Radio: Pop Go The Beatles

2.00pm, Friday 24 May 1963 (50 years ago)

On 30 April 1963 a BBC studio manager, Vernon Lawrence, suggested to his manager, assistant department head Donald MacLean, that The Beatles be given their own radio series. MacLean approved the idea, with four programmes commissioned and the option for a further 11 if successful.

The budget for each half-hour show was £100, and producer Terry Henebery was given the task of making the shows. The first four were presented by Lee Peters – jokingly renamed Pee Litres by The Beatles – and featured a mix of music and chat.

A different guest act also featured each week, chosen by the BBC and normally recorded in a different session. For this first episode the act was the Lorne Gibson Trio, who were also present at the Aeolian Hall in London.

Each edition of Pop Go The Beatles began and ended with a rock ‘n’ roll version of the nursery rhyme Pop Goes The Weasel recorded by The Beatles on this day.

The programme was recorded from 2-6pm, including rehearsals. The Beatles performed six songs, only three of which had previously been recorded for EMI: From Me To You, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, Do You Want To Know A Secret, You Really Got A Hold On Me, Misery and The Hippy Hippy Shake.

This first episode of Pop Go The Beatles was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme service on Tuesday 4 June 1963 at 5pm.

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