- Timeline More from year 1967
- West Malling Air Station, Maidstone, Kent, UK
More from year 1967
Filming of “Magical Mystery Tour”
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, with the band returning to the recording studio on September 16 to continue work on the accompanying soundtrack.
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 various interior and exterior scenes for the project.
The decision to film at West Malling Air Station was made due to the band’s short notice and their inability to secure available studio space in London. NEMS Enterprises, the Beatles’ management company, rented the army base for the week, providing ample space for filming and allowing the band to experiment with different locations and settings.
To avoid the daily 50-mile commute to and from the location, the band members opted to stay at The Great Danes Hotel in Maidstone, approximately nine miles (14km) from the filming site. The hotel provided a relaxing retreat for the band and cast, who often gathered in the bar in the evenings to unwind and socialize.
While the details of which scenes were filmed on each day vary depending on the source, the 2012 reissue of “Magical Mystery Tour” provides a schedule that confirms the first day of filming at West Malling Air Station was dedicated to shooting Aunt Jessie’s dreadful dream sequence, which famously includes John Lennon serving spaghetti using a shovel.
Filming at West Malling Air Station continued the following day.
|September 19||Aunt Jessie’s dreadful dream, including the scene where John Lennon serves spaghetti using a shovel.|
|September 20||“I Am The Walrus” sequence and the scenes with the Beatles wearing wizard outfits|
|September 21||“Blue 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 24||Scene with Mr. Bloodvessel performing “I’m Going In A Field” at the organ (unused)|
Scene for “Your Mother Should Know“
Paul had planned to shoot the finale, a top hat and cane dance number, at Shepperton Studios outside of London, but no one had thought of booking time on the sound stage. In desperation they leased an old airfield in West Mailing, Kent, where a huge set was built.Peter Brown – From “The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles“, 2002
The weekend break was welcome but on Tuesday it was back to work with a very heavy filming schedule out at West Malling R.A.F. base. So heavy that, instead of driving 50 miles to and from the location each day, we decided to put up close to Maidstone in a hotel until the end of the week.
At West Malling all the main scenes were filmed. Before going out there we’d done the special Strip Club sequence with Jan Carson and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in Paul Raymond’s Revuebar, Soho. During the rest of the week we did the Magicians’ Laboratory sequence, Aunt Jessie’s Nightmare, a Recruiting Office scene with Victor Spinetti cast as a Sergeant, the Marathon Race (with four midget wrestlers, five clergymen, a Rugby team, a dozen tiny children playing Tug O’ War and a bunch of racing motor cyclists), the bit where George sings “Blue Jay Way” sitting cross-legged on a pavement in thick fog, the lengthy and quite spectacular outdoor scene for the song “I Am The Walrus” and the huge Finale involving a couple of hundred “extras” — mostly formation dancers.Mal Evans & Neil Aspinall – From The Beatles Monthly Book, December 1967
Paul made an attempt to carry on as if Brian hadn’t died, by saying, ‘Now, boys, we’re going to make a record.’ Being the kind of person I am, I thought, ‘Well, we’re going to make a record all right,’ so I’ll go along and we made a record. That’s when we made Magical Mystery Tour. Paul said, ‘Well, here’s the segment, you write a little piece for that,’ and I thought, ‘Bloody hell,’ so I ran off and I wrote the dream sequence for the fat woman and all the things with the spaghetti. It was a dream. It was based on a dream I had. The waiter is me. I dressed like my father and my stepfather because they were waiters. Paul said, ‘Here, this quarter, you’ve got to fill it in.’ So, I said, ‘Well, how long have we got?’ ‘You’ve got two days,’ he replied. ‘Well, okay,’ I said.John Lennon, 1970 – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008
When the Boys came to book a film studio in which to shoot the interior scenes for their Mystery Tour, they found that all the film studios around London were booked up solid. But a little problem like that has never stopped a Beatle yet and they got hold of an empty hangar in West Mailing, near Maidstone in Kent.From The Beatles Monthly Book, October 1967
Hush-hush as Beatles film at airfield
WEST MALLING airbase can no doubt claim to have seen many strange things over the years, but surely nothing quite as bizarre as tbe sight which greeted onlookers in the giant number two hangar.
A film crew, a production team, a host of extras, and above all the four uncrowned kings of the pop world, the Beatles, could be seen in that hanger from Tuesday lunchtime until today (Friday).
It was all top secret, of course, although a lot of children on the airbase did not take long to find out what vas going on.
Funnily enough the reason for all the commotion could be plainly seen outside the hangar — all along the side of a giant coach. There in huge lettering appeared the words “Magic Mystery Tour”, the name of a new film spectacular which may be on television this Christmas.
But there vas one clue as to the identity of just who was around which surely no-one could miss. John Lennon’s op-art Rolls-Royce which stood proudly in all its gay abandonment only about 50 yards away from the set.
Incidentally, just outside a nearby hanger two Royal Navy aircraft stood in their own gay abandonment… after all, a whole airfield does not come to a stand still just because the Beatles are on the scene, or does it?From Sevenoaks Chronicle, Westerham Courier and Kentish Advertiser, September 22, 1967
Last updated on May 24, 2023
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