#BeatlesWeek: the Fab Four in film & TV pop culture

Sadie Hale Beatles Week, Music, Timewarp Leave a Comment

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Image via Fotolog

As we know, there are a whole host of references to the Fab Four in popular culture – with the rosy eyes of nostalgia and fresh new generations discovering new ways to celebrate the band, their iconic status seems to gain more and more traction, confirming their universal appeal.

Not only did the Beatles send tidal waves through popular culture of the ’60s, they’re still making immense waves today – Harry Styles may think that One Direction are bigger than the Beatles (although he did admit that musically, there’s no comparison), but I’m sorry my friends, 1D will NOT be remembered in fifty years’ time the way the Fab Four are.

There have been some weird, wonderful and downright terrible references to the band over the decades, but no publicity is bad publicity, right? Here are some of the best in film and TV since the band’s conception.

1. Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse, Series 3 (2012) 

This brilliant impersonation imagines the Beatles ‘still together, fifty years on’. Silver-haired and in need of a hearing aids, they prance about the studio looking naively anachronistic. One of the best moments is Bob Dylan’s drug offer at 1:04.

2. The Simpsons (Season Five, 1993)

The opening episode to Season Five, ‘Homer’s Barbershop Quartet‘, contains many Beatles references. These include Homer’s band, the Be Sharps, naming their album ‘Bigger Than Jesus’, Barney dating a Japanese artist, and the episode ending with the Be Sharps performing on the rooftop of Moe’s bar. Elsewhere, Ned Flanders is also a big Beatles fan, with his entire room decorated in Beatles merchandise.

simpsons beatles

3. The Jungle Book, Disney (1967)

In this well-known Disney film, the vultures at the end embody the Beatles, even singing a song called ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ with those tell-tale harmonies. Each vulture, although named differently, represents a Beatle: there’s the deadpan George, with a strong Northern accent; John as the jokey troublemaker; the short, deep-voiced Ringo with a snare drum leitmotif every time he talks, and finally the dreamy-eyed Paul. It’s been said The Beatles themselves were originally meant to voice their vulture counterparts, but had to pull out due to schedule clashes.

4. EastEnders (2007)

For BBC’s Children in Need 2007, the cast of cockney soap EastEnders put on cringeworthy performances of ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’, ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, and ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’, among others. It also marked the 40th anniversary of the release of the Sgt. Pepper album, which you can see reflected in the colourful style.

5. Absolutely Fabulous, Season Five (2003)

Episode six of this season of Ab-Fab sees Robert Lindsay pose as a tape engineer in search of some long-lost Beatles recordings. They go to the Abbey Road Studios together only to eventually discover that Eddie and Patsy have accidentally recorded over the precious tapes, making them lost forever.

6. Across the Universe (2007)

This heartfelt musical falls a long way short of being brilliant, but it was still nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. It’s a love story between an American girl, Lucy, and a working-class Liverpudlian guy, Jude, who travels to the States to find his father, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. You’ll find Beatles songs a-plenty here.

7.  Let it Be – the musical (2012 – present)

With 40 songs packed into it, this production no doubt does justice to the musical career of the Fab Four. Beginning with the band’s first appearance at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in 1962, it culminates in their break-up in 1969 and traces many of their adventures in between. Let it Be extended its original run, again suggesting that the public’s appetite for the Beatles is insatiable.

8. Almost Famous (2000)

In this film, the nickname of one of the characters is Penny Lane and there are other Beatles references throughout. It’s the coming-of-age tale of a teenage journalist who works for Rolling Stone magazine while being a roadie for a fictional band in the 1970s. Although the film received positive reviews, it failed to break even at the box office.