The cartoon Beatles, was loosely based on the characters of the famous Beatles-John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, as portrayed in their title film, A Hard Day's Night incorporated with witty dialogue plus fanciful and adventure-filled stories. Each program lasted for half an hour and consisted of two 8-10 minute cartoon episodes and two sing-along segments where lyrics were displayed on the screen so viewers could also sing to classic Beatles songs. The sing-along segments were inserted between the two episodes.
The cartoon series was produced by King Features Productions, and character voices were dubbed by Paul Frees for John and George, and Lance Percival for Paul and Ringo. The animation production itself was done at TVC in London-the company that also produced the animation film, "Yellow Submarine", and Astransa in Australia. It aired every Saturday morning and debuted at the U.S. network, ABC on September 25, 1965. It was not until in 1968, that its schedule was changed to Sunday mornings and so it remained until its last episode aired on September 7, 1969. During that span of time, the cartoon series presented a total of 39 episodes. Each episode had a title of a Beatles song and the story was based on the lyrics or the song title, and some time during the episode, the title song was also played.
Each cartoon Beatles character was a loose, exaggerated version of their real-life counterparts. All four characters were prone to using sarcastic, cheeky, and dry humor, and though most of the time they came off as extremely lazy and laidback, each of them actually cared for the other and would do anything for the welfare of the whole group. John Lennon was of course, portrayed as the leader of the group and was given the right to boss everybody else around and be domineering most of the time. But, the character was shown to care sincerely for his fellow band members, and ended up doing anything for the greater good. Paul McCartney stood as second-in-line to John Lennon as a leader, and was shown to be the most sophisticated of all. He always connived with John and got excited whenever they have formed a plan. George Harrison often succumbed to peer pressure, and along with Ringo Starr, was mostly shown being bossed around by John and Paul. The cartoon showed that George liked learning about different cultures and was prone to believing in superstitions. Ringo was portrayed as the most naïve and silly of them all. Like George, he was mostly bossed around and was always susceptible to misfortunes and accidents. But of all the characters he was also the most lovable because he was more gentle, less aggressive, outwardly calm, and sympathetic.
Even though the original Beatles members never took part in any of the animated series production, except for the fact that their original songs were used for the show, the cartoon Beatles was still a hit. Adults now in their late forties and early fifties remember the Fab Four fondly, waking up on a weekend and watching the cartoon Beatles while eating their bowl of cereal.
The Beatles were so popular that aside from having a cartoon show dedicated to them, cartoon Beatles or pictures and sketches of the Beatles are still being used for a variety of merchandise from Beatles posters, toy figures, puzzles, stickers, playing cards, guitar straps and picks to lunchboxes, mugs, shades, shirts, pins, etc. There is even a Beatles logo shirt that budding kids Beatles fans will surely love. You can browse and checkout this merchandise and more at BuytheBeatles.com.