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Behind The Scenes Of The Beatles' 'Magical Mystery Tour'

by David Bianculli

  • Arts & Life
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  • Movie Reviews

On Friday night on PBS, Great Performances presents a documentary about the making of a Beatles TV special from 1967 — Magical Mystery Tour — then shows a restored version of that special . Magical Mystery Tour has the music from the U.S. album of the same name, but it's not the album. It's a musical comedy fantasy about the Beatles and a busload of tourists taking a trip to unknown destinations.

It was written and produced in 1967, which was an incredibly fertile period for the Beatles. "Strawberry Fields Forever" came out that year, as well as "Penny Lane" and the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. That was followed, a month later, by the live TV premiere of "All You Need is Love," broadcast globally. The Beatles, it seemed, could do no wrong. And then they did Magical Mystery Tour, which was televised by the BBC the day after Christmas — on Boxing Day — as a holiday special. A quarter of the British population watched it — and many of those hated it.

Back then, the 53-minute program was filmed in color but wasn't broadcast that way. Imagine the Sgt. Pepper cover in black and white, and you can imagine how much was lost in the translation. Reception to the TV special was so poor that the show wasn't even picked up in the United States — just the soundtrack. Eventually, the special was syndicated to some local TV stations and toured the college film circuit along with Reefer Madness. That's when I first saw it. But on a national level, Magical Mystery Tour has never been televised in the United States — until now.

On Friday — as always, check local listings — Magical Mystery Tour will be preceded by the new one-hour companion documentary , Magical Mystery Tour Revisited. This may be the first case on record in which a documentary about a film is longer than the film itself — but it's worth it.

The documentary, produced by Jonathan Clyde of Apple Films and directed by Francis Hanly, is wonderfully thorough. It explains how the idea for Magical Mystery Tour came about, and how Paul McCartney originally drew the concept as a pie chart — then shows the chart. It covers the origins of each number written specifically for the show, from the title song and "The Fool on the Hill" to "I Am the Walrus" and "Your Mother Should Know." It presents lots of outtakes and new interviews with McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam and Peter Fonda. It also includes a vintage interview with George Harrison, whose assessment of the 1967 TV special is as unfiltered as the program itself.

It's a fine documentary — better, to be honest, than Magical Mystery Tour itself. But Magical Mystery Tour is so much fun to watch if you're a Beatles fan, that it serves up one joy after another. John Lennon serving shovels of spaghetti as a waiter in a dream sequence. John and George in a strip club, watching the house band singing a song called "Death Cab for Cutie" — which, incidentally, inspired the name of a much more recent rock band. And the closing production number, "Your Mother Should Know," which has the Beatles in white suits, dancing in unison down a giant staircase.

In addition to the PBS double feature, Magical Mystery Tour is also now available as a deluxe boxed set from Apple. It includes Blu-ray and DVD versions of the original special, a vastly shortened version of the documentary, and lots of extras, including outtakes and complete scenes that were cut out of the program before its 1967 premiere. These extras are every bit as entertaining as Magical Mystery Tour, and one segment is a minor revelation: singer-songwriter Ivor Cutler, seated at an ornate white organ in the middle of the English countryside, performing his composition "I'm Going in a Field." It must have been hypnotically bizarre then. It's hypnotically bizarre now .

It's no secret that I'm almost ridiculous in my enthusiasm for the Beatles. But for me, all this new Magical Mystery Tour material -- the restored TV special, the documentary, the boxed set — is like a perfectly timed holiday gift. The boxed set is expensive — but the Great Performances double feature is free. All you need is ... a TV set.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Tonight on PBS, "Great Performances" presents a documentary about the making of a Beatles TV special from 1967, then shows a restored version of that special, which is called "Magical Mystery Tour." It has the music from the U.S. album of the same name, but it's not the album. It's a musical comedy fantasy about the Beatles and a busload of tourists taking a trip to unknown destinations.

PAUL MCCARTNEY: It wasn't the kind of thing we could do a disclaimer before and say, ladies and gentlemen, what you're about to see is the product of our imaginations, and believe me, at this point they're quite vivid.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BIANCULLI: That's Paul McCartney, talking about the original broadcast of the "Magical Mystery Tour" TV special in England. It was written and produced in 1967, which was an incredibly fertile period for the Beatles. "Strawberry Fields Forever" came out that year, and "Penny Lane," and the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, which was followed, a month later, by the live TV premiere of "All You Need is Love," broadcast globally. The Beatles, it seemed, could do no wrong. And then they did "Magical Mystery Tour," which was televised by the BBC the day after Christmas - on Boxing Day - as a holiday special. A quarter of the British population watched it - and many of those hated it.

Back then, the 53-minute program was filmed in color but wasn't broadcast that way. Imagine the "Sgt. Pepper" cover in black and white and you can imagine how much was lost in the translation. Reception to the TV special was so poor that the show wasn't even picked up in the United States - just the soundtrack. Eventually the special was syndicated to some local TV stations and toured the college film circuit along with "Reefer Madness." That's when I first saw it. But on a national level, "Magical Mystery Tour" has never been televised in the United States - until now.

Friday night on PBS - as always, check local listings - "Great Performances" is presenting "Magical Mystery Tour," preceded by a new one-hour companion documentary called "Magical Mystery Tour Revisited." This may be the first case on record in which a documentary about a film is longer than the film itself. But it's worth it.

BIANCULLI: The documentary, produced by Jonathan Clyde of Apple Films and directed by Francis Hanly, is wonderfully thorough. It explains how the idea for "Magical Mystery Tour" came about and how Paul originally drew the concept as a pie chart, then shows the chart. It covers the origins of each number written specifically for the show from the title song and "The Fool on the Hill" to "I Am the Walrus" and "Your Mother Should Know."

It presents lots of outtakes and new interviews with McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, and Peter Fonda. It also includes a vintage interview with George Harrison, whose assessment of the 1967 TV special is as unfiltered as the program itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR REVISITED")

GEORGE HARRISON: They hated it, at least the people who wrote in the newspaper hated it. You know, they - don't forget that with all the success we had, every time something came out, a new record or whatever, they'd all try and slam it so that, you know, once they've built you up that high, you know, all they can do is knock you back down again. I mean, that's what happens. That's life. And so they really didn't like it. But it's understandable too because it wasn't a brilliant, scripted thing that was executed well. It was like a little home movie, really, an elaborate home movie.

BIANCULLI: It's a fine documentary. Better, to be honest, than "Magical Mystery Tour" itself. But "Magical Mystery Tour" is so much fun to watch if you're a Beatles fan, that it serves up one joy after another. John serving shovels of spaghetti as a waiter in a dream sequence. John and George in a strip club watching the house band singing a song called "Death Cab for Cutie" which, incidentally, inspired the name of a much more recent rock band.

And the closing production number, "Your Mother Should Know" which has the Beatles in white suits dancing in unison down a giant staircase. In addition to the PBS double feature, "Magical Mystery Tour" also now available as a deluxe box set from Apple. It includes Blu-ray and DVD versions of the original special, a vastly shortened version of the documentary, and lots of extras including outtakes and complete scenes that were cut out of the program before its 1967 premiere.

These extras are every bit as entertaining as "Magical Mystery Tour," and one segment is a minor revelation: singer-songwriter Ivor Cutler, seated at an ornate white organ in the middle of an English countryside, performing his composition "I'm Going in a Field." It must have been hypnotically bizarre then. It's hypnotically bizarre now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "I'M GOING IN A FIELD")

IVOR CUTLER: (Singing) I'm going in a field. I'm going in a field. I'm going in a field to lie down. I'll lie...

BIANCULLI: It's no secret that I'm almost ridiculous in my enthusiasm for the Beatles. But for me, all this new "Magical Mystery Tour material" - the restored TV special, the documentary, the boxed set - is like a perfectly timed holiday gift. The boxed set is expensive but the Great Performances double feature is free. All you need is a TV set.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Roll on up for the magical mystery tour. Step right this way. Roll up. Roll up for the mystery tour. Roll up. And that's an invitation. Roll up for the mystery tour. Make a reservation. Roll on up for the mystery tour. The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away. Waiting to take you away. Roll up. Roll up for the mystery tour. Roll up. Roll up for the mystery tour. Roll up... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Screenplay by Paul McCartney and Mal Evans Directed by Paul McCarney Co-Directed by John Lennon and George Harrison John Lennon - Himself Paul McCartney - Himself George Harrison - Himself Ringo Starr - Himself Jan Carson- Stripper George Claydon- Photographer Ivor Cutler -- Mr. Bloodvessel Shirley Evans - Accordionist Nat Jackley - Rubber Man Nicola Hale - Little Girl Jessie Robins - Ringo's Aunt Derek Royle - Jolly Jimmy Victor Spinetti - Army Sergeant Miranda Forbes - Hostess Wendy Winters Maggie Wright - Starlet Nat Jackley - Happy Nat

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Magical Mystery Tour to be released on DVD and Blu-ray

The Beatles’ 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour is to be reissued on DVD and Blu-ray on 8 October 2012 (9 October in the US).

The film has been fully restored with a remixed soundtrack in stereo and 5.1 surround sound. There will be three new edits of song performances, and previously deleted scenes.

Other special features include a director’s commentary by Paul McCartney , new filmed interviews with McCartney and Ringo Starr , and a 19-minute documentary on the making of Magical Mystery Tour.

A 10″ Collectors’ Edition box set will include a 60-page book, the film in both formats, and a reproduction of the double-disc vinyl EP originally released in the UK on 8 December 1967 .

https://x.com/thebeatles/status/238280012820779008

George Martin ’s son Giles was among the production team involved in the remastering.

https://x.com/mashupmartin/status/238293691234668544 https://x.com/mashupmartin/status/238302156090908672

Here’s the full press release:

”Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to see is the product of our imaginations and believe me, at this point they are quite vivid” – Paul The Beatles’ Classic 1967 Feature Film Restored For Worldwide DVD and Blu-Ray Release on October 8th In September 1967, The Beatles loaded a film crew onto a bus along with friends, family and cast and headed west on the A30 out of London to make their third film, this time conceived and directed by The Beatles themselves. “Paul said ‘Look I’ve got this idea’ and we said ‘great!’ and all he had was this circle and a little dot on the top – that’s where we started,” (Ringo) In the wake of the extraordinary impact of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album and the One World satellite broadcast of All You Need Is Love, The Beatles devised, wrote and directed their third film, Magical Mystery Tour, a dreamlike story of a coach day trip to the seaside. The film features a fabulous supporting cast of character actors and performers, (including Ivor Cutler, Victor Spinetti, Jessie Robins, Nat Jackley, Derek Royle, and the inimitable Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band). Apple Films have fully restored the long out-of-print, classic feature film for October 8th release worldwide (October 9th in North America) on DVD and Blu-ray with a remixed soundtrack (5.1 and stereo) and special features. A special, boxed deluxe edition will also be available, and, for the first time ever, there will be a limited theatrical release from September 27th. This new release also feature three new edits of some of the song performances, as well as scenes that were cut out of the original film. THEATRICAL RELEASE: For the first time ever there will be a limited theatrical release in certain territories from September 27th. Apple & EMI have partnered with Omniverse Vision, the leading distributor of music events to cinemas worldwide, to bring exclusive showings of Magical Mystery Tour to the big screen for the first time. Screenings will take place in selected cinemas from 27th September in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, and other countries worldwide. Once confirmed full listings will be available at www.thebeatles.com . In addition The British Film Institute have announced a special screening of Magical Mystery Tour at BFI Southbank on October 2nd – tickets are now available from the BFI website. The restoration of Magical Mystery Tour has been overseen by Paul Rutan Jr. of Eque Inc., the same company that handled the much acclaimed restoration of Yellow Submarine. The soundtrack work was done at Abbey Road Studios by Giles Martin and Sam Okell. SPECIAL BOXED DELUXE EDITION: Magical Mystery Tour will also be available in a special, 10″x10″ boxed deluxe edition. The deluxe edition includes both the DVD and Blu-ray, as well as a 60-page book with background information, photographs and documentation from the production, and a faithful reproduction of the mono double 7″ vinyl EP of the film’s six new Beatles songs, originally issued in the UK to complement the film’s 1967 release. SPECIAL FEATURES: All of the packages contain a host of special features, packed with unseen footage. There are newly-filmed interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and other members of the film’s cast and crew, as well as a director’s audio commentary recorded by Paul. Director’s Commentary – by Paul McCartney The Making of Magical Mystery Tour (19m 05s) – Features interviews with Paul and Ringo, along with other cast members and crew. Includes unseen footage. Ringo the actor (2m 30s) – Ringo reflecting on his role in the film. Meet The Supporting Cast (11m 27s) – A feature on the background and careers of Nat Jackley, Jessie Robins, Ivor Cutler, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Victor Spinetti, George Claydon, and Derek Royle. “Your Mother Should Know” (2m 35s) “Blue Jay Way” (3m 53s) “The Fool On The Hill” (3m 05s) – Three new edits of these performances all featuring footage not seen in the original film. “Hello Goodbye” (3m 24s), as featured in Top of the Pops 1967 – The Beatles allowed the BBC to film them in the edit suite where they were working on Magical Mystery Tour. This was then turned into a promo by the BBC, who shot their own additional footage. It was then broadcast on Top of the Pops to mark the “Hello Goodbye” single going to No 1 in December 1967. Nat’s Dream (2m 50s) – A scene directed by John featuring Nat Jackley and not included in the original film. Ivor Cutler – “I’m Going In A Field” (2m 35s) – Ivor performs “I’m Going In A Field”, in a field. This scene was not included in the original film. Traffic – “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” (1m 53s) – The filming of Traffic acting out their 1967 hit single “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” was commissioned by The Beatles for possible inclusion in Magical Mystery Tour but was not used in the final edit.

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Latest Comments

' src=

I want the deluxe version so bad!!!

' src=

A strange film to be sure but glad it’s getting a proper release. Hope they turn their attention to Let It Be next – something I’ve longed for. A great extra would be a complete, uncut rooftop performance without cutaways and voiceovers

' src=

About time hav’nt seen it sounds great, ofcourse the one thing missing in all things Beatle is A Hard Day’s Night to be colorized, it is so good thease days it would really make Beatle fans happy’ I know it would me , comments please.

' src=

No way! Leave AHDN alone – it’s perfect as it is. What next – the George Lucas 3D reimagining? Considering that Apple barely changed the recent audio remasters (a bit of noise reduction, some imperfections ironed out), I’d say it’s extremely unlikely they’d ever sanction a colourised version of the film.

' src=

I wish….. they’d bring out a decent copy of The Beatles Cartoons series!

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

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  • Aspect Ratio ‏ : ‎ 1.33:1
  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ No
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Package Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7.1 x 5.42 x 0.58 inches; 2.88 ounces
  • Director ‏ : ‎ Stephen Sanders
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Color, NTSC, HiFi Sound
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ November 14, 1997
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Alexis (XI), Jan Carson, George Claydon, Ivor Cutler, Mal Evans
  • Dubbed: ‏ : ‎ French
  • Subtitles: ‏ : ‎ English, Spanish, French
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Repnet
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 6304708521
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 1
  • #294 in British Invasion Rock
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The magical mysteries of Ivor Cutler

Celebrating 100 years of the subversive eccentric feted by the Beatles and John Peel

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

Charlie Connelly

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

We all have that short list of writers we really love, the ones we gush about to people, whose books we press on them as gifts. Then there is the next level, the writers whose work resonates with us so sonorously it’s almost as if they were writing just for us. These writers feel so personal that we rarely mention them in conversation, as if even talking about them will betray some unwritten contract binding us to our intimacy.

Their work means so much to us that, when we meet someone who likes them too, our shared admiration immediately takes that fledgling friendship to an exalted level, as if receiving the ultimate character reference.

When I meet someone who’s heard of Ivor Cutler, I know I’m probably going to like them. When I meet someone who is a fan of Ivor Cutler, well, we’re practically lying in a field of daisies describing the clouds to each other from the get-go.

It’s 17 years this week since Cutler’s death but the more aesthetically pleasing mathematics are found in this year marking the centenary of his birth. A small series of events is taking place this month at London’s South Bank Centre to mark the anniversary, and January saw the publication of the first full-length Cutler biography.

Like most people, I first heard Ivor Cutler on John Peel’s radio show, then saw him for the first time on Whistle Test in the mid-1980s: an old man with a serious face behind owlish glasses sitting at a wheezy harmonium with the word “SEWER” painted on the base wearing a strange straw hat and crooning a short song about shoplifters (“Is your shop right down on the ground? Then let us lift it, lift it for you.”). Later he reappeared with an even shorter song, delivered in the same deadpan manner, insisting he was happy and ending the performance abruptly by pretending to punch himself in the face.

Growing up in a soulless suburb between soulless suburbs, sitting there in my school uniform, I knew the world was never going to be quite the same again.

Nobody looked like Ivor Cutler, wrote like Ivor Cutler or sounded like Ivor Cutler. He was a poet, storyteller, musician and artist, a man admired by a range of the great and good from Bertrand Russell to KT Tunstall, a man who John Lennon and Paul McCartney liked so much they put him in their Magical Mystery Tour film as the bus tour guide Buster Bloodvessel. George Martin produced one of his albums and he was invited by John Peel to record more sessions than anyone except The Fall.

He made three appearances at the South Bank’s annual Meltdown festival, invited by separate curators Peel, Laurie Anderson and Robert Wyatt. He appeared on the opening night of BBC2 and at the turn of the 1960s was a regular fixture on the BBC Home Service. Alan McGee signed him to Creation Records in 2000, making Cutler, at 77 years old, a labelmate of Oasis.

He hated hotels, muzak, air conditioning and noise, remaining an active member of the Noise Abatement Society to the end of his life. At what turned out to be his final concert at the South Bank in 2004, the compère introduced Cutler with a request from the artist that the audience restrict their applause to half their usual volume. On more than one occasion during the show he responded to applause by putting his fingers in his ears – no quirky affectation; he was genuinely pained by the sound.

He wrote stories for adults and children, poems, songs and aphorisms, created complex works of art and contributed cartoons to Private Eye and Punch. His work was joyful and sinister, hilarious and heartbreaking, whimsical and dark. There was wisdom in his nonsense, kindness in his curmudgeonliness, subversion in his cosiness. There was nobody like Ivor Cutler. Nobody even close.

The eccentricity of Cutler’s work is what appealed to me most. Some of his output is pure nonsense in the Edward Lear tradition but most of it has more substance than is first apparent, despite the brevity of the stories and poems. Maturity, for example, from his collection Fresh Carpet , reads in its entirety: “To combine public altruism with private self-interest and unwitting hypocrisy is quite a trick, but I think I have it now”.

Cutler’s was an oblique view of the world, seeing life through a prism that shifted it slightly from the view everyone else endured, observing quietly before delivering quirky philosophical gems about what he’d noticed. Reading Ivor Cutler, whether one of his stories – which were usually no more than a page and a half long – or a four-line poem, is like stepping off the world and letting life ease past you for a moment. Reading or listening to Cutler is being given permission to daydream, an invitation into his world as a brief respite from the real one.

Cutler himself was a notorious daydreamer. Having volunteered for the RAF in 1942 and trained as a navigator, he was dismissed because he became so distracted by the clouds he’d disappear into reveries.

A naughty interviewee who invented stories about himself, the wartime navigator dismissed for dreaminess was one of Cutler’s stock tales, some of which turned out to have little or no basis in fact. His brief RAF career largely checks out, however, and we know this thanks to Bruce Lindsay’s Ivor Cutler: A Life Outside the Sitting Room .

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

It’s a credit to Lindsay that he has produced such a meticulously researched and definitive biography because Cutler was a nebulous mythmaker and entirely unreliable narrator. That Lindsay has not only managed to root out salient fact from scattergun fiction but also written a thorough and highly readable work that is affectionate yet well short of hagiographic makes this a valuable biography of a man that even those who knew him best found contradictory and hard to pin down.

The title is a play on Cutler’s Life in a Scotch Sitting Room Volume 2, a 1978 album that became a book and appears to be a series of autobiographical tales of Cutler’s childhood, some straightforward, others fantastical. Lindsay’s title may well be a wry nod to the difficulty of his literary task.

One thing the book confirms is that Cutler was a genuine eccentric. There was nothing arch about his penchant for wearing plus fours and a range of outlandish hats, no affectation in his proclivity for dishing out stickers with short messages on them of his own devising, ranging from “befriend a bacterium” to “made of dust” to “add 15 inches to your stride and save 4½% of insects”.

Like most eccentrics, however, there was a melancholic vulnerability behind the whimsy. Cutler was born into a Jewish family in the Govan area of Glasgow and suffered antisemitic prejudice and bullying throughout his childhood, from his peers and even from his teachers. In addition, he did not receive the unrequited love from his mother on which most children can rely. He suffered throughout his life with depression.

“Ever since I was born, more or less, I’ve always seen myself as a lesser being,” he wrote. “It’s all based on my mother’s relationship with myself and her not really loving me.”

We enjoy our eccentrics, our dreamers, our whimsical jesters riddled with quirks, and perhaps like to think that’s all there is to them. Yet beneath the surface, you’ll usually find some kind of embedded trauma. Of the other subjects featured in the Ivor Cutler and the Eccentric Miscellany season at the South Bank this month, Vivian Stanshall and Bruce Lacey both suffered with crippling anxiety while Margaret Rutherford lived her life in constant fear of inheriting the mental illness that drove her father to beat her grandfather to death with a chamber pot in a Matlock boarding house.

For them, and people like them, early fear, trauma and anxiety somehow fosters an innate kindness, gentleness and a unique view of the world, one slightly withdrawn, slightly askew yet soaked in empathy that makes them who they are. That was true of Ivor Cutler, who dedicated his story collection Fremsley to “the timid – the truly and constantly courageous” and recognised the inner child in people that was never allowed to truly flourish in himself. It was to those inner children that he was speaking.

“Those who come to my gigs probably see life as a child would,” he said. “It’s those who are busy making themselves into grown-ups, avoiding being a child – they’re the ones who don’t enjoy it.”

I correspond occasionally with my old English teacher from school, a rare beacon of kindness there who tried harder than anyone to coax me out of my own paralysing timidity. Recently I sheepishly reminded him of the school essay I once submitted about Ivor Cutler. He replied: “One thing I remember about you is your keenness for Ivor Cutler – a sign of your individualism and non-conformity”.

I can’t see us ever lying in a daisy field looking at clouds, that would be weird, but the feeling of recognition and validation that message gave me even all these years later is similar to what unites Ivor Cutler fans, the embrace of a skew-whiff outlook on life that makes it OK to be a dreamer, OK not to conform, OK to embrace your own individuality and run with it.

As the man himself put it in his poem Creamy Pumpkins : “When the land tilts, run north. Leave the family. You are the important one, the dreamer. The world needs its dreamers. Heads like creamy pumpkins. Quiet skin. Eyes that swivel round like smoke, like turquoise, like bulby grapes. Seeing, where others face an empty flat wall”.

Ivor Cutler: A Life Outside the Sitting Room by Bruce Lindsay is published by Equinox, price £25.

A EUROPEAN LIBRARY

74. ITALIAN JOURNEY by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, trans. WH Auden and Elizabeth Mayer (Penguin Classics, £12.99)

Undertaking a long journey for the benefit of his mental health, Goethe set out on a tour of Italy in 1786, later turning the letters he wrote home from Venice, Rome, Naples and elsewhere into one of Europe’s earliest and best travel narratives.

A fascinating account of a writer and country on the cusp of a new and glorious cultural dawn.

See inside the Let them eat sovereignty edition

Mick Jagger reads Shelley’s Adonais in tribute to Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones in Hyde Park, 1969. Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage/Getty

Rocking the classics

From The Rolling Stones and The Cure to Jean-Louis Murat: How musicians excel at melding literature and song

Bethan Mary-James, Samuel Adewunmi and Ellie-Mae Siame in Trouble in Butetown. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Theatre Review: Trouble in Butetown is intelligent and compelling

This is an atmospheric drama set during the second world war in a claustrophobic boarding house not far from Cardiff Docks

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magical mystery tour ivor cutler

Release date Dec 26, 1967

Magical Mystery Tour (TV Special)

Film • For The Beatles • Directed by The Beatles

Last updated on May 24, 2023

  • Filming date: Sept 11 - Nov 3, 1967
  • Release date: Dec 26, 1967

Filming location: Cornwalls, Kent, Weybridge, London, Nice (France)

Previous film Jun 25, 1967 • Shooting of "All You Need Is Love" promo film

Interview Sep 09, 1967 • Paul McCartney interview for New Musical Express

Article Sep 11, 1967 • Filming of "Magical Mystery Tour" • Day 1

Film Sept 11 - Nov 3, 1967 • Shooting of "Magical Mystery Tour (TV Special)" film

Article Sep 12, 1967 • Filming of “Magical Mystery Tour” • Day 2

Article Sep 13, 1967 • Filming of “Magical Mystery Tour” • Day 3

Next film Nov 10, 1967 • Shooting of "Hello, Goodbye (Version 1)" promo film

More from year 1967

Master release

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

Magical Mystery Tour

By The Beatles

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From Wikipedia :

Magical Mystery Tour is a 1967 British made-for-television musical film directed by and starring the Beatles. It is the third film that starred the band and depicts a group of people on a coach tour who experience strange happenings caused by magicians. The premise was inspired by Ken Kesey’s Furthur adventures with the Merry Pranksters and the then-popular coach trips from Liverpool to see the Blackpool Lights. Paul McCartney is credited with conceptualising and leading the project. Much of Magical Mystery Tour was shot in and around RAF West Malling, a decommissioned military airfield in Kent, and the script was largely improvised. Shooting proceeded on the basis of a mostly handwritten collection of ideas, sketches and situations. The film is interspersed with musical interludes, which include the Beatles performing “ I Am the Walrus ” wearing animal masks and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performing Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes’ “Death Cab for Cutie”. The film originally aired on BBC1, in black-and-white, on Boxing Day, 26 December 1967. A colour transmission followed on BBC2 on 5 January 1968. It was poorly received by critics and audiences, although its accompanying soundtrack was a commercial and critical success. The film received an American theatrical release in 1974 by New Line Cinema, and in select theatres worldwide in 2012 by Apple Films. Background The film was an attempt to combine the free-wheeling fun of Ken Kesey’s 1964 cross-country American bus tour aboard Furthur with the Merry Pranksters, and the then-popular coach (bus) trips from Liverpool to see the Blackpool Lights. John Lennon stated that “if stage shows were to be out, we wanted something to replace them. Television was the obvious answer.” Most of the band members have said that the initial idea was Paul McCartney’s, although he stated, “I’m not sure whose idea Magical Mystery Tour was. It could have been mine, but I’m not sure whether I want to take the blame for it! We were all agreed on it – but a lot of the material at that time could have been my idea.” According to McCartney, he had been creating home movies and this was a source of inspiration for Magical Mystery Tour . The script of Magical Mystery Tour was largely improvised. The Beatles gathered together a group of people for the cast and camera crew, and told them to “be on the coach on Monday morning”. Ringo Starr recalled: “Paul had a great piece of paper – just a blank piece of white paper with a circle on it. The plan was: ‘We start here, and we’ve got to do something here …’ We filled it in as we went along.” Plot The situation is that of a group of people on a British mystery tour in a 1967 coach, focusing mostly on Richard B. Starkey (Ringo Starr) and his recently widowed Auntie Jessie (Jessie Robins). Other group members on the bus include the tour director, Jolly Jimmy Johnson (Derek Royle); the tour hostess, Miss Wendy Winters (Miranda Forbes, credited as Mandy Weet); the conductor, Buster Bloodvessel (Ivor Cutler); and the other Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison). During the course of the tour, “strange things begin to happen” at the whim of “four or five magicians”, four of whom are played by the Beatles themselves and the fifth by the band’s long-time road manager Mal Evans. During the journey, Starkey and his Aunt Jessie argue continually. Aunt Jessie begins to have daydreams of falling in love with Buster Bloodvessel, who displays increasingly eccentric and disturbing behaviour. The tour involves several strange activities, such as an impromptu race in which each of the passengers employs a different mode of transportation (some run, a few jump into cars, a group of people pedal a long bike, while Starkey ends up beating them all with the bus). In one scene, the tour group walk through what appears to be a British Army recruitment office and are greeted by the army drill sergeant (Victor Spinetti). (Paul McCartney appears briefly as “Major McCartney”, on whose desk rests a sign reading “I you WAS”.) The sergeant, shouting incomprehensibly, appears to instruct the assembled onlookers on how to attack a stuffed cow. The tour group also crawl into a tiny tent in a field, inside which is a projection theatre. A scene in a restaurant shows a waiter, named Pirandello (played by Lennon), continuously shoveling spaghetti onto the table in front of Aunt Jessie, while arriving guests step out from a lift and walk across the dining tables. The film continues with the tour’s male passengers watching a strip show (Jan Carson of the Raymond Revuebar). The film ends with the Beatles dressed in white tuxedos, highlighting a glamorous old-style dance crowd scene, accompanied by the song “ Your Mother Should Know “. The film is interspersed with musical interludes, which include the Beatles performing “ I Am the Walrus ” wearing animal masks, Harrison singing “ Blue Jay Way ” while waiting on Blue Jay Way Road, and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performing Vivian Stanshall and Neil Innes’ “Death Cab for Cutie” sung by Stanshall. Production – Filming Shooting proceeded on the basis of a mostly handwritten collection of ideas, sketches and situations, which McCartney called the “Scrupt”. Magical Mystery Tour was ultimately the shortest of all Beatles films, although almost ten hours of footage was shot over a two-week period. The core of the film was shot between 11 September and 25 September 1967. Lennon recalled in a later interview, “We knew most of the scenes we wanted to include, but we bent our ideas to fit the people concerned, once we got to know our cast. If somebody wanted to do something we hadn’t planned, they went ahead. If it worked, we kept it in.” At one point, Lennon had a dream in which he was a waiter piling spaghetti on a woman’s plate, so the sequence was filmed and included in the movie. Some of the older actors, such as Nat Jackley, were not familiar with productions without a script and were disappointed by the lack of one. Much of Magical Mystery Tour was shot in and around RAF West Malling, a decommissioned military airfield in Kent, as it was not possible to book any London film studio at short notice. Many of the interior scenes, such as the ballroom sequence for “Your Mother Should Know”, were filmed in the disused aircraft hangars. The exteriors, such as the “I Am the Walrus” sequence and the impromptu race, were shot on the runways and taxi aprons. RAF Air Training Corps cadets can be seen marching in some scenes, and during “I Am the Walrus” a RAF Avro Shackleton is seen flying above the group. Some scenes were also shot in the nearby town of West Malling. The mystery tour itself was shot throughout the West Country of England, including Devon and Cornwall, including three days filming women in bikinis at the Atlantic Hotel, Newquay. Most of the footage was not used in the finished film. The striptease sequence was shot at Paul Raymond’s Raymond Revuebar in London’s Soho district, and the sequence for “ The Fool on the Hill ” was shot around Nice, in the south of France. The coach used in the film, a Plaxton-bodied Bedford VAL, carried the registration number URO 913E. The vehicle was new to coach company Fox of Hayes in 1967. The Hard Rock Cafe acquired the coach in 1988, and the vehicle is now completely refurbished. In the race, Starr himself drives the bus around the airfield racetrack. During the filming, an ever greater number of cars followed the colourful, hand-lettered bus hoping to see what its passengers were up to, until a running traffic jam developed. The spectacle ended after Lennon angrily tore the lettering off the sides of the bus. Production – Editing The eleven weeks that followed shooting were mostly spent on editing the film from ten hours to 52 minutes.Scenes that were filmed but not included in the final cut include: For the psychedelic visual sequence during the song “ Flying “, some of the flying footage from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove was re-used. As told by editor Roy Benson in the BBC Radio Documentary “Celluloid Beatles”, the film lacked footage to cover the sequence for the song “ Flying “. Benson had access to the aerial footage filmed for the Dr. Strangelove B52 sequences, which was stored at Shepperton Studios. The use of the footage prompted Kubrick to call Benson to complain. Reception Magical Mystery Tour was broadcast in the UK on 26 December on BBC1, which at the time only broadcast in black and white for technical reasons. George Martin, the band’s producer, later said: “When it came out originally on British television, it was a colour film but shown in black and white, because they didn’t have colour on BBC1 in those days. So it looked awful and was a disaster.” Lennon later said: “What the BBC – stupid idiots – did, they showed it in black and white first. Can you imagine, around Christmas? And then they [the critics] reviewed it in black and white. It’s like reviewing a mono version of a stereo record.” It was the Beatles’ first critical failure. The film had a repeated showing on 5 January 1968, this time broadcast in colour, on BBC2, but there were only about 200,000 colour TV receivers in the UK at the time. As a result of the unfavourable reviews, networks in the US declined to show the film there. Beatles aide Peter Brown blamed McCartney for its failure. Brown said that during a private screening for NEMS management staff, the reaction had been “unanimous … it was awful”, yet McCartney was convinced that the film would be warmly received, and ignored Brown’s advice to scrap the project and save the band from embarrassment. On 27 December, McCartney appeared on ITV’s The David Frost Programme to defend the film. He was introduced by David Frost as the “man most responsible” for Magical Mystery Tour . Hunter Davies, the Beatles’ official biographer at the time, said: “It was the first time in memory that any artist felt obliged to make a public apology for his work.” McCartney later spoke to the press, saying: “We don’t say it was a good film. It was our first attempt. If we goofed, then we goofed. It was a challenge and it didn’t come off. We’ll know better next time.” He also said, “I mean, you couldn’t call the Queen’s speech a gas, either, could you?” Writing in 1981, sociomusicologist Simon Frith said that the film was symptomatic of the transformation of “pop” into “rock”, the latter being concerned with art and self-expression over mass entertainment. He described Magical Mystery Tour as “a willfully inexplicable TV special which put most of the audience to sleep” and added: “The Beatles were no longer in control of their time. Whereas they had once been able to seize on any idea and ‘Beatlefy’ it, make it common currency, they were now running vainly after a trend that was determined to leave the common audience behind.” Magical Mystery Tour had its first US presentation at the Fillmore East in New York City on 11 August 1968, shown at 8 and 10 pm, as part of a fundraiser for the Liberation News Service. It was not seen in commercial theatres in the US until 1974, when New Line Cinema acquired the rights for limited theatrical and non-theatrical distribution. McCartney later said of the film: “Looking back on it, I thought it was all right. I think we were quite pleased with it.” He also commented in The Beatles Anthology DVD that the film features the band’s only video performance of “I Am the Walrus”. In a 1993 interview, Harrison said the negative response from the press was “understandable too because it wasn’t a brilliant scripted thing that was executed well. It was like a little home movie, really. An elaborate home movie.” As of 2019, the film carries a 64% approval rating at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 14 reviews from professional critics, with an average rating of 5.3/10. In The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test , Tom Wolfe comments on the similarity between Magical Mystery Tour and the exploits of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. In 1978, the film was parodied by the Rutles in their Tragical History Tour , “a self-indulgent TV movie about four Oxford history professors on a tour around Rutland tea-shops”. In his Diaries 1969–1979: The Python Years , Michael Palin said that the Monty Python team had considered showing the film, which by then had become commercially forgotten, as a curtain-raiser to their own 1975 comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail . They received permission from all four Beatles to view the film again, and did so at the Apple offices on 10 January 1975. Although the Pythons were interested, the idea did not go ahead. Following the January 1968 colour screening, the film was not televised in the UK until 21 December 1979, when it opened BBC2’s “The Beatles at Christmas” season. Its next UK broadcast took place on 1 November 1993 as part of MTV Europe’s “Beatles Day”. Comic strip adaptation A comic strip adaptation of the film’s plot was drawn by British caricaturist Bob Gibson and printed in the sleeve of the Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack album. Bus tour of Liverpool A tourist bus tour of Liverpool, marketed as the Magical Mystery Tour , has operated since 1983. The tour takes place on a replica of the Magical Mystery Tour bus and visits places around the city that are associated with the Beatles and their songs, such as their childhood homes, the Cavern Club, Strawberry Field and Penny Lane. The tour was originally operated by a Bedford VAL coach as in the film, but more modern vehicles are now used. Restoration The critical reception in 1967 had been so poor that no one had bothered to properly archive a negative, and later re-release versions had to be copied from poor-quality prints. By the end of the 1980s, MPI Media Group, through rights holder Apple Corps, had released the movie on video, and a DVD release followed many years later. It was also released in the VHS format. A digitally restored version of the film was broadcast in the UK on BBC Two and BBC HD on 6 October 2012, following an Arena documentary on its making. Both were shown in the United States as part of Great Performances on PBS ten weeks later on 14 December. On 22 August 2012, Apple Corps (via Apple Films) announced a re-release of the film on DVD and Blu-ray along with a limited theatrical release, remastered with 5.1 surround sound. The DVD/Blu-ray was released on 8 October worldwide, with the exception of North America (9 October). The new release included an audio commentary from McCartney and special features including interviews (from former Beatles and others involved with the project) and never-before-seen footage. Also released is a deluxe edition “collectors box” featuring the film on both DVD and Blu-ray, in addition to a 60-page book, and a reproduction of the original mono UK double 7″ vinyl EP. The 2012 remastered Magical Mystery Tour DVD entered the Billboard Top Music Video chart at number 1 for the week ending 27 October 2012. […]
‘Magical Mystery Tour’ was co-written by John and I, very much in our fairground period. One of our great inspirations was always the barker. ‘Roll up! Roll up!’ The promise of something: the newspaper ad that says ‘guaranteed not to crack’, the ‘high class’ butcher, ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ from ‘Sgt. Pepper’. ‘Come inside,’ ‘Step inside, Love’; you’ll find that pervades a lot of my songs. If you look at all the Lennon—McCartney things, it’s a thing we do a lot. I used to go to the fairgrounds as a kid, the waltzers and the dodgems, but what interested me was the freak shows: the boxing booths, the bearded lady and the sheep with five legs, which actually was a four-legged sheep with one leg sewn on its side. When I touched it, the fellow said, ‘Hey, leave that alone!’ These were the great things of your youth. So much of your writing comes from this period; your golden memories. If I’m stuck for an idea, I can always think of a great summer, think of a time when I went to the seaside. Okay, sand sun waves donkeys laughter. That’s a pretty good scenario for a song. John and I remembered mystery tours, and we always thought this was a fascinating idea: getting on a bus and not knowing where you were going. Rather romantic and slightly surreal! All these old dears with the blué rinses going off to mysterious places. Generally there’s a crate of ale in the boot of the coach and you sing lots of songs. It’s a charabanc trip. So we took that idea and used it as a basis for a song and the film. Because those were psychedelic times it had to become a magical mystery tour, a little bit more surreal than the real ones to give us a licence to do it. But it employs all the circus and fairground barkers, ‘Roll up! Roll up!’, which was also a reference to rolling up a joint. We were always sticking those little things in that we knew our friends would get; veiled references to drugs and to trips. ‘Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away,’ so that’s a kind of drug, ‘it’s dying to take you away’ so that’s a Tibetan Book of the Dead reference. We put all these words in and if you were just an ordinary person, it’s a nice bus that’s waiting to take you away, but if you’re tripping, it’s dying, it’s the real tour, the real magical mystery tour. We stuck all that stuff in for our ‘in group’ of friends really. Magical Mystery Tour was the equivalent of a drug trip and we made the film based on that. “That’ll be good, a far-out mystery tour. Nobody quite knows where they’re going. We can take ’em anywhere we want, man!’ Which was the feeling of the period. ‘They can go in the sky. It can take off!’ In fact, in the early script, which was just a few fireside chats more than a script, the bus was going to actually take off and fly up to the magicians in the clouds, which was us all dressed in red magicians’ costumes, and we’d mess around ina little laboratory being silly for a while. Paul McCartney – From “ Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now ” by Barry Miles, 1997
I got the general impression there was something wrong with it. Aren’t we entitled to have a flop? It’s hard, because it’s our first, but we’ll get used to the idea. The lesson is good for us, and we’re not bitter about it. Paul McCartney – from New Musical Express , January 6, 1968
We got a rough idea of what we wanted, then we got Spotlight, the actors’ directory, choosing actors and actresses who looked about right. We had no idea whether they could act. Ivor Cutler, I liked him. It was a bit like Fellini, just getting faces. But he’s a director, that’s the difference. We hired a coach, had it painted with Magical Mystery Tour on the side and said, ‘We’ll just go down to Devon, film every day, get off and do some set pieces here and there. We’ll think it up as we went along.’ And I suppose that’s what’s wrong with it. It hasn’t got much structure. It was cheeky, cos people in film school were dying to make a movie, trained to the hilt, and there was us, the beat boys: ‘Hey, we’ll have a go! I can do that!’ I somehow ended up as the guy who was gonna get it all together, ring ’em, book ’em. Everyone seemed happy to let me do it, I don’t think anyone else wanted the bother. But as a film, generally … if nothing else, just for the ‘I Am the Walrus’ sequence. I think ‘Fool on the Hill’ is good too. A couple of the musical sequences make it. It’s got an anarchic sway that I like. What happened is that we totally presented it in the wrong way. We had it on Boxing Day, in the traditional Bruce Forsyth slot – you know – which is everyone sitting there after Christmas, just recovering from the piss-up the night before. ‘Uh, what’s on there?’ It’s Brucie: ‘Bring me sunshine … Hey! Having a good Boxing Day?’ But instead it was ‘Maagicalll Mystereee Tooour … Hey maan,’ with eggheads and everything. People were up in arms. ‘Beatles’ bomb flops!’ Terrible. They came round to my house the next day. ‘What did you think then, Paul?’ ‘Oh, I don’t know, I thought it was rather good.’ Ha! Tried to bluff my way out. I took it in the neck, cos I had kind of directed it. But the credits said ‘Directed by the Beatles’, cos I didn’t want to ego-trip. Paul McCartney – From “ Conversations with McCartney ” by Paul du Noyer, 2016
I knew that Paul was really only doing the Mystery Tour as a project to keep the Beatles doing something. He said it was a kind of therapy that he thought would stop them from panicking and make them feel they were continuing as normal—and normal was working. Tony Bramwell – From “ Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles “, 2005
The next topic was the Magical Mystery Tour film, which on paper sounded original and creative and all those artistic things, but which looked as if it might turn out to be a nightmare. Alistair Taylor was sent off to hire a sixty-seater coach for the Mystery Tour. […] “It’s going to be great,” Paul said and they all nodded in agreement. The title track to Magical Mystery Tour was already in the can and sessions for the rest of the soundtrack were booked at Abbey Road. They needed a script. They needed more songs. They needed organization. They needed Brian. However, Brian was gone. Paul picked up the phone and called Denis O’Dell at Twickenham Studios, to ask him if he would produce Mystery Tour for them. During the conversation, in which John and Paul grabbed the phone from each other, they went even further and asked Denis if he would become head of Apple Films. Paul turned to me. “You can be his assistant, Tone,” he decided. […] Now that it did look as if we were hurtling ahead into a complex film, George, who had been brooding, suddenly said he wanted to postpone the Magical Mystery Tour. He desperately wanted to go to India to study Hinduism and couldn’t wait. John said, “Yeah, let’s go.” Ringo said he’d go along for the ride. “Listen, we’re gonna to stay here and do the Mystery Tour,” Paul said firmly. “Then we can go to India.” […] Tony Bramwell – From “ Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles “, 2005
Paul visualized the film as being the kind of day out we all remembered from our childhood in Liverpool, when our mums would see an ad in the window of the local news agent for “a mystery coach trip.” They were cheap days out to stop us kids from getting bored during the long summer holidays. We nearly always ended up at Blackpool, the traditional northern seaside resort with its piers, its brightly lit fairgrounds and miles of sandy beaches. “It’s a whole bunch of people, fat ones, thin ones, little ones, mad ones, like you get in real life. It’s what they do, what they talk about, the fun they have, their eccentricities. You can’t script it, it happens,” Paul explained, frustrated when the actors asked, “Where’s the script?” Tony Bramwell – From “ Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles “, 2005
We were supposed to be on The Magical Mystery Tour. The Beatles used to come and see us sometimes, like at certain concerts like the Saville Theater, and Paul told me about this little scene he had. They were planning to do a film and he wanted us to be in this film. We weren’t known then when asked us. He was trying to help us, but we got a nice break before they got the movie together. Jimi Hendrix – From “ Eyewitness: Jimi Hendrix ” by Johnny Black, 2004
Paul had a tendency to come along and say, well, he’s written his ten songs, let’s record now. And I said, well, give us a few days and I’ll knock a few off. He set Magical Mystery Tour up and had worked it out with Mal Evans, and then he came and showed me what his idea was, the story and how he had it all, the production and everything. George and I were sort of grumbling, you know, ‘Fuckin’ movie, oh well, we better do it’. John Lennon, 1970 – From “ The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years ” by Barry Miles
“Magical Mystery Tour” was one sheet of paper with a circle drawn on it, and it was marked like a clock, only there was only one o’clock, five o’clock, nine o’clock and eleven o’clock. The rest we had to fill in. That’s how we did that. I was just sitting in the garden and Paul phoned, and said, ‘I’ve got this idea.’ That’s how it used to be. If someone wanted to do something, all we would do was follow ‘em. We would all go and do it. Ringo Starr – From “ The Beatles: Off the Record ” by Keith Badman, 2008

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

FOUR VIEWPOINTS OF THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR BY THE FAN CLUB SECRETARIES WHO TRAVELLED WITH THE BEATLES FIRST REPORT BY FREDA KELLY The Wednesday before the lads started to film “M.M.T.” I was up in Liverpool sorting through the latest mountain of mail from club members when Tony Barrow, Senior Press Officer at NEMS, telephoned me. Tony had been asked by the lads to see if I’d like to join them on the special bus to go off filming in Devon and Cornwall. Would I LIKE to?!? LIKE was an understatement! It was a marvellous surprise. Then Tony went on to say there would be a total of four bus seats reserved for Fan Club girls and we discussed the problem of how to fill the other three spaces. What a difficult job — 40,000 Beatle People on our membership lists and only THREE places to be filled! And time was short too! Eventually I decided to send out telegrams to Area Secretaries who are based not too far from the London region. The first three girls to telephone Tony Barrow and say they could manage to get the week off would be the three “M.M.T.” passengers. There wasn’t a fairer way of doing it in such a short time. Anyway Sylvia from Sussex, Barbara from Essex and Jeni from London were able to accept The Beatles’ invitation and we all met up at 10.30 a.m. the following Monday morning in Allsop-place which is just beside The London Planetarium and the Waxworks. A man came over to me on the pavement and said “I’m sure I’ve seen your skull before”! That was certainly an off-beat introduction — to Scotsman Ivor Cutler, the off-beat comedian who turned out to be one of the artistes engaged to take part in the show. Well, we were all there but the bus wasn’t ! It was being decorated with colourful “Mystery Tour” signs. So, with Paul and the rest of the cast, we filled in our spare hour by drinking tea in a London Transport staff canteen and the hospitality was very welcome. PHOTOGRAPHERS At last we got under way, with a crowd of press photographers watching our departure and hurrying to their cars before we went out of sight. At Virginia Water, a place not too far from Weybridge, we picked up George, Ringo and John. Now the party was complete. Before starting to film, the boys moved people around and asked us to keep our new seats all the time so that whenever we happened to be in camera range we’d be seen in the same part of the bus. What’s more we were to wear the same clothes all through the week — which created a washing problem as the days went by! I was moved up from the back of the coach and Paul came over to chat. “Have these for a slim figure like yours” he said handing me a box of Maltesers ! We stopped at a restaurant called The Pied Piper for lunch. The Beatles got their meals in no time, the staff being overwhelmed to find such distinguished customers arriving unexpectedly. I sat at a table with Sylvia, Jeni and Barbara and we still hadn’t got our orders when the lads were onto their second course. George looked over and asked why we were still waiting. Then he went straight into the kitchen and emerged again a moment later with my lunch. “The others are coming right away” he told the girls. I won’t try to tell you the story of the show or too much about the actual filming because you’ll be able to read all those details in next month’s special issue. Just let me say that the four of us girls are seen in quite a lot of scenes during the show. We are just four passengers on the Magical Mystery Tour bus — along with an amazing assortment of other passengers ranging from an elderly couple to a little 5-year-old girl named Nicola, from little George Claydon to big Jessie Robins (who plays Ringo’s auntie). When the film cameras were not rolling I found lots of opportunities to talk to each of the Beatles. A lot of the time we “talked shop”, and discussed Fan Club details. They were particularly interested to hear the reactions of members to the “Sgt. Pepper” album and about the hundreds Of ‘Thank You’ letters I’d had from people who thought the Sgt. Pepper Souvenir Poster was one of the best-ever Fan Club bonus gifts. RINGO’S FILM I chatted for ages with Richie. We talked about everything from Mo’s new baby to the offer Richie had just received to appear with stars like Marlon Brando and Richard Burton in the Hollywood film “Candy”. The offer was a great secret at the time and it wasn’t announced in the papers until weeks afterwards. Richie was obviously very excited about the idea of making his solo film debut and it was nice to be able to share his private pleasure. Incidentally, all through the week Richie collected his empty ciggie packets (plus some from the other three lads) and gave them to me at the end of the filming. This means that some of the thousands of members who have been asking me for souvenirs of this sort will be getting what they want. I can’t give EVERYONE a packet so I’ll have to pick out names from a hat to decide who gets this particular bundle of souvenirs! EVERYWHERE We filmed in all kinds of different places including little wayside pubs, a chip shop in Taunton, and a tent in a field near Newquay. It really was a Mystery Tour, you know. We didn’t know where we were going from day-to-day. Eventually we spent THREE nights in Newquay instead of just the ONE which was planned. This was because the lads found such a wealth of useful scenery locations in that area there seemed no point in moving on and packing up all our cases again. Sometimes the team would split up so that two lots of filming could be done at once. One day Paul and Richie took us girls off with them in the bus to film bits of dialogue between Jessie Robins and Ivor Cutler. Meanwhile John and George stayed behind at the Atlantic Hotel, Newquay, to film with comedian Nat Jackley who had this very funny sequence to do with a lot of girls around the hotel’s outdoor swimming pool. Oh yes, I nearly forgot the day we lunched in Plymouth in a big restaurant just a few yards from the famous Hoe. More than 40 of us poured into the place and took the staff by surprise. They thought they’d finished serving lunch for the day! During the meal John started singing “Freda Kelly is a Nelly” at the top of his voice. Paul added “And she has pimples on her knees!” It was a marvellous week, one I wouldn’t have missed for anything. Just to make it even more marvellous all the people on the tour were good friends by the end of the week. The professional actors and actresses mixed in with all us “amateur passengers” and we had a great time. I can’t wait to see the finished television film. I know it’s going to be unlike anything ever seen on telly and that the mystery tour show will be another feather in The Beatles’ caps. SECOND REPORT BY JENI CROWLEY MONDAY: Everyone was told to be at Allsop-place by 10.45 a.m. Everyone, that is, except the coach which arrived two hours late! Still, it must have taken time to fix all the gay posters and signs all over the bus. Meanwhile everyone was getting to know one another. Paul had arrived on time and he spent ages sitting on the pavement talking to comedian Ivor Cutler. I went over to Paul and one of the first things he told me was that we’d have to wear the same clothes throughout the tour. Help! When John, George and Ringo joined us at Virginia Water they had to use the back part of the bus as a dressing room to change into their extraordinary film gear. John discovered the buttons had come off the back of his trousers. He needed them because he was wearing braces. Jokingly I offered to sew them on. He took me up on the offer. It would have been easier if he hadn’t been wearing the trousers at the time! After lunch the lining ripped away, button and all, and I had to use WHITE cotton to sew BROWN trousers! TUESDAY: Today we rode from Teignmouth to Newquay. You may have read in the papers how we had to try and cross a bridge which was too narrow for the coach. Eventually our driver, Alf, had to turn back through the traffic jam we’d managed to cause. After lunch in Plymouth we stopped in a small village to film a scene with Derek Royle (who plays the tour courier). The party took the opportunity of getting off the bus to buy sweets and Cornish ice cream. In the confusion of people coming and going George plonked himself down next to me. We talked about various topics — including transcendental Meditation and life in general. I got so engrossed I didn’t even notice we’d arrived at the hotel. We must have been chatting for well over an hour. WEDNESDAY: At the Atlantic Hotel we were told we would be wanted for a swimming pool scene with Nat Jackley and we’d need bikinis. Eventually things were rearranged because some local girls (already clad in bikinis) joined in the swimming pool sequence while our party went off in the bus with Paul and Ringo. Ringo ad-libbed his way through a hilarious scene with Jessie Robins (playing his auntie). That evening Paul and Ringo discovered that the hotel had a games room so they went down for a game of billiards. Ringo turned out to be a VERY good player but Paul insisted he had a bad cue — although he tried EVERY ONE available!!! Much later Spencer Davis came over while we were all sitting in the ballroom listening to the hotel band. Spencer and his family were holidaying for a few days in a village close to Newquay. THURSDAY: Today and Friday turned out to be my favourite days — although we were supposed to be heading for home today, but filming got delayed because of bad weather. Today we filmed in a field. Within minutes of our arrival hundreds of holidaymakers gathered and the police were called to cope with a traffic jam! In this scene John, Paul, Sylvia and I had to crouch in a small tent. It was difficult enough trying to keep my balance without having to swat wasps and avoid sitting on beetles. Paul kept telling us to keep very still and the wasps would go away. One did — but not until after it had crawled all over Paul’s motionless mouth! This evening after getting a refreshing wash, Sylvia, Paul, Ringo, yours truly and a few others took Spencer Davis up on his invitation to come over to the little pub he was staying at and have a bit of a party. We didn’t get back until three in the morning! FRIDAY: The last day and a lot of sad ‘Goodbyes’ to be said. We stopped the coach once or twice to film everybody GETTING BACK ON! One stop was at a country pub. George and I stood with John, shared his cheese and dipped it into tomato sauce which may sound a bit off but, believe me, is very tasty. Travelling back towards London this evening we sang songs and carols while Shirley Evans played an accordion. Soon, too soon, it was all over. George, Ringo and John got off first. Paul stayed with us until the bus reached Baker-street. I hope you enjoy watching the film as much as we enjoyed helping to make it. It was a fabulous week ! THIRD REPORT BY BARBARA KING I remember sitting alone in the coach on Monday thinking “What have I let myself in for”. On the train coming into London that morning I’d been saying to myself “I might even MEET THEM”. Little did I dream that I would finish up spending most of those five days with The Beatles, getting to know them well. People have asked me what THEY are REALLY like. I just answer that they are four very nice people but just ordinary like you and me. I’m sure they don’t believe me. When Paul got out of his car in Allsop-place I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I remember very clearly driving in the bus through pouring rain and stopping near Virginia Water to pick up the other Beatles. John clambered aboard and said “Hello Happy Everybody!” and I felt my pulse to see if it was still there. The next day, Tuesday, Freda, Jeni, Sylvia and I sat at a table next to John, Paul, George and Ringo for lunch in Plymouth. In that Steak Bar I remember how rude people were, persistently bothering the four lads while they were trying to eat. On the Wednesday morning in Newquay Sylvia and I went for a walk while we were waiting for the coach to leave the hotel. In a sweet shop one woman said to another something about The Beatles having left. Sylvia turned round and said: “Oh! They can’t go without us!” The woman looked at her and must have thought “Who the hell does she think she is!” On the Thursday morning I decided to do a bit of local window shopping because it didn’t look as though we’d be taking off for a while. When I got back to the bus The Beatles and all the other 40 passengers were waiting for me. “We nearly went without you, Barbara” said Paul as I climbed onto the coach. He gave me such a warm smile that it cheered me up tremendously. That day we filmed in a tent in a field. Suddenly it was Friday. All us of girls felt a sinking feeling because it would soon be over and we’d be back to reality. No more magic, no more mystery, no more dreamy Beatles. We all sang and drank beer from bottles as the bus rolled along towards London. Some of us tried to get the boys to sing THEIR songs but they stuck to the old-timers. I had the experience of my life, a week I can never forget. I’d like to thank Freda, The Beatles and everybody for a wonderful week. I’m just beginning to believe it REALLY HAPPENED To ME! BARBARA KING FOURTH REPORT BY SYLVIA NIGHTINGALE MONDAY: I arrived at the meeting place arranged to find that the coach was going to be late. Only one Beatle — Paul — was there, surrounded by fans with autograph books. Cause of the delay was the fact that the coach was being draped with way-out psychedelic stickers and signs all over the blue and yellow paintwork. TUESDAY: we descended upon an unprepared Berni Grand Hotel in Plymouth for lunch. By this time we had a convoy of at least TWENTY cars following us — most of these carrying London press people, reporters and photographers. I had decided to wear hippy gear for the trip and The Beatles constantly reminded me of the fact. They so delicately referred to me as “Zippy-Hippy” and “Miss Freak-out”. As I was eating lunch to the jingle of my bells John turned to me and said “You younger generation with all your bells!” At a little place called Bodmin everybody tucked into ice cream and lollys while a bit of roadside filming was done. I was given an orange ice lolly and Ringo was sucking a red one. “Do you want to swap?” he said “It’s quite clean. I mean I’ve licked it all over for you!” Long after The Beatles had gone to bed hopeful fans waited outside the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay as word got round the town that the group was staying there. WEDNESDAY: we were supposed to be leaving Newquay this morning but The Beatles changed their minds and we got the message that we’d all be staying on for the rest of the week. On the bus I pointed out to Ringo that his trousers were splitting in an embarrassing place. “Can you sew them up for me?” he said to my surprise. I did so — to the astonishment of fans peering through the coach windows. “Is that O.K. ?” I asked when the job was done “Fine” said Ringo as he staggered off down the coach bent double! Last thing before bed I stood at the front doors of the hotel to get some fresh air. Fans were still waiting for a glimpse of The Beatles. “Ere, are you one of them ?” asked one little boy. I wasn’t sure how to answer that! THURSDAY : We used the morning looking for locations to do more filming. The Beatles found a suitable field, as remote as possible. But there were crowds in no time. George sat down in the middle of the cornfield and drifted into meditation while the cameras were being set up. At four in the afternoon we had lunch — a special one because it was being filmed. We tucked in to the accompaniment of music played by the groovy band we’d listened to in the ballroom the previous evening. Later Jeni and I went to the small party Spencer Davis was throwing for the boys. We left in the small hours feeling very depressed about the return trip to London. The tour had had a rare quality of magic and fantasy about it but everything on this earth comes to an end and we had to accept the fact. FRIDAY: I must have shown my misery this morning because John said “Don’t we look ‘appy then!” and grinned. We had lunch at a fish and chip shop and the funniest thing was the way people rushed off to tell their neighbours that The Beatles were there. There was a steady flow of sightseers while our chip-eating was being filmed! Later we stopped at a transport cafe for tea. To my surprise there wasn’t even ONE record by The Beatles on the juke box! I must admit I’d been very nervous about meeting The Beatles for the first time. Now I wonder how I could have been. They made us feel as though we belonged by chatting as if we were all old friends. I have realised for the first time how genuine and groovy they are, always cheerful, friendly and full of jokes. I consider myself very lucky and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Well… would you ? SYLVIA NIGHTINGALE From The Beatles Monthly Book, November 1967

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR – BY MAL AND NEIL “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR” marks the beginning of a very important new stage in the career of The Beatles. For the first time they have created their own show for television. They have worked out the scenes, hired the cast, written the basic script, composed the songs and incidental soundtrack music, directed the actual shooting and edited the finished film. And, of course, they have taken part in the show—playing the parts of four Magical Mystery Tour coach passengers PLUS a number of other roles which we’ll talk about later. ONE POINT OF PARTICULAR INTEREST IS THAT IF EVERYBODY LIKES “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR” AND IF THE BEATLES THEMSELVES ARE SATISFIED WITH THE FINISHED JOB, IT IS PRETTY CERTAIN THEY WILL MAKE THEIR NEXT FULL-LENGTH CINEMA FILM IN THE SAME WAY. THAT IS ONE OF THE FIRST MAJOR PROJECTS THE BEATLES WILL BE DISCUSSING IN THE NEW YEAR. THEY ARE WELL AWARE THAT THERE HAS BEEN AN UNREASONABLY LONG GAP BETWEEN THE SCREENING OF “HELP!” AND THE START OF WORK ON THEIR THIRD MOTION PICTURE. ON THE OTHER HAND, IF ALL GOES ACCORDING TO PLAN, THE THIRD PICTURE WILL NOW BE SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL WITH THE BEATLES LOOKING AFTER EVERY ASPECT OF THE SCRIPTING, THE SHOOTING, THE DIRECTION AND THE EDITING JUST AS THEY HAVE DONE WITH “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR.” THE BEGINNING: As long ago as January 1967 The Beatles decided that Personal Appearances — whether in the form of full-scale concert tours or just the odd stage performance — were OUT. They realised that to do any more stage shows would be a STEP BACKWARDS. During the previous four years they had toured the world appearing not only throughout Great Britain but also in Germany. France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Manila, United States of America and Canada. Their first nationwide U.K. tour (apart from a few dates in Scotland the previous month) had been with The Helen Shapiro Show in February 1963. Their final series of 1966 concerts had taken them across America and up to Canada, finishing with a final performance in San Francisco at the end of August. CURRENT STYLE AT THE START OF 1967 THE BEATLES REALISED THAT THERE WAS NO POINT IN GIVING ANY MORE CONCERTS SINCE THEY’D HAVE TO RELY UPON USING OLD OUT-OF-DATE MATERIAL, SONGS WHICH COULD BE PUT ACROSS WITH THREE GUITARS AND DRUMS, AND THAT WOULD NOT BE REPRESENTATIVE OF THEIR CURRENT STYLE OF WRITING OR COMPOSING. THE OBVIOUS ALTERNATIVE TO TOURING WAS TO PRODUCE THEIR OWN OCCASIONAL TELEVISION SHOWS WHICH COULD BE SEEN ALL OVER THE WORLD, IN COUNTRIES THEY HAD VISITED FOR CONCERT TOURS AS WELL AS NEW COUNTRIES THEY’D NEVER GOT AROUND TO. So the first decision to make television films dates back almost twelve months. Early in April, Mal was with Paul in Denver, Colorado, for Jane’s 21st birthday. During that trip to America Paul thought of building a TV show around a coach tour. In Mal’s diary for April 7 he wrote: “Getting quite excited about planning the television film. Idea going at the moment is to make it about some sort of Mystery Tour (Roll Up! Roll Up!). Paul is getting lots of ideas and we’re jotting them down as we go.” The same week his diary had an entry reading: “Took charge of Hertz rented car. Drove Paul and Jane up into the Rockies for what I can only describe as a real Magical Mystery Trip.” If you look back at the July issue of THE BEATLES MONTHLY BOOK you’ll see those very words in Mal’s report on his trip with Paul to America! Flying home to London (Tuesday April 11) Paul worked on the first words for a “Magical Mystery Tour” song. On the plane he borrowed a pad of paper from the stewardess and drew a big circle, dividing it up into sections. The circle represented 60 minutes, the sections were marked off into bits for songs and sketches. When we got home this was the sheet of paper Paul used to describe to the others what he had in mind. There were lots of sections of the circle left blank. The others threw in extra ideas and, one by one, the blank sections were filled until The Beatles decided they had the makings of a 60-minute TV programme. THE PLANNING: In the Bag O’ Nails discotheque club one night towards the end of April we (Neil and Mal!) were brought into the group’s discussions on possible items for the “Coach Show”. Basically it was agreed that the plan should be “all-inclusive, non-exclusive”. This meant trying to fit into the show something for everyone, as wide a variety as possible. On April 25 the backing track for the song “Magical Mystery Tour” was recorded. Two nights later voices were added and on May 3 trumpet accompaniment was put on. NOW THERE WAS A LONG DELAY BECAUSE THE BBC INVITED THE BEATLES TO TAKE PART IN A ‘LIVE’ WORLD WIDE TELEVISION PROGRAMME FOR WHICH THEY WOULD WRITE A SPECIAL SONG. THE SONG WAS “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE”, THE PROGRAMME, SEEN AT THE END OF JUNE, WAS “OUR WORLD’. AS YOU KNOW “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE” BECAME THE MAIN SIDE OF THE BEATLES’ NEXT SINGLE AND THEY PUT “BABY, YOU’RE A RICH MAN” ON THE SECOND SIDE. So we jump forward to the second half of August to find the next bit of “Magical Mystery Tour” activity — that was after the holiday in Greece and George’s trip to California. On Thursday August 24, only a few days before he died, Brian had a long chat with John, Paul, George and Ringo and everybody talked about “things to be done” for the rest of the year. Brian was very enthusiastic about “Magical Mystery Tour” and wanted us to go ahead right away with filming the show. DECIDED TO GO ON It goes without saying that Brian’s death caused confusion of thought amongst all of us. At first the majority agreed that it would be best to take a good long break, accept Maharishi’s invitation to spend two or three months with him in India and shelve all other plans until afterwards. BUT, as the days went by, everyone began to realise that it made much more sense to go ahead with “Magical Mystery Tour” and take a break AFTER the production was completed. On Friday September 1 there was a general conference and get-together at Paul’s house. While everyone added ideas, Paul sat at his typewriter and with one over-worked finger put down a list headed “Main Points”. Underneath he put: “Coach Tour (Three Days) with people on board. Week beginning Sept. 4—Cameraman, Sound, Cast, Driver. Hotels to be arranged for 2 nights. “Magical Mystery Tour” Emblem to be designed. Yellow coach to be hired (Sept 4 to Sept 9). Microphone system in coach. Must be good all-round vision. Tour “staff” Driver, Courier, Hostess. Three staff uniforms required. Coach destination—Cornwall??? After coach — Shepperton Studios (One Week).” On another sheet he typed out a sequence of arrangements to be made: “Write outline script. Decide cast. Engage cast. Decide when shooting starts. Sets for studios. Fix completion date.” In fact shooting could not start until Monday September 11, a week later than Paul’s proposed starting date for the coach. Even then we had one of the most hectic weeks of our lives preparing everything in time! The coach tour took five days to film (in Devon and Cornwall) and it was far too late to book space at Shepperton Film Studios for the following seven days. So we hired a couple of disused aircraft hangars at West Malling R.A.F. station just outside Maidstone in Kent. By September 11 when we all set off by bus for Cornwall, The Beatles had a big sheaf of papers filled with outline scripts to describe the scenes they wanted to film. In total there were 43 people on the big yellow and blue bus. This included a full technical crew (camera and sound men). The rest? Most of them were cast as ‘ordinary passengers’, a cross-section of types you’d find on any average Mystery Tour bus. We had an elderly couple, a mother and her little daughter named Nicola, a bunch of teenage girls (including Freda Kelly and three Fan Club Area Secretaries) and other assorted people. In addition we had the key characters—played by actors, actresses and so forth. The part of the Courier went to Derek Royle, the Tour Hostess was played by Mandy Weet, Scottish comedian Ivor Cutler was a strange bloke who THOUGHT he was the Tour Courier, actress Jessie Robins was Ringo’s Auntie Jessie, Maggie Wright was cast as Paul’s friend “Maggie, The Lovely Starlet”, Little George Claydon was the Amateur Photographer and veteran music hall comic Nat Jackley was Happy Nat the Rubber Man. Who is missing? Well, Alf Manders the bus driver played HIMSELF and so did Shirley Evans who is a professional accordion player. THE FILMING : We needn’t go into great detail in this part of our story because most of you will have read the four reports written for last month’s issue by Freda, Jeni, Barbara and Sylvia the four Fan Club Girls. On the first day there was an immediate delay because the “Magical Mystery Tour” posters took longer to fix than anyone expected. George, Ringo and John were to meet up with the bus at Virginia Water on the A30, not too far from Weybridge. Meanwhile Paul was waiting with the rest of the cast in a side street close to the London Planetarium. His time wasn’t wasted because, at the last moment, white uniforms had to be purchased for the Driver, Courier and Hostess. Paul and Mal nipped off to look for a suitable shop and found one in Soho. A bit of filming was done on the way down to Teignmouth but it was raining hard and nothing more than a few ice-breaking shots inside the bus could be attempted under such conditions. The arrival at Teignmouth was much more spectacular than we had imagined it would be. People lined both sides of the street with policemen to hold them back. The hotel foyer was just jammed with cameramen, reporters and sightseeing holidaymakers! Tuesday wasn’t much better so far as weather is concerned. We got a few bits of dialogue filmed — the bit where Miss Wendy Winters the Tour Hostess introduces herself to the passengers, for instance. We NEARLY went to Widdicombe Fair but the bus couldn’t get across a narrow bridge and we had to turn back! When we stopped in a village to film the Courier (“Jolly Jimmy Johnson”) getting on and welcoming everyone to the tour, a small shop gave us free Cornish ice cream! On the Wednesday the sun shone and a lot of good work was done. Paul and Ringo took off for Newquay in the bus to do scenes involving Ivor Cutler and Jessie Robins. Meanwhile John and George took charge of the second film unit and shot a hilarious sequence with Nat Jackley and a lot of locally-recruited bikini girls beside the hotel pool! FAVOURITE JACKET STOLEN Thursday was another busy, bright day – slightly spoiled for George because some fan had broken into the bus overnight and pinched his favourite old denim jacket. And on Friday we headed back towards London. The weekend break was welcome but on Tuesday it was back to work with a very heavy filming schedule out at West Malling R.A.F. base. So heavy that, instead of driving 50 miles to and from the location each day, we decided to put up close to Maidstone in a hotel until the end of the week. At West Malling all the main scenes were filmed. Before going out there we’d done the special Strip Club sequence with Jan Carson and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in Paul Raymond’s Revuebar, Soho. During the rest of the week we did the Magicians’ Laboratory sequence, Aunt Jessie’s Nightmare, a Recruiting Office scene with Victor Spinetti cast as a Sergeant, the Marathon Race (with four midget wrestlers, five clergymen, a Rugby team, a dozen tiny children playing Tug O’ War and a bunch of racing motor cyclists), the bit where George sings “Blue Jay Way” sitting cross-legged on a pavement in thick fog, the lengthy and quite spectacular outdoor scene for the song “I Am The Walrus” and the huge Finale involving a couple of hundred “extras” — mostly formation dancers. By supper time the following Sunday night everything was finished at West Malling. Well, everything except a few linking bits which we did with the bus later on PLUS Paul’s “Fool On The Hill” song sequence (which was not shot until the first week of November) and a bit of outdoor filming with Ringo and Auntie Jessie for the very beginning of the show (shot at the end of October). Much earlier on we said that The Beatles play other roles in the show. Well, John is the man who sells the tour tickets (with large false moustache!) and he is also a somewhat greasy waiter in “Auntie Jessie’s Nightmare”. Paul plays “Major McCartney” in the Recruiting Office bit and all four Beatles are joined by Mal to play The Five Mysterious Magicians who pop up at odd intervals to make all the magic in the show! PERHAPS WE’VE BEEN TEASING YOU A BIT BY TELLING YOU LITTLE SCRAPS OF INFORMATION ABOUT DIFFERENT SCENES WITHOUT GIVING YOU THE COMPLETE STORY OF THE SHOW. WELL, THAT’S THE IDEA! YOU’LL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THE WHOLE PROGRAMME ON TELLY BEFORE YOU FIND OUT THE WHOLE STORY! THE EDITING: Originally The Beatles reckoned it wouldn’t take more than a week or so to edit all the film and make up a 60-minute programme. In fact the job took more than SIX WEEKS. Each day you’d find two or more Beatles busy in a tiny editing room in Old Compton Street, Soho. The work began around ten in the morning and they very seldom knocked off before six or seven in the evening. Editing is something which could have been left to other people but The Beatles wanted to get everything exactly the way it should be and they know it was well worth spending all the time looking at strips of films and joining up all the scenes. All told there must have been TWENTY OR THIRTY HOURS of colour film to plough through! THE RECORDING: Most evenings, after working all day on editing, The Beatles gathered at the EMI studios, to put together all the songs for the soundtrack. All told there were six “Magical Mystery Tour” numbers including the title song and an instrumental called “Flying”. “I Am The Walrus” and George’s “Blue Jay Way” turned out to be particularly long recordings. The big problem was to present these recordings to the public in the most suitable way. There was too much music to fit on a 7-inch EP disc and not enough to fill a full-length 12 inch. At one stage the proposal was to use a 7-inch record at LP speed—rather like the special discs The Beatles have made for Fan Club distribution each Christmas. There was a technical problem here — George Martin advised us that there would be a loss of volume on a 7-inch LP record. In addition some of us were against the idea it would mean that people with autochange record players would have to fiddle about with the speed control or play the “Magical Mystery Tour” disc in a stack of LP albums instead of with singles and EPs. It was not until the beginning of November that everybody agreed on how the thing should be solved. There would be a set of two EP records inside a special book—plus a single. The production of the special book was, in itself, a big job. It was to be 28 pages, mostly in full colour, plus a heavy cover with pockets built in to contain the two records. CARTOON STORY BY THE TIME YOU READ THESE PAGES THE “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR” RECORDS AND BOOK WILL BE READY FOR RELEASE. IN THE BOOK — APART FROM A LOAD OF COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHS AND THE LYRICS OF ALL THE SONGS — ARE A SERIES OF PAGES DEVOTED TO THE STORY OF “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR” TOLD IN STRIP CARTOON PICTURES! THE CARTOONS (THEY’RE ALL IN COLOUR TOO, BY THE WAY) HAVE BEEN DRAWN BY BOB GIBSON, THE ARTIST WHO DOES ALL THE DRAWINGS YOU SEE IN THE BEATLES MONTHLY BOOK. THE WORDS WHICH TELL THE STORY UNDERNEATH EACH OF BOB’S FANTASTIC CARTOONS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY TONY BARROW. From The Beatles Monthly Book, December 1967

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

One million dollars for Beatles’ ‘Mystery’ tour AT LEAST one million dollars (over £300,000) will be paid for the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” spectacular to be shown on TV! Companies all over the world are bidding for the TV rights. Among them are the three major American TV networks, plus independent US programme sponsors. There are also more than 40 offers flooding in from many other countries, among them Germany, Japan, Australia, South Africa and Mexico. The spectacular will also, of course, be seen on British TV, but it was not known at presstime whether it would be on ITV or the BBC. NEMS Enterprises press office Tony Barrow denied on Tuesday a rumour that the spectacular would be seen both on independent TV and the BBC. “The Beatles will not show the production to TV executives until the film editing and sound recording is completed,” he told Disc on Tuesday. “They are now working on this, and may have to postpone their pending trip to India until the New Year.” Beatles were flying to India to study meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for three months from the beginning of November. The “Magical Mystery Tour” spectacular should be completed by the end of October and ready for sale to the various TV vidders by the beginning of November. It should be screened in Britain on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and simultaneously in many other countries. From Disc And Music Echo – October 21, 1967

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

THE MYSTERY PARTLY EXPLAINED There’s never been a Television Show quite like it! And I doubt if there will be again until The Beatles make another TV film NEXT year ! The story begins with RINGO and his Auntie Jessie (played by heavyweight actress JESSIE ROBINS) deciding to go on a Mystery Tour. They buy their tickets from a little shop where the sales assistant is a jolly chap with a ridiculous R.A.F. moustache and a distinct resemblance to JOHN ! While all this is happening the soundtrack is brimming over with brand-new Beatle sounds in the form of the show’s fast-rocking title number “Magical Mystery Tour.” The MAGIC bit means that the film is never limited to realistic happenings. With MAGIC around the most fantastic scenes can be pounced upon the amazed viewer at a moment’s notice. Incidentally we ARE allowed to see where all the magic is made. Now and again the cameras leave the coach tour to show us the bubbling test-tubes, mysterious maps and magical telescopes of The Magicians’ Secret Laboratory — manned by five extraordinary folk in bright red and yellow gowns and high pointed hats. Five? Yes, the big guy in the background looks suspiciously like MAL EVANS! So the coach tour begins and we’re introduced to the bus driver (Alf), the Hostess (MANDY WEET), the Courier (DEREK ROYLE) and passenger-type people ranging from comedians NAT JACKLEY and IVOR CUTLER to actress MAGGIE WRIGHT and “Little Man” GEORGE CLAYDON. What a marvellous bunch of Magical Mystery Tour companions! The second song we hear is PAUL’S simple, very tuneful ballad “The Fool On The Hill.” Later there’s a special spot for GEORGE’S “Blue Jay way” (he’s seen sitting cross-legged on a pavement in thick fog!) and all the other numbers including the Twenties-tinted finale song “Your Mother Should Know.” MOST SPECTACULAR Perhaps the most spectacular of all the song sequences is that which has The Beatles plus the entire cast involved in “l Am The Walrus.” In last month’s Book I expect you saw the Competition Page which showed a photograph of all four Beatles covered from head to toe in furry animal suits. THAT is just one small part of the “Walrus” scene. But you mustn’t get the impression that “Magical Mystery Tour” is just a long parade of songs. There are plenty of strong comedy items. For me one of the most hilarious is set in a curiously out-of-date Army Recruiting Office where a smartly uniformed Major McCartney(!) watches VICTOR SPINETTI giving a fair impression of a parade-ground sergeant who demonstrates (amongst other things) the right way to defend yourself against an aggressive cow. There’s a beautiful touch of “human interest” in a scene in which JOHN and GEORGE are sitting on the bus talking to a bright little 5-year-old girl named Nicola. This — and most of the dialogue involving The Beatles with professional actors and actresses — is unscripted. Instead of demanding that the cast should learn written lines, The Beatles discussed each bit of talking with the people concerned, told them what they were supposed to be doing and what their various reactions should be AND THEN LEFT THE ACTUAL WORDING TO THEM. The lack of a script let all the actors relax because it didn’t matter too much what they came out with and they hadn’t got to keep stiffening up and remembering precise sentences to say. You’ll see how well this approach works when you watch Ringo having an argument with Auntie Jessie or Little George taking photographs of Maggie The Lovely Starlet. And the late-night homeward-bound sing-song on the bus couldn’t have been rehearsed to such perfection in a month of blue moons! Nice touch to include accordionist SHIRLEY EVANS in the cast for this and various other scenes! I could tell you much more — but I’m not supposed to give away TOO MANY secrets. For the rest — well, “Magical Mystery Tour” will be on your home screens in just a few weeks from now and (as the boys have said themselves) it has Something For Everybody. Dream sequences, a Hollywood-scale Finale, a load of great songs, a marvellous guest appearance of THE BONZO DOG DOO DAH BAND in a Strip Club scene, and (wait for THIS) a marathon race which includes RINGO DRIVING THE “MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR” BUS! Don’t know about YOU but I’m booking my seat for NEXT year’s tour right now before the rush! FREDERICK JAMES From The Beatles Monthly Book, December 1967

magical mystery tour ivor cutler

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The Magical Mystery Tour

Details: 1967, UK, 55 mins

Direction: The Beatles

With: Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band ,  Ivor Cutler ,  The Beatles and Victor Spinetti

User reviews

Related articles, fab furore: is it time to re-evaluate the beatles' magical mystery tour.

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The Beatles perform I Am The Walrus in Magical Mystery Tour - video

In this clip from their 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles perform I Am The Walrus

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magical mystery tour ivor cutler

Magical Mystery Tour (1967 TV Movie)

Ivor cutler: mr. bloodvessel, quotes .

Buster Bloodvessel : I am your friendly Courier. Mister Bloodvessel is my name. Buster Bloodvessel.

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IMAGES

  1. ivor cutler with beatle paul, 1967, via thegilly (scan from “the making

    magical mystery tour ivor cutler

  2. John, George Claydon and Ivor Cutler during the filming of Magical

    magical mystery tour ivor cutler

  3. ♫ Paul McCartney with the poet Ivor Cutler while filming Magical Mystery Tour, 1967

    magical mystery tour ivor cutler

  4. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

    magical mystery tour ivor cutler

  5. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

    magical mystery tour ivor cutler

  6. Ivor Cutler

    magical mystery tour ivor cutler

VIDEO

  1. Deconstructing Magical Mystery Tour

  2. Ivor Cutler

  3. Ivor Cutler

  4. Ivor Cutler

  5. THE FOLK SHOW 12 SEPTEMBER 2023

  6. Magical Mystery Tour

COMMENTS

  1. Remembering Ivor Cutler, the man too strange to be anyone's pet eccentric

    The Beatles dragged him onto the Magical Mystery Tour bus after hearing him on BBC radio and he would continue to be a solitary presence on the margins of the London cultural scene (amusing ...

  2. Paul McCartney with the poet Ivor Cutler while filming Magical Mystery

    📷 Paul McCartney with the poet Ivor Cutler while filming Magical Mystery Tour, for an hour in London when the Beatles' tour bus was delayed. He was recognis...

  3. Ivor Cutler

    Ivor Cutler (born Isadore Cutler, 15 January 1923 - 3 March 2006) was a Scottish poet, singer, musician, ... He appeared in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film in 1967, and on Neil Innes' television programmes. Cutler also wrote books for children and adults, ...

  4. Magical Mystery Tour (TV Movie 1967)

    Magical Mystery Tour: Directed by George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Bernard Knowles. With The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Jan Carson, George Claydon, Ivor Cutler. The Beatles charter a special bus for a surreal mystery tour.

  5. Magical Mystery Tour (film)

    Magical Mystery Tour is a 1967 British made-for-television musical film written, produced, directed by, ... (Miranda Forbes, credited as Mandy Weet); the conductor, Buster Bloodvessel (Ivor Cutler); and the other Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison).

  6. Ivor Cutler

    Ivor Cutler. Actor: Magical Mystery Tour. Eccentric entertainer, poet, playwright and recording artist Ivor Cutler was a master of off-beat humor championed by such diverse fans as Bertrand Russell, disc jockey John Peel, Billy Connolly, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The Beatles cast him as the bus conductor in their Magical Mystery Tour (1967).

  7. 13 September 1967: Filming: Magical Mystery Tour

    The third day of filming for Magical Mystery Tour began in Watergate Bay in Newquay in the south west of England. ... (Ivor Cutler) on Tregurrian Beach, although the BBC cut it too, having decided it was unsuitable for viewers. Following lunch at Newquay's Atlantic Hotel, afternoon filming took place in two separate groups.

  8. Review: The Beatles, "Magical Mystery Tour" on Blu-ray and DVD

    The loopy musical travelogue Magical Mystery Tour found the Fab Four joined by a motley crew of performers including Ivor Cutler, Victor Spinetti, Jessie Robins, Nat Jackley, Derek Royle, and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, not to mention a bus full of fans-turned-extras. The film's nominal plot follows Ringo and his recently widowed Auntie ...

  9. Behind The Scenes Of The Beatles' 'Magical Mystery Tour'

    These extras are every bit as entertaining as Magical Mystery Tour, and one segment is a minor revelation: singer-songwriter Ivor Cutler, seated at an ornate white organ in the middle of the ...

  10. Magical Mystery Tour : The Beatles : Free Download, Borrow, and

    Ivor Cutler -- Mr. Bloodvessel Shirley Evans - Accordionist Nat Jackley - Rubber Man Nicola Hale - Little Girl Jessie Robins - Ringo's Aunt ... Addeddate 2021-06-25 16:51:59 Color color Identifier magical-mystery-tour_202106 Scanner Internet Archive HTML5 Uploader 1.6.4 Sound sound Year 1967 . plus-circle Add Review.

  11. The wonder and whimsy: Looking back on a century of Ivor Cutler

    Paul McCartney and John Lennon so loved the Scot's performances that they asked him to play the part of the bus conductor Mr Bloodvessel in The Beatles' 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour. On radio, Cutler recorded more sessions for John Peel's popular, late night Radio One programme than any other act, apart from Manchester post-punk group ...

  12. Ivor Cutler Concert & Tour History

    Ivor Cutler (January 15th, 1923 - March 3rd, 2006) was a Scottish poet, songwriter and humorist. Originally a teacher, he taught at A.S. Neill's Summerhill School. He appeared in The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film," on Neil Innes's television programmes, and on John Peel's influential BBC radio programme, for which he recorded a total of ...

  13. Ivor Cutler

    Ivor Cutler. Actor: Magical Mystery Tour. Eccentric entertainer, poet, playwright and recording artist Ivor Cutler was a master of off-beat humor championed by such diverse fans as Bertrand Russell, disc jockey John Peel, Billy Connolly, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The Beatles cast him as the bus conductor in their Magical Mystery Tour (1967).

  14. Magical Mystery Tour to be released on DVD and Blu-ray

    The film features a fabulous supporting cast of character actors and performers, (including Ivor Cutler, Victor Spinetti, Jessie Robins, Nat Jackley, Derek Royle, and the inimitable Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band). ... Magical Mystery Tour will also be available in a special, 10″x10″ boxed deluxe edition. The deluxe edition includes both the DVD ...

  15. The Beatles

    Amazon.com: The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour : Alexis (XI), Jan Carson, George Claydon, Ivor Cutler, Mal Evans, Shirley Evans, George Harrison, Neil Innes, Nat Jackley, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Angelo Muscat, Jessie ... I first saw "Magical Mystery Tour" in 1992 when I bought a copy of it on VHS video tape from the local supermarket in ...

  16. The magical mysteries of Ivor Cutler

    Nobody looked like Ivor Cutler, wrote like Ivor Cutler or sounded like Ivor Cutler. He was a poet, storyteller, musician and artist, a man admired by a range of the great and good from Bertrand Russell to KT Tunstall, a man who John Lennon and Paul McCartney liked so much they put him in their Magical Mystery Tour film as the bus tour guide ...

  17. Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

    Magical Mystery Tour (1967) 56 of 180 Ivor Cutler and George Harrison in Magical Mystery Tour (1967). People Ivor Cutler, George Harrison

  18. Magical Mystery Tour (TV Special)

    From Wikipedia: Magical Mystery Tour is a 1967 British made-for-television musical film directed by and starring the Beatles. It is the third film that starred the band and depicts a group of people on a coach tour who experience strange happenings caused by magicians. The premise was inspired by Ken Kesey's Furthur adventures with the ...

  19. Magical Mystery Tour movie

    Ivor Cutler - Buster Bloodvessel Jessie Robbins - Aunt Jessie Nat Jackley - Happy Nat the Rubber Man Victor Spinetti - Army Recruitment Sergeant The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band Jan Carson - The Stripper ... Magical Mystery Tour 1967: 5: The Family Way ...

  20. The Magical Mystery Tour

    The Magical Mystery Tour. Details: 1967, UK, 55 mins. Direction: The Beatles. With: Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Ivor Cutler, The Beatles and Victor Spinetti. User reviews Read user reviews.

  21. Magical Mystery Tour (TV Movie 1967)

    Magical Mystery Tour (1967 TV Movie) Ivor Cutler: Mr. Bloodvessel. Showing all 1 items Jump to: Quotes (1) Quotes . Buster Bloodvessel : I am your friendly Courier. Mister Bloodvessel is my name. Buster Bloodvessel. See also. Release Dates | ...

  22. The Beatles

    Special 10"x10" boxed deluxe edition Made in England by The Beatles ©2012 Apple Films Ltd. Cat# MMT A-1 on record 1, MMT B-1 on record 2. Pressing plant uncredited, identified by the matrix numbers.