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Sunday 7 June 2015

The Beatles on Scene at 6:30

The current company ITV Granada (originally Granada Television or Granada TV) is the Channel 3 regional service for North West England. Granada Television was founded by Sidney Bernstein and based at Granada Studios on Quay Street in Manchester, a city close to Liverpool. The channel started commercial broadcasting in May 1956. Their programming was marked by a distinctive northern identity, including their famous stylised letter "G" logo forming an arrow pointing north, often with the tagline "Granada: from the north". Granada Television made TV programmes in the north west; for northerners, reflecting northern culture and attitudes.  "People and Places" was a Granada TV regional news programme for the north, later the name of the programme was changed to "Scene At 6.30".

Producer of the "People and Places" programme was Johnnie Hamp, a man who had actually seen The Beatles perform in Hamburg. When the Beatles landed a recording contract with EMI and released "Love Me Do", Hamp booked the band for his "People and Places" programme on Wednesday 17 October 1962, and after this used the group regularly.

Iris Caldwell: "When they did Granada TV’s Scene at 6.30, as soon as they’d finished it, every single time, George would phone up my mum and say, ‘What was that like?’
And she’d say ‘Oh, it was all right but none of you have got any personality. If you don’t smile you’re not going to get anywhere’. So the next time he said ‘I smiled this time, was it all right?’ She said ‘It was better but you still need to smile more’. She was giving them honest advice."

All in all, The Beatles were featured eleven times on "People and Places" or "Scene at 6.30", including the live performance from the Cavern Club and performances filmed at the Granada TV studios in Manchester. Some of these performances must have been live, whereas others are mimed. Apart from those eleven exclusive performances, they have also been featured at least once that we know of, probably more times, by way of their music videos.

Musical appearances by The Beatles on "People and Places"/"Scene at 6.30":

Wednesday 17 October 1962: "Some Other Guy" and "Love Me Do". Missing.
No less than the TV debut of The Beatles, and it was for a local programme, familiar to them, because they lived in the region, "People And Places".
The Beatles travelled to Granada's TV Centre in Manchester and rehearsed before cameras from 3 - 4pm, and again from 4.15 - 6pm. The show was broadcast live from 6.35 - 7pm, and the group sang two songs: "Some Other Guy" and their new single "Love Me Do". This performance was sandwiched between two engagements the same day at the Cavern Club. Brian Epstein recalled that ‘the boys’ regarded their first studio appearance on local television as "better than nothing". The fact it was local TV rather than national brought had brought this response. They were now feeling more confident having seen their names in the Hit Parade and itched for the big time. However, "People and Places" as a local magazine programme was a decent start. The presenter was Gay Byrne who John thanked after they performed "Love Me Do". John recalled how ‘great Mr Byrne’ had made them feel relaxed, persuading them that there was nothing to be frightened of when those dirty great cameras came looming up.
As a result of their appearance on TV, the sales of "Love Me Do" picked up in the North West.
The Beatles TV debut did not quite go to plan as they were fooling about at the end of the performance. They felt that just standing there during the fadeout was "too square" for them, so they started jumping about, yelling things like "Hello Mum!". As this performance went out live on TV, it wasn't taped at all - home video recorders still decades away, no one captured it. As Mark Lewisohn said in his "Tune in" book, the performance wasn't so much lost as never had at all. Since "Some Other Guy" was never properly recorded by the Beatles in a recording studio, it's very likely that this was a live performance and not a mimed one, as were the next few appearances on the show as well.

Monday 29 October 1962: "Love Me Do" and "A Taste of Honey". Missing.
Twelve days after their debut television appearance on the "People And Places" show, The Beatles returned to Granada TV Centre in Manchester to film a second performance.
The appearance was rehearsed and recorded in studio four from 11am to 1pm. The Beatles once again plugged their single, "Love Me Do" and then they performed "A Taste Of Honey". New to their set list, "A Taste of Honey" was first released to vinyl by Lenny Welch on 17 September 1962. Its inclusion here is under dispute, since it wasn't recorded by The Beatles until their album recording session on 11 February 1963, so how could they have mimed to a song that they hadn't yet recorded? Well, the answer is that The Beatles may actually have performed it live for the TV cameras this time. A snippet of audio of a performance of the song exists, but experts are arguing among themselves whether it is from this show or from a contemporary radio performance.
The stage setting was unusual for The Beatles. During "Love Me Do", John Lennon sang, seated, as if he were a solo performer fronting a band - an experiment that wouldn't get repeated. The others in the group all stood. During the second song all members played their instruments, although wearing waistcoats rather than their suit jackets. A couple of photos of a TV screen may be from this broadcast.
Unlike their first appearance on "People And Places", this time it was not broadcast live. It was shown in the north and north-west of England from 6.30 - 7pm on 2 November, by which time The Beatles were in Hamburg, playing at the Star Club.
Back from the Star Club on 15 November, The Beatles were again available for television engagements, and 23 November the boys auditioned in London for Ronnie Lane, the Light Entertainment auditioner for BBC TV. They played a ten-minute set for him, and four days later Brian Epstein received a rejection letter. On 3 December, the group appeared on Discs-a-Go-Go, live from Bristol's TWW (Television Wales and West) studio. The next day, The Beatles sang "Love Me Do", "P.S. I Love You" and "Twist And Shout" live on "Tuesday Rendezvous", a children's show presented by Gary Marshall, transmitted live from Associated-Rediffusion's Kingsway Studio, London.

17. December 1962: "Love Me Do" and "Twist And Shout". Missing.
Just before they were about to return to Hamburg, they were booked again for "People and Places". Following rehearsals held from 3 - 4pm, the show was broadcast live from 6.35 - 7pm from studio four at Granada TV Centre in Manchester. The Beatles performed two songs live: "Love Me Do" and "Twist And Shout". Yes, once again, a song that has yet to be recorded is played, so we have to conclude that this was a live performance.
The next day they returned to Hamburg to open their third and final residency at the Star Club. The Beatles were reluctant to fulfil this contractual obligation, as their profile in Britain was rapidly ascending. Back home they were enjoying burgeoning chart success, more prestigious live shows, plus television and radio appearances. Despite the enduring fondness they felt towards Hamburg and its residents, there was little the city could do for their career now.

Wednesday 16 January 1963: "Ask Me Why" and "Please Please Me". Missing.
Another live broadcast. The Beatles appeared on two programmes in Manchester on this day. The first was for "People And Places".

The Beatles rehearse on "People And Places", 16 January 1963.

At 3pm they began their rehearsal for the show in the now familiar studio four of the Granada complex. They spent an hour there before leaving for a second rehearsal at the city's Playhouse Theatre, where they later recorded four songs ("Chains", "Please Please Me", "Three Cool Cats" and "Ask Me Why") for BBC's "Here We Go" radio programme.
They returned to Granada at 6.35 for the live broadcast of "People And Places", miming to both sides of their new single, "Ask Me Why" and "Please Please Me", before leaving at 7pm to return once more to the Playhouse. This was the first mimed performance, as the earlier appearances on the show had been real live performances.

Tuesday 16 April 1963: "From Me To You". Missing.
Keeping themselves busy with more concerts, two tours, recording their first album "Please Please Me", a birth (Julian Lennon) and appearing on radio and TV, The Beatles' appearances for Granada are less frequent now. But in April another single is out, and a week after the release The Beatles are back in Granada Television Centre's studio four. The programme has now been rechristened "Scene at 6.30". Rehearsals for the show took place from 3 - 4pm and 4.15 - 6pm. "Scene At 6.30" was broadcast from 6.30 - 7pm, clashing with The Beatles' first national TV appearance for BBC television, on The 625 Show, which was aired at the same time. Now you could see the Beatles on TV even if you switched channels. Two days later, The Beatles, and Paul McCartney in particular meet Jane Asher for the first time.

Wednesday 14 August 1963: "Twist and Shout".
The lone survivor of the "Scene At 6.30" footage. The recording again took place in studio four. The Beatles wore black polo-necks and jeans - a departure from their normally suited attire, but similar to what they are wearing on the cover photo of "With The Beatles"/"Meet The Beatles", which was photographed by Robert Freeman eight days later. Two songs were performed. The first, "Twist And Shout", was broadcast that evening, while the second, "She Loves You", was shown the following Monday. The reason why "Twist and Shout" was chosen may have been because the song fronted a British EP, released one month earlier.
After the filming was complete The Beatles drove back to Llandudno, where they were in the middle of a six-night residency at the Odeon Cinema.

"Twist and Shout" 14 August 1963.
Possibly the first time we learned that this clip still existed, was when it was used in Tony Palmer's groundbreaking "All You Need Is Love - The Story of Popular Music" TV series from 1976.

Monday 19 August 1963: "She Loves You". Missing.
Sadly, the black polo-necks version of "She Loves You" is missing from the Granada TV archives. This would have been the first time the viewers heard this song, since the single wasn't released until four days later.

Friday 18 October 1963: "She Loves You". Missing.
The day after having recorded both sides of their next single - "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "This Boy", The Beatles return to Manchester to do another mimed performance of "She Loves You", which was to become their first pan-European hit single. Filming took place in the early afternoon, and the programme was broadcast from 6.30 - 7pm that evening.

Wednesday 6 November 1963: "Some Other Guy".
An edit of "Some Other Guy", performed at the Cavern Club on Wednesday 22. August 1962 was finally shown, now as part of the "Scene at 6.30" programme. This had been the first time that television cameras filmed The Beatles performing, however it was not shown on TV until now, more than a year later.
After receiving a number of letters from fans about The Beatles, a crew from Granada Television had decided to investigate the growing phenomenon. Producers from Granada first saw the group perform at Cambridge Hall in Southport on 26 July 1962, and Granada's Dick Fontaine visited the Cavern on 1 August to check the lighting conditions before the film crew attended on this date.
The Granada crew filmed The Beatles performing "Some Other Guy" for the "Know The North" programme. The filming took place less than a week after Pete Best had been sacked from the group, and one male fan was captured shouting "We want Pete!" at the end of Some Other Guy.

George Harrison: "I remember Granada TV cameras coming to The Cavern. It was really hot and we we're asked to dress up properly. We had shirts, and ties and little black pullovers. So we looked quite smart. It was our first television appearance. It was big-time, a TV company coming to film us and John was into it!"

On 5 September 1962, Granada sent an audio recording crew back to The Cavern to re-record The Beatles' night time performance with the intent to dub the recording onto the film from 22 August. At the August session only one microphone was used. At the September session, three microphones were used. Apparently, the entire September session was recorded by Granada sound engineer Gordon J. Butler but the full tape no longer exists. Only two songs, "Some Other Guy" and "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey" survive in the form of acetates, and a good quality original reel to reel tape of the former also exists. As for video, both the full performance of "Some Other Guy" (actually two different performances) as well as several minutes worth of aside shots of the audience and short snippets of The Beatles performing other songs survive. A tape of the audio recording of "Some Other Guy" will go under the hammer at Adam Partridge Auctioneers in Liverpool later this year on November 4.

Friday 20. December 1963: "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "This Boy"
In November 1963, a "sister programme" to "Scene at 6:30" started up, it was a similar format to "Scene at 6:30", but transmitted at 10:25pm and named "Late Scene". The only edition of "Late Scene" that survives is the 27 November 1963 edition called "Late Scene Extra", where the Beatles mimes to "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "This Boy", and also enjoy a chat with Liverpool comedian and singer Ken Dodd. Recorded two days earlier, "Late Scene Extra" was broadcast from 11.45pm to midnight on 27 November, and the Beatles footage was reprised on "Scene at 6:30" on 20 December, hence its inclusion in this article.

"Late Scene Extra". later reprised on "Scene at 6.30".
Wednesday 14 October 1964: "I Should Have Known Better". Missing.
It had been a long time, nearly a year since The Beatles last appeared on the show, but now they were back for one final booking. Prior to their evening concerts at the ABC Cinema in Manchester, The Beatles took the opportunity to record an appearance for "Scene At 6.30". Their interview and mimed performance of "I Should Have Known Better" was shown on Friday 16 October at 6.30pm. Even though the programme itself is missing in the archives, gallery footage of the boys miming to the song exists.

14 October 1964: "I Should Have Known Better".
The performance was to be The Beatles' final exclusive appearance on "Scene at 6.30".

Monday 13 Jun 1966: "Paperback Writer". Missing.
It's not very important that this programme is missing, not for Beatles fans anyway, as the Beatles did not appear live - only by way of a promo film. The "Paperback Writer" Intertel music video shown still exists on its own.

Other videos from the Beatles may have been shown on "Scene at 6.30", but The Beatles themselves never again made the trip to Granada's studio four to perform exclusively for the show. In late 1965 they did return to Granada to record "The Music Of Lennon And McCartney" TV special, though.

In 1968, the fifth anniversary of "Scene at 6.30" was celebrated by an article in the Northern edition of the TV Times (Jan 13- Jan 19 1968). In the article, producer Johnnie Hamp remembered how the early days of the programme coincided with the sudden popularity of the Beatles. He made the following comments:

"Overnight the Mersey Sound became internationally famous. We sold thousands of feet of film of the new pop idols to TV stations around the world."
"American executives, visiting Manchester with their families, rang Granada for tickets for the Cavern on behalf of their daughters, when really they wanted to see the new pop scene for themselves."

Hamp's comments are the words Beatles television fans cling to, hoping that some of the clips missing from Granada's own archives may some day turn up from these international sources.

In 1982 Johnnie Hamp, then head of Granada’s Light Entertainment, intended to produce a show to tie in with the Beatles 20th anniversary of the "Love Me Do" release; however he found such a wealth of interesting material in the archives that the programme wasn’t completed until 1983, and finally broadcast on New Year's Day 1984. A December 1983 press report said that "all of the precious archive material in the 50-minute programme has been carefully and expensively reprocessed at a film laboratory to give the maximum quality, so it should certainly make for fascinating viewing". Upon reviewing the footage now, it appears that the archival footage was converted from the old 405 line format to the more modern 625 line standard using the 'optical' method - which involves pointing a 625 line camera at a vintage 405 line tv monitor. Johnnie commented that "The Early Beatles" would probably become the most video-pirated programme of that holiday season – and he was probably right. He added: "Putting together this archive material was more a labour of love than work. We decided we didn’t need any commentary – the film speaks for itself!"

As I started collecting and trading video cassettes with Beatles material in the early eighties, I remember being very excited when I got hold of a VHS cassette with "The Early Beatles" special in 1984. As well as drawing from the surviving "Scene at 6.30" footage ("Twist and Shout", "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "This Boy" and the Ken Dodd interview), clips were also included from the Granada commissioned film of the Beatles' first U.S. visit by the Maysles brothers, several interviews and the "Music by Lennon & McCartney" special. The documentary really needed no narration, as the clips truly spoke for themselves.

The first 15 minutes of "The Early Beatles" TV Special.

Mersey Beat: The Early Beatles
Missing Episodes
The Beatles Bible
The Beatles in Manchester

This posting is part of a series of articles about The Beatles' appearances on British TV shows. Also in this series: "The Beatles on Ready Steady Go!", "The Beatles on Top Of The Pops" and "The Beatles on Thank Your Lucky Stars".


Martin said...

Great stuff, Roger. Been brought up with Granada (in Manchester) since I was a young boy. For the 'Music of Lennon & McCartney' when the Beatles played 'We Can Work It Out' John used the harmonium that was played by the legendary character, Ena Sharples in Coronation Street.

Unknown said...

I was born and brought up in Grandaland too and they do deserve a bit more credit, so well done for this article.

Above all in the early 1980s they had one of the best TV drama teams in the world producing celebrated series such as Brideshead Revisited and Jewel in the Crown. Even their quizzes were brainy including The Krypton Factor and University Challenge.

Funnily enough my main memory of the Beatles on Granada was a slot in the late and lamented Tony Wilson's 'So it Goes' around 1977. They showed their celebrated clip of the Beatles performing in the Cavern and I still swear they played it to the Hamburg recording of 'Ain't She Sweet' rather than the real recording of 'Some Other Guy'. In any case that was the first time I heard the Beatles version of Ain't She Sweet. It would be great if someone else can recall this. It's worth pointing out that the Beatles' stock was probably never as low as it was in the mid to late 70s, and TV clips were relatively rare which is why it made such an impact on me.

Martin said...

Granada was also at the forefront of current affairs and politics with World In Action and What The Papers Say. One of my favourite Granada shows was The Dustbinmen: a comedy about four Manchester refuse collectors. Many Coronation Street stars started in that show... Granada also did the (still) definitive Sherlock Holmes stories for television. That modern BBC version doesn't come near it...

Tony Wilson did a great interview with George Harrison in 1976. Parts of it can be seen in the Living In The Material World film.

I do remember Cavern footage with 'Ain't She Sweet'. I saw it on the news in 1980 when the BBC reported John's murder. Although it may have been an audio recording put over Cavern film...

Unknown said...

Thanks, Martin. I generally trust my memory but we all misremember to greater or lesser degrees. As I wrote above, the clip was the first time I'd heard the Beatles version of Ain't she Sweet and because I thought the Beatles wrote ALL their songs I assumed this was L&M too. Later, with a fellow Beatles nut I mentioned the clip of Ain't She Sweet and he corrected me. The only way I can reconcile the two is that in the 70s Granada thought the soundtrack was too weak so they dubbed the film with the Hamburg recording. This was definitely before John's murder and I would say 78 at the latest; possibly they resurrected as part of their tribute to John.

How did I forget Sherlock? The definitive version for me. They filmed quite a lot of it near my home in north Cheshire including Dunham Park. Yes, a jewel in the crown of British broadcasting until all the corporate mergers in the early 90s. I hardly ever watch ITV now.

Martin said...

Apparently the BBC's Sherlock is going to be a 'tribute' to the Granada version this Christmas... Nice to see them acknowledge it, but it'll probably be a cock-up...

I hardly watch ITV either, James. It's all reality TV and celebrity crap.
ITV isn't what it used to be. I used to love Blakey off On The Buses ('Urrrgh! I 'ate you, Butler!).