In 1963, The Beatles came to Southport to play a six-day run at the Odeon Cinema on Lord Street.
The shows featured a setlist including She Loves You, I Saw You Standing There, and Twist and Shout and during the run, from August 26-31, the band were filmed for a BBC documentary called Mersey Sounds.
In a letter made public by Sir Ron Watson, Charles R. Preston of the Little Theatre revealed much of the background story of the visit. He wrote: “The concerts were very lively affairs with scores of screaming fans, and the BBC, who wanted to make a short Beatles’ film, approached the Southport Dramatic Club to see if it could provide a daytime venue in complete confidence to so avoid the usual noisy stake out by the fans.
“Very few members of the Southport Dramatic Society were aware that the Little Theatre was to be used for the making of the film and the scenic artist Arthur Nugent who acted as floor manager and myself acting as his assistant set the stage with a grey velour curtain set with a small low rostrum for Ringo Starr’s drums upstage left.
“It’s this setting which is still invariably shown by the BBC when they need a short Beatles’ clipping for a news item.
“The Beatles arrived at 10am and changed into their collarless suits whilst their equipment was set up. The film recording started with ‘Love Me Do’ but as John Lennon had a sore throat I was sent to Boots for pastilles before work could continue and he could reach the top notes.
“The film took all day and finished about 5.30pm. During a break I recall sitting in the stalls with Ringo Starr who admired the theatre and asked how one went about joining the Club. Sadly, he never did!”
That venue was one of a number the band played across the town, including the Glen Park club, the Cambridge Hall, the Queen’s Hotel and the Kingsway.
Sadly, most of those venues no longer remain – the Kingsway was burned down, the Queen’s Hotel is now a residential building and the Odeon has become as Sainsbury’s superstore.
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