The Beatles: ‘RUBBISH’, Says 1968 BBC Audience Research
New book reprints documents that reveal the Fabs’ volatile relationship with the Beeb.
By DANNY ECCLESTON
OCTOBER 15, 2013
THE BEATLES: THE BBC ARCHIVES 1962-1970 is a lavish 336-page tome by notable Beatle expert Kevin Howlett that documents the close but sometimes fractious relationship between the rock’n’roll revolutionaries and the UK’s national broadcaster.
Among the treasures in this beautiful package – boxed like a vintage 10½” reel of tape – are reproductions of some priceless documents, including the Beeb’s response to the group’s application for an audition, where Paul McCartney’s performances of ’Til There Was You and Like Dreamers Do are annotated with a curt “No”, but Lennon’s Memphis Tennessee and Hello Little Girl are more favourably received.
“An unusual group,” concluded Beeb gatekeeper Peter Pilbeam, “not as ‘Rocky’ as most, more C&W, with a tendency to play music.”
More fascinating still is the facsimile of the BBC Audience Research Department’s February 1968 report on the viewing public’s response to the Boxing Night screening of Magical Mystery Tour.
“Three quarters of the sample could hardly find a good word to say for the programme,” relates the report’s unnamed author, before reproducing the following memorable responses…
• “A load of RUBBISH. We have made better home movies ourselves.”
• “Positively the worst programme I can remember seeing on any TV channel.”
• “The biggest waste of public money since the Ground Nut Scheme.”
Then there’s this beautifully phrased letter from BBC Director Of Sound Broadcasting explaining to EMI Chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood why the Beeb have decided to ban Sgt. Pepper’s A Day In The Life…
Frank Gillard’s letter regarding A Day In The Life. We especially like “the jargon of the drug addicts”.
On top of brilliant research into every aspect of The Beatles’ interaction with Auntie, Howlett’s book-and-a-half provides a dizzying trip back to a time when the Beatles were not universally deified, and the culture war was still to be won, or lost.
The Beatles: The BBC Archives 1962-1970 is published on October 17 by BBC Books/Ebury.
The Beatles / The BBC Archives: 1962-1970 hardcover book
by Matthew Breen in Arts
As the Beatles mark their 50th anniversary, fans continue to reap the benefits of another intriguing item about the Fab Four. The release of The Beatles / The BBC Archives 1962-1970 is a unique treasure. The large, hardcover book collects the surviving transcripts of the Beatles’ appearances on BBC Radio and Television from 1962 to 1970. It features commentary from author and Beatles expert Kevin Howlett, alongside photographs and memorabilia from the BBC.
The book features previously unpublished transcripts of interviews with John, Paul, Ringo and George, as well as personal reminiscences from presenters, producers, and studio staff.
The Beatles / The BBC Archives: 1962-1970 will be released on October 29. List price is $60, but you shouldn’t have to pay more than about $40. At that price, it’s a perfect Christmas present for the Beatles fan in the family.