“The thing with the Beatles was that we'd started off as cheery chappies, Northern lads, fun nice boys,” McCartney says in the special. “And you know, parents were always like, 'Oh, he's a nice boy.' And we were. We were nice guys, you know. Went to America. It was the cute moptops. So we'd established this sort of thing. We realized it was our image.
“But as time went by, we then didn't want to just buy into … we needed to develop. So our songs got out of the 'Is there anything that you want, girl, I'll do it for you 'cause I'm your slave and you'll love me because of it.' That was like the mentality of the early songs. They became 'he's a real nowhere man' or 'Norwegian Wood' or 'Paperback Writer', 'Penny Lane.' Those songs sort of represented where we were up to.”
The hour long program, hosted by the BBC's Paul Gambaccini, looks at the history of the project. The film received a strong negative reaction to its first airings in 1967. It was shown first in black and white on BBC 1, then in color 10 days later on BBC 2.
Ringo Starr says his role in MMT was simply a continuation of the acting roles he'd had in the Beatles' two films.
“I was the actor, you see, that was established in “Help!” and “A Hard Day's Night. So I was invited to be the actor and weave it wherever it went,” he says in the show.
McCartney also said the film's scheduling on Boxing Day in the UK, usually reserved for light entertainment, didn't help the negative reaction "Magical Mystery Tour" received.
“If we'd have realized what was going to happen, we'd have said no BBC, no Christmas holidays. Let's do it as an art film,” he says.
The special also includes George Harrison talking about the film, John Lennon discussing the film's editing and actor Victor Spinetti discussing his role.