The Beatles Anthology (documentary)

The Beatles Anthology (documentary)

The Beatles Anthology
Genre Music documentary
Written by Bob Smeaton
Directed by Geoff Wonfor
Bob Smeaton
Starring John Lennon
Paul McCartney
George Harrison
Ringo Starr
Theme music composer The Beatles
George Martin
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 8
Producer(s) Neil Aspinall
Chips Chipperfield
Running time 11:23:24
Distributor EMI Records
Label: Apple Corps 07243 4 92969 9 2
Original release 19 November 1995 – 23 November 1995

The Beatles Anthology is a documentary series on the career of The Beatles. It was broadcast on UK television in six abridged parts between 19 and 23 November 1995, while in the U.S. it was seen as three feature-length episodes. An eight-volume VHS set and an eight-disc Laserdisc set were released on 5 September 1996. The series was re-released on DVD in 2003, with an 81-minute special-features disc.


  • Production history 1
    • The Long and Winding Road 1.1
    • Project resurrected 1.2
    • Critical reception 1.3
    • New music 1.4
  • Production credits 2
  • Episodes 3
    • One (July '40 to March '63) 3.1
    • Two (March '63 to February '64) 3.2
    • Three (February '64 to July '64) 3.3
    • Four (August '64 to August '65) 3.4
    • Five (August '65 to July '66) 3.5
    • Six (July '66 to June '67) 3.6
    • Seven (June '67 to July '68) 3.7
    • Eight (July '68 to The End) 3.8
      • DVD Special Features 3.8.1
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Production history

The Long and Winding Road

An official documentary on The Beatles career had been in the pipeline as far back as 1970. Long-time friend and Apple Corps manager [3] The alleged plan for a reunion was abandoned after Lennon was murdered on 8 December.

Project resurrected

In 1992 the project was once again resurrected, as a six-part documentary series. This time, the surviving members (later to be dubbed in the press as 'The Threetles'), were directly involved, giving interviews on film with Paul McCartney song. This new title was to be a working one but it eventually stayed as it suited the parties concerned.[4]

A rough cut was completed in 1993, which was much more interview based and focused on the events as opposed to the final cut, which included more concert and television performances.[5] This early version of the series has since leaked and been released via bootleg.

The documentary was broadcast on television in three feature-length episodes comprising six abridged parts (two per episode) on Sunday 19 November, Wednesday 22 November and Thursday 23 November 1995. It aired from 9 pm to 11 pm on ABC. The documentary was released on VHS and Laserdisc the following year.

When the Anthology was first shown on American television, on ABC, the tagline for the network during the time was "A Beatle C".[6][7]

Critical reception

The documentary was met with generally positive reviews. Richard Buskin, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beatles, commented that with the small lineup of only the four Beatles plus Martin, Aspinall and Taylor to voice their recollections, the retelling of the band's story was "extremely subjective."[8] Secondly, whereas McCartney, Harrison and Starr "provided insights into their legend from the mature perspective of men in their fifties, Lennon's mostly originated from when he was in his twenties or thirties."[8] When viewing the separate interviews, the three surviving Beatles did not always recall events the same way. Compromises had to be reached so that sensibilities were not offended, in particular to regard with events resulting in the 1970 breakup. Thus, Buskin stated, the end result was not a definitive story of the Beatles' history, but rather a diplomatic celebration.[8]

New music

The plans for a concert were abandoned and replaced with the intention that the surviving three members would play some more "incidental" music in between segments and interviews. It was then put forward that some "new" songs should be written for the project by the Beatles. Both McCartney and Harrison wrote some material, which became the song "All For Love", but it was then suggested to ask Yoko Ono if Lennon had any material he had left unfinished that they could work with. In 1994, after appearing on stage with McCartney at Lennon's posthumous induction to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Yoko gave Paul cassette tapes containing four song demos that Lennon had been working on: "Free as a Bird", "Real Love", "Now and Then" and "Grow Old With Me". The latter two were left unfinished by the group,[9] but "Real Love" and "Free as a Bird" were completed with producer Jeff Lynne in 1994/95, and premiered during the Anthology's initial broadcast.

Production credits

  • Editor: Andy Matthews
  • Production Manager: Bryony Cranstoun
  • Line Producer: Stan Storc
  • Archive Consultants: Julian Adamoli/Geraldine Royds
  • Design/Art Direction: Richard Ward/The Team
  • Cover Concept: Klaus Voormann
  • Cover Painting: Klaus Voormann/Alfons Kiefer
  • Picture Grading & Image Restoration: Ascent Media, London
  • Picture Aspect: 4:3
  • Sound: LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, DTS 5.1 surround sound


All songs are written by Lennon–McCartney and performed by The Beatles, unless otherwise noted.

One (July '40 to March '63)

"You couldn't get a cup of sugar, let alone a rock' n' roll record." - George Harrison

  1. Liverpool: The Childhood Years [7:35]
    • "In My Life" – Edited clip of Beatles footage from all the years.
  2. Discovering Rock & Roll [11:23]
  3. John, Paul & George – The Beginning of The Beatles [5:21]
  4. First Recordings 1958–1960 [2:55]
  5. Stuart Sutcliffe [3:20]
  6. Early Tours [6:59]
  7. Pete Best [2:07]
  8. Hamburg [13:16]
  9. Growing Pains [1:09]
  10. Stuart Sutcliffe Leaves [2:08]
  11. The Cavern [4:08]
  12. Decca Sessions [1:28]
    • Audition tapes recorded at the Decca Studios, London on 1 January 1962.
      • "Pete Best on drums.
      • "The Sheik of Araby" (Smith-Wheeler-Snyder) — George Harrison on lead vocal and Pete Best on drums.
    • Audition tape recorded at Decca Studios, London on 1 January 1962, seque to Get Back Sessions Footage.
      • "Bésame Mucho" (Velazquez-Skylar) — Paul McCartney on lead vocal and Pete Best on drums.
  13. "
    • The Beatles and George Martin (record producer) discuss the context of their first meeting and recording contract.
  14. Ringo Arrives [4:44]
    • "Some Other Guy" (Leiber-Stoller-Barrett) — video of the whole song played by the Beatles (with Ringo) in the Cavern.
  15. "Love Me Do" [3:13]
    • Overdubbed footage of the Beatles performing Love Me Do in 1963, which merges at the very end into brief footage of Ringo playing drums in 1995 during the Anthology sessions.
  16. "Please Please Me" – "We're No. 1" [7:27]

Two (March '63 to February '64)

"George and I shared an apartment in Green Street, Park Lane ... Wow! ₤45 a week. A fortune." - Ringo Starr

  1. Racing Up the Ladder [11:02]
  2. Touring Britain – 1963 [11:30]
  3. London – 1963 [4:01]
  4. Early Television Appearances [3:45]
  5. Voice clips from Abbey Road Studios [4:56]
  6. Reflections on Sudden Fame [5:13]
    • "This Boy"
  7. Beatlemania [4:41]
    • Footage of a live performance on the Drop In TV show, Sweden, 3 November 1963.
      • "I Saw Her Standing There"
      • "Long Tall Sally" (Johnson-Penniman-Blackwell)
  8. Royal Variety Performance [9:43]
    • Excerpts from the Royal Command Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre on 4 November 1963, broadcast on TV and radio on Sunday 10 November 1963.
    • Includes John's "jewelry" comment as an introduction to "Twist and Shout": "For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands, and the rest of you, if you'd just rattle your jewelry."
  9. Second album: With The Beatles [9:39]
  10. Olympia Theatre, Paris – 1964 [1:22]
    • Footage of the Beatles arriving at Le Bourget Airport, Paris, on 14 January 1964.
  11. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" Reaches No. 1 in The U.S. [5:50]
    • "I Want to Hold Your Hand" – Played in the background of footage of the Beatles at London Heathrow Airport, leaving for the US on 7 February 1964.
    • "One After 909" – Played over the credits.

Three (February '64 to July '64)

"Miami! That was just like paradise because we'd never been anywhere with palm trees." - Paul McCartney

  1. Arrival In The U.S. – February 1964 [10:00]
    • Help! - Title song played at the beginning of each episode.
    • Footage of the Beatles arriving at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, 7 February 1964. Voice of Beatles Manager Brian Epstein can be heard saying – "If there was a turning point in their career, a specific date on which the scope of their future was to be altered, then it was the day they touched down at Kennedy International New York to a welcome seldom equalled anywhere in history."
    • Pride and Joy (Whitfield-Gaye-Stevenson) - Performed by Marvin Gaye.
    • Excerpts of telephone conversation between BBC Radio's Brian Matthew and the group
  2. First Appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show [3:55]
    • All My Loving – Footage of the Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York, 9 February 1964.
    • Paul remarking later: "It's still supposed to be the largest viewing audience ever in the States".
    • Footage of a congratulatory telegram from Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker
    • George commenting later: "... they said there was the least reported, or no reported crime. Even the criminals had a rest for ten minutes while we were on."
  3. The Coliseum Concert – Washington D.C. [10:29]
    • Footage of the Beatles performing at the Washington Coliseum on 11 February 1964:
      • "She Loves You"
      • "I Saw Her Standing There"
      • "Please Please Me"
  4. Reception at the British Embassy [1:08]
    • Footage of the Beatles' reception at the British Embassy in Washington on 11 February 1964.
  5. Miami Beach [3:00]
  6. Second Appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show [3:54]
    • Footage from rehearsals for The Ed Sullivan Show, Miami, 16 February 1964
    • This Boy – Excerpts from the Beatles' second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
    • "These youngsters from Liverpool, England ... Their conduct over here, not only as fine professional singers but as a group of fine youngsters will leave an imprint with everyone over here who has met them." — Ed Sullivan
  7. Return to England [1:59]
    • I Want to Hold Your Hand – Footage of the Fab Four returning to England and meeting the press at the London Airport on 22 February 1964.
  8. "They're Going to Put Us in the Movies" [2:56]
    • Paul: "... I'm talking about this progression with the Beatles. From the Stevedores' and Dockers' Union, the Cavern, better clubs. So films was one that we'd always thought of. ... We were interested in films and what happened was Brian started talking to people, knowing of our interest and he came up with Dick Lester's name."
    • Footage from the classic comedy short film Running Jumping Standing Still, directed by Richard Lester.
    • Paul: "... Dick came round. He was a bit of a musician, played jazz piano, so he was even more interesting. ... He got hold of Alun Owen, a Welsh playwright who'd written Last Tram to Lime Street. ... He picked up little quotes like 'He's very clean, isn't he?' He picked up the jokes and sarcasm, the Beatle humour, John's wit and each one of us, Ringo's laconic humour. He picked up our characters, which was good."
  9. Filming A Hard Day's Night [10:54]
  10. In His Own Write [3:00]
    • Footage from the television program Not Only... But Also, where John Lennon reads from his book In His Own Write.
    • Photographs of The Daily Howl, a daily comic drawn by John Lennon in his school days.
  11. World Tour 1964 [14:45]
    • Footage of an interview with Derek Taylor, the Beatles' press liaison, regarding his visit to Torquay accompanying Brian Epstein while he was writing A Cellarful of Noise.
    • Footage of a discussion of Ringo Starr's temporary replacement by Jimmie Nicol due to Ringo's tonsillitis during the World Tour of 1964.
      • Long Tall Sally (Johnson-Blckwell-Penniman) – Footage of the group performing in the Netherlands on 5 June 1964.
      • I'll Be Back - Played over footage of the group's visit to the Netherlands and their arrival in Hong Kong on 8 June 1964.
      • Any Time at All – Played over footage of the group's arrival in Sydney, Australia, on 11 June 1964.
    • Footage of the Beatles' performance at the Festival Hall, Melbourne, on 17 June 1964
  12. World Premiere of A Hard Day's Night [2:14]
    • "A Hard Day's Night" – Played over footage of the world premiere of the film A Hard Day's Night in London on 6 July 1964.
  13. Liverpool Homecoming [5:42]
    • Things We Said Today – Played over footage of the Beatles' homecoming to Liverpool on 10 July 1964.
    • I'll Be Back (Demo version) – Played over the credits.

Four (August '64 to August '65)

"She (The Queen) seemed pleasant enough, you know; made us relax." - John Lennon

  1. First Major U.S. Tour – Summer, 1964 [9:12]
  2. Meeting Bob Dylan [3:01]
    • Footage of discussions on Bob Dylan and his music:
      • Paul: "He was our idol."
      • Ringo: "Bob was our hero. ... I heard of Bob through John. He played the records to me. It was just great."
      • George: "Not an idol but we heard his record; we'd listen to his album. It really gave us a buzz and we played it over and over again. ... I think he was Freewheelin'."
      • John: "We loved Bob Dylan."
    • Footage of live performance of Bob Dylan
  3. The Pressures of Touring [6:13]
    • Slow Down (Williams) – Played in the background of footage of the Beatles returning from America, photographed at the London Airport on 21 September 1964, where they played 32 shows in 34 days in 24 different cities.
  4. Feedback – "I Feel Fine" [3:50]
    • I Feel Fine – The group discussing the use of sound effects like feedback in their music:
      • George Martin: "John had mucked around with feedbacks for a while. Yes, it was intentional. ... I think it was the first time that feedback was used on a record. ... It was his idea, it was great."
      • George: "He figured out how to do it. We used to do it on stage then. ... In a way, he invented Jimi Hendrix."
      • Paul: "It probably was, actually."
  5. Recording "Beatles for Sale" [8:49]
  6. Filming "Help!’ [14:27]
  7. "Yesterday" [5:09]
    • Footage from the Big Night Out TV show, Blackpool – the Beatles' only British television appearance to promote Help!... and the first solo stage performance of Yesterday. Recorded and broadcast on Sunday, 1 August 1965 from the ABC Theatre, Blackpool from 9:10 to 10:05 pm
  8. NME Poll Winners' Concert – 11 April 1965 [2:00]
  9. George Talks About His Songs [4:07]
    • George: "They'd been writing since we were at school. They'd written all – or most of their bad songs before we got into the recording studio. I had to come from nowhere and start writing and to have something at least quality enough to put in the record with all their wondrous hits."
    • "Act Naturally" (Russell-Morrison) (Live on the Big Night Out TV show, Blackpool) — "Now something we don't often do. Give someone a chance to sing who doesn't often sing. And here he is. All out of key and nervous, singing 'Act Naturally'." — Intro by Ringo
  10. "Ticket to Ride" [2:44]
    • Ticket to Ride - Footage of two versions of the song, the live version at Blackpool and the taped TV promotional film version, are merged with one another.
  11. The Beatles Receive The MBE From The Queen [11:01]

Five (August '65 to July '66)

"We were all expanding in all areas in our life; opening up to a lot of different attitudes." - Ringo Starr

  1. Shea Stadium Concert – 15 August 1965 [15:37]
  2. Meeting Elvis Presley [5:04]
  3. More Tour Pressure [2:31]
  4. New Musical Directions – Rubber Soul and Revolver [8:20]
    • In My Life [Overdub on 22 October 1965 – Take 3] – Played in the background over footage showing the band talking about the new musical directions.
      • George Martin: "... They were finding new frontiers all the time."
      • Ringo: "... Our whole attitude was changing. ... I think grass was really influential in a lot of our changes."
      • Paul: "The direction was changing away from poppy stuff. ... We branched out into songs that are a bit more surreal, more entertaining. ... Dylan was starting to influence us quite heavily at that point."
      • John: "When it got sort of contemporary as it were, a contemporary influence ... I think Rubber Soul was about when it started happening."
    • Drive My Car (Recorded on 13 October 1965 – Take 4) – Nowhere Man [Remake recorded on 22 October 1965 - Take 4] – A musical collage played over footage of still photographs showing different moments of the band in studio during recording of Rubber Soul.
    • Rāga Charu Kishi – Footage showing snippets of a Sitar Recital of the sitar in Norwegian Wood.
    • Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (12 October 1965 - Take 1) – Played over footage of still photographs showing different moments of the band recording the song.
    • Nowhere Man [Remake recorded on 22 October 1965 - Take 4] – Played in the background over Paul discussing the stretched photo on the cover of the album Rubber Soul; the photo being the result of backward falling of the album-sized piece of cardboard on which photographer Robert Freeman was projecting photos at Lennon's house.
  5. "Yellow Submarine" [3:40]
    • Yellow Submarine[Recorded 26 May 1966 – Take 5] - Footage from the film Yellow Submarine edited with Beatles footage (live-action and animation combination).
  6. "Tomorrow Never Knows" [1:27]
  7. Technical Limitations in the Studio [2:56]
    • Nowhere Man – Footage of the Beatles' live performance of the song at Circus Crone, Munich - 24 June 1966.
  8. LSD (3:15)
    • Doctor Robert [Recorded 17 April 1966 - Take 7]
    • "We were just insane. We all thought there was a fire in the lift. Just a little red light and we were all screaming, all hysterical." - John
  9. "Day Tripper" [3:15]
    • Day Tripper (Recorded on 16 October 1965 – Take 3) - Taped TV promotional film of the song. — "Day Tripper – that was a drug song, I just liked the word." - John
  10. "We Can Work It Out" [2:47]
    • We Can Work It Out (Overdub on 29 October 1965 – Take 2) - Taped TV promotional film of the song.
  11. Taped TV Promotional Films [1:34]
    • I'm Looking Through You Played in the background — "Going to the TV studios to promote our records was too much of a hassle. We'll just make our own little films and we'll put them out." – George
  12. "Paperback Writer" [2:55]
    • Paperback Writer [Overdub on 14 April 1966 onto recording of 13 April 1966 - Take 2] - Footage of promotional film of the song.
      • ".. ... .we can't go everywhere. We'll send these things out to promote the record. These days, everybody does that. It's just part of your promotion for a single, so I suppose in a way we invented MTV." - George
  13. "Rain" [3:02]
    • Rain [Overdub on 16 April 1966 onto recording of 14 April 2006 - Take 7] - Footage of promotional film of the song. — "That's the first record with backwards music on it." - John
  14. World Tour 1966 [15:24]

Six (July '66 to June '67)

"I should have said television is more popular than Jesus; then I might have got away with it." - John Lennon

  1. Trouble in the Philippines[8:35]
    • Help! - Title song played at the beginning of each episode.
    • The Word
  2. "Eleanor Rigby" [9:25]
  3. Touring Takes It Toll [2:35]
  4. The Last Concert – San Francisco, 29 August 1966 [4:52]
    • For No One played over footage from the Beatles' concerts along the years.
  5. Individual Directions [5:44]
  6. The Making of "Strawberry Fields Forever" [5:50]
  7. "Penny Lane" [5:17]
    • Penny Lane
    • Release Me (Miller-Williams-Yount) – Performed by Engelbert Humperdinck - playing very softly in the background while listening to a recording of a Beatles' radio interview about not reaching no. 1.
  8. "Sgt. Pepper's" [5:35]
  9. "A Day in the Life" [10:08]
  10. Reaction to "Sgt. Pepper's" [3:07]
  11. Drugs Reflect The Times [4:38]
  12. "Baby You're A Rich Man" [5:03]

Seven (June '67 to July '68)

"We got backstage to see Maharishi and I said to him: 'Got any mantras?'" - George Harrison

  1. Satellite Broadcast of "All You Need is Love" [10:10]
  2. Meeting The Maharishi [4:17]
  3. Brian Epstein's Death [8:16]
  4. "Magical Mystery Tour" [10:05]
  5. "I Am The Walrus" [5:11]
    • I Am the Walrus - Footage from the film Magical Mystery Tour. This scene was filmed on the disused airfield runways at RAF West Malling in Kent, in September 1967. The soundtrack was changed from the original VHS edition of Anthology to the DVD: a new all-true-stereo mix of the song was introduced, eliminating, for the first time, the use of "fake stereo" after the second verse of the song.
  6. "Hello, Goodbye" [3:45]
  7. The Apple Boutique [2:20]
  8. Rishikesh, India [8:42]
  9. Apple Records [7:58]
  10. "Lady Madonna" [2:26]
  11. "Yellow Submarine" [4:05]
  12. John Meets Yoko Ono [6:23]

Eight (July '68 to The End)

"I'm really glad that most of our songs were about love, peace and understanding." - Paul McCartney

  1. The "White" Album [9:23]
  2. "Revolution" [3:21]
  3. The Apple Boutique Closes [1:52]
  4. Hey Jude [8:27]
    • Footage of the Beatles performing live on 8 September 1968 at the FROST ON SUNDAY tele-show
    • David Frost Theme (Martin)
    • Hey Jude
  5. Recording At Twickenham Studios [9:52]
  6. Billy Preston Sits In [2:59]
  7. "The Long And The Winding Road" [3:49]
  8. The Rooftop Concert 30 January 1969 [10:03]
  9. "Let It Be" [4:08]
  10. Paul Marries Linda, John Marries Yoko [2:57]
    • Paul marries Linda on 12 March 1969
    • John marries Yoko on 20 March 1969
  11. "The Ballad Of John And Yoko" [2:55]
  12. Comments On The Break-Up Of The Band [5:28]
  13. "Abbey Road" [8:56]
  14. "Free as a Bird" [7:49]

DVD Special Features

  1. Recollections – June 1994 [16:51] - Paul, George and Ringo spend a happy summer's day together in Harrison's house; singing, playing and warmly remembering early days of room sharing, haircuts, Beatleboots, first cars and meeting Elvis.
  2. Compiling The Anthology Albums [10:48] - Paul, George, Ringo and George Martin detail the process of how they choose the tracks for Anthology Albums 1, 2 and 3.
  3. Back At Abbey Road – May 1995 [14:51] - Returning to Studio 2, Paul, George, Ringo and George Martin reflect on recording at Abbey Road Studios in the Sixties and some of the inventive techniques used in creating these recordings.
  4. Recording "Free as a Bird" And "Real Love" [10:57] - Paul, George, Ringo and Jeff Lynne reveal how they were able to produce the two new Beatles tracks from John's original demos provided by Yoko. This section includes intimate footage filmed in the studio during the recording of the tracks.
  5. Production Team [13:03] - Neil Aspinall, Derek Taylor, Geoff Wonfor, Chips Chipperfield and other key members of the Anthology production Team explain the process of how The Beatles Anthology series was created.
  6. Making The "Free as a Bird" Video [11:12] - An intriguing insight into how the Grammy award winning video for Free as a Bird was made. Director Joe Pytka explains how he and Apple developed the concept and discusses the innovative techniques that were used in the production.
  7. "Real Love" Video [4:07] - The video that was not featured in the Anthology series, now remixed in 5.1 Surround Sound.
  8. Credits (0:57)


  1. ^ Badman (2001), p. 269.
  2. ^ Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, ed. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group.  
  3. ^ Badman (2002), p. 273.
  4. ^ Badman (2001), p. 489.
  5. ^ "The Beatles - "Anthology" Director's Cut". 
  6. ^ Hinkley, David (17 November 1995). "Closed Gov'T No Open-&-Shut Case".  
  7. ^ ABC print advertising, late 1995 and early 1996, TV Guide local edition
  8. ^ a b c Buskin, Richard (1 December 1997). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beatles. Alpha. pp. 284–285.  
  9. ^ Badman (2001), p. 518.


  • Badman, Keith (2001). The Beatles: After the Break-Up 1970–2000 : A Day-By-Day Diary. Omnibus Press. 
  • Badman, Keith (2002). The Beatles: The Dream Is Over - Off The Record 2. Omnibus Press. 

External links