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A world where the Beatles never existed inspires new Danny Boyle film

Plot of director’s movie has been compared to 90s BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart

Imagine a world without the music of John Lennon or Paul McCartney. Imagine, in other words, a world without Imagine, not to mention She Loves You and Yesterday. Danny Boyle’s new film has just such a premise – and if the idea sounds familiar, it is not surprising. Back in the 90s the television sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst, used a similar plot device.

“I have noticed the similarity, of course,” said Maurice Gran, who wrote the much-loved show with Laurence Marks. “I am being terribly generous about it of course, but Laurence is already contacting hitmen.”

Boyle’s film, Yesterday, which has its world premiere on 4 May at New York’s Tribeca film festival, tells the story of a struggling singer-songwriter who wakes up to realise he is the only one who can remember the Beatles and their songs. Understandably, the hopeful musician, played by Himesh Patel, decides to capitalise on the situation and claims the songs as his own. It stars Lily James, but has cameo appearances from Ed Sheeran and James Corden and is rumoured to feature the two remaining Beatles.

In the BBC sitcom, which ran for six series and is to become a stage musical early next year, a time travel portal took the hero back to wartime London, before the Beatles existed, leaving him free to play their hits as his own on a pub piano.

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