Beautiful Night

Promotional film • For Paul McCartney • Directed by Julien Temple
Timeline This film has been released in 1997
Filming date:
Oct 28 & Nov 04, 1997
Filming location:
Nightingale Estate, Hackney & Asylum Studios, UK

Mastering date:
Nov 19, 1997

Master release

Related song

Beautiful Night

Officially appears on Flaming Pie

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From The Beatles Monthly Book N°260, December 1997:

The video for the ‘Beautiful Night’ single was filmed by Absolute Beginners director Julien Temple and, according to MPL, is the most lavish Paul has made in recent years. The original version of the video contains a love scene between a young couple swimming naked in the River Mersey. This will stay in the video to sustain the plot, said a McCartney spokesman, but other scenes might have to be edited in order to meet broadcast regulations. “Unfortunately, some of the full-frontal sequences in ‘Beautiful Night’ will have to be cut out, or the video will never be seen, unless it’s on the Playboy channel” quipped the spokesman. “The actress, Emma Moore, is a beautiful sight, but we’d have a beautiful fight getting these scenes onto MTV.”

The five-minute video was filmed in Liverpool and London, and included a day’s performance at the Nightingale Estate in Hackney, during which Paul played ‘Beautiful Night’ with Spud, an Ealing-based band of 16-year-olds, currently studying for their A-levels at Drayton Manor High School. ln the video, Paul stands in the forecourt of a tower block as 40 TV sets are thrown from windows on the 18th floor and crash land with spectacular results around him. “We had to be very careful this bombing run,” added the spokesman. “Fortunately, Paul was unscarred. The Beautiful Knight was unharmed!”

Despite the fact that nudity and rock’n’roll-type destruction are untypical of a McCartney video, the spokesman stressed that ‘Beautiful Night’ is indeed a Christmas single. “The video depicts one of Paul’s unwavering themes,” he said. “Basically, the message is to turn off the telly and turn on to love this Christmas”.

From Club Sandwich N°84, Winter 1997:

Some people travel across countries and across borders to see Paul McCartney in concert or at a personal appearance. Others discover Paul playing beneath their window and don’t bat an eyelid.

Life’s like that.

Filming a sequence for the video to promote the new ‘Beautiful Night’ single, Paul was belting through the closing bars of the song just feet away from a block of flats in East London, when out stepped a man on to his balcony, a steaming mug of tea in his hand, and plonked himself down to watch. Then, a few gulps later, he disappeared inside his flat to find something better to do. It’s enough to make a die-hard Macca fan spit.

Paul spent most of 28 October 1997 playing those last few bars of ‘Beautiful Night’ over and over and over again, as the film camera whirred at one location after another on the Nightingale Estate in Hackney. As a bitterly cold wind blew across the open spaces in between the tower blocks, Paul froze along with the rest of the crew and the onlookers while endeavouring to produce another winning video. The director, Julien Temple, had already filmed on location in Liverpool, without Paul, and the previous day Ringo Starr had added his on-camera contribution. Following the tower blocks shoot, one final date was scheduled, in the studio on 4 November, before filming was wrapped up.

Working in this bitty manner only serves to mystify those who attend just one of the shoots: you see 20 seconds of the video in isolation here, 10 seconds in isolation there, and you’re left wondering how they could possibly fit into the overall picture. Just why are a dozen people chucking television sets out of those high windows? Everything will become clear in the end, lad. All in good time.

Paul and Linda arrived on location around eleven in the morning. Linda, who wouldn’t be required on set for another nine hours, did the sensible thing on such a freezing-cold day and took shelter inside a warm Winnebago Adventurer to wile away the time in comfort. Needed on camera, on and off, for those next nine hours, Paul hopped in and out, appreciating the crispness of the day, and the glorious blue sky above the city of London.

Inevitably, some of the estate’s residents stopped to see what was going on. The number of people necessary to staff a video shoot, with attendant caterers and whatnot, the generators that thrum away incessantly, to say nothing of the music blasting out intermittently, does tend to attract attention. All day long, Paul chatted amicably with any stranger who stopped to talk.

This is the essence of the man: despite his fame and fortune, Paul sees no reason why he should not chat with the ordinary, everyday people -who wish to shake his hand, seek an autograph, snap a photo, have a conversation. As he reminded people when they asked him what he thought of the Nightingale Estate, he himself was raised in council accommodation: not tower blocks, admittedly, for they ‘were a 1960s fiasco, but level housing. Not one to forget or lose sight of his roots, Paul is at ease with strangers, and goes out of his way to make them feel comfortable. He spent hours doing this at the ‘Beautiful Night’ shoot, making a massive impression upon everyone who met him. No request was too great: sign my hand, sign my jacket, sign this photo of my child, sign this person’s get-well-soon card, hold my baby, pose with me for my Aunt Dolly’s Christmas photo… he did it all.

In between the socialising, Paul filmed his ‘Beautiful Night’ performances with a backup band, Spud, that he had not laid eyes on before. Spud are a four-piece combo of A-level students from Ealing, across London, spotted by a scout for Julien Temple while playing a small gig at the Monarch Club. Now here they were: sped from obscurity to a gig with Paul McCartney inside just a few days.

Life’s like that.

Paul spent a good deal of time talking with the four Spuds, answering their questions, proffering advice when they asked for it, encouraging them in their studies and musical ambitions. When their part was over, they left the video shoot and returned to Ealing with a fee in the post and the chance to write “worked with Paul McCartney” on their CV.

Video-wise, the highlight of the afternoon was the dropping, some dozen at a time, of 50 wrecked television sets from the eleventh and twelfth floors of Seaton Point, a tower block shortly to be demolished and so virtually empty. Although the sets tended to implode, scattering debris over only a small area, the danger inherent in such an action meant that everyone but the camera operator had to retire to a safe vantage point. (And said cameraman filmed the cascading televisions from behind and underneath a wooden construction.) The sight and sound of a dozen TV sets simultaneously crashing to the ground must have brought a smile to the face of Keith Moon if he was looking down, and it drew a larger and larger crowd of passers-by to the scene. But, again, everyone was well handled by Paul and a couple of good humoured community policeman.

As darkness descended, and the cold grew even more chilling, director Temple informed Paul that he had completed his day’s work and that it was time for Linda to begin her’s. Emerging from the Winnebago she spent the next couple of hours filming in a traditional red British telephone box, making a call while being illuminated by candles and pretending to observe something flying through the night sky. She also watched as a young man chased after a girl who had emerged from the tower block. Again, why will doubtless become clear when the video is edited.

The McCartneys had been on location for just shy of twelve hours when they were free to leave, to wend their way back to a warm hearth. Rock superstardom, McCartney style, doesn’t mean endless holidays in the Bahamas – it can mean a bracing day in Hackney. But as they drove away they left behind them a community of well-wishers and both confirmed and new fans, as the residents of Nightingale Estate waved them on their way. Everyone, that is, except for the man from the balcony whose attention remained elsewhere.

From Club Sandwich N°84, Winter 1997

Three different edits of this promotional video were made. From PAUL MCCARTNEY –MUSIC VIDEO COLLECTION 1970-2020 PART 1, by Mike Carrera:


Directed by: Julien Temple.
Mastered: Nov 19, 1997

This is the original uncensored video and it partially shows the actress’s naked body in three short scenes, almost imperceptible. Digital Remastering: ‘Flaming Pie Archive Collection’, July 31, 2020. The slate only circulates on Bootleg DVD.


Directed by: Julien Temple.     Release Date: Nov 12, 2007

Available in the ‘McCartney Years’ collection in excellent widescreen quality but with the image cropped, which makes it necessary to have the original format.

Beautiful Night #3 (1997) CENSORED VERSION

Directed by: Julien Temple

Censored edition created for some TV channels that did not want to show three brief scenes of the actress partially nude: chest, hips and full body. The blouse was digitally elongated so that it did not show half a breast as in the original version, the shadows of the hips and butt were darkened and the scene where she is swimming naked was also blurred.
It is still not available in any official release but it is available on Bootleg DVD.


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