Literally thousands of hours of footage were viewed in consideration for inclusion in the documentary, which ended up being a 5 hour special aired on ABC, beginning on November 19, 1995. All of the surving Beatles members and coworkers filmed new interviews to add to older interviews with John Lennon, who had been killed in 1980.
The first episode, ended with a promotional video of the brand new Beatles track, "Free As A Bird".
In Britain the series was screened on ITV close to its US airdates.
The Beatles Anthology won a Grammy', for Best music video (long-form). "Free As A Bird" won two; one for Best music video (short-form), and one for Best pop performances by a duo or group.
The entire documentary was released as a VHS 8 tape set with additional material not seen in the television specials. The video collection clocked in at 10 hours of material. The entire set is being prepared for released on DVD on the 1st of April 2003 in the US and UK.
Three Anthology collections were released, each containing 2 CDs of never before released Beatles material.
Two days after the first Beatles Anthology television special had aired, The Beatles Anthology, volume 1 was released to stores. The first collection included music recorded by the Quarry Men, The famous Decca Records audition tapes, and various out-takes and demos from the band's first four albums. The song, "Free As A Bird" was included in the 2 CD collection. 450,000 copies of Anthology volume 1 were sold in its first day of release, the most single day sales ever for an album.
On March 18, 1996, The Beatles Anthology, volume 2 was released. The second collection included out-takes and demos from the Beatles sessions for Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Especially interesting is the early demos and takes for Lennon's "Strawberry Fields Forever", previously available only to bootleg collectors. The song "Real Love" was also included in the 2 CD collection.
The success of the Anthology albums was parodied by the release of The Rutles' Archaeology some months later. This album even included a spoof of "Free as a Bird", entitled "Unfinished Words".
In October of 2000, The Beatles release The Beatles Anthology book, which included interviews with all four band members and others incvolved, plus rare photos. The book went straight to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list.