From the moment their plane lands at John Lennon Airport, or their train pulls into Lime Street station, visitors to Liverpool are reminded of the city's most famous sons at almost every turn.
Every day, tourists beat a path to Lennon and McCartney's childhood homes, restored to their 1950s glory by the National Trust. From Albert Dock to Mathew Street, Beatles memorials are ever present: Penny Lane and Strawberry Field, clubs like The Jacaranda, The Casbah and The Cavern where the group learned its trade, The Grapes and Ye Cracke, where the young Beatles would sit over a pint of cider, and Gambier Terrace where John Lennon shared a flat with fellow art student Stu Sutcliffe. The Beatles connection is worth millions of pounds a year to the local economy.
In a programme filled with atmospheric location recordings, music and archive, Craig Charles visits Menlove Avenue, where Lennon's Aunt Mimi ruled the roost and the young John practised his guitar in the porch, and Forthlin Road where John and Paul composed so many of their most famous songs in the McCartneys' front room. He'll sit in 'the shelter in the middle of the roundabout' at Penny Lane and head for the Cavern with fans like Geoff Davies who saw the Beatles perform there more than 70 times. Listeners will be able to hear the Kop singing She Loves You in 1963, listen to acetates of the earliest recordings made by the Quarrymen in a local DIY recording studio, discover how Eleanor Rigby really did exist and find out about Tommy Handley and Albert Stubbins, the Scouse legends Lennon picked to grace the cover of Sgt.Pepper.
The Beatles' rise coincided with Bill Shankley's Liverpool football team and a vibrant music and comedy scene in the city. And after the first, world-conquering flush of Beatlemania, the group began to look inward. John Lennon described In My Life as his first 'major' piece of songwriting. In its original form, the lyrics followed the route taken by a bus from his childhood home at Menlove Avenue to the centre of town: Penny Lane, the Abbey Cinema and Calderstone Park are among the locations listed.
Fifty years ago, Liverpool gave the world the biggest musical phenomenon of all time. What was in the Mersey air that enabled John, Paul, George and Ringo to conquer the world? How did the city shape The Beatles and how does their enduring success continue to impact upon their home town?
Presenter/Craig Charles, Producer/Owen McFadden
Radio 2 Publicity
Wednesday 10 October
BBC RADIO 2