When we stopped in a village to film the Courier ("Jolly Jimmy Johnson") getting on and welcoming everyone to the tour, a small shop gave us free Cornish ice cream!

On the Wednesday the sun shone and a lot of good work was done. Paul and Ringo took off for Newquay in the bus to do scenes involving Ivor Cutler and Jessie Robins. Meanwhile John and George took charge of the second film unit and shot a hilarious sequence with Nat Jackley and a lot of locally-recruited bikini girls beside the hotel pool!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Decided To Go On

by Mal and Neil

It goes without saying that Brian's death caused confusion of thought amongst all of us. At first the majority agreed that it would be best to take a good long break, accept Maharishi's invitation to spend two or three months with him in India and shelve all other plans until afterwards. BUT, as the days went by, everyone began to realise that it made much more sense to go ahead with "Magical Mystery Tour" and take a break AFTER the production was completed.

On Friday September 1 there was a general conference and get-together at Paul's house. While everyone added ideas, Paul sat at his typewriter and with one over-worked finger put down a list headed "Main Points". Underneath he put: "Coach Tour (Three Days) with people on board. Week beginning Sept. 4--Cameraman, Sound, Cast, Driver. Hotels to be arranged for 2 nights. "Magical Mystery Tour" Emblem to be designed. Yellow coach to be hired (Sept 4 to Sept 9). Microphone system in coach. Must be good all-round vision. Tour "staff"--Driver, Courier, Hostess. Three staff uniforms required. Coach destination--Cornwall??? After coach--Shepperton Studios (One Week)."

On another sheet he typed out a sequence of arrangements to be made: "Write outline script. Decide cast. Engage cast. Decide when shooting starts. Sets for studios. Fix completion date."

In fact shooting could not start until Monday September 11, a week later than Paul's proposed starting date for the coach. Even then we had one of the most hectic weeks of our lives preparing everything in time! The coach tour took five days to film (in Devon and Cornwall) and it was far too late to book space at Shepperton Film Studios for the following seven days. So we hired a couple of disused aircraft hangars at West Malling R.A.F. station just outside Maidstone in Kent.

By September 11 when we all set off by bus for Cornwall, The Beatles had a big sheaf of papers filled with outline scripts to describe the scenes they wanted to film. In total there were 43 people on the big yellow and blue bus. This included a full technical crew (camera and sound men). The rest? Most of them were cast as 'ordinary passengers', a cross-section of types you'd find on any average Mystery Tour bus. We had an elderly couple, a mother and her little daughter named Nicola, a bunch of teenage girls (including Freda Kelly and three Fan Club Area Secretaries) and other assorted people. In addition we had the key characters--played by actors, actresses and so forth. The part of the Courier went to Derek Royle, the Tour Hostess was played by Mandy Weet, Scottish comedian Ivor Cutler was a strange bloke who THOUGHT he was the Tour Courier, actress Jessie Robins was Ringo's Auntie Jessie, Maggie Wright was cast as Paul's friend "Maggie, The Lovely Starlet", Little George Claydon was the Amateur Photographer and veteran music hall comic Nat Jackley was Happy Nat the Rubber Man. Who is missing? Well, Alf Manders the bus driver played HIMSELF and so did Shirley Evans who is a professional accordion player.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

December 15, 1963 - Lucky Stars on Merseyside

Taped: Sunday 15 December 1963
Aired: Saturday 21 December 1963

Alpha TV Studios, Birmingham, to record ABC TV's Thank Your Lucky Stars. The group arrived at the studios during a snowstorm, but several hundred fans still gathered to greet them. An all Merseyside show. The Beatles mimed 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', 'All My Loving', 'Twist And Shout' and 'She Loves You' and were presented with two gold discs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Current Style

by Mal and Neil

At the start of 1967 The Beatles realised that there was no point in giving any more concerts since they'd have to rely upon using old out-of-date material, songs which could be put across with three guitars and drums, and that would not be representative of their current style of writing or composing. The obvious alternative to touring was to produce their own occasional television shows which could be seen all over the world, in countries they had visited for concert tours as well as new countries they'd never got around to.

So the first decision to make television films dates 's 21st birthday. During, Colorado, for Jane's 21st birthday. During, Colorado, for Jane's 21st birthday. During that trip to America Paul thought of building a TV show around a coach tour. In Mal's diary for April 7 he wrote: "Getting quite excited about planning the television film. Idea going at the moment is to make it about some sort of Mystery Tour (Roll Up! Roll Up!). Paul is getting lots of ideas and we're jotting them down as we go."

The same week his diary had an entry reading: "Took charge of Hertz rented car. Drove Paul and Jane up into the Rockies for what I can only describe as a real Magical Mystery Trip."

Flying home to London (Tuesday April 11) Paul worked on the first words for a "Magical Mystery Tour" song. On the plane he borrowed a pad of paper from the stewardess and drew a big circle, dividing it up into sections. The circle represented 60 minutes, the sections were marked off into bits for songs and sketches. When we got home this was the sheet of paper Paul used to describe to the others what he had in mind. There were lots of sections of the circle left blank. The others threw in extra ideas and, one by one, the blank sections were filled until The Beatles decided they had the makings of a 60-minute TV programme.

The Planning:

In The Bag O' Nails discotheque club one night towards the end of April we (Neil and Mal!) were brought into the group's discussions on possible items for the "Coach Show". Basically it was agreed that the plan should be "all-inclusive, non-exclusive". This meant trying to fit into the show something for everyone, as wide a variety as possible.

On April 25 the backing track for the song "Magical Mystery Tour" was recorded. Two nights later voices were added and on May 3 trumpet accompaniment was put on.

Now there was a long delay because the BBC invited The Beatles to take part in a 'live' worldwide television programme for which they would write a special song. The song was "All You Need Is Love," the programme, seen at the end of June, was "Our World." As you know, "All You Need Is Love" became the main side of The Beatles' next single and they put "Baby, You're a Rich Man" on the second side.

So we jump forward to the second half of August to find the next bit of "Magical Mystery Tour" activity--that was after the holiday in Greece and George's trip to California. On Thursday August 24, only a few days before he died, Brian had a long chat with John, Paul, George and Ringo and everybody talked about "things to be done" for the rest of the year. Brian was very enthusiastic about "Magical Mystery Tour" and wanted us to go ahead right away with filming the show.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Magical Mystery Tour

by Mal and Neil

"Magical Mystery Tour" marks the beginning of a very important new stage in the career of The Beatles. For the first time they have created their own show for television. They have worked out the scenes, hired the cast, written the basic script, composed the songs and incidental soundtrack music, directed the actual shooting and edited the finished film. And, of course, they have taken part in the show--playing the parts of four Magical Mystery Tour coach passengers PLUS a number of other roles which we'll talk about later.

One point of particular interest is that if everybody likes "Magical Mystery Tour" and if The Beatles themselves are satisfied with the finished job, it is pretty certain they will make their next full-length cinema film in the same way. That is one of the first major projects The Beatles will be discussing in the new year. They are well aware that there has been an unreasonably long gap between the screening of "Help!" and the start of work on their third motion picture. On the other hand, if all goes according to plan, the third picture will now be something really special with the Beatles looking after every aspect of the scripting, the shooting, the direction, and the editing just as they have done with "Magical Mystery Tour."

The Beginning:

As long ago as January 1967 The Beatles decided that Personal Appearances--whether in the form of full-scale concert tours or just the odd stage performance--were OUT. They realised that to do any more stage shows would be a STEP BACKWARDS. During the previous four years they had toured the world appearing not only throughout Great Britain but also in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Manila, United States of America and Canada.

Their first nationwide U.K. tour (apart from a few dates in Scotland the previous month) had been with The Helen Shapiro Show in February 1963. Their final series of 1966 concerts had taken them across America and up to Canada, finishing with a final performance in San Francisco at the end of August.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 16, 1964 - Théâtre de l'Olympia, Paris

Taped: Thursday 16 January 1964

The afternoon matinee was sold out to fans whereas the evening audience was made up of more expensively dressed, older Parisians who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The ancient music hall was not equipped for modern amplification and the fuses blew three times as the theatre could not supply enough power for their amps. Mal rushed on stage to make emergency repairs. There were no screams or shrieks, but the audience clapped in time and appreciated the music. George: "We miss the screams, but the audiences are great. Now roll on America."

The audience was well behaved, but backstage a riot was going on. Cameramen were everywhere and an argument erupted when a French photographer was not allowed in to take exclusive pictures. A fight broke out which spilled onto the stage. George had to move quickly to prevent his guitar from being damaged by the brawling mob and Paul stopped singing to call for order. Gendarmes arrived and added to the chaos. No one was allowed backstage for the remaining dates.

The Olympia was in many ways a dry run for Carnegie Hall, Epstein's policy being to book his group into the most prestigious venues possible. The Olympia was the best music hall in France, where the first night guaranteed an audience in full evening dress, minks and diamonds. It was a beautiful, classic theatre with sumptuous furnishings. However, the dressing room was tiny and the Olympia was unused to Beatlemania: people with tickets had been prohibited from entering the theatre, whereas others found someone already in their seats. It was chaos. The theatre was ringed with armed police and beyond them a cordon of fans chanting "Beat-les, Beat-les, Beat-les!" As the group left the stage a few more punches were exchanged. Predictably, French chauvinism showed in the press reports the next day, though France Soir suggested that French pop idols must be jealous because never before had the French clapped along so loudly with the beat.