AROUND THE BEATLES
by: Bill Harry
The British television company Associated-Rediffusion had expressed interest in a Beatles television special and when Brian Epstein was in New York with the Beatles in February 1964. He had a meeting with Jack Good and suggested that Good produce the show.
During negotiations with Vyvienne Moynihan of Rediffusion, Epstein insisted that Good be the producer. He also demanded that his own artists Cilla Black and Sounds Incorporated be included in the show, that Murray The K be hired as compere, that NEMS would retain world distribution rights and that he would be credited as co-producer.
Rediffusion agreed to all his terms and the sixty minutes special, provisionally called ‘John, Paul, George and Ringo’, then had a name change to ‘Around the Beatles’ – possibly a reference to the fact that the audience sat in a semi-circle around the Beatles as they performed.
The special was filmed at Rediffusion’s Studio 5 in Wembley on Thursday 28 April 1964 between 9pm and 10.15pm, following rehearsals on Monday April 18, Monday 25 and Wednesday 27 and networked a week later on Wednesday 6 May. It was repeated the following month on Monday 8 June and ABC TV in America screened excerpts from the show on Sunday 24 May.
The Beatles performed ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Twist And Shout’, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘Shout’. They also sang a medley of ‘Love Me Do’, ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘From Me To You’ and presented an excerpt from, Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.
John, Paul and George first appear miming to a trumpet fanfare while Ringo waves a flag with the wording ‘Around the Beatles’ before setting off a cannon. All four are dressed in Shakespearian costume and the audience enter the studio to the sound of the song ‘We Love You Beatles.’
Another trumpet fanfare announced the first sketch which is based on Act V, Scene 1 from William Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’
Jack Good was to comment, “The boys will be seen in the play-within-the-play that Bottom and his friends perform.” This amusing sketch, in which the group appeared in costume, featured John as Thisbe, Paul as Pyramus, George as Moonshine and Ringo as the Lion, although the group were at first reluctant to appear in the sketch. Trevor Peacock also joined them as Wall. Peacock’s biggest claim to fame was to come some years later as a cast member of the popular TV series ‘Are You Being Served?’
Following the seven-minute sketch, John announced “Enough of this rubbish! We’d like to bring on something good now – some girls! He-he! We’d like to bring on the Vernons Girls and two of the girls from the film ‘West Side Story’, the Jets” (The Jets were an American dance troupe).
The next performers are Millie and Long John Baldry, then Paul, Ringo and John appear on a balcony while Paul announces P.J.Proby: “He’s a great lad, He’s a very good friend of ours…a big round of applause for P.J. Proby.”
Proby performs ‘Walking the Dog’ and receives applause from all four Beatles.
When Long John Baldry performs ‘I Got My Mojo Working’ the Beatles, still on the balcony, join in. Cilla Black then sings ‘Saved,’ next comes a medley of the skiffle songs ‘Rock Island Line’ and ‘Cumberland Gap’ by P.J. Proby and the Vernons Girls. Proby next sings ‘I Believe.’
The Beatles then appear to perform several numbers, including the only medley they ever perform on television, with Paul announcing, “We’d like to carry on with a medley of songs, the songs which have been our records over the last year. We’ve stuck them all together in a sort of medley, starting off with ‘Love Me Do.’”
The medley comprised ‘Love Me Do’, ‘Please Please Me’, ‘From Me To You’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’.
John then introduces their performance of ‘Shout!’ with the words, “Thank you, thank you very much – and God bless you, you’ve got a lucky face – the end!”
The audience joined the Beatles in song as the credits rolled.