Playhouse Presents (2012– )
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In 1991 50-year old John Lennon,living on the dole in Birmingham and following the moderate success of the Beatles,recalls how he left the band in 1962 after they were persuaded to release ... See full summary »


David Blair


David Quantick


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Episode credited cast:
Annette Badland ... Woman in Office
Ryan Brett Ryan Brett ... Young Paul
Lee Broadbent Lee Broadbent ... Young John
Jacob Crosby Jacob Crosby ... Young Pete
Kevin Doyle ... Job Interviewer
Rebecca Elliot Rebecca Elliot ... Receptionist
Ian Hart ... John Lennon
Josh Leach Josh Leach ... Young George
Eric McNichol Eric McNichol ... Bus Driver
Hugh O'Brien ... Sound Engineer
Emma Stansfield ... Cal


In 1991 50-year old John Lennon,living on the dole in Birmingham and following the moderate success of the Beatles,recalls how he left the band in 1962 after they were persuaded to release 'How Do You Do It?' as a single,rather than 'Love Me Do'. Finally John gets a job interview but it comes to naught as John is extremely intolerant of Jobsworths - or Snodgrasses as he calls them and walks out. Returning home his landlady Cal tells him that he just missed Paul McCartney,who came round to tell him that he was quite right,the band should never have recorded 'How Do You Do It?' Written by don @ minifie-1

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Release Date:

25 April 2013 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

Manchester, England, UK

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Did You Know?


Ian Hart also played John Lennon in Backbeat and The Hours and Times. See more »

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User Reviews

Alternate Lennon
4 June 2018 | by JamesHitchcockSee all my reviews

"Snodgrass" is a rare example of a film or television programme exploring what might have happened had some historical event happened differently, a concept known as "alternate history". The question being posed here is "What would have happened if John Lennon had left The Beatles in 1963?" We are informed that in this timeline John left the group of "musical differences", in other words a dispute over a particular song, and it is strongly implied that the song in question was "How Do You Do It?" In our timeline The Beatles did indeed record this song, but never released it, and it later became a big hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers.

John's leaving the group does not appear to have made a great difference to the wider world; at the time the story is set (the early nineties), for example, we learn that John Major is still Prime Minister and Neil Kinnock still Leader of the Opposition. In the world of pop music, however, there do appear to have been repercussions. The Beatles enjoyed moderate success, including having a hit with "How Do You Do It?", but never achieved superstar status and never became more than a middle-ranking group. John sardonically wonders if, under other circumstances, they might have become "bigger than The Hollies" who, it is implied, enjoy in this timeline the iconic status which The Beatles enjoy in ours, that of the supergroup of the sixties who serve to define that era's pop culture. Without John, however, The Beatles did not split up in 1970 and are still playing in the 1990s, although these days they mainly cater for the "nostalgia circuit". (One thing which is never made clear is whether a replacement was found for John after his departure or whether Paul, George and Ringo carried on as a three-man group).

The biggest changes, however, have been to John himself. After leaving The Beatles he never achieved success or fame, beyond the very limited fame which attaches to being a half-forgotten former member of a middle-ranking pop group. He never married Yoko Ono, never moved to America and was not murdered by Mark Chapman in 1980. He is still alive and well and living in Birmingham, where he has long been unemployed, although the job centre have recently found him work in the post room of a local firm, where he is required to do little more than fold letters and put them in envelopes. He still sees himself as a rebellious free spirit and looks back at his past, with all its might-have beens, in a spirit of bitter, cynical humour, His greatest fear seems to be becoming a "Snodgrass", his term for a complacent middle-class conformist.

As a piece of alternate history, this one does not strike me as altogether convincing. My main objection would be that of the previous reviewer, namely that John Lennon was a musical genius who could have achieved fame with or without The Beatles. In an alternate universe I see him as an iconic singer/songwriter, a sort of British Bob Dylan, challenging the political and cultural Establishment with a combination of ironic humour, surrealism and pointed social comment. Also, a even Lennon-less Beatles could have become something more than a middle-ranking group if they could still have called upon the song-writing talents of Paul McCartney, whose gifts in this direction rivalled Lennon's own. (We learn that, even in this alternative universe, the Beatles had hits with "Yesterday", "Mull of Kintyre" and "Yellow Submarine", although this last one rather surprised me; I always thought that John had a lot of input into it).

Psychologically, however, this portrait of an alternative Lennon rang very true. Ian Hart gives a fine performance in the leading role, reminiscent of the John Lennon we all knew, and yet marked by a disillusioned middle-aged cynicism and a sense of failure which were quite alien to the real Lennon. He stands as a symbol of thousands of men of this particular sort (and no doubt women as well, although I suspect that this syndrome is a complaint which primarily affects the male sex). Such men may not be Lennon-style geniuses, although they are generally capable of achieving much more than they actually have achieved, but are held back by a fear of becoming Snodgrasses which prevents them from becoming anything at all. They may see themselves as free spirits in revolt against the world and its wicked ways, but fail to see that their rebellion neither hurts that world nor brings them any benefits.

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