On Monday 2 March 1964 The Beatles joined Equity, the actors’ union, only minutes before they began shooting their first film, the as-yet untitled A Hard Day’s Night.
Their union memberships were proposed and seconded by Wilfrid Brambell and Norman Rossington, their main co-stars in the film. All gathered at London’s Paddington Station, where their train left at 8.30am from platform five. However, no filming took place at the station itself.
The specially-hired train was destined for Minehead and back, where for the next three days scenes were filmed in the suitably cramped setting. There was a dining car for The Beatles to eat in, yet during their designated 40-minute food break they preferred simply to sit still instead of rolling about with the train’s movements.
The Beatles’ dialogue was recorded using microphones hidden inside their shirts, but numerous retakes were required due to sound problems.
The train bit embarrasses us now. I’m sure it’s less noticeable to people watching in the cinema, but we know that we’re dead conscious in every move we make, we watch each other. Paul’s embarrassed when I’m watching him speak and he knows I am. You can see the nervous bits normally in pictures: things like the end – you make that on one day, and on the next day you do the beginning. But we did it almost in sequence. The first we did was the train, which we were all dead nervous in. Practically the whole of the train bit we were going to pieces.
The scenes of Beatlemania which greeted the group as they embarked on their journey caused a rethink in subsequent days’ filming. For the next five days they boarded at Acton rather than Paddington, and in the evenings were met by their chauffeurs at a variety of smaller suburban stations.
Filming for A Hard Day’s Night ended on 24 April 1964.