Interview for BBC Light Programme • Monday, August 29, 1966

"The Lennon And McCartney Songbook" radio show

Radio interview • Interview of The Beatles • Recorded Aug 06, 1966
Published by:
BBC Light Programme
Interview by:
Keith Fordyce
Timeline More from year 1966
7 Cavendish Avenue, St John’s Wood, London, UK

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On August 6, 1966, Paul McCartney and John Lennon were interviewed at Paul’s London home for a one-hour radio show titled “The Lennon and McCartney Songbook“. During the interview, they discussed over 15 cover versions of their songs, including those by Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Mamas and The Papas. The interview took place from 4-6 pm, with breaks for tea. The recording was interrupted at times by Paul’s sheepdog puppy Martha.

The Lennon And McCartney Songbook” was first broadcast on the BBC Light Programme on August 29, 1966, the day of The Beatles’ final concert.

A 13-minute edit was also sent on vinyl disc to overseas radio stations by the BBC’s Transcription Service. This version was without the music, and was renamed “Songwriters Extraordinary – Lennon And McCartney“.


JOHN LENNON and Paul McCartney will be heard discussing their songwriting activities in a special Bank Holiday tribute, “The Lennon And McCartney Songbook,” to be aired on the Light Programme on Monday, August 29 (4.30-5.30 pm).

Compere is Keith Fordyce, who visited Paul’s North London home earlier this month to pre-record the two Beatles in conversation.

The show includes many Beatles songs recorded by other artists, and John and Paul will be heard giving their opinions on these versions.

From New Musical Express – August 19, 1966
From New Musical Express – August 19, 1966


A special hour-long programme devoted to John Lennon and Paul McCartney will be transmitted on BBC-Light on August Bank Holiday. Titled “The Lennon And McCartney Songbook”, the show goes out from 4.30-5.30 pm.

Producer Derek Chinnery and compere Keith Fordyce visited Paul’s new North London home last week to talk with him and John. They too discussed their songwriting and composing techniques and gave their views on various recordings of their songs by other artists.

Records by Pat Boone, Nancy Sinatra, Matt Monro, Andy Williams, and the George Martin Orchestra will be heard on the programme.

From Record Mirror – August 20, 1966
From Record Mirror – August 20, 1966


THE weekend before the Beatles departed for America — on a rainy and overcast Saturday afternoon — disc-jockey Keith Fordyce and BBC producer Derek Chinnery descended on Paul McCartney’s new London home, armed with a tape recorder. Paul and John Lennon met them at the door to escort them into the lounge. Two hours later, Keith and Derek emerged, their faces wreathed in smiles.

The reason for their delight? Those two hours had been occupied by a non-stop conversation between the two Beatles and their visitors — a chat which had produced some of the most intriguing, revealing and previously unexpressed comments that even the outspoken John and Paul have ever uttered.

The cream

And you can hear the cream of that conversation in the BBC Light Programme’s special Bank Holiday tribute to the Beatles, “The Lennon And McCartney Songbook”, next Monday (4.30-5.30 pm).

It’s a programme devoted to their compositions, rather than to their work as performers. Indeed, the Beatles themselves are heard singing only one number — “Good Day Sunshine” — from their new LP. The rest of the show’s musical content consists of other stars’ versions of Beatle songs.

This is the full list of the big names involved: Pat Boone, Keely Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Peter Sellers, Matt Monro, Lena Horne, Frankie Vaughan, Nancy Sinatra, the Mama’s and Papa’s, Brenda Lee, the Boston Pops Orchestra and George Martin’s Orchestra.

I found Derek and Keith in a BBC studio, editing their taped conversation down to size. From the few snippets of the programme I was able to hear, it really does sound most entertaining; I advise you not to miss it. I asked producer Chinnery what he had set out to achieve in the show.

“The reason I suggested it was that I thought it would demonstrate, mainly to the uninitiated, that these boys really are worthwhile song-writers,” he explained.

“This particularly applies at the moment, when the Beatles are under a heavy barrage of criticism. Perhaps it will make some of the cynics realise that they have written some wonderful songs, which acknowledged international stars are falling over themselves to record.”

Derek added that he was delighted with the way in which the programme had turned out. “John and Paul were good-natured and modest about their work,” he assured me. “But the thing that pleased me most of all was that, whereas most of the questions had been asked before — let’s face it, that’s inevitable where the Beatles are concerned — the majority of their answers were fresh and off-the-cuff.”

Keith Fordyce elaborated on what he described as “a frank discussion about the Beatles’ compositions.”

The interview took place with all the participants squatting on the floor and was stimulated by numerous cups of tea which the housekeeper provided in an unending flow.

“I can’t say that I was surprised by any of the replies I received to my questions,” he told me. “But I was impressed by the way in which John and Paul were prepared to analyse their own work. And criticise it where they felt it was necessary. They told me how they came to write several of their songs and they were extremely honest about their own limitations.


“During the programme, you’ll hear them commenting on other artists’ versions of their songs. They’ve not been scathing — though, for all I know, that may have been tact on their part. Anyway, where they have been a little bit critical I think their remarks are all valid.

“We’ve tried to make the conversation as natural as possible — we’ve even left in all the interruptions, such as the dog howling and the housekeeper bringing in tea.”

Keith and Derek were shown around the new McCartney house and were both suitably impressed by its opulence. But, as they both pointed out, although the main decorations have been completed, it has not yet been fully furnished to Paul’s liking.

From New Musical Express – August 26, 1966
From New Musical Express – August 26, 1966

Beatles head pop holiday line-up

BEATLES head the Light’s Bank Holiday line-up of pop entertainment this weekend with BBC-TV’s repeal of the 50-minute “Beatles At Shea Stadium” film — and “The Lennon And McCartney Songbook.”

“Happy Holiday Time,” a two-hour show on Monday, features Davy Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, David and Jonathan and the Ray MacVay Show Band. And the Mindbenders, Overlanders and Val Doonican guest on “Saturday Club.”

“Swing Into Summer” next week kicks oil on Monday and will include David and Jonathan, Ivy League, Searchers, Adam Faith, Vince Hill, Migil Five, Gem and the Pacemakers and Mrs Mills, Chris Denning comperes, Fortunes guest on “Easy Beat” on Sunday.

Beatles’ Shea Stadium concert filmed before 56,000 teenagers last August was first seen in Britain in March. BBC-TV re-screen the film (6.15-7.05 pm) this Saturday.

Two of the Beatles — John and Paul talk about their songwriting partnership and the way different artists sing their songs, in an hour-long Bank Holiday Monday programme called “The Music Of Lennon and McCartney” on the Light. On the programme will be songs from Nancy Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Andy Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Mall Monro and Peter Sellers.

From Disc And Music Echo – August 27, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – August 27, 1966

From Untitled (1966, Vinyl) – Discogs – From – Super Rare Beatles/Lennon/McCartney BBC Transcription Disc – auction details: Genuine BBC Transcription disc released on the original Green/Yellow/White labels. This is a super rare piece of Beatles memorabillia and should not be missed. Side 1 is the most interesting thing about this disc is on side one and is entitled “Songwriters Extraordinary – Lennon And McCartney” the programme lasts (13′ 15″) and is John Lennon and Paul McCartney interviewed by Keith Fordyce. I believe this particular programme was recorded on the 6/8/66 at Pauls House in St. Johns Wood and was broadcast on 29/8/66 on Bank Holiday Monday on the BBC Overseas Forces Radio.

Last updated on November 5, 2023

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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