The Beatles at the London Palladium, October 13th 1963

On 13th October 1963, the Beatles appeared on a TV show called Val Parnel’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The Palladium was, and still is, London’s most famous theatre, and it was regarded as a highlight of a ‘showbiz’ career to play there. Sunday Night at the London Palladium had been going for several years, and was one of the most watched TV shows in the the UK. On March 2nd 1958, Buddy Holly and the Crickets appeared on the show – and very much influenced the youth of the UK, including John, Paul, George and Ringo, who were all glued to the TV that night!

The Beatles appearance on the show was very popular – about 18 million people watched this show. By then, the Beatles already had 3 number one hits, and been on TV many times, but all on shows geared towards teenagers. The Palladium show was the first time they had been on an ‘family’ show. They topped the bill on the show, which was presented by Bruce Forsyth. Forsyth whipped the audience into a frenzy by counting down to the Beatles appearance. They sang From Me To You, I’ll Get You, She Loves You and Twist and Shout. They also appeared, together with the rest of the cast, right at the end of the show, to wave goodbye to the audience on the Palladium’s revolving podium.

No film of the show remains, as TV bosses at the time did not think anyone would want to watch this performance of the Beatles after it was first shown. There is audio of the show though – which you can listen to here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6C_f9lvyFg

There is, however, footage of the Beatles coming out of the theatre. You can see that the street was packed with people. The Beatles come out, and there is no car waiting for them. They rush towards what they think is a taxi, but it turns out to be a police car, and policemen would not let them in. Ringo comes out first, then the other three follow, and there is nowhere for them to go. This confusion was probably because the stage door is around the back, and they came out of the front entrance. Maybe, that was deliberate, as all the press were outside here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNYXilEvSo4

Throughout the day the theatre was besieged by several hundred Beatles fans. Next day all the UK newspapers were full of stories of the mayhem. Although screaming girls were a regular occurrence around the Beatles by then, the national newspapers had virtually ignored the Beatles and their fans up to this point. The Palladium show changed that; from now on the Beatles were hardly ever out of the newspapers. A couple of weeks after the Palladium show the term ‘Beatlemania’ was used for the first time to describe the scenes that now greeted the Beatles wherever they went.

Beatles books have often misstated that their famous 1963 appearance on the Royal Command Performance was held at the London Palladium, when it fact it was held at the Prince of Wales Theatre, a month after the Palladium concert. This confusion was no doubt brought about by a poster that was released at the time, of the Beatles standing in a doorway. The poster said: “The Beatles, Royal Command Performance 1963, London Palladium”. This is a mistake, and a strange one, as the poster was officially licensed by NEMS – Brian Epstein’s company! You would have thought someone would notice such an error!

The Beatles made a second appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in January 1964, and, if anything, were greeted by more mayhem than their first appearance. They returned to the Palladium for the last time in July 1964 for a charity concert called The Night of a Hundred Stars.

Blogger Richard Porter is a professional Beatles Tour Guide in London. For details of his tours, see http://www.beatlesinlondon.com His book, Guide to the Beatles London, is available at http://www.beatlescoffeeshop.com/shop/product.php/2/guide_to_the_beatles_london__guide_book_by_richard_porter


8 thoughts on “The Beatles at the London Palladium, October 13th 1963”

  1. Mark Clayton says:

    I remember the Beatles appearance on Sunday night at the London Palladium. I had just turned ten years old, and with my two older brothers we were allowed to get up in our pjs to watch it with mum and dad, the next day being a school day.
    I clearly remember this night and the vivid memory has remained with me throughout my life.
    The curtain opened to a stage in darkness with four figures at the back of the stage in silhouette holding guitars and a Beatles song playing. Girls in the audience were screaming with excitement. Bruce Forsyth came on, the lights went on the music faded out and the figures became four cleaners holding sorghum brooms, the natural type that splay out at the head. In silhouette the guitars. Bruce shooed them off with them exiting sweeping the stage.
    Later they performed a number of songs; electric atmosphere.
    I have never met anyone who has confirmed my story. Have you heard it before?
    Your sincerely, and excitedly,
    Mark Clayton

    1. NIck Ruddick says:

      I was at the Palladium that night seated in a center stall seat about five rows back and you are correct about the trick that was played on the audience.

      It was a great show.


    2. phil davies says:

      Hi, just seen your memory of the Beatles who turned out to be stage hands. I remember it too, I was 11 and totally taken in! Can still picture the scene in my mind as the lights came up. Happy days! Phil Davies

  2. Des Durkin says:

    I was a lot older than you (12) when Bruce did that lovely joke. I, like most viewers thought we were watching The Beatles, so funny when the lights came on.
    So just to confirm Mark, you did not imagine it,
    Des Durkin

  3. Michael Southwell says:

    I absolutely remember that. Like most people I guess, thought here they were and then the lights went on and the people holding brooms appeared. Very funny.

  4. Michael Southwell says:

    I absolutely remember that. Like most people, I guess, I thought here they are and then the lights went on and the people holding brooms appeared. Very funny.

  5. Les says:

    I saw that to I I had often wondered if I had made it up in my own mind but reading the last few posts I now know it actually happened, I was only 8 at the time.

  6. Peter Hill says:

    My friends Tony and Diane Nicklin were on their honeymoon and appeared on the stage with Bruce Forsyth and won a television, on the ‘Beat the Clock’ game, that night. Diane still has the ticket for the show and a bit more memorabilia of that night when the Beatles sang. Sadly Tony has now died but Diane has all their fabulous memories, except any photographs of that night. (Anybody got any?) The actual programme too of that night was destroy by the atv tv channel as they thought nobody would want to see it again. What a mistake that was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *