Top Of The Pops • Thursday, June 16, 1966

TV ShowBy The Beatles
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The Beatles were unwilling to appear on television to promote their upcoming new single, “Paperback Writer / Rain.” Instead, they took part in a two-day shoot, on May 19 and May 20, 1966, which produced seven promotional films for the two songs, which were broadcast in the UK and the US.

The Beatles however agreed to appear on Top of the Pops on June 16, 1966, where they performed mimed versions of “Paperback Writer” and “Rain.”

It was a busy day. First, they had their inoculations for travel in anticipation of their tour in Germany, Japan and the Philippines. Second, they recorded their appearance on Top Of The Pops. The day ended up at Abbey Road for a session that ended up at 3:30 am.

We’ve done this Top Of The Pops because Brian asked us. I believe there have been loads of requests to the BBC. I know we’ve had a lot of requests at the office, so here we are! We know we’ve been out of the public eye for a long time and there have been a lot of critics. But personally, I don’t care what anybody thinks of us. If we do too much TV or radio, people start complaining. If we do too little, they do the same. You know, The Beatles are just a little part of me, and I’d like to keep it that way. We’ve changed a lot in the last two years. It used to be Beatles … Beatles … Beatles, all the time! We have got to live just like everybody else. So, that’s what we’re doing.

George Harrison – June 19, 1966 – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

From The Daily Beatle:

[…] by June 1966, Top Of The Pops had been running for over two years, The Beatles had never previously appeared live on the show. They had pre-recorded exclusive performances in BBC studios, or sent promotional clips to be played on the show. Now the show had already moved from Manchester to London, and The Beatles finally agreed to appear live to promote their latest single.  The Beatles had agreed two days previously, when manager Brian Epstein passed on a request from Top Of The Pops producer Johnnie Stewart.

Both “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” had previously been featured on Top of the Pops, courtesy of their promotional films. Both clips were shown on 2 June, and “Paperback Writer” was reprised on 9 June.

The group arrived at BBC Television Centre at 2.30pm for a rehearsal for the camera, and to pose for publicity photographs and conduct press interviews. More rehearsals followed between 4.15pm and 5.30, and from 6.30pm to 7pm.

The live broadcast took place between 7.30pm and 8pm on BBC One. The Beatles were the final act to appear, and did both “Paperback Writer” and its b-side, “Rain”. They were introduced by host Pete Murray. Some sources say that the Beatles played the songs live this time, others that they mimed. Given that they never did perform “Rain” live on stage, that one is most likely to have been mimed, what with it’s backwards vocals etc. Paul had just had his damaged front tooth capped before this appearance, he told the NME’s Alan Smith in an interview conducted while they were in the TV studios.

The Beatles’ performance has since been wiped by the BBC, and the footage no longer exists in their archives.

From, April 8, 2019:

An 11-second clip of the Beatles’ only live appearance on the Top of the Pops, which was thought to have been be lost, has been unearthed in Mexico. The silent snippet is all that exists of the Fab Four miming to Paperback Writer on the BBC pop show in 1966. The original tapes were not kept, but it was recorded by a viewer filming their TV set with an 8mm camera.

The footage was shot by a family in Liverpool and eventually fell into the hands of a collector in Mexico. The collector contacted Kaleidoscope, a Birmingham-based organisation specialising in locating previously missing TV footage.

I think if you’re a Beatles fans, it’s the holy grail,” Kaleidoscope’s Chris Perry told BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson. “People thought it was gone forever because videotape wasn’t kept in 1966. To find it all these years later was stunning.

From “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner:

Although they’d appeared on Top of the Pops before, their performances had always been prerecorded. This was the first, and last, time that they would appear in person on the TV show that was integral to the life of every British pop fan, with its latest news of what was climbing or slipping on the charts, what was tipped for the top, and, most of all, what had reached No. 1. The Beatles, wearing dark suits over open-necked white shirts, mimed along to “Paperback Writer” and “Rain.” Their co-performers on the show were Gene Pitney, Herman’s Hermits, and the Hollies. Previous appearances by the Yardbirds (“Over Under Sideways Down”), the Kinks (“Sunny Afternoon”), and Cilla Black (“Don’t Answer Me”) were replayed, along with a video the Beach Boys had made to accompany “Sloop John B” and a troupe called the Gojos dancing to Frank Sinatra’s latest hit, “Strangers in the Night.” The hosts were Samantha Juste, who later married Monkees drummer Mickey Dolenz, and DJ Pete Murray.

I shot three rolls of The Beatles in their dressing room and sent the films straight to Jackie. They paid me £12-a-roll which seemed OK at the time but I can’t imagine how much they would be worth now. I did try getting the negatives back but no one knew where they were. They said they’d been swapped with other magazines. It was just one of those things… […]

They came in with a whole security team – they even had food-tasters. […] They were very nice, very pleasant and very professional but I never got a chance to really know them. They were just The Beatles. In all I probably spent about an hour with them. […]

Ron Howards – Photographer for Top Of The Pops from Tops Of The Pops – From Dorset Magazine, February 2013

I have interviewed Paul McCartney travelling in a car at speed. Battling up a crowded flight of stairs. In a smoky billiards room. On the telephone. At a recording session. Climbing up a ladder. Walking along Tottenham Court Road. In a taxi. Trapped in a room with fans breaking the door down. Even on a roof.

Bizarre situations some of them may have been, but the one that beats them all took place at BBC-TV’s “Top Of The Pops” the other day. Paul, perched on the edge of a bath, answered my questions. I sat on a lavatory!

An odd place for an interview, perhaps, but at that time the room in question happened to be just about the only quiet place in the entire TV Centre. […]

Alan Smith – From New Musical Express, June 24, 1966

From Top Of The Pops / Recording Here, There And Everywhere – The Beatles History (
From Top Of The Pops / Recording Here, There And Everywhere – The Beatles History (
From Top Of The Pops / Recording Here, There And Everywhere – The Beatles History (
From Top Of The Pops / Recording Here, There And Everywhere – The Beatles History (
From Top Of The Pops / Recording Here, There And Everywhere – The Beatles History (
From Top Of The Pops / Recording Here, There And Everywhere – The Beatles History (
POPS Photo of BEATLES, L-R. John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison performing on show
Photograph by Ron Howards – From Dorset Magazine, February 2013

13th June 1966

Dear Brian,

Once again the Beatles have made a Number One record, but once again they have regrettably been barred from making any personal appearances. I think you will agree that Top of the Pops is generally accepted as the Number One pop show, and yet is almost the only show of its kind in which the group has not year appeared in person. I’m writing, therefore, to ask if you would reconsider the position and allow them to appear personally with their new No. 1 record on Top of the Pops on any Thursday.

With the show in London, we could arrange minimum rehearsals and accord them every facility to make such an appearance as quick and as easy as possible.

With best wishes, Yours sincerely, Johnnie Stewart.

Johnny Steward, BBC producer for Top Of The Pops
From Letter from Johnny Stewart to Brian Epstein – The Beatles History ( – On June 13, 1966, Johnny Steward, BBC producer for the television programme ‘Pinnacle of Popularity’, wrote a letter to Brian Epstein inviting the Beatles to take part in the programme and perform live on 16 June.

Beatles 11th-hour Yes to live Top Pops TV

THE Beatles were last night (Thursday) making a surprise live TV appearance on BBC-1’s “Top Of The Pops”! They were singing both sides of their new single which enters this week’s NME Chart at No. 2. It was the first lime they have appeared live on TV since they were in ABC’s “Blackpool Night Out” in July, 1965.

Brian Epstein explained to the NME on Wednesday: “On Monday, ‘Top Of The Pops’ producer Johnnie Stewart wrote me a letter saying that although he had scheduled a Beatles film clip for the programme, there had been an unprecedented demand for them to appear live in the show and would they reconsider their decision not to. I put it to the boys late on Tuesday and they said ‘yes’.

On Wednesday the Beatles had completed 13 of the 14 tracks for their next British LP, and by this weekend the album will be finished for late-summer release.

A new Beatles LP has been issued in America featuring three tracks from their latest recording sessions; some others previously issued in Britain but not in America; and the remainder from past singles. Following complaints, a colour sleeve in which the album was issued showing the Beatles draped with raw meat (as featured in their NME advertisement on June 3) was withdrawn and a new cover hurriedly prepared.

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

Neil Aspinall, Road Manager to the Beatles, continues his story of their travels

A STONE’S throw from Victoria Station, in one of the busier side streets of the Chelsea district, teenage typists as everyone made an after-lunch scurry back to their respective office blocks.

Suddenly strange sounds filled the summer air. Smiles of bewilderment melted into frowns of puzzlement. The music was too close to be a radio playing from a building, too loud and clear to be coming from a transistor.

Nobody suspected the sleek Rolls Royce standing at the traffic lights.

Whoever heard of a Rolls Royce playing sitar?

The lights changed to green and the big car with darkened windows slid away. And with it the mysterious music.

Motorists shook their heads and pedestrians went about their business just a little baffled.

Inside the Rolls, four people shared the secret of the Asian sounds – four Beatles driving through Chelsea on their way to the Top Of The Pops TV studios in West London.

The Beatles had been to the BOAC air terminal at Victoria to get their cholera injections in preparation for the group’s Germany/Far East tour, due to begin in Munich the following week.

The music? Oh, yes… that came from a high-power loudspeaker which John had installed beside the engine of his Rolls.

Inside the car, the boys had been playing one of George’s tape cassettes carrying a series of Indian music recordings and with a flick of a switch John had relayed the sound at full strength through his hidden loudspeaker and out to the streets of Chelsea!

The loudspeaker, with its various capabilities, is just one of many gimmicky Lennon possessions in which he has much pride.

He has been known to broadcast through it at the top of his voice while cruising down Oxford Street or Regent Street in London’s West End. He has been known to send fiendish laughter blaring out across the Surrey countryside through the same device.

It’s one of his less serious but more imaginative hobbies!

That night’s appearance on Top Of The Pops was The Beatles’ first “live” TV performance in the UK in 1966.

But during the two-week overseas tour which was to follow, John, Paul, George and Ringo were televised in concert on two occasions-once by German Television in Munich and once by Japanese Television in Tokyo, where their show at Nippon Budo Kan was screened in its entirety in colour.

In all, the boys gave five concerts at the Budo Kan in three days. Two hundred thousand Japanese Beatle people applied for concert tickets.

Many were disappointed for the capacity of the Budo Kan is only eleven and a half thousand.

From Fabulous 208 – February 27, 1967
From Fabulous 208 – February 27, 1967

Last updated on December 9, 2023

BBC Television Centre

This was the 1st concert played at BBC Television Centre.

A total of 8 concerts have been played there • 1966Jun 16th1972May 25th1973Jan 4th1974Nov 21st1987Dec 3rdDec 12th1990Dec 14th1993Jan 7th

Setlist for the concert


Paperback Writer

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mimed performance



Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mimed performance

Going further

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible


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