- Timeline More from year 1967
- Allsop Place, London, UK
More from year 1967
Filming of “Magical Mystery Tour”
Magical Mystery Tour (TV Special)
1967 • For The Beatles • Directed by The Beatles
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On August 27, 1967, The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein passed away, leaving the band uncertain about their future plans. To address this, the band members and some of their trusted associates convened at Paul McCartney’s house in London on September 1, to discuss their next steps and ultimately decided to continue working on their TV special, “Magical Mystery Tour.”
On this day, September 11, The Beatles began their Magical Mystery Tour. The starting point was Allsop Place in London, near Baker Street underground station, with a scheduled departure of 10:45 am. However, the coach was still being decorated with the tour’s lettering and colours, resulting in a two-hour delay for the passengers, which included family members, friends, fan club employees, actors, and other chosen travellers, for a total of 43 people.
For the sake of adding a little nostalgia to the occasion, their brightly decorated blue and yellow bus departed from the same tiny back street that all pop concert tours use. It was where John, Paul, George, and Ringo met up with folk like Roy Orbison, Chris Montez and Tommy Roe to leave by bus for early 1963 one-night-stand road shows.From Liverpool Echo – September 16, 1967
During the wait, Paul visited the London Transport café above Baker Street station for a cup of tea and autograph signing. He then accompanied Mal Evans to Soho to procure uniforms for the driver and courier.
Once the coach finally departed London via the A30, Neil Aspinall distributed £5 notes to each passenger to cover meal expenses for the week.
John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr joined the tour in Virginia Water, Surrey, near their residences.
Filming commenced shortly thereafter, with scenes improvised on the coach and during a lunch break at the Pied Piper restaurant in Basingstoke, Hampshire. Late that evening, the coach arrived at its first stop, the Royal Hotel at The Den in Teignmouth, Devon, where everyone spent the night.
The Beatles discreetly arrived at the hotel in a separate car, having switched vehicles just outside the town to avoid attention. Nevertheless, they were greeted by 400 local teenagers who had discovered their secret plans and endured the rain to see the stars. The hotel’s booking had been arranged the previous Friday and confirmed on this Monday morning.
At the hotel, Paul held an impromptu press conference, outlining The Beatles’ intentions for the film. He and Neil Aspinall then organized room assignments for the passengers before discussing the next day‘s filming plans with Lennon and technical director Peter Theobalds.
On the first day there was an immediate delay because the “Magical Mystery Tour” posters took longer to fix than anyone expected. George, Ringo and John were to meet up with the bus at Virginia Water on the A30, not too far from Weybridge. Meanwhile Paul was waiting with the rest of the cast in a side street close to the London Planetarium. His time wasn’t wasted because, at the last moment, white uniforms had to be purchased for the Driver, Courier and Hostess. Paul and Mal nipped off to look for a suitable shop and found one in Soho.
A bit of filming was done on the way down to Teignmouth but it was raining hard and nothing more than a few ice-breaking shots inside the bus could be attempted under such conditions.
The arrival at Teignmouth was much more spectacular than we had imagined it would be. People lined both sides of the street with policemen to hold them back. The hotel foyer was just jammed with cameramen, reporters and sightseeing holidaymakers!Mal Evans & Neil Aspinall – From The Beatles Monthly Book, December 1967
The Wednesday before the lads started to film “M.M.T.” I was up in Liverpool sorting through the latest mountain of mail from club members when Tony Barrow, Senior Press Officer at NEMS, telephoned me. Tony had been asked by the lads to see if I’d like to join them on the special bus to go off filming in Devon and Cornwall.
Would I LIKE to?!? LIKE was an understatement! It was a marvellous surprise.
Then Tony went on to say there would be a total of four bus seats reserved for Fan Club girls and we discussed the problem of how to fill the other three spaces. What a difficult job — 40,000 Beatle People on our membership lists and only THREE places to be filled! And time was short too! Eventually I decided to send out telegrams to Area Secretaries who are based not too far from the London region. The first three girls to telephone Tony Barrow and say they could manage to get the week off would be the three “M.M.T.” passengers. There wasn’t a fairer way of doing it in such a short time. Anyway Sylvia from Sussex, Barbara from Essex and Jeni from London were able to accept The Beatles’ invitation and we all met up at 10.30 a.m. the following Monday morning in Allsop-place which is just beside The London Planetarium and the Waxworks.
A man came over to me on the pavement and said “I’m sure I’ve seen your skull before”! That was certainly an off-beat introduction — to Scotsman Ivor Cutler, the off-beat comedian who turned out to be one of the artistes engaged to take part in the show. Well, we were all there but the bus wasn’t ! It was being decorated with colourful “Mystery Tour” signs. So, with Paul and the rest of the cast, we filled in our spare hour by drinking tea in a London Transport staff canteen and the hospitality was very welcome.
At last we got under way, with a crowd of press photographers watching our departure and hurrying to their cars before we went out of sight.
At Virginia Water, a place not too far from Weybridge, we picked up George, Ringo and John. Now the party was complete.
Before starting to film, the boys moved people around and asked us to keep our new seats all the time so that whenever we happened to be in camera range we’d be seen in the same part of the bus. What’s more we were to wear the same clothes all through the week — which created a washing problem as the days went by! I was moved up from the back of the coach and Paul came over to chat. “Have these for a slim figure like yours” he said handing me a box of Maltesers !
We stopped at a restaurant called The Pied Piper for lunch. The Beatles got their meals in no time, the staff being overwhelmed to find such distinguished customers arriving unexpectedly. I sat at a table with Sylvia, Jeni and Barbara and we still hadn’t got our orders when the lads were onto their second course. George looked over and asked why we were still waiting. Then he went straight into the kitchen and emerged again a moment later with my lunch. “The others are coming right away” he told the girls.Freda Kelly – From The Beatles Monthly Book, November 1967
MONDAY: Everyone was told to be at Allsop-place by 10.45 a.m. Everyone, that is, except the coach which arrived two hours late! Still, it must have taken time to fix all the gay posters and signs all over the bus. Meanwhile everyone was getting to know one another.
Paul had arrived on time and he spent ages sitting on the pavement talking to comedian Ivor Cutler. I went over to Paul and one of the first things he told me was that we’d have to wear the same clothes throughout the tour. Help! When John, George and Ringo joined us at Virginia Water they had to use the back part of the bus as a dressing room to change into their extraordinary film gear. John discovered the buttons had come off the back of his trousers. He needed them because he was wearing braces. Jokingly I offered to sew them on. He took me up on the offer. It would have been easier if he hadn’t been wearing the trousers at the time! After lunch the lining ripped away, button and all, and I had to use WHITE cotton to sew BROWN trousers!Jeni Crowley – From The Beatles Monthly Book, November 1967
I remember sitting alone in the coach on Monday thinking “What have I let myself in for”. On the train coming into London that morning I’d been saying to myself “I might even MEET THEM”.
Little did I dream that I would finish up spending most of those five days with The Beatles, getting to know them well. People have asked me what THEY are REALLY like. I just answer that they are four very nice people but just ordinary like you and me. I’m sure they don’t believe me. When Paul got out of his car in Allsop-place I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I remember very clearly driving in the bus through pouring rain and stopping near Virginia Water to pick up the other Beatles. John clambered aboard and said “Hello Happy Everybody!” and I felt my pulse to see if it was still there.Barbara King – From The Beatles Monthly Book, November 1967
MONDAY: I arrived at the meeting place arranged to find that the coach was going to be late. Only one Beatle — Paul — was there, surrounded by fans with autograph books. Cause of the delay was the fact that the coach was being draped with way-out psychedelic stickers and signs all over the blue and yellow paintwork.Sylvia Nightingale – From The Beatles Monthly Book, November 1967
Magical Mystery Tour was a mess. If Brian had been alive, it never would have happened the way it did. On Monday, September 11, a sixty-seat yellow and blue coach festooned with signs that identified it as the Magical Mystery Tour took off for Devon and Cornwall with a cast and crew of forty-three aboard. Following them was a procession of carloads of Fleet Street reporters, plus ten or fifteen fans in their own cars. The Magical Mystery Tour stopped in Devon, where they hoped to find the Devon Fair but found only a town. At Teigen the local constable chased them on for disturbing the peace. They changed directions and headed for Brighton, where they filmed two cripples sunning on the beach. When they stopped for a lunch break, they discovered they were thirty lunches short to feed the cast and crew. The first night on the road the sleeping accommodations had been underbooked and Paul and Neil spent hours sorting out fights between fat ladies and dwarfs who did not want to share rooms.Peter Brown – From “The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles“, 2002
On Friday September 1 there was a general conference and get-together at Paul’s house. While everyone added ideas, Paul sat at his typewriter and with one over-worked finger put down a list headed “Main Points”. Underneath he put: “Coach Tour (Three Days) with people on board. Week beginning Sept. 4—Cameraman, Sound, Cast, Driver. Hotels to be arranged for 2 nights. “Magical Mystery Tour” Emblem to be designed. Yellow coach to be hired (Sept 4 to Sept 9). Microphone system in coach. Must be good all-round vision. Tour “staff” Driver, Courier, Hostess. Three staff uniforms required. Coach destination—Cornwall??? After coach — Shepperton Studios (One Week).”
On another sheet he typed out a sequence of arrangements to be made: “Write outline script. Decide cast. Engage cast. Decide when shooting starts. Sets for studios. Fix completion date.”
In fact shooting could not start until Monday September 11, a week later than Paul’s proposed starting date for the coach. Even then we had one of the most hectic weeks of our lives preparing everything in time! The coach tour took five days to film (in Devon and Cornwall) and it was far too late to book space at Shepperton Film Studios for the following seven days. So we hired a couple of disused aircraft hangars at West Malling R.A.F. station just outside Maidstone in Kent.
By September 11 when we all set off by bus for Cornwall, The Beatles had a big sheaf of papers filled with outline scripts to describe the scenes they wanted to film. In total there were 43 people on the big yellow and blue bus. This included a full technical crew (camera and sound men). The rest? Most of them were cast as ‘ordinary passengers’, a cross-section of types you’d find on any average Mystery Tour bus. We had an elderly couple, a mother and her little daughter named Nicola, a bunch of teenage girls (including Freda Kelly and three Fan Club Area Secretaries) and other assorted people. In addition we had the key characters—played by actors, actresses and so forth. The part of the Courier went to Derek Royle, the Tour Hostess was played by Mandy Weet, Scottish comedian Ivor Cutler was a strange bloke who THOUGHT he was the Tour Courier, actress Jessie Robins was Ringo’s Auntie Jessie, Maggie Wright was cast as Paul’s friend “Maggie, The Lovely Starlet”, Little George Claydon was the Amateur Photographer and veteran music hall comic Nat Jackley was Happy Nat the Rubber Man. Who is missing? Well, Alf Manders the bus driver played HIMSELF and so did Shirley Evans who is a professional accordion player.By Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall – From The Beatles Monthly Book, December 1967
As all the National press found out very quickly, the Mystery Tour coach which the Beatles had hired for their trip round South West England was two hours late arriving to pick Paul McCartney up on the first day, Monday September 11th.
Paul spent the time being photographed, signing autographs and having a cup of tea at a nearby canteen. The forty-three seats of the coach were filled by 7 technicians, the 4 Beatles, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, Press Officer Tony Barrow, Freda Kelly and several other friends including an elderly couple and fan club secretaries Sylvia Nightingale from Sussex, Barbara King from Essex and Jeni Crowley from London… lucky girls?From The Beatles Monthly Book, October 1967
The Beatles greeted by teenagers – POP GROUP MAKING COLOURED FILM IN WEST COUNTRY
After waiting for nearly four hours in drizzle on Monday evening, five hundred Teignmouth teenagers caught only a glimpse of Britain’s number one pop group, the Beatles.
The group were expected to arrive at the Royal Hotel by coach at about seven o’clock, but instead they came by private car at 9:30.Unknown newspaper – From Meet the Beatles for Real: Greeted by Teenagers
Beatles set West hotel in a spin
The staff of a three-star seaside hotel were thrown into a panic yesterday. A coach booking they thought came from a Women’s institute turned out to be… the Beatles.
A block booking for 16 people was made from London by telephone to the Royal Hotel in Teignmouth, Devon.
Under-manager, Mr. Roy Naylor said: “We thought it was a party who wanted to attend a local operative society’s production of The Desert Song. But when we discovered it was the Beatles on tour, we had to rush round to organise our last few available rooms.”
The Beatles left Baker Street, London, yesterday morning for their mystery tour of the West Country in a multi-colour psychedelic coach.
They will be gathering material for a colour television film, working without script or plan of campaign, and staying where they happen to stop work each night.
The surprise visit of the Beatles was coolly received by the teenagers of Teignmouth and the chairman of the local council.
Only 50 fans waited in the drizzle outside their sea-front hotel. Inside council chairman Mr. Arthur Bladen said: “I wouldn’t wish to deprive them of their fame but personally, they leave me cold. This is just an overnight hop for their convenience and as far as I am concerned. I am going to the opera tonight.”
Disker has been with the Beatles… On a Magical Mystery Tout
The Beatles first thought of their “magical mystery tour” idea as long ago as last March. They’d just finished making “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and the new number started out as the probable top deck for their next single. They started recording “Magical Mystery Tour” in April when Paul came back from his brief American visit.
At that stage it was to be a song for a single. Now it is the theme song for an hour-long colour television show which has been devised, scripted, produced and directed by John, Paul, George and Ringo.
To complete the programme the group has delayed its two-month trip to India. While the four are away delving further into the mental magic of Eastern meditation, it’s more than likely we shall see “Magical Mystery Tour” on the main side of a November single. Then, sometime around Christmas, we shall see the TV Special they’ve built around the song.
In all the work is to take three weeks. As a prelude to this The Beatles went into the E.M.I. studios last week to record several other new compositions to used on the show’s soundtrack.
Next week they will be filming all the indoor studio sequence, in the hope that everything will be finished by the first week of October.
The Beatles’ approach to creating their own television show has been typically unconventional. They rejected most of the orthodox rules and decided to work on the principle that spontaneous humour and impromptu action would be much more worthwhile.
So, last Monday morning, the four Beatles met up with a coach-load of actors, actresses and other Mystery Tour passengers at a rendezvous close to London’s Planetarium. For the sake of adding a little nostalgia to the occasion, their brightly decorated blue and yellow bus departed from the same tiny back street that all pop concert tours use. It was where John, Paul, George, and Ringo met up with folk like Roy Orbison, Chris Montez and Tommy Roe to leave by bus for early 1963 one-night-stand road shows.
The idea was to drive out of London and head for Devon and Cornwall. First stop Teignmouth. Then over a period of three more days, the Magical Mystery Tour would pull in by the roadside and the group would select at random suitable filming locations to go with the skeleton script already worked out.
The smallest possible camera crew was hired for the trip. Just a pair of cameramen, a couple of sound men and their technical assistants.
The Beatles attired themselves in outrageous, vaguely Twenties gear with Ringo in an old six guinea navy pin-stripe suit and spotty tie, George in a vast turquoise Capone-style double-breaster with loud tie and heavily padded shoulders, John in trousers hoisted high above waist level by a pair of braces, and Paul in dark striped trousers overlapped by vivid Fair Isle pullover.
The rest of the passengers included “tour hostess” Mandy Weet, Jessie Robbins playing Ringo’s heavyweight auntie, Scotsman Ivor Cutler, and rubber-jointed comedian Nat Jackley. Plus — at the specific invitation of The Beatles — four mini-skirted teenagers (representing various regions of the group’s fan club) and Liverpudlian Freda Kelly, the club’s joint national secretary.
The first two days on the road produced a disappointing amount of film because continuous drizzle limited the shooting to indoor sequences within the coach itself.
Between “takes” you’d see Paul or one of the others in a deep huddle with one of the many colourful “character” passengers working out the next slab of dialogue. The great thing is that actors and actresses have not been presented with prepared scripts. Each one has been briefed verbally by one or the four Beatles and has then created his own dialogue in the context of the situation involved.
On Wednesday the weather improved, the sun shone brightly and we had reached Newquay, the Cornish coastal town which surrounded by some of that county’s most magnificent scenery. The Beatles bounded out of bed at least three hours earlier than is their normal habit. They were on the road and filming very shortly after nine.
At this stage it is still difficult to visualise just how the finished show will look. The intentional lack of preparation has led to the inclusion of all sorts of last-minute scenes dictated by the natural facilities which The Beatles find around them as the bus moves on its way.
Everything filmed in Devon and Cornwall will form the links to the more spectacular studio portions of the production — which is where all the magic will come in. But the ingredients of what promises to be the most on-beat TV show of the year are all there, former figments of Beatle imaginations coming to life on many thousands of feet of 16 mm. colour film.
I imagine one or the most heartbreaking tasks of all will come when The Beatles set about editing all the stuff they’ve shot. But what remains will be the world’s first cine verite TV variety show, a programme that could set a 1968 trend.From Liverpool Echo – September 16, 1967
Hour-long TV show – BEATLES MYSTERY TOUR
THE Beatles begin a special four-day tour next week — a coach tour of the South of England, picking random locations and filming an hour-long TV show.
The show will be titled “Magical Mystery Tour” and the title song has been written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon who are also writing and recording at least four more songs as well as the incidental music.
It has not yet been decided how the music will be issued recordwise, but they are considering releasing it as several singles or an EP, rather than as a new album.
The four-day tour will be followed by two weeks filming and recording in studios.
The film will include another, as yet unnamed, pop star as well as several non-pop acts. It is being made in colour for distribution throughout the world and the Beatles hope it will be screened in Britain during the Christmas period.
“Magical Mystery Tour” has taken the place of a planned film on the “Sgt Pepper” album, although some of the Sgt. Pepper songs may be included in the new show.
Because of the filming, the Beatles have postponed their trip to India and will not now go before early October. They plan to follow a period of meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with a holiday in India, returning to Britain shortly before Christmas.From Melody Maker – September 9, 1967
BEATLE MAGIC TV SHOW – Mystery coach to Devon and Cornwall
A 60-SEATER yellow and blue coach carrying the Beatles and a film crew — and with the words “Magical Mystery Tour” emblazoned on the side — will leave London on Monday heading for Devon and Cornwall. The Beatles plan unscheduled stops on the route to gather location material for a one-hour colour TV special. The programme would be completed by November, and there is a possibility that it could be a Christmas highlight of the new BBC-2 colour service. A follow-up single to “All You Need Is Love” is expected in November while the Beatles are in India — it may be “Magical Mystery Tour,” which will be the title and theme number of the spectacular. Next month marks the fifth anniversary of the Beatles first hit “Love Me Do.”
The group has been planning its “Magical Mystery Tour” special for several weeks, and has now decided to postpone its visit to India for meditation with Maharashi Mahesh Yogi to on or about October 6. It was on October 4, 1962, that “Love Me Do” was released.
The Beatles have devised the “Magical Mystery Tour” special themselves, and they plan to work on the show spontaneously without using a script or director.
The title song was first recorded as long ago as April, although it has since been revised. Other numbers for inclusion have been recorded by the Beatles during all-night sessions at EMI’s St. John’s Wood studios in the past week.
As plans to centre a TV spectacular around the “Sergeant Pepper” album have now been scrapped, it may be that several tracks from this LP will also be included in the show.
An LP of numbers from “Magical Mystery Tour” is unlikely. Instead, one or two singles and an EP seem more probable. One of the numbers is a George Harrison composition penned during his recent visit to India to see Ravi Shankar.
As the Beatles have announced that “a major guest attraction” will also take part in the colour special — as well as non-musical guests — there is speculation that either or both Shankar and Maharashi will be seen.
According to Beatles’ publicist Tony Barrow, the group is anxious that because of the flavour of the show it should be screened at Christmas. When complete — two weeks of studio filming will follow the location will be offered to TV stations around the world.
Because the new film which features John Lennon, “How I Won The War,” has been given an X certificate, the Beatles’ official fan club is looking into the possibility of special screenings so that members under 16 might see it.From New Musical Express – September 9, 1967
BEATLES TAKE A BUS TO MAGIC – West Country will never be the same again
THE Beatles trend-setters? Let’s hope the gear they’re wearing here doesn’t catch on or all the boutiques will go bankrupt and Dad will be shaking the mothballs from his old demob suit !
No. don’t worry, John, George, Paul and Ringo are dressed like this only in the cause of show business. It’s for an hour-long colour film they made this week far world-wide TV showing, “Magical Mystery Tour.”
When they set off they had no idea what the story wag going to be about except that it would be built around four new songs John and Paul have specially written and would have some connection with a charabanc outing and their fellow travellers — a collection of midgets, beautiful girls, children and elderly people.
Needless to say (well it is the Beatles, isn’t it!) not everything has gone smoothly.
Paul had to wait nearly two hours for the coach to pick him up and was asked to move on by the Law and when the party arrived in Teignmouth, the hotel manager there was expecting a Women’s Institute outing to be booking in!
Fashion notes. Paul is wearing a Fair Isle pullover and striped Al Capone-type trousers. John has a striped tie and trousers.
Ringo looks all set for a desk in the city — 20 years ago — and George could have stepped from a Hollywood gangster of the same era.From New Musical Express – September 16, 1967
Last updated on April 30, 2023
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