This programme tells the story of this extraordinary event and its aftermath. It's a story of fame, the mass media, pop music and religion, of two cultures clashing. Of how an interview with a pop star could ignite a debate about the place of religion in an increasingly secular society. Illustrated with contemporary sound archive, listeners will hear from those who were in the Beatles' inner circle at the time and from those who protested against them.
What is the legacy of this media firestorm forty years on? As the 1960s are increasingly being blamed for many contemporary evils, was this a key moment in the perceived decline, when more passion was apparently generated by pop music than by mainstream religion? And did John Lennon create the modern rock star, expected to have opinions on much more than mere music?
Contributors to the programme include Maureen Cleave who conducted the original interview with Lennon, the Alabama DJs who burned Beatle records in protest at Lennon's comments, Cynthia Lennon who helped Lennon sort the sacks of mail that arrived at their Weybridge home into piles of 'for' and 'against' messages, Beatles press officers Tony Bramwell and Tony Barrow who dealt with the media frenzy, Barry Tashian whose group The Remains were the support act on The Beatles subsequent stormy tour of North America, Lennon biographer Ray Connolly and legendary rock 'n' roll PR (and former Lennon publicist) BP Fallon.