The Early Beatles
Historic Beatles Programme
By Bill Harry
In 1982 Johnny Hamp, then Granada’s Head of Light Entertainment, intended to produce a show to tie in with the Beatles 20th anniversary of the ‘Love Me Do’ release; however he found such a wealth of interesting material in the archives that the programme wasn’t completed until 1983.
‘The Early Beatles’ was first broadcast at 5.40pm on Sunday, 1 January 1984. Johnny commented that it would probably become the most video-pirated programme of that holiday season – and he was probably right. He added: “Putting together this archive material was more a labour of love than work. We decided we didn’t need any commentary – the film speaks for itself!”
One of the items included in the hour-long documentary was the famous scene of the Beatles at the Cavern, shot on Wednesday 22 August 1962; during the week in which Ringo replaced Pete Best. Johnny said that when they’d viewed the clip a number of times they began to identify a voice which was shouting out: “Where’s Pete?” For that particular Cavern filming session, Hamp recalls the Beatles were paid just £12 each.
It was Johnny himself who recorded the Beatles’ meeting with Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd. He’d booked both acts into Granada that day for separate shows and suggested that they be briefly featured together. What was supposed to be a few minutes of film turned into a 22-minute sequence.
The American scenes in the documentary were from the Maysles Brothers film of the Beatles in the U.S. which Granada had commissioned in 1964, and showed the group in New York and Washington.
The dates ‘1962’ to ‘1965’ appear on the screen, followed by the words: “Much has been written, even more has been said. This compilation speaks for itself.”
The famous Granada clip of the Beatles performing ‘Some Other Guy’ at the Cavern is screened, followed by a clipping from Mersey Beat featuring the ‘Beatles Change Drummer’ story. There are close-ups of kids at the Cavern. Some people are asked: “And what does Liverpool mean to you?”
“The Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers” is the general answer, and then half a dozen girls cry ‘the Beatles!’”
We see the Beatles entering the back door of a theatre. The front doors open and crowds begin to pour in to the tune of ‘Love Me Do.’ Outside there are girls crying, inside the theatre they are in hysteria. The tune of ‘Please Please Me’ announces the Beatles’ entrance to the studio. They perform ‘Twist and Shout’ wearing polo-necked sweaters, then ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ in suits, against a giant display of a simulated newspaper called Daily Echo.
Guy Byrne, a Granada interviewer, is next shown with the Fab Four and Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd.
Byrne: “We have always thought that it might be a good question to put to Mr. Kenneth Dodd and members of the Beatles…er, to what extent do they attribute their success to their hairstyle. And we’ll start by asking that question now of Mr. Ken Dodd.”