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When the Beatles came to Taunton: Rare video footage of Magical Mystery Tour

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 03, 2012

  • The Beatles look out of the Magical Mystery Tour coach on their way to Taunton through the Somerset countryside. Paul McCartney wore his pullover more than once on the tour

  • The Phoenix takeaway in Taunton today

  • A Beatles poster inside the takeaway

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Long-forgotten footage of The Beatles visiting a chip shop as they filmed their surreal road movie Magical Mystery Tour is to be seen for the first time.

The group made a trip to Smedley’s chip shop in Roman Road, Taunton, Somerset, with cast and crew as they filmed the scenes in 1967 for a BBC Christmas special.

Only a small section of the footage made it into the final film but now behind-the-scenes shots have been compiled by makers of a new Arena documentary and are being shown online from today.

The group are seen piling into the chippy and standing at the stainless steel counter as they order their food along with the rest of their coach party, en route to Newquay, Cornwall.

The scenes, which had ended up on the cutting room floor, were discovered as the Arena team worked on their programme which ties in with a newly remastered version of Magical Mystery Tour, which was originally premiered on Boxing Day 1967.

It is being shown at online art project thespace.org, which has a new section, called The Arena Hotel, devoted to archive material from the BBC’s successful and long- running Arena series. It will include clips from 600 films.

Many viewers were left baffled by the Fab Four’s film, which includes tracks such as I Am The Walrus, when it was first seen and critics gave it a rough ride.

It has not been seen on TV since 1979 but the revamped version – which will be given a gala screening in London tonight – is to be shown on BBC2 on Saturday, following the Arena film, The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour Revisited.

Arena editor Anthony Wall said: “Few people have seen Magical Mystery Tour in its entirety and the material in the chip shop has never been shown anywhere. It captures perfectly the fabulous world of The Beatles at this time.

“They’re happily sharing a simple meal with the other passengers on the coach as the astonished residents of Taunton gather outside, and at the same time creating an extraordinarily avant garde film, which of course would soon be broadcast by the BBC to a dumbstruck nation.”

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