55 years ago The Beatles make their TV debut

55 years ago The Beatles make their TV debut

Only two years after they formed, the Beatles made their first TV appearance.

In 1962 The Beatles had not long started out, Ringo Starr had been in the band only a couple of months (replacing Pete Best), and the group’s debut single, Love Me Do had just been released in the U.K.

When the song didn't hit the charts instantly, manager Brian Epstein worked to gain more exposure for the group of four.

He built a relationship with Johnnie Hamp, a producer at Granada Television in Manchester. In August 1962 Hamp had filmed the group performing at the soon to be, Cavern Club in Liverpool, but the rough footage was thought to be unsuitable for broadcast.

“I first saw the Beatles in a club in Hamburg,” Hamp said years later. “They were very scruffy characters, but they had a beat in their music which I liked.”

After the Cavern film was rejected for television, Hamp tried another again:, he got The Beatles to come to Granada’s studios in Manchester and perform on the channel’s regular People and Places program and the band agreed to play the show.

On October 17, 1962, the Beatles had their first-ever TV appearance in between gigs at the Cavern Club.  John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr played Love Me Do as well as their cover of Richard Barrett’s Some Other Guy. Then, once the program ended, the Beatles drove back home to headline an evening concert at the Cavern.

That same day Love Me Do entered the U.K. singles chart at 49. After constant performing and future slots on People and Places the Beatles’ debut single became a hit reaching No. 17. 

“When they did Granada TV’s Scene at 6.30, as soon as they’d finished it, every single time, George [Harrison] would phone up my mum and say, ‘What was that like?’” recalled Harrison’s first girlfriend, Iris Caldwell. “And she’d say ‘Oh, it was all right, but none of you have got any personality. If you don’t smile, you’re not going to get anywhere.’ So the next time he said, ‘I smiled this time, was it all right?’ She said, ‘It was better, but you still need to smile more.’ She was giving them honest advice.”

The Beatles’ first televised appearance was a live performance and wasn’t recorded so the footage from that October in 1962 remains only in viewers’ memories.

They appeared on their first national British broadcast a few months later, in January 1963.