Promotional films

The Beatles were largely unwilling to appear on television to promote the ‘Paperback Writer’ single, so took part in a two-day shoot which resulted in a total of seven promotional films for that song and its b-side ‘Rain’.

The first day’s filming took place on 19 May 1966 in Abbey Road’s Studio One. Three clips were made for ‘Paperback Writer’, and two for ‘Rain’. They were directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and produced by Tony Bramwell.

The Beatles film promos for Paperback Writer and Rain, Abbey Road, 19 May 1966

At 10am a camera rehearsal took place. The first colour performance of ‘Rain’ was filmed, after which The Beatles watched a playback to see the results. From 1.10-2pm they filmed a colour performance of ‘Paperback Writer’.

Both these colour clips were for the US, and had their première on The Ed Sullivan Show on 5 June 1966, along with a greeting filmed by The Beatles on this day between 6.15pm and 6.30pm.

After lunch The Beatles recorded black-and-white footage for UK viewers, two for ‘Paperback Writer’ and one for ‘Rain’, between 3.30pm and 6.15pm.

The first black-and-white clip of ‘Paperback Writer’ had its television début on Saturday 25 June in Goodbye Lucky Stars, the final edition of the long-running music show Thank Your Lucky Stars.

The second black-and-white performance of ‘Paperback Writer’, along with the one of ‘Rain’, were first shown on Ready, Steady, Go! on Friday 3 June, which was the first time the show had broadcast footage not from its own studio.

The idea was that we’d use them in America as well as the UK, because we thought, ‘We can’t go everywhere. We’re stopping touring and we’ll send these films out to promote the record.’ It was too much trouble to go and fight our way through all the screaming hordes of people to mime the latest single on Ready, Steady, Go!. Also, in America, they never saw the footage anyway.

Once we actually went on an Ed Sullivan show with just a clip. I think Ed Sullivan came on and said, ‘The Beatles were here, as you know, and they were wonderful boys, but they can’t be here now so they’ve sent us this clip.’ It was great, because really we conned the Sullivan show into promoting our new single by sending in the film clip. These days obviously everybody does that – it’s part of the promotion for a single – so I suppose in a way we invented MTV.

George Harrison
Anthology

The second day of promotional filming took place on 20 May 1966 at Chiswick House, an 18th century house and gardens in west London.

For the ‘Rain’ clip, The Beatles were filmed outside the gates and around a cedar tree, with the group performing while children played among the branches.

For ‘Paperback Writer’ the group were filmed inside the conservatory, and miming to the song in the statue garden. Some of the conservatory footage was also used in the ‘Rain’ clip, and extra shots of The Beatles walking in the grounds were later edited into both films.

The colour clips were first shown in black-and-white on BBC 1’s Top Of The Pops. ‘Paperback Writer’ had its first screening on 2 June 1966, while ‘Rain’ had its début on the show on 9 June.