Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas

By The Beatles7" Single • Part of the collection “The Beatles • Christmas records

UK release date:
Dec 16, 1966
LYN 1145

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Side 1


Pantomime: Everywhere It's Christmas

Written by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison

6:36 • Studio versionA

Performed by :
Paul McCartneyRingo StarrJohn LennonGeorge Harrison
George Martin :
Geoff Emerick :
Phil McDonald :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Friday, November 25, 1966
Studio :
Dick James House, London UK

Session Mixing:
Friday, December 2, 1966
Studio :
EMI Studios, Room 53, Abbey Road


I drew the cover myself. There’s a sort of funny pantomime horse in the design if you look closely. Well I can see one there if you can’t.

Paul McCartney – From interview for The Beatles Monthly Book, January 1967

From Wikipedia:

Recorded between sessions for “Strawberry Fields Forever”, for the 1966 offering, the usual greetings and thanks gave way to a ‘Pantomime’-themed collection of original songs and comic skits. The songs include “Everywhere It’s Christmas”, “Orowayna”, and “Please Don’t Bring Your Banjo Back”. McCartney plays the piano. The sketches performed include “Podgy the Bear and Jasper” and “Felpin Mansions.”

Once again, the US fan-club members did not get a flexi-disc. Instead, they received a postcard with the message on one side and a short version of The Beatle Bulletin on the other, with enough room for a mailing label and postage.

From Rolling Stone, December 20, 2020:

The Beatles’ fourth Christmas message was effectively everything they had attempted to achieve the prior year: a full-blown extended production featuring sound effects, music and a (loose) narrative. It was recorded on November 25th, one day after the group reconvened at Abbey Road following a three-month hiatus. The break had allowed them to indulge their independent pursuits for essentially the first time in their adult lives and, more crucially, offered a respite from the increasingly chaotic and confining Beatle existence. The mania that surrounded them wherever they went led the group to swear off touring that August, immediately prior to their solo sabbaticals. The effect was rejuvenating for all, and they returned flush with potent new ideas and creative vigor. The first session held upon their November 24th reunion yielded an early take of Lennon’s haunting “Strawberry Fields Forever,” a song that marked the start of the Beatles’ reinvention as studio auteurs.

The next day, after catching the U.K. debut of an American import named Jimi Hendrix at the newly opened Bag o’ Nails club, the Beatles gathered at a small studio in the New Oxford Street office of their music publisher, Dick James, to tape their latest holiday record. “We thought it was time we had an entirely different approach,” McCartney later said. Ultimately, the final product would contain no greetings, and very few references to the holidays. In retrospect, “Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas,” a 10-part endeavor nearly seven minutes in length, is a signpost for what was to come for the band. Rather than address fans directly with messages of gratitude, the Beatles performed as distinct characters, foreshadowing the approach they would take when recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the coming weeks. In keeping with the tradition of pantomime – a uniquely English brand of stage production blending music, slapstick comedy and folk tales – the snippets of original songs are rooted in English vaudevillian music-hall style. The title tune, a whirlwind pub piano sing-along played by McCartney, is not far removed from “When I’m Sixty-Four,” which they would begin recording in a matter of days.

Much like Sgt. Pepper, “Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas” feels largely driven by McCartney, who also drew the full-color art-nouveau illustration for the sleeve. The imaginative original story defies any logical description, ping-ponging from Corsica, where a “bearded man in glasses” conducts a small choir, to the Swiss Alps where “a pair of elderly Scotsmen munch on a rare cheese,” and to the “long, dark corridor of Felpin mansion,” home of the Germanic Count Balder. Instead of relying on Barrow, the Beatles took full use of George Martin’s experience producing comedy records with British radio legends like Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. Together they created vivid soundscapes ranging from a rowdy royal celebration onboard the good ship H.M.S. Tremendous, to the charmingly gentle fairy tale of Podgy the Bear and Jasper. Though brief, the songs are evocative, and in some cases quite memorable. “Orowayna,” ostensibly sung by a Corsican choir, is a strangely beautiful pop hymnal that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Smile-era Beach Boys album, and the vaudevillian wink of “Please Don’t Bring Your Banjo Back (I Don’t Know Where it’s Been)” is as funny as it is bawdy. The Beatles’ loyal roadie Mal Evans delivers a sincere “Yes, everywhere it’s Christmas” before the proceedings skid to a stop with a reprise of the title song. As on their groundbreaking next LP, we come out the way we came in.

From Melody Maker – December 24, 1966 – Designed by illustrator David Christian


But another of them has ‘solo’ plans

THE Beatles may NOT record their usual album and single for the Christmas market this year. This remarkable news emerges in Brian Epstein’s answers to an NME questionnaire which constitute his first comments on the Beatles’ future after several weeks of silence.

Epstein says there are “no plans at present” for the Beatles to make another album and single in time for Christmas or for them to undertake concerts here before the end of the year.

If they DO NOT make their customary single for late November release, this will be the first year since 1962 which has ended without a Beatles record at the top of the Chart. And if they DO NOT undertake any concerts, then their appearance at the NME Pollwinners Concert last May will have been their only British personal appearance this year. An EMI spokesman said on Wednesday: “We would naturally like to have another Beatles single before the end of the year, but they have nothing in the can, so it is entirely dependent on whether they record again in time.” The Beatles are expected to enter the recording studios in late November or early December — to wax the songs and incidental music for their next film, which is tentatively scheduled to go into production in January.

So they will have an opportunity to make another free record for distribution to their Fan Club members. Will they in fact do so ? — “Probably,” Epstein says.

One positive piece of information which emerges from Epstein’s answers is that another solo project is planned for another Beatle. The NME understands that he is Paul McCartney, but all the manager comments is: “It is not an acting role, and an announcement can be expected soon.

Ringo and Maureen Starr flew to Malaga in Spain on Tuesday. They are expected to see John Lennon, who is filming “How I Won The War” in the vicinity.

From New Musical Express – October 7, 1966
From New Musical Express – October 7, 1966


BEATLES’ 1966 Christmas record for their fan club is titled: “Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas.” They record one every year.

“Pantomime” plays for almost seven minutes and is the Beatles’ longest Christmas disc to date. It includes a series of linked dialogue sequences plus the songs “Everywhere It’s Christmas” and “Please Don’t Bring Your Banjo Back.” All material was written specially by the boys after Paul’s return from Kenya.

The record is packed in a full-colour sleeve, designed and drawn by Paul. Mailing starts next Wednesday (December 14) and Official Fan Cub members in the U.K. get one free. The disc will not be available elsewhere.

From Disc And Music Echo – December 10, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – December 10, 1966


The new Beatles single will definitely not be released before Christmas, a spokesman for EMI told the MM on Monday.

It seems likely that the single will be released in January.

But a Beatles Christmas record will be released — the annual message to members of the Beatles fan club. The title of the record, which runs for seven minutes, is “Pantomime: Everywhere It’s Christmas” and includes linked dialogue plus two songs “Everywhere It’s Christmas” and “Please Don’t Bring Your Banjo Back”.

Material for the record was written by the Beatles after Paul’s return from his Kenya holiday.

From Melody Maker – December 10, 1966
From Melody Maker – December 10, 1966


THE Beatles revive goon humour once again for their fourth Fan Club Christinas record. Instead of the usual Yuletide greeting they devised a pantomime as the seasonal offering. It was recorded at a special session at Dick James’ studio — the first time they have waxed outside of EMI since they came to fame.

The record opens with the song “Everywhere It’s Christmas” and then the panto, narrated by Paul, begins “Our story opens in Corsica. On the verandah is a bearded man in glasses conducting a small choir.”

The scene switches almost as quickly as you can say it from Corsica to the Swiss Alps (where Ringo announces: “Meanwhile high in the Swiss Alps two elderly soldiers munch on a rare cheese”) then to HMS Tremendous and so on.

It is all rather obscure humour and if there are any funny lines then they are obliterated by some of the noises which make up the background.

Here is a dialogue sample of one scene :

Narrator: Podgy the bear and Jasper were huddled around the unlit fire in the centre of the room.
Jasper (?): There are no more matches left, Podgy.
Podgy (John): Then buy some Jasper old friend, make a list and afterwards we’ll go to the shop and buy matches and candles and buns.
Jasper: There’s no more paper to write on, Podgy.
Podgy: No need to worry, Jasper, you keep saying to yourself matches and I’ll keep saying candles until we reach the shop, then we won’t need to write it down, we’ll remember.
Jasper: Who’ll remember the buns, Podgy?
Podgy: We both will, Jasper.
Jasper: Matches.
Podgy: Candles.
Jasper: Matches.
Podgy: Candles.
Jasper: Matches.

The record is sent out with the Beatles’ tiny two-sided fan club news letter which announces that its next issue will be sent in mid-1967 with the annual subscription renewal reminder!

New Musical Express – From December 17, 1966
New Musical Express – From December 17, 1966

BEATLES: The best single money can’t buy…

INTO about 60,000 letterboxes this week slips a new Beatles single. And the lucky people who receive it will have it at no cost.

While fans have been rumbling about the lack of a new Beatles single in the shops, John, Paul, George and Ringo have been busy — producing one that goes out FREE every year to members of their fan club. And even for the Beatles, it’s a revolutionary production, based on a pantomime. Title of the 33 1/3 rpm single is: “Pantomime — Everywhere It’s Christmas.”

A lot of thought and work went into making the fourth record of its kind (the Beatles have sent out a similar disc to their fans every year since they hit the top). While George was away in India, John was making a film, and Ringo was on holiday, Paul was working on the design for the jacket of the single, and he’s made a bright, colourful job of it. But it’s what is inside that projects the Beatles’ talent once again, and proves their best single can’t buy… inimitable sense of humour.

The record is a pantomime production job, taking the show through various sequences: vaudeville chorus sing-along opening; patter; situation comedy; and a delightful fairy-tale spoken by Paul and John, called Podgy the Bear and Jasper. This is the best part of the disc.

Paul’s impression of Count Balder of Felpin Mansions is riotously funny, and even The Loyal Toast achieves some hilarity at the hands of the Beatles.

Tracks are: Everywhere It’s Christmas; Orowayna; A Rare Cheese (two elderly Scotsmen); The Feast; The Loyal Toast; Podgy the Bear and Jasper; Felpin Mansions, parts one and two; Please Don’t Bring Your Banjo Back; and a reprise of Everywhere It’s Christmas.

Money cannot buy this special Beatles disc, but it will certainly be top of their fan club members’ personal hit parades this Christmas.

It’s surprising other stars don’t copy their ideas by sending out similar gifts to their fans. BUT THEN, THE BEATLES ALWAYS WERE AHEAD OF THE REST…

From Disc And Music Echo – December 17, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – December 17, 1966

From Disc And Music Echo – December 17, 1966

Last updated on February 17, 2024

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