When The Beatles made a legendary appearance with Morecambe & Wise

2 January 2024, 13:00

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By Mayer Nissim

John. Paul. George. Ringo. Eric. Ernie. Relive the classic 1964 appearance.

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Given just how good The Beatles were, the wave of Beatlemania that swept the UK (and the world) in the 1960s feels like it was inevitable, but it had a helping hand with the explosion of television.

As well as the incredible records, the massive rise in TV ownership over the previous decade regularly beamed the effortless wit and charm of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr straight into the nation's living rooms.

On December 2, 1963, the Fab Four visited Studio C, Elstree Studio Centre in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire to tape an appearance on one of the top programmes of the day – ATV's Two of a Kind fronted by Morecambe & Wise.

That was just ten days after The Beatles released their second album With the Beatles, and on the heels of the standalone single 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' backed with 'This Boy', released in November.

It was those two songs, along with 'All My Loving' and a collaboration with their hosts on a cover of 1910s song 'Moonlight Bay' ("something more suitable for Eric's age"), that the Fab Four played during the recording.

The Beatles - The Morecambe And Wise Show (2 December 1963) (Complete Show - Best Available Quality)

The appearance didn't actually air until April 4, 1964, and while four months doesn't sound like all that long, The Beatles moved fast.

By that point, they had already recorded the bulk of third album A Hard Day's Night, but no matter – 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' was still in the Top 40 by the time the performance was broadcast.

The band opened with 'This Boy' before jumping straight into 'All My Loving'. They returned with a storming performance of 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' when Morecambe & Wise came on stage and suggested a collaboration.

The Beatles in November 1963
The Beatles in November 1963. Picture: Getty Images

They said hello to the band in classic Eric and Ernie style ("Hello Bongo!") before they exchanged some witty barbs. (Eric: "D'you like being famous?" John: "It's not like in your day, y'know.")

We didn't have colour telly in the UK till the launch of BBC2 in 1967 (BBC1 and ITV would go colour two years later), so The Beatles performance was broadcast in black & white.

To make it feel as vibrant as the performance itself, Colouring The Past has upscaled and colourised the performance.

It's not quite Peter Jackson's cleanup job on Get Back, but it still does its bit to put you even more in the moment.

The Beatles - Morecambe and Wise Show 1963 (colorized)

Watching the performance and chatter, we're reminded of George Martin's adorable conversation about The Beatles to his young granddaughter.

"The magic really came when I started to get to know them because they were terribly good people to know," Martin said.

"They were funny, they were clever, they said all lovely things. They were the kind of people you like to be with.

"And so I thought If I feel this way about them,. other people will... so therefore they should be very popular."