BBC Kills 50th Anniversary Celebration of Beatles "Love" Simulcast

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The Beatles in the BBC studios in June of 1967 (Photo: Courtesy of The Beatles and the BBC)

The BBC has pulled the plug on a TV special celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the first worldwide simulcast, during which the Beatles premiered the song “All You Need Is Love.” And the cancellation threatens a San Francisco component of the project, produced by the Antenna Theater.

On June 25, the BBC was planning to air several three-minute segments from dozens of cities around the world, including London, Venice, Italy, and San Francisco. For the videos, local arts producers would create visual spectacles on the theme of love.

Chris Hardman, founder and artistic director of San Francisco’s Antenna Theater, was planning San Francisco's contribution: a live video stream in which two planes would sky-write a heart over the Golden Gate Bridge while local choruses sang the iconic Beatles' song from a fleet of boats on the San Francisco Bay.

“The timing,” Hardman said Monday, “was perfect, with the anniversary of the Summer of Love.”


“The last time I talked to them, the word was full steam ahead, green light,” Hardman said. “And then three days ago we got an email from the BBC saying, 'We’re just not going to do it.'”

In the email, Guy Freeman, BBC’s Editor of Special Events and Formats, wrote that many of the collaborating producers were optimistic about the project but were having trouble “securing funding." With the deadline for the show nine weeks away, the BBC had to face the “harsh reality of needing to be able to guarantee world-class content suitable for live, prime time broadcasting. And so with a heavy heart we feel that we have no choice but to put this project on hold now.”

Hardman said he was almost done producing a Kickstarter video to raise the needed funds for the extravaganza, with a budget he estimated at somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000. Hardman said he’s already raised $5,000, enough for one skywriter.

“I’ll have to push the video off,” Hardman said, “but we just don’t want to close this down. I believe there’s just a lot of people who would say, ‘please can I sing “All You Need is Love,” so the world can hear my voice instead of this screaming war noise that our government is producing every minute of the day.’”

KQED was briefly in negotiation to play some part in the San Francisco production, before dropping out over concerns about cost and logistics.