Magic and mystery, as Fab Four documentary hits UK TV screens

Posted Oct 2, 2012 by Andrew John
Previously unseen film of the Beatles eating Britain’s favourite takeout – fish and chips – is to feature in a new documentary on the Fab Four to be shown on the BBC.
The Beatles (clockwise from top left: John Lennon  Paul McCartney  Ringo Starr and George Harrison)
The Beatles (clockwise from top left: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison)
Creative Commons
The footage – taken when the group were shooting their 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour – has just appeared online, hosted by an arts website called The Space, developed by the Arts Council and the BBC.
The BBC news website says the footage was discovered during the making of the corporation’s documentary for its Arena series.
“It shows the Beatles taking a break from the Magical Mystery Tour coach at a fish bar in Taunton, Somerset [in the Southwest of England],” says the BBC. “The film was first broadcast by the BBC on Boxing Day 1967.
“It was not a hit, confusing the festive audience, and was savaged by critics in reviews that branded it ‘rubbish’.”
Magical Mystery Tour will be shown on Saturday on BBC2.
“It will follow a new documentary, Arena: The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour, looking at the film’s ‘artistic merit and cultural significance’,” says the BBC.
The Arena makers have “placed the previously unseen footage, which [they] said was reclaimed from the ‘cutting room floor’, into a new short film made in association with the Beatles’ record label Apple.”
The programme’s editor, Anthony Wall, is quoted as saying: “Few people have seen Magical Mystery Tour in its entirety and the material in the chip shop has never been shown anywhere. It captures perfectly the fabulous world of the Beatles at this time.
“They’re happily rubbing shoulders and sharing a simple meal with the other passengers on the coach, and at the same time creating an extraordinarily avant-garde film, which of course would soon be broadcast by the BBC to a dumbstruck nation.”
Magical Mystery Tour was both an LP and an EP, as well as a film. Both were produced by the legendary producer George Martin.
The six-track double-EP was released in the UK on December 8, 1967, but had been released nearly two weeks before, on November 27.
Saturday’s film – to be screened at 9.45 p.m. – features contributions by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Peter Fonda, Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, Neil Innes and Paul Merton.
It’s 50 years this week since the Beatles had their first hit, with the release of “Love Me Do” on October 5.