Director – Peter Goldmann. Producer – Subaﬁlms Ltd.
Filmed – 5 and 7 February 1967.
Location – Stratford, London; Knole Park, Sevenoaks, Kent; and Liverpool (non-Beatles footage).
On Thursday 24 November 1966, The Beatles began recording what would turn out to be one side of their new double-A single – ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, a song written by John and inspired by a place in Liverpool. In a nice juxtaposition, the second side was Paul’s composition and this also referred to a real location close to his childhood home – Penny Lane.
While work continued on ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, during December there were also recording sessions for ‘When I’m Sixty Four’, a track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Recording ‘Penny Lane’ began two days before New Year’s Eve and was completed nearly three weeks later. The Beatles’ previous single, ‘Yellow Submarine’/‘Eleanor Rigby’ had been released in early August 1966, and when ‘Penny Lane’/‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ came out on 17 February 1967 (both songs were primarily considered tracks for Sgt. Pepper), there had been a 196-day wait for a new Beatles’ 45 – the longest time between single releases since the start of their career.
Two days after recording some overdubs for ‘A Day In The Life’, The Beatles spent the afternoon
in East London at Angel Lane, Stratford, ﬁlming scenes for the video of ‘Penny Lane’. Scandinavian director Peter Goldmann had worked in Swedish TV and was introduced to the band by mutual friend, Klaus Voormann. Peter later told the Swedish magazine Vecko-Revyn, “Everything went so fast.
It wasn’t until I sat on the plane for London I realized what I was up to.”
A few days before ﬁlming started for ‘Penny Lane’, Goldmann shot a promo for ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Both shoots presented a challenge for everyone involved owing to the Musicians’ Union ban on any action that could be construed as miming. Despite these limitations, both the ﬁlms Goldmann made were so innovative that neither would have looked out of place on MTV a decade and a half later.
Two days after the East London shoot, Goldmann and The Beatles headed to Knole Park, the grounds of a stately home in Kent, to ﬁlm scenes of the band horse-riding in the countryside. ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ had been shot at the same location a week earlier. Around this time, Goldmann and his crew (but minus The Beatles) travelled to Liverpool to shoot the sequences near to Penny Lane.
The edit must have been completed quite rapidly because the ﬁrst known transmission of the ‘Penny Lane’ ﬁlm was on the BBC’s Juke Box Jury on 11 February 1967, when an extract of a little over a minute in length was shown. Four days later, the ﬁlm was broadcast in its entirety on Top of the Pops and on 25 February it aired on The Hollywood Palace.