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The Beatles 50 Years Ago Today : Saturday, December 7, 1963

Empire Theatre, Liverpool and Odeon Cinema, London Rd. Liverpool

The Beatles' first home-town concerts in four months were part of an exceedingly hectic day. The afternoon was a special affair, a concert at the Empire Theatre before 2500 members of the group's Northern Area Fan Club, though the rest of Britain had a chance to view the action when BBC Television, in an unprecendented move, screened 30 minutes of the show later the same evening in a special peak-time programme entitled "It's the Beatles!"

Earlier the same afternoon at the Empire, utilizing the same fan club audience, the BBC also taped a special edition of it's weekly "Juke Box Jury", with the panel comprising all four Beatles. This too was transmitted that same day, not for nothing were sceptics moaning that the BBC really stood for Beatles Broadcasting Corporation.

"Juke Box Jury" came first, being taped from 2:30 to 3:15 pm for broadcast between 6:05 and 6:35 in the evening when it was viewed by 23 million Britons. Chaired as usual by David Jacobs, 13 new singles were reviewed in this particular edition, "I could write a book" by the Chants, "Kiss Me Quick", by Elvis Presley, "The Hippy Hippy Shake" by the Swinging Blue Jeans, "Did you have a happy birthday" by Paul Anka, "The Nitty Gritty" by Shirley Ellis, "Do you really love me too" by Billy Fury, "There! I've said it again", by Bobby Vinton, "Love Hit Me" by the Orchids, "I think of You", by the Merseybeats, "Broken Home", by Shirley Jackson, "Where have you been all my live", by Gene Vincent, and "Long Time Ago", by the Bachelors. The last three were omitted from the broadcast, however, in order that it did not overun. The Beatles voted all to be hits except for Paul Anka, Shirley Ellis, Bobby Vinton and the Orchids.

The concert, taped for "It's the Beatles" took place between 3:45 and 4:30 pm, the group singing a shortened "From Me to You", then full versions of "I saw her standing there", "All My Loving, "Roll Over Beethoven", "Boys", "Till There was You", "She Loves you", "This Boy", I want to hold your hand", "Money", "Twist and Shout", and a reprise of "From Me to You". It was broadcast from 8:10 to 8:40 pm. Unfortunately for the BBC, technical difficulties created by the dearth of rehearsal time (a mere 15 minutes for "Juke Box Jury" only 20 for "It's the Beatles" and worse still, the incessant ear-perforating screams from the audience, drowning out the director's instructions to the cameramen and sound recordists, all but ruined both programmes. There was considerable consternation about this within the higher echelons of the Corporation, executives feeling that the coup it had achieved in presenting the Beatles so exclusively to the nation had somewhat rebounded against them in that the technical shortcomings were obvious and embarrasing.

And still the Beatles had one more duty for the BBC: they recorded a two minute interview for broadcast on radio on Christmas Day in the Light Programme show "Top Pops Of 1963", a 90 minute special (6:00-7:30 pm) in which disc jockey Alan Freeman played the year's number one chart singles, interspersed with interviews with some of the artists.

After their activities at the Empire, the Beatles dashed the 50 yards down a specially closed and police reinforced Pudsey Street to the Odeon Cinema where they gave two more performances as part of the continuing package tour (this date added to the tour itinerary after the inital press announcement).

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