The Beatles returned to Twickenham Film Studios on this day to film promotional videos for their forthcoming single ‘We Can Work It Out’/‘Day Tripper’, as well as older songs ‘Help!’, ‘Ticket To Ride’ and ‘I Feel Fine’.
The decision freed them from having to make personal appearances for British and foreign television shows. By self-producing a series of promotional clips, The Beatles were able to cheaply and quickly ensure they would be seen by audiences around the world with minimum effort.
This day’s filming was funded by NEMS Enterprises, whose Tony Bramwell and Vyvienne Moynihan were on set. Joe McGrath was the director and the sets were designed by Ready, Steady, Go!’s Nicholas Ferguson. Four cameramen, a lighting technician, sound man and a runner completed the crew.
At Twickenham we shot up to three versions of each promo and simply sent copies of the best, free of charge, to every TV station The Beatles had ever been on. But it was too expensive, so we were told. When EMI called and complained that we had spent a total of seven hundred and fifty pounds, we fell about the office laughing. Their accounts office said it was far too much.
Each of the videos was shot on a set constructed at Twickenham’s Stage Three. The Beatles arrived late in the afternoon and continued work until the early hours of the following morning. In total, 10 separate films were made, each of which featured The Beatles miming in a different scenario.
Three versions of ‘We Can Work It Out’ were made, for each of which John Lennon sat at an organ. One opened with a photograph of Lennon with a sunflower over an eye, and in another they wore their stage costumes from their Shea Stadium concert in August 1965.
There were also three separate clips made for ‘Day Tripper’. In the first the group again wore their Shea Stadium suits, and George Harrison and Ringo Starr stood behind a railway carriage prop; Starr brought out a saw and began dismantling the set. Lennon and Paul McCartney were positioned behind a nearby 1920-style aeroplane. The other two clips were similar, but with slight variations.
One film for ‘Help!’ was made. The Beatles sat at a work bench and mimed to the song. Starr held a white umbrella, and towards the end fake snow landed on the group.
A single clip of ‘Ticket To Ride’ saw The Beatles mime before a backdrop of supersized bus and train tickets.
There were two versions of ‘I Feel Fine’, the oldest song of the day. In the first Lennon, McCartney and Harrison walked on set, and Harrison sang into a punch ball while the other two sang into the camera. Starr rode an exercise bicycle.
In the second The Beatles made little attempt to mime, and merely sat on the floor and ate newspaper-wrapped fish and chips. Towards the end of the song George Harrison climbed onto the exercise bicycle. This was the only one of the 10 clips not to be sold to television companies, as Brian Epstein was unhappy with the results.
The rest were quickly sold and distributed by NEMS. The BBC paid £1,750 for the right to broadcast several on Top Of The Pops, their flagship music show, on various occasions throughout December, and deals were struck with numerous other broadcasters around the world.
Also on this day...
- 2014: Paul McCartney live at Estádio Mané Garrincha, Brasília, Brazil
- 1967: Tape copying: Yellow Submarine soundtrack songs
- 1964: Television: Ready, Steady, Go!
- 1964: US album release: The Beatles’ Story
- 1964: US single release: I Feel Fine
- 1963: Live: City Hall, Newcastle
- 1962: Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 1962: Television audition: St James’s Church Hall, London
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1960: Live: Kaiserkeller, Hamburg
- 1957: Live: New Clubmoor Hall, Liverpool
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.