In 1965, The Beatles released We Can Work It Out, a song inspired by Paul McCartney’s relationship.
The lyrics were in part a show of strength of the love between McCartney and British actor Jane Asher, a declaration they could get through time apart while each was touring for their respective careers.
But on this day three years after that song hit the airwaves, it was clear the couple could not work it out.
And Asher wanted the world to know it.
So what better way to end their high-profile engagement than to break the news live on national television.
There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long …’’
– Lyrics from ‘We Can Work It Out’ by The Beatles, released 1965
During an appearance on the BBC on July 20, 1968, Asher told Dee Time show host Simon Dee that her engagement to McCartney was finished.
“I haven’t broken it off,” she said.
“But it is broken off, finished.
“I know it sounds corny, but we still see each other and love each other, but it hasn’t worked out.
“Perhaps we’ll be childhood sweethearts and meet again and get married when we’re about 70.”
So what went wrong?
By the time of the cheating scandal, McCartney and Asher had been together for five years.
Asher was 17 years old when she met McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall in 1963 while covering the concert for the Radio Times.
“We had a photo taken with her for the magazine and we all fancied her,” McCartney said in the book Beatles Anthology.
“We’d thought she was blonde, because we had only ever seen her on black-and-white telly doing Juke Box Jury, but she turned out to be a redhead.
“So it was: ‘Wow, you’re a redhead!’ I tried pulling her, succeeded, and we were boyfriend and girlfriend for quite a long time.”
Asher was the muse for a number of The Beatles’ hits.
They included And I Love Her, You Won’t See Me, I’m Looking Through You, We Can Work It Out, and Here, There and Everywhere.
We Can Work It Out, which was written by McCartney and John Lennon, was partly inspired by McCartney and Asher’s relationship difficulties and their determination to get through them.
While very much in love, Asher and McCartney were also devoted to their creative careers, which each involved much travel – adding pressure to the relationship.
It wasn’t distance that ultimately made them separate.
Rather, it’s believed to be what happened while they were apart.
McCartney had a string of other girls, mainly while The Beatles were touring.
In 1968, he began an affair with an American woman, Francie Schwartz.
The story goes that Asher made the shocking discovery about his affair with the American after unexpectedly arriving home from a work trip to McCartney’s home in Cavendish Avenue, London, where she reportedly found him in bed with Schwartz.
She walked out and sent her mother to collect her belongings.
Asher made her announcement on BBC after that.
Despite the hurtful circumstances of their breakup, the pair said they had remained friends and still respected each other.