Episodes

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A Year In The Life: The Beatles 19622012100320190928 (R2)

Another chance to hear a programme broadcast in 2012, which narrates the pivotal breakthrough year for the newly mop-topped Liverpool beat combo via the recollections of those who knew and worked alongside them in 1962.

An oral history narrated by Liverpool contemporary Roger McGough, A Year In The Life recounts a familiar tale via the less-familiar recollections of those who were vital to The Beatles development in 1962.

The programme ranges from their unsuccessful January 1st audition for Decca records through to the recording and release of their breakthrough hit 'Love Me Do'.

A Year In the Life also reflects upon their crowning in the Merseybeat newspaper as the leading Liverpool group, their first radio broadcasts at the BBC's Manchester studios, the death of original bassist Stu Sutcliffe, their return to Hamburg's Star Club and the ousting of drummer Pete Best.

Contributors include Bill Harry (the editor of Merseybeat), Klaus Voorman (their close friend from Hamburg and the artist responsible for Revolver's striking sleeve), Pete Best (their original drummer), Joe Brown and Mike Berry (who shared bills with the group shortly before their national fame) Andy White (the studio session drummer who played on 'Love Me Do') and publicist Tony Calder (who promoted their first single).

A Year In The Life: Beatles '62 narrates the pivotal breakthrough year for the Fab Four.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

Help Is On The Way!20190921

Michael Palin presents the story behind the making of The Beatles’ second feature film Help!. The fact that every generation falls under the spell of The Beatles is, of course, down to the brilliance of their music. But it is also due to the power of their personalities and their irreverent attitude. The two movies they made in 1964 and 1965 played an important role in projecting their image. Following the success of A Hard Day’s Night, once more Richard Lester directed the group’s next film with a bigger budget that took The Beatles to exotic locations in the Bahamas and Austria. The programme features the memories of Richard Lester, actors Eleanor Bron and Victor Spinetti, the group’s road manager at the time Neil Aspinall, and costume designer Julie Harris. It is illustrated with clips from Help! and the songs from the film, including ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, ‘Another Girl’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’.

Michael Palin presents the story behind the making of The Beatles' feature film Help!

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

'i Hope We Passed The Audition'2009012720190922 (R2)

Exploring the Beatles' final public performance - a rooftop concert in 1969.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

In The Beginning - The Beatles In Hamburg2009082820190914 (R2)

In the run-up to the 6 Music Festival in Liverpool, another chance to hear a programme, first broadcast in 2009, in which Holly Johnson visits Hamburg to explore how marathon sessions in smokey cellars, and friendships with local teenagers, helped create the incredible chemistry that turned a Liverpudlian beat group into the all-conquering Beatles.

The invasion of British bands into the red light district of Hamburg began in 1960 when German promoters realised that British rock 'n' rollers were cheaper to hire than American ones. The Beatles were a five piece group when they arrived in the Reeperbahn in the back of manager Allan Williams' van in August 1960. John, Paul and George were accompanied by Stuart Sutcliffe on bass and Pete Best on drums.

From August to October 1960, the Beatles were the house band at the Indra Club where they played four hour sessions every night and slept in a tiny room above a local cinema. From October to the end of the year, they were promoted to the nearby Kaiserkeller.

It was an unlikely collision of young people from different cultures that would create a world-beating chemistry. Where The Beatles had the sound, the Exis had the style. Exis always wore black, with white collars or ruffs and their hair was "pilzen kopf" - "mushroom head" in style. "The Beatle haircut was in fact a Jurgen haircut" says Paul McCartney.

The impact of Hamburg on The Beatles and the friendships they made there would endure. And as far as John Lennon was concerned, the band were never better than when in the thick of an all night session on the Reeperbahn.

Holly Johnson visits Hamburg to explore how the Beatles' residencies there shaped them.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

Paul Mccartney In Concert2013101620190922 (R2)

An exclusive concert set from Maida Vale in 2013 performed by Paul McCartney.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

The Beatles Live In America20190921

Paul Gambaccini tells the story of The Beatles’ eventful concert tours of North America during 1964, 1965 and 1966. Reporter Larry Kane remembers the mayhem and music and replays his interviews recorded with the group as they criss-crossed America. Featuring comments from Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and The Beatles’ press officer Derek Taylor, the programme covers the excitement surrounding the group’s performance at Shea Stadium in New York in August 1965 in front of the largest ever audience for a pop event at the time. It also reveals the reasons for The Beatles decision to retire from live work following their last concert in August 1966 in San Francisco.

Paul Gambaccini tells the story of The Beatles' American tours during 1964, 1965 and 1966.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour2012102620190914 (R2)

The television film Magical Mystery Tour was devised, written and directed by The Beatles. It has a significant place in the history of The Beatles - not least, because it was viewed by many as the group's first failure. In the UK, it was transmitted by BBC 1 in black and white on 26 December, 1967 and then shown ten days later in colour on BBC 2. Certainly, the impact of the film's special effects was diminished by watching in monochrome and this may have contributed to the bafflement experienced by many viewers. But as Paul McCartney acknowledges, the film's generally unfavourable reception was more affected by its scheduling on Boxing Day, usually reserved for fairly light entertainment rather than an experimental fantasy film.

The documentary also examines the group's activities during 1967 before they spent most of the final four months working on their film. It was a momentous year. It began with Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever; their LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in June; they performed All You Need Is Love on Our World - the first global TV show linking five continents by satellite. While learning about Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Bangor, North Wales, The Beatles received the shocking news of the sudden death of their manager Brian Epstein. Two weeks later they began filming Magical Mystery Tour.

Paul Gambaccini tells the story of how The Beatles made Magical Mystery Tour in 1967.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

The Songs The Beatles Gave Away2009112820190929 (R2)

As part of Radio 2's Great British Songbook, Bob Harris investigates the songs the Beatles gave away. The most popular group in the world for over 45 years, a recent issue of re-mastered albums saw four Top 10 entries in the UK chart, while their compilation '1' looks set to be America's biggest album this decade. The fevered excitement that accompanied every release in the 1960s is well documented but less is known about the music written, though not necessarily recorded or released, by the Beatles during the same decade.

Whilst the Beatles were constantly in the charts, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were also supplying other artists with a number of hits...and the occasional miss! Bob Harris delves into these recordings by Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Mary Hopkin, The Foremost, Cilla Black, Jackie Lomax, Doris Troy and others. Along the way he uncovers some forgotten gems, such as the theme tune for a TV series starring Stanley Holloway; music from a Boulting Brothers film called The Family Way; and hears first hand from Sir Paul McCartney about being contacted by Frank Sinatra for a song. Paul also talks at length about his approach to writing in the 1960s; the songs given to Tommy Quickly, Peter and Gordon, Chris Barber and PJ Proby; as well as those written exclusively for Cilla Black.

Amongst other interviews recorded specially for the programme, Mary Hopkin talks about recording with McCartney in the studio; Johnny Gentle (who was backed by The Beatles on his 1960 tour) recalls Lennon's contribution to I've Just Fallen For Someone; Billy Hatton of The Fourmost remembers John and George's version of the group's debut hit Hello Little Girl; and Billy J. Kramer admits to the fatal error of turning down a song that would eventually become one of the most performed works in recorded history.

These interviews are accompanied by BBC archive material of George Harrison describing how Badge, the song he co-wrote for Cream, got its name. The programme also features new interviews with Sir George Martin, the producer of a number of these records, and Cilla Black, whose demo recording of Step Inside Love (featuring Paul on guitar) receives a rare outing on radio. We also hear George Harrison's early recorded performance of Sour Milk Sea, the song he gave to Jackie Lomax.

Bob Harris delves into the music written, though not necessarily recorded by the Beatles.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.

As part of Radio 2's Great British Songbook, Bob Harris investigates the songs the Beatles gave away. The most popular group in the world for over 45 years, a recent issue of re-mastered albums saw four Top 10 entries in the UK chart, while their compilation '1' looks set to be America's biggest album this decade. The fevered excitement that accompanied every release in the 1960s is well documented but less is known about the music written, though not necessarily recorded or released, by the Beatles during the same decade.

Whilst the Beatles were constantly in the charts, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were also supplying other artists with a number of hits...and the occasional miss! Bob Harris delves into these recordings by Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Mary Hopkin, The Foremost, Cilla Black, Jackie Lomax, Doris Troy and others. Along the way he uncovers some forgotten gems, such as the theme tune for a TV series starring Stanley Holloway; music from a Boulting Brothers film called The Family Way; and hears first hand from Sir Paul McCartney about being contacted by Frank Sinatra for a song. Paul also talks at length about his approach to writing in the 1960s; the songs given to Tommy Quickly, Peter and Gordon, Chris Barber and PJ Proby; as well as those written exclusively for Cilla Black.

Amongst other interviews recorded specially for the programme, Mary Hopkin talks about recording with McCartney in the studio; Johnny Gentle (who was backed by The Beatles on his 1960 tour) recalls Lennon's contribution to I've Just Fallen For Someone; Billy Hatton of The Fourmost remembers John and George's version of the group's debut hit Hello Little Girl; and Billy J. Kramer admits to the fatal error of turning down a song that would eventually become one of the most performed works in recorded history.

These interviews are accompanied by BBC archive material of George Harrison describing how Badge, the song he co-wrote for Cream, got its name. The programme also features new interviews with Sir George Martin, the producer of a number of these records, and Cilla Black, whose demo recording of Step Inside Love (featuring Paul on guitar) receives a rare outing on radio. We also hear George Harrison's early recorded performance of Sour Milk Sea, the song he gave to Jackie Lomax.

Bob Harris delves into the music written, though not necessarily recorded by the Beatles.

Marking the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Abbey Road album.