Should The Beatles have been awarded MBEs?

As surprising as it seems now, when success in the popular arts is routinely recognised in the honours list, the Fab Four being given MBEs in 1965 proved hugely controversial (but perhaps not as controversial as John Lennon returning his in 1969).

Fifty years ago on 26 October 2015, The Beatles went to Buckingham Palace to pick up their awards. Simultaneously, a BBC reporter in Liverpool asked local people what they thought. Their responses are below. First, though, a quick history lesson from David Quantick...

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They've done a lot of good. Nobody's had a bad word to say for them at all"

The BBC's reporter, Keith Macklin, first asked a local man whether he thought the group should have been awarded the MBE.

"Yes, I do," he replied. "I think they've done a lot of good. Nobody's had a bad word to say for them at all. They've not been a bad example to anybody."

Macklin then asked the man whether he thought The Beatles were debasing the award.

"Yes, in some respects," he said. "But I feel, compared to other pop groups, they've done nothing to bring [themselves] into disrepute."

They've done a lot of good. Nobody's had a bad word to say for them at all"

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I think it's been a political effort on the part of Harold Wilson"

Macklin tried another man. He was less convinced:

"I think it's been a political effort on the part of [Prime Minster Harold] Wilson."

So you don't think they deserve the award? Macklin asked.

"Well, I don't think so. It's an award for something different to that."

A woman said: "I must admit I was a little surprised when I heard the announcement, but, on reflection I suppose it's not such a bad thing, after all."

I think it's been a political effort on the part of Harold Wilson"

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It shows how little the MBE stands for"

"Personally, I think it shows how little the MBE stands for these days," the next man said. "You'd expect them to only be awarded it if they'd done something for the country and, quite honestly, I don't see what The Beatles have done."

What about the export of "gramophone records"? Macklin asked.

"It doesn't exactly do anything for Britain, does it?" the man replied.

It shows how little the MBE stands for"

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If you've got to wait to be an old man or an old woman get an MBE, I think it doesn't really add much incentive to young people to get on in the world"

Then a man who was far more upbeat:

"I think The Beatles have probably done as much for popular music in this country as people like Rodgers and Hammerstein and Gershwin did in their days, the only difference being that The Beatles have done it in a matter of two or three years, whereas it took most other people a lifetime. If you've got to wait to be an old man or an old woman get an MBE, I think it doesn't really add much incentive to young people to get on in the world and generally improve the world they live in."

Macklin then asked whether in fact the award should go to people in more obvious lines of public service, like exploring, science, or hospital work.

"I think the award is given generally to people who are of public service of any field whatsoever," he said. "It just happens that in popular music the opportunity is there for younger people. The Beatles have taken the opportunity and done very well."

If you've got to wait to be an old man or an old woman get an MBE, I think it doesn't really add much incentive to young people to get on in the world"

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The Beatles did smashing!"

Finally, a woman - clearly a fan - said: "I think The Beatles did smashing! They should have got it and I think they're great!"

No doubt she would have been delighted when Paul McCartney was knighted 32 years later in 1997 - the only Beatle to have received the honour. Sir Ringo soon? Surely.

The Beatles did smashing!"

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