28 September 2008
T wo are no longer alive and the two remaining are now pensioners -
but The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour just keeps rolling along.
It is 41 years since the "four lads who shook the world" spent four
days and three nights in Devon and Cornwall shooting scenes for the
film that was to become the TV highlight of Christmas 1967 for their fans.
But a new DVD stirs up memories of that Summer of Love with anecdotes
and 8mm "home movies" by the people who were there.
The makers describe The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour Memories as
"an upbeat rockumentary" with "eyewitness accounts from fans,
onlookers and the cast of the movie".
The DVD was launched in Newquay with a special party attended by
several of those in the documentary, including former Beatles tour
manager Tony Bramwell, who lives in Totnes, plus other local people
with Beatles connections, like Rowena Houghton, of Torquay, who was
the Beatles Fan Club secretary for the South West.
It includes many not-seen-before photos and home-movie clips, both in
colour and black and white. Some of the amateur film leaves a lot to
be desired quality-wise, but it captures the atmosphere of the
Sixties, with the latest fashions of the day, including the
miniskirt, in all their glory.
The documentary is certainly upbeat, though none of the music - and
there is not much of it - is performed by the Fab Four but rather
session musicians or a tribute band.
The commentary is by actor, writer and director Victor Spinetti, who
appeared not only in Magical Mystery Tour but also in A Hard Day's
Night and Help!
Former Beatles press officer Tony Barrow and Tony Bramwell are both
given large slots to tell the story, with Freda Kelly, who was
national secretary of The Beatles Fan Club, enthusing with her
personal stories of the Fab Four.
And you can't help smiling as Mike McCartney refers to his famous
Beatle brother as "our kid", even though Paul turned 66 in June.
But it's the local people, mainly in Newquay where The Beatles and
their crew stayed for three nights, whose anecdotes and memories
prove the most entertaining - with some original gems.
Take policeman Alan Russell who was sent to control the crowds
outside the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay. He went to the aid of a
youngster who had fallen over in the crowd - and fell over himself,
losing his helmet.
When he recovered his helmet and stood up, someone took his picture -
and it was used on the cover of the Magical Mystery Tour EP! But the
incident came to the attention of his chief inspector and he was
disciplined and given a caution.
Another local chap, Ted O'Dell, walked into the Sailor's Arms, where
The Beatles were having a drink, and the barman cried: "Here comes
the Eggman!". Ted was delivering eggs to the pub - and also delivered
to the Atlantic Hotel, where he says The Beatles took photographs of
his white van with the words "The Eggman - Local Deliveries" on the side.
Ted is convinced he is the Eggman mentioned in John Lennon's famous
song from Magical Mystery Tour, I Am The Walrus. All fascinating
stuff, though I heard a different - and unprintable - story about
where the Eggman came from.
Meanwhile, BBC journalist Miranda Ward tells of her exclusive
interview with George Harrison - and the hilarious "interview that
never was" with Ringo Starr, in which Ringo says very, very little,
answering most questions with a "No", "I don't know" or "I've never
thought about it..."
But for me, the star of this DVD is Victor Spinetti. He's a great
storyteller and is obviously a great fan of The Beatles, especially
In his superb commentary, Victor explains how he came to perform as
the drill sergeant major shouting gibberish in the film's Army camp
scene. In one scene, he bellows his nonsense at a cow standing
bemused in a Cornish field.
And he gives an hilarious repeat performance of the memorable
nonsense part, the idea for which, he reveals, was copied from Oh,
What a Lovely War! in 1963, when censorship laws ruled out using the
normal language of a drill sergeant major.
He says he "invented a language without English" - and the
performance won him an award in 1964!
This is a film of people who love The Beatles made for people who
love The Beatles. The main part of the DVD runs for 55 minutes, and
there is a 20-minute bonus of the various personalities talking about
their general memories of The Beatles.
Its main appeal will be for dedicated Beatles fans or local people,
especially in and around Newquay, who may spot themselves or someone
they know in the crowds.
The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour Memories, Wienerworld, pounds12.99