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This Week 409: Beatlemania (1963)

Courtesy of Archbuild

Main image of This Week 409: Beatlemania (1963)
Rediffusion for ITV, tx. 7/11/1963
30 min slot, black and white
Production CompanyRediffusion
ProducerJeremy Isaacs
DirectorJames Butler

Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney are interviewed in pairs in the back of a car.

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Although this interview with all four Beatles (taken in pairs: John Lennon/Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr/George Harrison) rarely rises above the banal, the mere fact that ITV's flagship weekly news programme chose to devote an edition to a pop group is itself worthy of comment, since everything else that This Week had broadcast that year fell firmly into the realm of serious news coverage: Harold Macmillan's political difficulties, the Profumo scandal, unrest in Saigon, and so on.

So why The Beatles? It's because, even as early as November 1963, it had become obvious that the Liverpool foursome were a genuine cultural phenomenon well beyond anything that the music industry had previously encountered (and this was shortly before they conquered America). In the interview, they talk about the difficulties of connecting directly with their fans, since concert logistics involve a complex police operation to get them onstage and off with the minimum of fuss.

The interview was recorded shortly after they headlined the annual Royal Variety Performance (during which John Lennon famously quipped "Will the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewellery") on 4 November, and aired a few days before its television broadcast on 10 November. Although the term 'Beatlemania' (describing the extreme adulation of the band, often by teenage girls) had already passed into popular currency, its first appearance in print is believed to be on page 3 of the 2 November edition of the Daily Mirror, only a week before This Week tackled the topic.

The interview would have formed part of a half-hour programme including a live studio discussion and music performances. Other material that survives in the archives includes shots of fans queuing for tickets in Lincoln.

Michael Brooke

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Unedited interview (10:15)
Hard Day's Night, A (1964)
Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1983)
Beatles, The
Harrison, George (1943-2001)
Starr, Ringo (1940-)
Liverpool: Made in Liverpool
Liverpool: Sounds of the City