Marshall McLuhan on Our World, First International Live TV Program (1967)


Our World

Published on June 25, 2012 by 

Today the Beatles sang from space about love. Telecommunications satellites had been orbiting or hovering above the Earth for almost a decade, but when the Our World program was broadcast on this day in 1967 it was the first time a live television program had been shared internationally. It’s estimated that 400 million people tuned in, and as many as ten thousand technicians and staff were involved in the endeavor. The show began with the Vienna Boys Choir singing its theme song in 22 different languages, then switched to Canada for a live interview with media pundit Marshall McLuhan. The program moved to the U.S. and Glassboro, New Jersey, where American and Soviet leaders were meeting, then back to Canada for a rancher and his cattle, followed by segments from a subway construction project in Tokyo, Japan, and a tram station in Melbourne, Australia.

Then the show returned to London for its final segment: Seated on stools were The Beatles, surrounded by a small orchestra and a group of friends and acquaintances sitting on the floor (including Mick Jagger and The Who’s Keith Moon). They sang All You Need Is Love to a prerecorded instrumental and percussion track. After some studio work thereafter — Lennon was never happy with his voice and re-recorded his verses while Ringo Starr overdubbed drums — the song was released as a single on July 7 and was number one on the UK charts for three weeks. It appeared on the albums Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine. Regular international satellite commercial TV broadcasts would become common in the 1970s. No subsequent special programs were conceived, let alone performed.

But for two and a half hours one evening in 1967, it was a big deal.

This 36-minute segment on YouTube gives an idea of the programming, but does not include the McLuhan segment:

And here is the Beatles’ All You Need is Love segment:


Lennon (right) performing “All You Need Is Love” with The Beatles in 1967 to 400 million viewers of “Our World“.

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