Arena

Arena: Magical Mystery Tour Revisited
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Review

On Boxing Day 1967, BBC1 screened a Beatles film that to most of the country was completely incomprehensible. “It’s not surprising,” George Harrison said later, “it was like an elaborate little home movie” with no plot or script but a lot of self-indulgent spontaneity and Pythonesque madness. Which is probably why so many viewers were outraged and confused in equal measure.

This absorbing, if sprawling, documentary puts Magical Mystery into context, with snippets about the underground movement, reflections from Paul and Ringo, out-takes from the film and comments from people who took part or were mystified when they saw it on their telly.

Magical Mystery Tour itself follows at 10.45pm so you can make up your own mind.

Summary

The making of the Beatles' self-directed TV movie Magical Mystery Tour, which originally aired on BBC1 on Boxing Day 1967 at the height of the band's popularity - but was greeted with disdain by the media and many viewers. The programme explores the creation of the surreal tale and investigates why it inspired such a furious critical reaction, and also asks whether opinions about the film have changed in subsequent years. With contributions by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Peter Fonda, Martin Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, Neil Innes and Paul Merton.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Paul McCartney
Contributor Ringo Starr
Contributor Peter Fonda
Contributor Martin Scorsese
Contributor Terry Gilliam
Contributor Paul Merton
Contributor Neil Innes
Director Francis Hanly
Executive Producer Anthony Wall
Executive Producer Jeff Jones
Producer Jonathan Clyde
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Arts Documentary