Hello, Beatles fans! Join us in our 10-day countdown to the premiere of The Beatles: Get Back on Disney +, measuring the 10 greatest television moments in the long, winding history of the Liverpool boys.

This is an excerpt from TV Guide magazine Special Collector’s Edition of The Beatles On TV, available to order online now at BeatlesonTV.com and to buy at newsstands across the country.

7. A full week with John and Yoko

The co-host duo The Mike Douglas Show

February 14-18, 1972

The big picture

Central America meets the counterculture in a daytime talk show.

In the wings

Talk about a match made in a strange television paradise. In this corner, John Lennon, who in the two years since the Beatles split, had become a leading anti-war voice. In this corner, Mike Douglas, host of America’s most popular daytime variety show. Let’s call it a shock when John and Yoko were announced as co-hosts of The Mike Douglas Show for a whole week, with carte blanche to select half of the guests to appear.

Yoko had said the duo wanted to bridge the generation gap. By the end of the week, it felt more like a cultural collision of the Vietnamese era.

© MVD Visual / Courtesy Everett Collection

Douglas couldn’t have been more mainstream or more welcoming. He opened the first day by singing “Michelle” in the mellow vocalist style of the day. “They are not just superstars, but they are great people… and two very warm human beings,” he said in his first introductions, hoping to prepare the people at home for what was to come. After John and Yoko got out, Douglas asked, “What would you like to talk about? Lennon said, “Well, we love to talk about love, peace, communication, women’s liberation, racism, war, prison conditions – life in general.” But for most Mike viewers, “life in general” didn’t quite match the couple’s perceived political motivations. Still, Douglas kept his varnish always calm throughout, awkwardly participating in the antics to come, calling people (at John and Yoko’s request) to say “I love you” (Mike called David Frost) and looking at John. and Yoko having their alpha brain waves connected to a synthesizer.

John and Yoko were both combative and diplomatic, chain-smoking, except when President Nixon-appointed Surgeon General Jesse Steinfeld took the stage to speak out against the violence on television. Their side of the guest list included Ralph Nader, Black Panther Bobby Seale, and George Carlin.

The musical numbers featuring Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band were good, but there was…moments. When Chuck Berry joined them, Ono removed the mic from her bongo and started screaming, as she often did. The camera caught Berry’s eyes, widening in shock.

Douglas called it “probably the most memorable week I have had in my 20 years on the air.” Memorable indeed.

Fun fact

Well, not exactly fun: Two weeks after the show aired, the Nixon administration’s Immigration and Naturalization department ordered Lennon out of the country.

Why does it rank

For reality TV way ahead of its time, it doesn’t get any more fascinating than this week on TV.

See today

The Beatles: Come Back, Documentary premiere, November 25-27, Disney +


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