Lost TOTP appearance emerges!

Film of The Beatles’ first ever “Top Of The Pops” appearance has been uploaded to YouTube. Taped 19 March 1964 for insertion into the 25 March edition, a good portion of “Can’t Buy Me Love” and a snippet (at the very end) “You Can’t Do That” (version 2) are on the film. However, this is not the original film, or a video tape from the BBC. This is home film footage that someone has made by pointing their silent 8mm movie camera at the TV screen.

Still, this is all we have from this performance, so it’s of historical significance. The Beatles were filmed at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, then called BBC’s Television Theatre. They were filmed using film stock, not video – and it appears the film is projected on to a big canvas behind the live dancers on the show, six days later when the programme aired. Who would have thought we would actually see this?

Found at a flea market in England, the reel containing the performance. 

A big thank you goes to John C. Winn for identifying the footage.
The “Can’t Buy Me Love” clip was also shown on the 8 and 15 April editions of TOTP and on at least one of these occasions, the film was screened as is – without cutting to dancers in the studio. The first of the two filmed “You Can’t Do That” performances was also shown at some point, according to a tech op who was present at the filming, and therefore able to distinguish between the two versions. That could have been April 1, 1964, where it is listed as a repeat showing.

The uploader’s son is doing a college media course and has taken an interest in 8mm film. While he was at a boot fair on June 7, he found this film, along with a projector and lots of other old films from the 1960’s. His mother filmed part of The Beatles’ footage with her mobile phone and uploaded it to YouTube.

13 Responses

  1. pt1982 says:

    ¿esto fue grabado en los ´60 o despues?

  2. Sara S. says:

    Amazing! I am so thankful for the fans that used their home cameras to capture moments like these!

  3. James Percival says:

    Mark Lewishom take note – a bit more data has emerged! It might not be much but it all adds to the sum of what is known about the Beatles. On a related note, any more news about the Beatles live project? It's also interesting how many photo archives, like the ones Roger keeps us up to date with, have been auctioned off in the last few years. Just recently we've had Italy, Northern Island (and the Manchester Evening News ran a feature on photos from their Ardwick concert in 63.

  4. Paul Hayes says:

    If it was done at the Television Theatre, then it's more than possible it was shot with video cameras, and then film-recorded for projection into the studio. It was common at the time for video output to be recorded into film for various purposes, even after broadcast videotape came into common use.

  5. Unknown says:


  6. maikel ariel says:

    i think the owner of this video shoot the projection of his original film on a wall or a screen, with a video camera.
    i think that original 8mm film needs a professional transfering process and that will bring more quality than this.

  7. Unknown says:

    Fantastic! I hope someone out there filmed the 1966 TOTP performance on their TV, and it comes to light some day.

  8. wogew says:

    pt1982: It was filmed off TV in 1962.
    maukel: It was found on an old 8mm film and projected on a wall, filming the projection with an iPhone.
    Paul Hayes: A technical operator on the shoot has confirmed The Beatles footage was filmed on film stock, not video taped. See my main article about The Beatles on Top of the Pops.

  9. maikel ariel says:

    i hope the owner of the film could make a professional transfer, i don't think it will be so expensive, it's only 2 minutes.
    i will try to make a better video from the original upload, when i finish it i will leave a message here

  10. Unknown says:

    At first I though that the black bar at the top of the frame was a 'static' roll bar – caused by the sync difference between a 50hz TV and a super 8 camera (running at 18fps). Upon further looking, it appears it may just be the 'frame' adjustment on the super 8 projector – meaning that the orginal film may yet contain more information – if one were to adjust the frame when screening, it may show more of the boys heads – which in this projection, are being cut off…

  11. Anonymous says:

    in october 1968 sony held a press conference to announce it's new vhs cassette tape.but it would be 4 years before they released a vhs tape recorder to the public.and then only in england and japan.video tape was around since the 1950's.but it never came in casssette form it was reel to reel.so they had vr recorders and only the super rich could afford those.but imagine if they had made the vhs cassette tape recorder in 64.i'm sure many people would have recorded all these lost beatles tv performances that the bbc wiped away in the 70's.

  12. wogew says:

    We had reel video in the school I went to in the seventies, used to show us educational programmes off TV. According to Wikipedia, in 1969, JVC collaborated with Sony Corporation and Matsushita Electric (now Panasonic) in building a video recording standard for the Japanese consumer. The effort produced the U-matic format in 1971, which was the first format to become a unified standard. VHS was developed by Victor Company of Japan (JVC) in the 1970s,whereas Sony developed Betamax.

  13. SpenceD says:

    Old film like this should be preserved as soon as possible. ScanDigital does a great job with 8mm to DVD. Film that is this important should be done professionally.

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