Saturday, 28 July 2007
Beatles never told of protests at satellite show
Here is an interesting "Well I never knew that!" article from the Sunday Telegraph
by Chris Hastings, Arts and Media Editor
Beamed to 300 million people in 30 countries, it is now regarded as one of the defining moments of popular music and the swinging Sixties.
Yet The Beatles' performance of All You Need Is Love for the world's first-ever, live satellite transmission in 1967 drew condemnation from viewers who said the performance had dragged Britain's good name through the mud.
The criticism of the Our World broadcast, for which The Beatles specially wrote a song and put together a backing group that included members of The Rolling Stones, Keith Moon and Marianne Faithful, centred on claims that the band was less impressive than figures who represented other countries, including the singer Maria Callas and the artist Pablo Picasso.
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a BBC official, asked to assess viewer reaction, wrote in a memo: "There was little specific comment on the separate parts of the programme apart from a volume of angry protests at the choice of The Beatles as one of the UK's contributions."
The memo records several comments, including: "This country has produced something more meritorious and noteworthy than The Beatles (much as I admire them)"; "We did not do ourselves justice"; "Have we nothing better to offer? Surely this isn't the image of what we are like. What a dreadful impression they must have given the rest of the world"; "We flaunted The Beatles as the highlight of British culture, no wonder we have lost our image in the eyes of the world"; "After all the culture etc shown by the other countries, The Beatles were the absolute dregs (incidentally I am a Beatles fan), no wonder people think thing we are going to the dogs!"advertisement The BBC, which had spent 10 months planning the June 25, 1967 broadcast that involved 14 countries, did not pass the comments to the band. Instead, on July 3, 1967, the corporation wrote to Brian Epstein, the band's manager, to say that the performance had been highly regarded by the BBC and the audience.Each country was asked to produce two items that symbolised the nation's life and culture. The BBC opted for a four-minute report on the new Scottish town of Cumbernauld and The Beatles's performance, for which the band received £2,000.The documents also reveal that the concert, intended to bring the world together, was marked by bitterness and rivalry.France considered pulling out of the event altogether when it threatened to clash with the televised sports results while American television networks refused to join in because they regarded Europe as a boring irrelevance.