Sunday, 24 March 2019

Lost Top of the pops footage found?

From the press call for Top of The Pops June 16th, 1966¨
Although by June 1966 it had been running for over two years, The Beatles had never previously appeared live on the BBC music show Top Of The Pops. They had pre-recorded exclusive performances in BBC studios, or sent promotional clips to be played on the show.

That changed on the 16th of June 1966, with a studio performance of new single "Paperback Writer". The Beatles had agreed two days previously, when manager Brian Epstein passed on a request from Top Of The Pops producer Johnnie Stewart. Unusually, on this occasion The Beatles agreed.

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 mimed to both "Paperback Writer" and its b-side, "Rain". They were introduced by host Pete Murray.

From the performance: The Beatles mime to "Rain" and "Paperback Writer".
The Beatles' performance has since been wiped by the BBC, and the footage no longer exists in their archives. However, in 2010 a clip of The Hollies performing "Bus Stop" from the same season of Top of the Pops, in front of the same stage decoration as the Beatles, was posted on YouTube by a retired film editor based in the USA. Sadly, he only had that particular clip, but the appearance of the clip has rekindled hope that someone may be in the possession of the Beatles footage.

And today, UK newspaper Sunday Mirror rekindled that hope, as this clip shows:

Newspaper clipping from today's Sunday Mirror.
Q: I did a lot of taping of TV back in the 1960's, using 8mm cine film. One great clip shows The Beatles on Top Of The Pops on June 16, 1966. I believe it was the only time they were on the show live - though they actually mimed "Paperback Writer". I've been told this episode has been wiped clean and no other copies are available. With current technology I'm sure some studio out there could clean it up to make a good copy. I've sent you some stills to see what you think. David Chandler, via email.

A: You could be on to a Fab Fourtune here. The Beatles were introduced by DJ Pete Murray and the appearance has drawn lots of comment on internet forums. Depending on how many - if any - other tapes are out there, yours could be worth several thousand pounds. It certainly requires an in-person inspection.

Of course, the figure of "several thousand pounds" will only be realised if a collector is interested in buying the clip, which will then have to be sold without any copyright. The BBC do not have a policy of paying for material they themselves have lost over the years.

Thanks go to our reader Chris Fisher, who sent us the newspaper clipping!

This was The Beatles' last performance on a TV pop show, and as far as we know, the only time this performance of "Rain" was televised.

"Paperback Writer" was repeated 17 June 1966 BBC2 'Line-up Review'
"Paperback Writer" was repeated 30 June 1966 BBC1 'Top Of The Pops'
"Paperback Writer" was repeated 26 December 1966 BBC1 'Top Of the Pops '66'

Sample photo from the 8mm cine film.
So Chandler may have captured one of these repeats with his 8mm cine camera. Furthermore, it seems that only 11 seconds of "Paperback Writer" was captured, and that it has been examined by Kaleidoscope. It's expected that the segment will be aired during one of the "Missing believed wiped" events later this year.

The text about The Beatles' TV-appearance on June 16 courtesy of The Beatles Bible.

7 comments:

Joe Dee said...

Does he have "Rain" too?

Fred Nerk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred Nerk said...

"The BBC do not have a policy of paying for material they themselves have lost over the years" So bureaucracy would lead this to being stored away by a collector forever? Well that's awesome. :(

Peter C said...

Is this the same 11-second clip that was found last year? Whatever, those who are expecting full length footage in a similar quality to The Hollies performance are likely to be disappointed!

Bruce said...


Yes! Bring it on...

Nighthawk said...

I'm sure Apple Records would be interested in buying it.

Peter C said...

I'm pretty sure Apple would not be interested, not in a poor quality, filmed-from-TV, 11-second clip, of a song they already have in at least 7 other different versions.

Much as I welcome ANY newly found footage, I've never quite regarded this TOTP performance as the 'holy grail'. Among the other 'lost' songs The Beatles performed on TV are 'P.S. I Love You', 'Ask Me Why', 'Thank You Girl', 'Yes It Is' (3 times) and 'Eight Days A Week'... any one of these would be far more exciting finds in my opinion, as would Ringo's 1969 solo performance of 'Octopus's Garden'.