BBC to broadcast rare Beatles footage

Unheard outtakes from The Beatles' final recording sessions in Abbey Road will be broadcast for the first time as part of a BBC Fab Four season, it was announced today.

The programme, The Beatles On Record, will include studio chat from the band as they pieced together the album, which contained their final sessions as a band. It also features what the BBC says is "rare footage", as well as excerpts from 60 songs.

It will be screened next month during a week-long season as the world prepares for the release of the band's remastered back catalogue and the much-anticipated Beatles Rock Band computer game.

The Beatles On Record has been directed by Bob Smeaton, who worked on the Beatles Anthology project which traced the story of the band and was screened on TV in 1995 to tie in with a series of albums of the same name.

The programme similarly traces the band's story from the days of Please Please Me to their break-up after the recording of Abbey Road. Although Let It Be was the last Beatles album to be released, it's recording predated that of Abbey Road.

The programmes will be screened across BBC2 and BBC4 and will include the TV premiere of the The Beatles: The First US Visit, in which cinematographers Albert and David Maysles charted the band's arrival in America in 1964.

An edition of Storville will examine How The Beatles Rocked The Kremlin, revealing how the music of the band may have contributed to the collapse of the USSR, as a generation of Soviets were influenced by their music.

Other programmes in the short season will include Sings Beatles, a compilation of archive footage of bands such as Siouxsie & The Banshees and The Carpenters covering the music of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr, plus a repeat of the Timewatch: Beatlemania and a screening of the Help! movie.

George Entwistle, controller of BBC Knowledge commissioning, said: "This is a chance for viewers to enjoy some rare footage and fascinating insights into the career of the greatest pop group of all time.

"Through BBC Two and BBC Four's close working relationship we will be inviting our audience to join us on a rich and colourful journey across two TV channels, through new and archive content, shown in just one week in September."