Studio Two, Aeolian Hall, New Bond St. London and Granada Cinema, Hoe St., Walthamstow, London
Proof positive of the Beatles' meteoric rise to fame, the visit to the BBC's Aeolian Hall premises in central London saw them record the first program in their very own radio series, "Pop Go The Beatles". For a group which, only a year previously, had still no record for EMI, and had only enjoyed two number one records, it was a remarkable coup - and also a brave move for the Corporation.
The series was born out of a suggestion made by Vernon Lawrence, a young studio manager within Radio Light Entertainment who sent his idea to Donald MacLean, his assistant head of department. MacLean approved and initiated the series, commending Lawrence for his judgment. Within 4 weeks a series title had been decided, recording and broadcast dates booked, and a £100 per program budget allocated to producer Terry Henebery.
Initially, 4 programs were commissioned, with an option for a further 11 if these proved successful. The format was typical of the times, as resident stars, the Beatles would have a guest act each week. There would also be a resident compere: radio actor and occasional disc-jockey Lee Peters held this post for the first 4 programs. The show was transmitted every Tuesday on the Light Programme from 5:00 to 5:29 pm, a proven slot for pop.
The program also had a theme tune, a rocked-up variation of the nursery rhyme, "Pop goes the Weasel", especially re-arranged by one Mr. Patrick. The Beatles recorded it at this initial session, though, reputedly, they had some trouble doing so and were aided in the task by the program's first guest group, the Lorne Gibson Trio. Each show in the series opened and closed with this May 24th recording, usually around 20 seconds worth at the start and of variable length at the end, faded to suit broadcast needs and sometimes running to more than a minute.
The Beatles and the Lorne Gibson Trio recorded this program together, 2:00-6:00 pm inclusive of rehearsal time, and the end result, broadcast on Tuesday, June 4th, had the Beatles performing "From me to you", "Everybody's trying to be my baby", "Do you want to know a secret", "You really got a hold on me", "Misery", and "The Hippy Hippy Shake".
The BBC's Audience Research Dept. published a report on the first program which estimated that 5.3 per cent of the British population tuned in, something like 2.8 million people, a typical figure for this time of the day, reactions varied from the ecstatic "Really with it" to the unimpressed "They make an obnoxious noise", giving an overall, surprisingly below-average Appreciation Index of 52 (out of a maximum 100).
In the evening, after all the BBC excitement, the Beatles continued the Roy Orbison package tour with two "houses" at the Walthamstow Granada in North London.