- Album This interview has been made to promote the Magical Mystery Tour (UK EP - Mono) EP.
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On December 26, 1967, the British television channel BBC1 aired The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” TV special for the first time. However, the initial broadcast was in black and white, and it was met with harsh criticism from both viewers and critics, marking the first major failure for The Beatles.
Undeterred, Paul McCartney appeared on The Frost Programme the following day, December 27, to defend the film.
In an interview with Ray Connolly in the Evening Standard published the same day, he acknowledged the criticism, saying “I suppose if you look at it from the point of view of good Boxing Day entertainment we goofed really.“
On December 28, another interview, where Paul acknowledge “We boobed“, was published in The Daily Mirror.
‘I suppose if you look at it from the point of view of good Boxing Day entertainment we goofed really,’ said Paul McCartney speaking today after reading the almost universally scorching criticisms of the Beatles’ first television film, Magical Mystery Tour shown on BBC television last night. Although the film was a joint Beatle venture it was Paul who had the most interest in it, and Paul who was the director.
‘My dad brought the bad news into me this morning like the figure of doom. Perhaps the newspapers are right, perhaps we’re right. We’ll have to wait and see.
‘Of course, we could have got together a good director and editor, even some good songwriters, and asked them to produce a first-class show for Christmas with the Beatles in it. It would have been the easiest thing in the world. Perhaps we should have done it that way, but we wanted to do it ourselves.
‘I know it wasn’t the slickest job and may have looked a bit amateur, but I still think it better that we try ourselves, and that we try to present the viewers with something different from all the phoney tinsel of Christmas shows.’
The scathing reaction to the show (which 12 million viewers saw last night, and which the BBC paid £20,000 for the privilege of showing), does, of course, pose the inevitable question: have the Beatles finally overreached themselves?
Next month it will be exactly five years since the Beatle-mania wagon began its hypnotic career — five years since their first million-selling record Please Please Me was released.
And in that time just about every possible show business accolade has been heaped indiscriminately on them (not forgetting their MBEs) — and all the time hardly a word of professional criticism.
Last night their chickens came home to roost — in a mammoth way. As Michael Coles put it later on BBC 2’s Late Night Line-Up: “Many viewers seemed upset and mystified.”
But it would be absurd to pretend for a moment that this setback is going to have any long-term effect on the Beatles as recording artists. Even after five years of writing hit songs Lennon and McCartney are still supreme as the most potent songwriting team in the pop world.
This week they occupy both the first and second slot in the New Musical Express chart — ironically the EP package from Magical Mystery Tour (at number two) is easily the biggest-selling Extended Play record in Britain ever, while American record buyers spent eight million dollars on an LP from the show within ten days of release.
The trouble with the Beatles is that everything they do must be in public. The very fact that they are Beatles doesn’t allow for private error. And the very fact that they are Beatles — a name which has become synonymous with the Western world’s love affair with brash and perhaps conceited youth — has probably blurred their vision.
‘The criticism will do us all the good in the world,’ admitted Paul. ‘Recently everything we’ve done has automatically been a success. All our records have been at number one, and we had the feeling that there wasn’t any challenge any more.
‘The reaction to the film will now present us with a challenge. If our first film had got rave reviews from everyone there wouldn’t have been any point in doing another. Next year we’ll be producing and directing our first feature film, but next time there’ll be more planning to it. That was one of the troubles with Magical Mystery Tour. We didn’t do enough planning before we began it.
‘But I’m surprised at an awful lot of the criticism. It was accused of being disjointed, but we meant to make it like that. We could have qualified everything and explained everything, but we thought, “No, we don’t have to labour the point; people aren’t so thick”.’
Whether or not anyone actually likes what they saw last night will have no effect on the money making capacities of the Magical Mystery Tour.
While it cost only £40,000 to produce the combined world sales to television companies is expected to bring in to the Beatles a gross £1,000,000. a million dollars coming from the successful American network alone.
It may be a major set-back in the Beatles’ fascinating careers, but it certainly isn’t the beginning of the end.
A spokesman for Nems Enterprises, the organisation which manages the Beatles, said: “We don’t want to start a game of attack and defend. The film is being accepted all over the world as an important and successful experimental film.”
Last word to a crestfallen McCartney:
‘‘Watch it again on BBC-2 on January 5. I think you’ll like it more the second time around. It’s one of those films that grow on you — like some of our record albums.”
The trouble is they’re professional record producers but at filmmaking still amateurs.
Last updated on August 27, 2023