Filming of “Magical Mystery Tour” • Day 12

Sunday, September 24, 1967
Timeline More from year 1967
West Malling Air Station, Maidstone, Kent, UK

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Related film

Magical Mystery Tour (TV Special)

1967 • For The Beatles • Directed by The Beatles

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Production of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” TV special took place throughout September 1967, with some additional scenes filmed in late October / early November. The first leg of filming occurred from September 11 to 15 in and around Newquay. On September 18, filming resumed with the crew choosing the Raymond Revuebar strip club in London’s Soho district as the location for the day’s shoot. From September 19 to 24, the Beatles relocated to West Malling Air Station in Maidstone, Kent, where they filmed interior and exterior shots for the project.

The final day of filming at West Malling Air Station saw the filming of the TV special’s grand finale. The production team constructed a ballroom set in the huge aircraft hangar area, which featured The Beatles trooping down the staircase, singing their song “Your Mother Should Know.”

The band members were dressed in white suits and carnations, and they were joined by the rest of the cast, 24 cadets from the Women’s Royal Air Force branch in West Malling, and 160 members of Peggy Spencer’s formation dance team.

From Wikipedia:

In the Magical Mystery Tour film, the song [Your Mother Should Know] supports an old-fashioned dance segment that McCartney called “the Busby Berkeley ending”. It was filmed on 24 September, at the end of a six-day shoot at RAF West Malling, a Royal Air Force base in Kent. McCartney had intended to shoot the scene at Shepperton Studios, outside London, but the Beatles failed to appreciate that film studios needed to be booked in advance. Tony Bramwell, the film’s production manager, recalled having a staircase for the sequence assembled on scaffolding inside a disused aircraft hangar, which was the most elaborate set piece in the film. Around 160 dancers from Peggy Spencer’s formation dancing team, and 24 female RAF cadets, were hired as extras. The formation dancers were regulars on the TV show Come Dancing, and were brought in by bus from Birmingham, Cardiff and Newcastle for the shoot. According to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, McCartney got the idea for the Beatles’ costumes from seeing him perform in concert with the Bee Gees, dressed all in white. The band rehearsed their dance routine for most of the day but the generators failed just as filming got underway. Gavrik Losey, a production assistant on the film, said that, while the generators were repaired, the dancers were “bribed” into staying late with Beatles autographs.

The sequence starts with the Beatles coming down a grand staircase in white evening tails. After they descend, a line of female RAF cadets march through the shot and the band continue to mime to the song, surrounded by a crowd of ballroom dancers. Lennon, Harrison and Ringo Starr are wearing red carnations, while McCartney’s is black. The carnation difference later contributed to the “Paul is dead” urban legend. Towards the end of the sequence, McCartney steps forward from his bandmates and indulges in a dance of his own while the others continue the basic routine. Greene writes that, in contrast to McCartney’s obvious enjoyment, Lennon and Harrison’s facial expressions suggest “they’d rather be anywhere else” than filming the scene.

According to film studies academic Bob Neaverson, the sequence is a pastiche of 1930s Hollywood musicals, particularly Berkeley’s Gold Diggers series of films. In Greene’s view, the sequence masks the sense of old-fashioned compliance in “Your Mother Should Know”. He cites the entrance of the young RAF cadets, amid the throng of formally dressed dancers, as an example of the scene having “a satirical undercurrent and [addressing] the fissures of late 1960s politics”. Film-maker Anthony Wall, commenting on the 2012 DVD reissue of Magical Mystery Tour, also recognised the sequence as a subtle satire of British culture. He said of the Beatles: “All this Come Dancing stuff, the girls in uniforms, and coming down a staircase in white suits is kind of ridiculous, but they’re also revelling in the peculiarity of it.”

From BBC, November 13, 2014:

There comes a time in every celebrity’s life when you know you’re in the big-time. For Peggy [Spencer], this came when she had a call from a familiar voice. The voice was of Paul McCartney from The Beatles.

I thought it was someone pulling my leg. He said, ‘Peggy, I’ve had a dream. I dreamt of a white staircase leading to heaven, with a white piano at the top. The Beatles in white tail-coats, followed by dancers in beautiful white dresses. Can you set it up for me?’ I said, yes!

Peggy choreographed a waltz for the dancers to perform with The Beatles and they were taken to an old RAF hanger in West Malling, Kent. This was the first time Peggy would hear the ‘waltz’ that Paul had composed.

He hit play on this battered old tape and it played Your Mother Should Know. I said to Paul, ‘this is not a waltz. A waltz has three beats to a bar and you’ve done four’. We re-choreographed the Waltz for the music and showed The Beatles how to kick. We walked to the back of the stage to climb to the top of the stairs that we would come down and realised, no-one had built steps to get to the top! Filming was cancelled for the day, but we came back a day or two later and filmed the video,” said Peggy.

An additional scene featuring Mr. Bloodvessel performing “I’m Going In A Field” on the organ was also filmed, although it ultimately didn’t make it into the final version of the film. It was released in the 2012 reissue of “Magical Mystery Tour”.

On the following day, September 25, The Beatles immediately began the arduous process of editing “Magical Mystery Tour“. During the editing process, the Beatles realized that some additional scenes were needed to enhance the film. These scenes were filmed on October 1October 29October 31, and November 3.

The final scene, with ‘Your Mother Should Know’, had the Beatles resplendent in wonderful white suits and top hats and tails with a whole mass of people in this hangar going up a big white staircase. The boys kept their outfits a secret because they wanted to surprise everyone and they certainly did that. It was breathtaking. Paul was mad about Busby Berkeley at the time so we had the whole of the Peggy Spencer Formation Dancing Team. We invited all the people from miles around and thousands came. The idea was that the four boys appeared for one last time in the Magical Mystery Tour bus with a great crowd following them like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. There were grannies and women with babes in arms and gangs of Teddy boys, all sorts had arrived. We were just setting up this big finale when suddenly there was a power cut and every light in the place went out. It was Sunday afternoon. We needed another generator and we got one just in time, just as the crowd were losing interest and starting to drift away. We were just ready when suddenly every light went out again. More people left and by the end there were about 25 of us trying to make ourselves look like the sort of crowd you usually see at Wembley. If you look very carefully you can see me, Cynthia, little Julian, Big Mal, Neil and a few others desperately trying to make ourselves look like a crowd.

Alistair Taylor – From “With The Beatles“, 2011

My outstanding memory from the making of Magical Mystery Tour is the sequence featuring “Your Mother Should Know”’. The scene was Paul’s tribute to the American choreographer and film director Busby Berkeley and it was filmed in a “ballroom” which was constructed in a huge aircraft hangar at West Malling Air Base. A sweeping staircase dominated the set and The Beatles rehearsed their entrances on it before disappearing to get changed.

Finally, everything was ready with over 150 members of The Peggy Spencer Formation Dancing Team and a number of Air Force Cadets in position. Then The Beatles appeared at the top of the staircase.

It was incredible!

You could hear the gasps when people first caught sight of them in those white tail suits. Spontaneous applause broke out and cheers rang round the hangar. No one, no one, not even Neil Aspinall or Mal Evans or myself knew anything about the white suits and it was simply breathtaking, a magic, magic moment.

Alistair Taylor – From “The Making of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour” by Tony Barrow, 1999

From The Beatles History (
Rehearsals – From 24 September 1967 – MMT – West Malling Air Station, Your Mother Should Know – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (
From Magical Mystery Tour | The Beatles – Rehearsal for the final scene of “Magical Mystery Tour”
Rehearsals – From 24 September 1967 – MMT – West Malling Air Station, Your Mother Should Know – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (
Rehearsals – From 24 September 1967 – MMT – West Malling Air Station, Your Mother Should Know – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (
From Magical Mystery Tour | The Beatles
From Meet the Beatles for Real: Before the red and black flowers
From Meet the Beatles for Real: 50 years ago — Magical Mystery Tour
From The Beatles History (
From The Beatles History (
From The Beatles History (
From 24 September 1967 – MMT – West Malling Air Station, Your Mother Should Know – Beatles and Solo Photos Forum (


FOR 19 members the Sevenoaks Girls’ Venture Corps it was a once in a lifetime dream which came true. A casual visit to the set of Magical Mystery Tour on Saturday — and a day later they were taking part in the new Beatles television spectacular.

All the girls, aged between 13 and 16, say it is a day they will never forget.

It all started on Saturday when Cherry Swift, of Hillingdon Rise, Sevenoaks, daughter of Mr. Gordon Swift, a member of the corps support committee, asked her father it she and some of the girls could go to West Malling to see the Beatles filming.

Cherry, a Chronicle fashion spotter, rounded up her friends and off they went to the airbase to try and catch a glimpse of their favourite recording stars.

Mr. Swift said: “I parked my car near the hangar where filming had been taking place and we managed to get a glimpse of the Beatles almost immediately. They were standing in a group chatting to each other not far away.

“Then to our astonishment a chap from the set came over to my daughter and asked her what she was doing tomorrow. Somewhat staggered, she replied: “Nothing.’

“It wasn’t long before Paul McCartney came over to the group and this really gave the girls a thrill. He asked how many there are in the unit and if they would like to take part in the film on Sunday.

“Needless to say, they didn’t have much trouble coming to a decision and we checked with Mrs. A. Vincent, head or the corps, her permission.

“We spent most of Saturday evening contacting as many girls as possible after being told that they had to be on the set by 9.30 in the morning.

“Paul McCartney rehearsed with the girls all Sunday morning and they mingled in with a crowd scene in the afternoon. Breakfast lunch and tea were provided on the set and everyone could not have been more helpful.”

The girls have autographed photographs as souvenirs and they were told that the film clip which included them is certain to be used in the colour spectacular.

The girls have written to Paul asking if they can back this weekend to take part again in what really did turn out to be a Magical Mystery Tour.

TEN MEMBERS of the Girls Venture Corps who filmed with the Beatles at West Mailing on Sunday. They are, left to right. back: Linda Cuthbert, Sheila Hollands, Janice Clifton; centre, Gillian Moore. Wendy Baxter, Cherry Swift, Susan Mackrell, Susan Purday; front, Sandra Booth, Margaret Reeves. Those not in the picture who also took part are: Diane Baldwin, Shirley Swift, Anne Etheridge, Janet Dyke, Sally Whitley, Gillian Towner, Sally Cooperthwaite, Valerie Pullen, Janice Nicholson.

From Sevenoaks Chronicle, Westerham Courier and Kentish Advertiser – September 29, 1967
From Sevenoaks Chronicle, Westerham Courier and Kentish Advertiser – September 29, 1967

DateScenes filmed
September 19Aunt Jessie’s dreadful dream, including the scene where John Lennon serves spaghetti using a shovel.
September 20I Am The Walrus” sequence and the scenes with the Beatles wearing wizard outfits
September 21Blue Jay Way” sequence
September 22“Barking Seargent” sequence with Victor Spinetti.
The sequence where Jolly Jimmy welcomes people who have crawled inside the magic tent to watch “Blue Jay Way
The sequence where Ringo Starr buys his ticket for the Magical Mystery Tour.
September 23“Magical Mystery Tour Marathon” scenes, with the cheating vicars, the mini-coopers…
September 24Scene with Mr. Bloodvessel performing “I’m Going In A Field” at the organ (unused)
Scene for “Your Mother Should Know
Schedule of sequences filmed at West Malling Air Station, based on details given in the 2012 reissue of “Magical Mystery Tour” film

Last updated on April 17, 2024

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The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years

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Sally Arnhold 1 year ago

I supplied photos for Barry Miles initiated book “The People’s Beatles” that was produced by Photobox. I think it was used to raise money for the charity Nordoff and Robbins. I never saw a copy of it…do you know where I could find/buy one?

The PaulMcCartney Project 1 year ago

Hi Sally,
I didn't know this book. I found out this: - where it is explained:

"The title was only available to purchase for a very short time and then was no longer being offered for sale. Apparently, the reason it was no longer available was administrative reasons and several people who had contributed photos for the book had not been properly credited."

I'll let you know if I can locate a copy. Thanks.

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