Paperback Writer (Version 4)

Promotional film • For The Beatles • Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg
Timeline This film has been released in 1966
Filming date:
May 20, 1966
Filming location:
Chiswick House, London, UK

Related song

Related films

Paperback Writer (Version 1)

1966 • For The Beatles • Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Paperback Writer (Version 2)

1966 • For The Beatles • Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

Paperback Writer (Version 3)

1966 • For The Beatles • Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

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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 which resulted in a total of seven promotional films for the songs. All those films were directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg and produced by Tony Bramwell, and the technical team was supplied by InterTel.

The idea was that we’d use them in America as well as the UK, because we thought, ‘We can’t go everywhere. We’re stopping touring and we’ll send these films out to promote the record.’ It was too much trouble to go and fight our way through all the screaming hordes of people to mime the latest single on Ready, Steady, Go!. Also, in America, they never saw the footage anyway.

Once we actually went on an Ed Sullivan show with just a clip. I think Ed Sullivan came on and said, ‘The Beatles were here, as you know, and they were wonderful boys, but they can’t be here now so they’ve sent us this clip.’ It was great, because really we conned the Sullivan show into promoting our new single by sending in the film clip. These days obviously everybody does that – it’s part of the promotion for a single – so I suppose in a way we invented MTV.

Geore Harrison – From Anthology

On the first day, May 19, 1966, The Beatles and the film crew gathered at EMI Studios in Abbey Road.

From Wikipedia:

Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed four promotional films for the song shot on 19 and 20 May 1966. On the first day they recorded a colour performance at EMI Studios, for The Ed Sullivan Show, which was shown on 5 June, and two black-and-white performance clips for British television. The latter aired on Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars on 3 and 25 June, respectively. The Beatles also filmed a personal introduction to Ed Sullivan with their faces hidden behind colour transparencies of the butcher cover.

On 20 May, a second colour film was made at Chiswick House in west London. The Beatles mimed to the song, and they were shown in a statue garden and inside the conservatory in the grounds of the house. The clip was first broadcast in black and white on BBC-TV’s Top of the Pops on 2 June. The 20 May promo clip was included in the Beatles’ 2015 video compilation 1, and both the 19 May colour film and the 20 May film were included in the three-disc versions of the compilation, titled 1+.

VersionColor or B&W?DescriptionBroadcast
#1 (Take 1)Color“sitting Beatles version”, Clean (no applauses) for use in “Ed Sullivan Show”June 5, 1966
#2 (Take 2)Black & white“sitting Beatles version”, different angles, for use in ‘Ready Steady Go’ June 3, 1966.
#3 (Take 3 w/slate)Black & white“standing Beatles version”
#4 (Take 4 w/slate)Black & white“standing Beatles version”, different angles

From the liner notes of The Beatles’ 1+ Video Collection, 2015:

Michael Lindsay-Hogg, an Anglo-American director who had worked on Ready Steady Go! was asked by Epstein’s management company NEMS to meet with The Beatles with a view to directing a promo film for both ‘Paperback Writer’ and ‘Rain’, the B-side of the single. He went along to Abbey Road and talked about his concept for the A-side: “A story video about someone working in a newspaper office who in his spare time was trying to write a paperback novel.” All four Beatles agreed that this could work and Lindsay-Hogg went away to develop the idea.

A few days later Vyvienne Moynihan, who worked for NEMS, called Lindsay-Hogg to that Brian Epstein had decided he didn’t want anything “unusual” for the film; Epstein just wanted to see The Beatles performing the song.

Lindsay-Hogg shot promos for both sides of the single in the studio on 19 May 1966 and the following day the location was switched to Chiswick House, an 18th century Palladian mansion in Burlington Lane, West London. Filming took place in its beautiful grounds, which are among the earliest examples of the English Landscape School, with shots of the band wandering around and sitting mixed with sequences of them performing. Lindsay-Hogg had to work fast on the edit: three days later it would be shown on BBC TV’s Top of the Pops and although the promo was shot in colour, the TV broadcast was in black and white.

Somehow, one schoolgirl got through the security net. You can imagine how thrilled she was. It was quite touching. The Beatles were so friendly towards her and behaved like perfect gentlemen.

Robert Whitaker – Photograph – From “The Beatles: Off The Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

I was 14 and The Beatles were making a film for ‘Paperback Writer’ in Chiswick House, London, opposite my school. The gates were locked, but I climbed over a wall and there they were. My legs turned to jelly but they were so friendly. John asked what I was doing for my O-levels and Ringo offered me his fish and chips. I was in a daze and the other girls didn’t believe me until they saw the photo.

Anne Welburn – Schoolgirl – From “The Beatles: Off The Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

The invasion of a stately home

Like Woburn Abbey or Hampton Court, Chiswick House is open to the public. My reason for going was not to stare at the priceless art treasures, which once belonged to the Duke of Devonshire in the sixteenth century, or to stroll through the beautiful grounds, which are just as famous as the house, but, quite simply, the BEATLES.

John, Paul, George and Ringo were filming inserts for British and American T.V. to coincide with the release of “Paperback Writer”, and not since Queen Victoria had there been such celebrated guests at Chiswick House. Never had the finely-mowed lawns been trodden on by such expensive property since the days of velveteen breeches and buckled shoes.

Not being a V.I.P. I had to leave my car outside the gates, but I noticed a certain Rolls Royce, Mini and Austin Princess (all with blacked-out windows) standing in the drive as I approached the house.

“Where, in these massive grounds”, I thought, “am I going to find J, P, G & R.” I must have looked rather lost, because two workmen who were standing on the roof of the house yelled out — “they’re over there”, pointing to a mass of trees. So I followed my nose down a narrow path, bumped into an old man on a bicycle who said “follow the path round”, and finally found myself amongst half-a-dozen camera-men. But no sign of the Beatles.

The affable Vyvienne Moynihan (who runs the Saville Theatre for Brian Epstein) approached me in her inevitable jolly manner and said “the boys are in here”, ushering me through a secret door in the massive stone wall, which led into one of the private gardens — and there sat John, Paul, George and Ringo (on chairs) trying to catch a rare bit of sun.

I couldn’t have timed it better, because Neil and Mal had just brought in a tray of tea and “sarni’s”. “Sit down”, said Paul, pulling up a chair, “would you like a cup of tea?”.

John was clad in green velvet trousers, polo-necked sweater and navy jacket. Paul wore a black jacket and trousers with a beige polo neck and added a touch of suaveness by wearing a pink flower in his buttonhole. Ringo sported a black and navy striped suit with a black polo neck, whilst George favoured a green jacket with green cord trousers and a beige cashmere shirt — all wore metal specs with different coloured lenses.

After chatting about the weather, Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys and Eleanor Rigby (she is a lady who you will be hearing about on the new Beatles L.P.), Brian Epstein appeared looking lightly tanned as he’d just flown in from Spain to say hello to the boys before flying back the following morning — which, to say the least, was a rather expensive hello!

Cries of “the guvnor’s arrived” was interrupted by the voice of Alf (who today was acting as a portable canteen) who said “they’re ready for you in the conservatory”. So off we marched to the conservatory — at least John and Paul did, in typical army-style plus the salute with heads to the side and bottoms out.

Michael Lindsay-Hogg, famed director of R.S.G. and never without a cigar in his mouth, had everything set up in the public gardens outside the conservatory.

Meanwhile a small crowd of schoolboys had accumulated plus a handful of girls who worked in the grounds.

“Okay, shoot”, said Michael. “Camera on Ringo. Look at me Ringo, hold it there. Now on to George. Keep looking at me George.

John lean forward, but keep looking at me. Hold it there. Sit back now John. Good. Over to Paul. Hold it there. Cut. Let’s try it once more.”

“You see”, said Vyvienne, coming over to me, “we’re fighting against light. The way things are going at the moment, I hope we’ll be finished by six, otherwise it’ll mean another day’s shooting. And the boys have been so good. Poor darlings they haven’t had any lunch yet, but I told them they could break at three.”

“The poor darlings” didn’t look at all faint from the lack of nourishment to me, in fact, I’ve never seen them looking so well. After signing a few autographs, it was back to the main public park via the miaowing peacocks and through the private garden.

Of course, the boys had their usual followers — babies in prams and ageing folk in bath chairs plus half-a-dozen dogs scrambling on the lawns!

“Let’s go for lunch”, said John. “If we don’t leave now, it’ll be cold. You did order it for 3 o’clock didn’t you Neil ?”

Lunch had been ordered at Twickenham Film Studios which wasn’t more than half-an-hour away. Michael Lindsay-Hogg began to panic when he realised that by the time they got there and back and ate lunch, they’d be a couple of hours. “You see boys”, he said, “it’s the light and it’s not going to hold out for much longer”.

“Oh the light”, said Ringo. “Can’t you go down there and bring the food back Alf?”

“It’ll be cold”, said George. “But, you can go and get us some pies.”

“Or fish and chips”, said Paul.

“Yes, that’s an idea”, chirped in Ringo.

“Do you think there’s anywhere that’s open round here ?”

“I’ll see what I can do”, said Alf.

The boys casually placed themselves on the grass and Michael was ready to shoot again — this time they were individual shots. First of all it was all cameras on George who was peering round a huge stone statue which vaguely resembled Venus de Milo, but only because it was minus an arm. John was too lazy to move, so he stayed sprawled out on the grass. Paul was given a small box to perch on plus another box to put his feet on. While this was going on Ringo had been plucking daisies and placing them in the links of his identity bracelet — the reason being that when the cameras moved in on Ringo, he just sat crossed-legged pulling each daisy out one by one.

Up until now all the camera shots had been mute and now they were ready for the boys to mime to “Paperback Writer”. With guitars in hand and Ringo leaning against a stone pillar they mimed their new single to a crowd of schoolgirls and boys which had grown considerably since the last count. Just as they’d finished shooting Alf arrived with the lunch which he’d brought over from Twickenham Studios — hot. Because of the crowd of fans that had already gathered, lunch was served in the back of the Austin Princess and consisted of chops, new potatoes, peas, cauliflower (with the exception of Paul who had cold meat and salad) and a bottle of red wine with rice pudding to follow.

Meanwhile some schoolboys came over to inform me that at 4 o’clock the two schools opposite would probably make a mass exodus over to the park, as word had got round that the Beatles were filming.

As soon as I told J, P, G & R they left their rice puddings and hurried over to the beech tree to continue shooting. Whilst John, Paul and George were being arranged on the branches of the tree and Ringo was being placed on top of a stone pillar large numbers of fans started to arrive.

Of course, the inevitable happened when everyone “downed tools” to make their way back to the garden — the crowd of onlookers broke loose, and it was everyone for themselves, at least it was for J, P, G & R, and as usual they managed to come to no harm with the help of Mal, Neil, Alf and Press Officer Tony Barrow.

After seeing them safely re-installed in the “other” garden, I bid my farewells and made for the door in the wall.

From The Beatles Monthly Book – July 1966
From The Beatles 1966 Chiswick House | Beatles Archive – John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney at Chiswick House, London during a photo shoot for Paperback Writer on 20th May 1966, by Robert Whitaker.
From Melody Maker – May 28, 1966
From Beatles Tours London on Twitter : With their manager, Chiswick House, May 1966 #TheBeatles #BrianEpstein #chiswickhouse #sixties #1960s #beatleslondon

Last updated on January 26, 2023

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