The 1963 Television
By Bill Harry
The monochrome documentary opens with a close-up of a guitar, then a Cavern-like scene with silhouettes of a screaming, frenetic audience and the sound of the Beatles performing ‘There’s A Place.’
The title ‘Beat City’ comes up, followed by ‘Introduced by Daniel Farson’ and with the tune still in the background there are scenes of the Pier Head, a ferry boat moving over choppy waves and landing with hordes of passengers alighting. The men are mostly wearing hats, suits and coats, the women in scarves and hats, projecting something of a very dated feel. We see the Mersey Tunnel, people alighting from buses, a horse and cart ambling down a street, scenes of derelict sites and kids playing in a terraced street.
The tune ends, the scene moves to the Anglican Cathedral graveyard to the sound of a singing dog. The dog is in the lap of local clubland artist Jim Couton who is sitting on a bench with Dan Farson, who turns to the camera to say, “The voices belong to the Beatles, but this is not a programme about the Beatles, nor about the native Liverpool sound coming from beside me, but rather about the place the Beatles came from and the people they left behind. The place, of course, is Liverpool. Not the nicest, for nice is hardly a word one can apply to Liverpool: Hard drinking, hard living, hard fighting, violent, friendly and fiercely alive.
“Indeed, if one had to sum up the several Liverpool sounds in one word, the sound that has swept South and become the musical sensation of this year, I’d choose the word vitality. Sheer, staggering vitality and this is characteristic of the whole background of Liverpool. Today one gets the impression of a past and vanished splendour, a strange monument like the one behind me which contains the body of the Liverpool M.P. Mr Huskisson (An image of the circular Huskisson vault is shown)
“He took part in the opening celebration of the first Liverpool/Manchester railway and in a dash to shake hands with the Duke of Wellington, slipped on the line and was run over and killed by Stevenson’s locomotive, the Rocket.
“Not only did the first steam railway set off from Liverpool, so did the first steam crossing of the Atlantic, so Liverpool is first and foremost a port. Its power grew in the early 1800s when Liverpool broke the slave trade monopoly previously held by London and Bristol.
“Its population jumped from 70,000 in 1800 to 700,000 by 1900. Today there are only a few thousand more than that and dropping fast.
“But Liverpool has found a new fame, a sound which has little to do with the sea. In this street up to a thousand teenagers fall in for lunchtime and evening sessions to hear some of the several hundred groups who hope to follow in the footsteps of the successful Beatles.”
Over the narration there were scenes of the Albert Docks and the waterfront. We are now in the Cavern and Faron’s Flamingos are on stage performing ‘Do You Love Me.’
Farson continues, “This is really the place where it all started about four years ago. In this steaming, smoky, sweaty cellar known as the Cavern. The lights are turned down so low that it’s difficult to see and the volume turned up so high that I find it hard to hear the actual tunes, but at least the atmosphere is intensely alive and exciting.”
‘Faron’s Flamingos conclude their performance of ‘Do You Love Me.’