CBC Digital Archives

This Hour has Seven Days: Beatlemania takes Toronto

In just two seasons between 1964 and 1966, This Hour has Seven Days staked its claim as the most defiant and controversial program in Canadian broadcasting history.~ Created by Douglas Leiterman and Patrick Watson, Seven Days launched a new era of public affairs television, actively taking on the role of the nation's ombudsman and interrogator. Some — including certain members of the CBC brass in Ottawa — called it "sensationalism," "arrogant" and a breach of journalistic neutrality. But Canadians loved it. Millions tuned in every Sunday night at 10 p.m. to watch the show everyone would be talking about the next day. The CBC Digital Archives presents nine complete episodes here, selected from the 50 programs made before the show was cancelled. Due to copyright issues, satirical sketches and songs that originally aired between news segments have been edited out.

It's Labour Day for most people in Toronto, but a day of worship for hysterical young Beatles fans, says bemused Seven Days host John Drainie. Teens flood the streets around Maple Leaf Gardens, while inside the crush of screaming girls all but drowns out their idols' set. Seven Days sends its cameras behind the scenes and out into the crowds to find out just what the frenzy is all about, capturing the first throes of Beatlemania in Toronto. John Lennon understates it nicely saying, "they appreciate what we're doing."
• The Beatles debut in Toronto made the front page of every daily newspaper in the city. The Globe and Mail's banner headline read "Paddy-Wagon Ruse Fools Beatles' Fans." The Toronto Star blared "200 swoon in the battle of the Beatles." This was part of their first North American tour and the start of the phenomenon called Beatlemania on this side of the Atlantic.

• The Fab Four played two concerts at Maple Leaf Gardens on Sept. 7, 1964, an afternoon appearance at 2:30 p.m. and evening show at 8 p.m. Ticket prices ranged from $4 to $5.50. The Beatles also played Montreal and Vancouver on this tour.

• The press conference shown in this Seven Days episode took place in Maple Leaf Gardens between the two shows. According to Globe and Mail columnist Bruce West, there were more press and photographers there than he'd ever seen in one place, even compared to events featuring Sir Winston Churchill and U.S. President F.D. Roosevelt.

• The Beatles played Toronto on all three of their North American tours, something they only did in four other cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

• Five years after the onset of Beatlemania, John Lennon made headlines in Canada for reasons other than his music. Please visit the CBC Digital Archives clip John and Yoko's Montreal bed-in for more.

Medium: Television
Program: This Hour has Seven Days
Broadcast Date: Oct. 4, 1964
Reporter: Larry Zolf
Duration: 8:55

Last updated: September 17, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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