Chorussed the fans –
“We love you Beatles,
Oh! yes we do.
Wherever you go,
We’ll follow you.
When you are not near us
We are blue.
Oh! Beatles, we love you”.
Within twenty-four hours of The Beatles’ triumphant return from America, the four undisputed kings of the pop-world were at Teddington rehearsing for their first ‘home again’ TV show – ABC’s “Big Night Out”.
George, Paul, John and Ringo had landed at London Airport in the cold, grey hours of Saturday morning to be greeted by the screams of 10,000 eager and delighted fans. And no less tumultuous a welcome awaited the Liverpool group when they arrived at the studios to keep their date with ABC.
Fans Gather Overnight
Beatles fans began to gather outside the studio gates hours in advance of the planned arrival of the four boys. Many hundreds of youngsters had made their way to Teddington straight after a long vigil at the airport the day before and had camped out all night in the hope of catching yet another fleeting glimpse of their idols.
“They’re Coming Up by Boat!”
ABC officials, concerned for the safety of their much mobbed star guests, had worked out an elaborate plan to dodge the mad, wild, scrambling crowd gathered around the gates. From a secret rendezvous the Beatles were taken by car to the river and transferred to a police launch for the rest of the journey to Teddington. But somehow the secret leaked out and word quickly spread among the fans, “They’re coming up by boat.”
For a time then it was pandemonium. Crush barriers and commissionaires were swept aside as thousands of Beatlemaniacs rushed to throng the river bank. Harrassed [sic] but good natured ABC security guards finally managed to restore some semblance of order. But not before several over-eager teenagers had fallen into the water and been dragged back on the bank again, soaked to the skin.
By the time the police launch drew alongside the landing stage shortly after 11.00 a.m., excitement was at fever pitch. The Beatles, standing in the cockpit and smiling broadly, acknowledged a roar of greeting, stepped ashore, paused for a moment for the photographers and then, with a final wave to their fans, made a dash for the safety of Studio 1.
Half-an-hour later the rehearsals for “Big Night Out” were under way and, as the boys went through their paces with programme hosts Mike and Bernie Winters, other TV cameras were recording the scene for inclusion in another ABC scoop, “The Beatles Are Back!” – a 30 minute documentary covering the first 48 hours of their return to Britain.
Split Second Timing
Produced by Lloyd Shirley and directed by Tom Clegg, “The Beatles are Back!”, which was transmitted over the National Network on Sunday night, was, in itself, a major achievement in television programming and split second timing. Researchers, writers, cameramen and production staff had worked around the clock from early on Saturday morning evolving a format, shooting material on film or video tape, marrying the two together and getting the programme on the air in time to live up to ABC’s reputation for spot-on technicality.
Said producer Lloyd Shirley, “It was a race against time and there were moments when it looked as though we couldn’t possibly make it on schedule. But we had a great team and the Beatles couldn’t have been more helpful so everything worked fine.”
It was not until hours after “The Beatles Are Back!!” had gone out over the air that George, Paul, John and Ringo finally left Teddington, their recording stint over and “Big Night Out” safely on the shelf. It had been another long and tiring day. And outside in the darkness the patient fans were still waiting.
The Beatles and all the other top Mersey groups are heading for Montreux. Not in person but on videotape – to the festival of world TV light entertainment in April.
ABC TV learnt this week that their special Lucky Stars show ‘The Merseybeats’ which was transmitted on the ITV Network last December, has been selected as the official Independent Television entry for the Montreux Golden Rose Award.
Another accolade for the Mersey groups, Thank Your Lucky Stars, producer Philip Jones and ABC TV who are hoping to add the Golden Rose to the two Melody Maker awards for the top pop-music show won by Lucky Stars over the last two years.
ABC TV plan to give viewers across the National Network more exciting light entertainment shows, with Sunday night series ‘Blackpool – Night Out’ in the summer.
Starting on July 5th and continuing for 10 weeks in the Sunday Palladium slot, this will be a one-hour variety show transmitted live from ABC’s new theatre at Blackpool. As well as featuring much of the comedy and musical talent that abounds in the North today, the show will star all the top-line performers in Blackpool for the summer season.
‘Blackpool – Night Out’ will be the best evening of entertainment that ABC TV has brought viewers yet.
With the story of ABC TV’s Beatles scoop comes more news of the Company’s success in the light entertainment field. ‘Big Night Out’ – the popular variety show which viewers in the rest of the country see on Saturday nights – is to be screened on the London ITV channel on Tuesdays by Associated-Rediffusion, the weekday contractor. First London screening will be The Beatles’ home-coming show on March 3rd at 8.0 p.m.
When they heard about the deal, Mike and Bernie Winters – regular hosts and comedians on ‘Big Night Out’ – said “We are excited at the news, it’s great that the London audience will get to see the show – now everybody in the country will see The Beatles and see us too”.
A-R’s decision to take ‘Big Night Out’ is the crowning tribute to a show which has been building a great reputation for itself amongst ABC TV’s own weekend audience in the North and Midlands. The programme was devised in June 1962 with a strong regional flavour, and billing a lot of the tremendous variety talent that exists in ABC TV’s area. Today the show has won national acclaim – and even international recognition when it was sold to Australia last summer. ABC TV has even bigger plans for maintaining the show’s success – and viewers across the whole country can look forward to some very exciting Big Nights Out in the near future.
ABC’s candid cameramen capture more moments from the Great Day at Teddington. The four boys seconds before they stepped ashore, Paul McCartney smiling a greeting to his excited fans, and George Harrison and John Lennon in conversation during a break in the ‘Big Night Out’ rehearsals.
On January 19th 1963, four hesitant, rather young lads turned up nervously at the main entrance to ABC’s Teddington studios, to appear for the first time on TV in ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’. No one took any notice of them arriving. The commissionaire had their names, but to the rest of the world they were virtually unknown. On the scripts in their hands, their names appeared way down the bill.
Back in Style
Today – only a little over a year later – those same four boys returned in triumph to Teddington Studios. But this time it was through the back way, by river, because their entry to the front of the studios was barred by thousands of screaming and struggling girls who had waited, many of them all night, to catch a glimpse of their idols and the biggest rave Britain (and now the States) has known since the war . . . The Beatles.
Waiting to welcome the boys was producer Philip Jones, who directed their debut on ABC TV last year. Phil – who has made a big name for himself in TV light entertainment with Lucky Stars, Big Night Out and ABC spectaculars starring Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee – will be directing the Beatles again tonight on their first British TV show since their return from America.
Produced and published by ABC TV Promotion Department, ABC Television Limited, 1 Hanover Square, London W1
Printed by U.D.O. (Litho) Ltd, London
With thanks to Lee Barnard
About the author
The Promotion Department, based at 1 Hanover Square in London, was responsible for promoting ABC programmes in the press and for explaining the process of television to potential advertisers.