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Episode 1 – Teenagers’ Turn The series is completely set in 1962. It starts on New Year’s Day with their unsuccessful audition for Decca Records. Decca preferred Brian Poole and the Tremeloes from Barking: on any other day of the week, they would have been a fine choice. The Beatles returned to Liverpool but only a month later another Liverpool band, Howie Casey and the Seniors, was signed by Fontana and made a twist album. Their lead singer was Freddie Starr. On 2 January 1962, the TV series, Z-Cars started, the antidote to Dixon of Dock Green. It was fictitiously set in Newtown but filmed in Kirkby. The Beatles passed the BBC audition and played on the radio show Teenagers’ Turn. I had comments from the BBC’s files about this. Brian Epstein asked his tailor to make suits for the Beatles. Walter Smith recalls, “Their language was rather coarse and I had to say to them, ‘Could I ask you to moderate your language and remember you are in a tailor’s shop?’” Horst Fascher describes how the Beatles returned to Hamburg for the opening of the Star-Club, which coincided with the death of Stuart Sutcliffe. Bryan Biggs from the Bluecoat assesses his artistic talent. Roy Young was given an offer to join the Beatles and he did record with them in Hamburg.
Episode 2 – Someone To Love, Someone Like You It wasn’t just that the Beatles wanted to be on Parlophone: it was also that Parlophone was desperate to find a good beat group. Possibly, the Beatles had a recording contract before they even set foot in Abbey Road. The reocrdings from their first session are played and it’s self-evident that Pete Best’s drumming was adrift on ‘Love Me Do’, prompting George Martin to tell Brian Epstein he would be using a session drummer next time. He didn’t know that the group had doubts about Pete anyway and this was the last straw. The Beatles heard the US visitors Bruce Channel and Delbert McClinton, who were riding high with ‘Hey! Baby’, and McClinton describes how Lennon wanted harmonica tips, an instrument he had stolen from a shop during his first journey to Hamburg. Willy Russell describes the magic of being 14 and hearing the Beatles at the Cavern. Marty Wilde recalls fans telling him of the Beatles when he came to the Empire. Joe Brown and his Bruvvers played on Merseyside for a few days in August, arranged by Brian Epstein with the Beatles in support. ‘I knew their trick,’ says Joe, ‘They wanted the audience standing up and screaming so hard that the main act couldn’t get on. They were a hard act to follow, but we did it.’ Then Pete Best was sacked. Why was he sacked and why was he replaced by Ringo? A range of views and maybe George Melly’s is not the most accurate, but it’s the most amusing. Then there’s ‘How Do You Do It’. We hear Barry Mason’s original recording and the thoughts of songwriter Mitch Murray. We hear the Beatles lack-lustre version and how the song got to Gerry and the Pacemakers. Although the Beatles had a new drummer, Ringo Starr, Parlophone booked a London session drummer, Andy White, married to Vernons girl, Lyn Cornell. We hear their first attempt at ‘Please Please Me’ with Andy White. The episode concludes with details of the new management contract for the Beatles.
Episode 3 – The Full Monty The Beatles had backed Johnny Gentle on a short tour of Scotland in 1960. While on tour, John Lennon had helped him finish ‘I’ve Just Fallen for Someone’. In 1962, Johnny Gentle was also on Parlophone but with a new name, Darren Young. The song was released as a single just before ‘Love Me Do’, so some of John Lennon’s songwriting was on Parlophone before ‘Love Me Do’. In October 1962 the Beatles were at Hulme Hall, Port Sunlight and were interviewed by Monty Lister for Clatterbridge Hospital. Monty describes how it came about and most of it (seven minutes) is played. This was their first recorded interview, admittedly only heard by sick people in the Wirral, but it shows how their repartee was developing. Protest songwriting was developing alongside the Beatles as both ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ and ‘What Have they Done to the Rain’ were written in 1962 The Beatles did a show with Little Richard and Craig Douglas at the Empire and Craig Douglas has clear memories of the day. The Beatles supported Frank Ifield in Peterborough and the local reporter was unimpressed, but he added, “The Lana Sisters added a welcome feminine flavour.” Their line-up included Dusty Springfield but nobody knew that. At the Mersey Beat awards, the Beatles performed ‘Please Please Me’. “When I heard that, I knew they could be bigger than Elvis,” says Billy J Kramer. The Beatles returned to Hamburg for Christmas and we find out why George Harrison nearly lost his Christmas lunch. They were recorded at the Star-Club on New Year’s Eve and we end with a look to 1963, which is really when the 60s started.