Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Beatles In Review: 'Magical Mystery Tour' (1967)

Magical Mystery Tour was conceived of by Paul McCartney on a trip to the United States in early 1967. On the plane back he'd simply drawn a circle.

"Paul comes into the studio one day and says 'I've got this idea' and shows us this piece of paper with a circle on" - Ringo Starr

The circle was eventually made into a pie chart with each section being listed like so:

Paul's idea for Magical Mystery Tour and what the Beatles ended up working from.
 There was no script. The band just hired a bus and had it painted in a lot of colours and had "Magical Mystery Tour" emblazoned on the sides. Hired a load of weird and wonderful characters and jobbing actors and told them to "Be on the coach on Monday morning" and set off for the West country and film whatever happened on the way.

The Walrus was Paul: The whole film was Paul's idea and the others went along with it.

What actually happened was bugger all. This soon became apparent to John, George and Ringo but Paul pressed on, believing in the Beatles mantra that had seen them to the toppermost of the poppermost: Something will happen. But nothing did. Over 10 hours of footage was shot over a two week period which was edited down to an hour.

At RAF West Malling in Kent filming the 'I Am The Walrus' sequence.
When Britons sat down to watch their Televisions on Boxing Day 1967 they saw on BBC One, in black and white, a 40,000 pound, hour long home movie by the Beatles and their friends. Critical reaction was largely negative with people denouncing the Beatles as having "gone too far this time, with their shoveling Spaghetti onto fat women's plates and their Paul McCartney prancing about!"

Where's the Bus?!: Even though the film was considered a flop, the bus is still instantly recognizable as part of Beatles lore.

"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 but I mean, you couldn't call the Queen's speech a gas either, could you?" - Paul McCartney

Oddly enough, the Queen had commented to head of EMI Joseph Lockwood earlier in the year; "The Beatles are turning awfully funny, aren't they?".

They are the Eggmen: 'I Am The Walrus' in full swing.

Personally, my favourite parts of the film were the Spaghetti shoveling scene with John, Ivor Cutler and Jessie Robins, Victor Spinetti as the Army Sergeant and the Aunt Jessie/Mr. Bloodvessel scene on the Beach. I think it's a good documentation of were the Beatles were at that point in the career; A bit crazy with the death of their manager and hoping a coach to the coast would do them some good. 

Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Beatles on the roof of the bus.

Sadly though, most of the passengers of the Magical Mystery Tour are no longer with us: John, George, Jessie Robins, Victor Spinetti, Derek Royle, Ivor Cutler and Mandy Weet.

End Song: 'Your Mother Should Know' was given the glitzy treatment for the film's big finish.

For a long time, there was confusion over what had actually happened to Mandy Weet who played Miss Wendy Winters in the film. It was later discovered that she had changed her name to Miranda Forbes (Mandy Weet was her birth name) and acted in many small parts on British TV up until 1998. She sadly died in 2001 of leukemia. It was never known whether she changed her name because she was afraid she'd never work again due to the film's poor critical reception but I hope she was proud to have been a part of the Beatles' legacy.


John Lennon - Himself/Ticket Salesman/Magician with Coffee/Aunt Jessie's Waiter/Narrator
Paul McCartney - Himself/Major McCartney/Brown Nosed Magician
George Harrison - Himself/Magician looking through Telescope
Richard Starkey - Himself/Talkative Magician
Victor Spinetti - Army Sergeant
Jessie Robins - Ringo's Aunt Jessie
Derek Royle - Jolly Jimmy Johnson
Ivor Cutler - Buster Bloodvessel
Miranda Forbes - Hostess Wendy Winters (as Mandy Weet)


  1. Love the Beatles mucic, but just seen the movie on PBS for the first time and it was god awful. A bunch of goofy crap!

  2. I remember it being shown on Boxing Day 1967 and evrybody saying that it was total sxxt. But looking at it again , i think it stands up quite well.


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