Beatles, Brian Matthew,
'Saturday Club' & 'Easy Beat'
By Bill Harry
Brian Matthew was born in Coventry on 17 September 1928 and originally trained as an actor at RADA.
As a BBC radio host he worked with the Beatles more than any other radio personality in Britain.
He presented ‘Saturday Club’, a prestigious radio show which was originally launched in 1958 as a showcase for up-and-coming talent.
Brian also interviewed George and John at Nems office in Argyle Street on Tuesday 30 November 1965 for the ‘Pop Profile’ series.
He also recorded the Beatles on their first ‘Saturday Club’ on Tuesday 22 January 1963.
Matthew was also the host on the radio series ‘Easy Beat’ and the Beatles recorded on the show for the first time at the Playhouse Theatre, London on Wednesday 3 April 1963.
Brian telephoned them for a ‘Saturday Club’ interview at the Plaza Hotel, New York on Friday 7 February 1964. The Beatles also chatted with him on Tuesday 31 March for ‘Saturday Club’ for a programme broadcast on Saturday 22 Feb 1964 on their return from America. He also hosted ‘Top Gear’, for which the Beatles recorded on Tuesday14 July 1964. Brian also appeared in a sketch with them for the TV show ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, recorded on Saturday 14 November 1964.
During the filming of Help! he interviewed them by phone for ‘Saturday Club’ on Sunday 14 March. He was also the host on their ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ show recorded on Sunday 28 March and broadcast Saturday 3 April. Mathew also joined them on their autumn 1965 tour of America.
Material from his interviews were gathered for a 45 minute documentary ‘The Beatles Abroad’ which was broadcast on Monday 30 August 1965. They recorded with him for another ‘Saturday Club’ on Monday 29 November 1965. He next interviewed them at Playhouse Theatre, London on Monday 2 May for the 400th edition of ‘Saturday Club’. He then recorded them at EMI studios on Monday 20 March 1967 for an overseas edition of ‘Top Of The Pops’ and for the radio show ‘The Ivor Novello Awards’ for I966.
Matthew told Kevin Howlett in ‘The Beatles At the Beeb’ book that although he worked with the Beatles so often, he wasn’t very close to them on a personal level. He was to add: “I suppose it’s fair to say that I was close to Brian Epstein – I did count him as a personal friend.”
In fact, both Brian’s went into business together when they launched a theatrical project in Farnborough, Kent. The two theatre lovers intended to create a new theatre, the Pilgrim Theatre, at a cost of £38,000, which would present a festival of new and classical productions that could later be transferred to the West End. The theatre would also stage musicals, jazz concerts and films. A host of stars agreed to donate their services in a series of concerts to raise funds for the venture. They included Billy J. Kramer, the Searchers, Cilla Black, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Dusty Springfield and Kenny Ball & his Jazzmen. The project was abandoned in July 1965 when the Estates Committee of Bromley Borough Council turned down planning permission.
In 1972 Matthew compiled a 13-part radio series ‘The Beatles Story’ for the BBC.
Brian is also featured on ‘The Beatles Live At The BBC’ CD. On the first disc he appears on the track ‘Riding On A Bus’, which are excerpts of a recording he made with the Beatles in November 1964. On the track ‘Dear Wack!’ Brian gets John to read out a listener’s request. On Disc Two he appears on the opening track ‘Crinsk Dee Night’ in which they joke about their film career. He next appears on ‘Have A Banana!’ and ‘Just A Rumour’.