Magical Mystery Tour (MMT) has its 50th anniversary this year with the film being broadcast in the UK on Boxing Day 1967. However the first day of filming began on 11 September 1967, so there are two separate anniversaries to the film.
Following on the heels of the extremely successful album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, MMT was very poorly received by both critics and the public alike, it is said to be the worst of the five Beatles films ( A Hard Day’s Night, Help! MMT, Yellow Submarine, and Let it Be.) Despite that poor showing the film introduced some now classic Beatles tracks, including I am the Walrus and Blue Jay Way.
The Beatles conceived a pair of ‘Magical Mystery Tours’ which lasted two weeks each. The first was largely unscripted and was meant to begin from Allsopp Place in Baker Street at 10.45am on 11th September 1967. The ‘bus’ was two hours late as the working title on the coach’s sides had not been finished.
John, Paul, George and Ringo at Plymouth. Source: Bearded Gentlemen Music
The coach headed for Basingstoke and Plymouth. En route the Fab Four tried to venture to Widecombe-in-the-Moor for its annual fair but their tour bus got stuck on a bridge, and it had to be reversed for half a mile much to the annoyance of everyone.
Stuck en route to Widecombe! Source: Newquay Beatles
The introduction to the film was created at Bodmin in Cornwall where Derek Royle boarded the coach to welcome everyone. Its one of the few scenes from the first tour that made it into the final film.
Newquay was the next destination where a stay of four nights was made. Huge crowds came to see the Fab Four.
The MMT arriving at Newquay. Source: Newquay Beatles
On the way back to London a stop was made in Taunton where the entire coach crowded into a chippie’s.
Scene from the Taunton chip shop. Source: Pinterest
Most of the West Country scenes sadly did not make their way into the final edit of MMT. Perhaps the Beatles thought the scenes a bit too chaotic. The fans who followed the tour bus’ first outing was probably one reason why they ultimately decided to focus on an airfield in Kent for the filming. The scene below shows what the Fab Four had to face, and it is clear a film of this kind was not going to be that easy.
The main body of the footage came from the second mystery tour which began on 19th September 1967, this work gave a more clearer vision of what The Beatles wanted from their film, as well as giving more artistic control, and less interference from the hordes of fans who followed the Four.
The Beatles at West Malling. Source: Pinterest
The scenes filmed around West Malling airfield ultimately gave the film more structure. Sadly most of the West Country footage was dropped from the final product.
Here are some unused cuts that never made it into the final film!
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