Why Eric Idle Was Scared to Ask Paul McCartney for Permission to Sing ‘Love Me Do’ on ‘The Masked Singer’

Eric Idle was scared while asking Paul McCartney for permission to sing The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” on The Masked Singer. Idle knew the rock star wasn’t a fan of his Beatles parody, The Rutles, nor his portrayal of him.

Eric Idle and Paul McCartney at George Harrison's Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in 2009.
Eric Idle and Paul McCartney | Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

Playing The Hedgehog on ‘The Masked Singer’ was one of the more normal things the comedian has done

Idle was recently unmasked during The Masked Singer Season 8. During an interview with Yahoo!, Idle explained that he’s sort of like a hedgehog.

“The Hedgehog was perfect for me because I’m prickly, and when I’m attacked, I curl up into a ball,” Idle joked.

The comedian said going on The Masked Singer wasn’t the strangest thing he’s ever done in his career. “Yes, being silly and dressing up in silly animal costumes is not strange to me,” he said. “When they asked me, and it was out of the blue, I thought, ‘Well, this is in my wheelhouse.'”

However, he had a more serious reason for getting into costume and singing on live television. He wanted to test himself after his secret pancreatic cancer battle. He also wanted to spread the word about his new Bright Side Fund partnership with Stand Up to Cancer.

“I wanted to see if I could do it because, as you say, I had survived pancreatic cancer. And I hadn’t [performed in public] since,” Idle said. “I thought, ‘This is a very good opportunity to see if I can still do that.’ I didn’t tell the producers, obviously. I mean, I hadn’t told anybody.

“When I finished the show, I thought, ‘I’ll call my doctor and see how long I’ve got,” because I’ve been going six months to six months. And he said, ‘Oh, you’ve got 10 years. Your cancer’s gone. You’re healthy. You swim, you eat well, and all that. So, you should have 10 years.’

“And then I thought beyond that, I should start my own fund, the Bright Side Fund, with Stand Up to Cancer, and raise money so we can put it on research and figure out how more people can survive this thing. So, immediately after the show, I outed myself, and people began to donate at once.”

However, Idle had the complicated task of asking Paul McCartney for permission to use “Love Me Do.”

RELATED: George Harrison Wrote ‘Not Guilty’ About the ‘Grief’ He Got From Paul McCartney and John Lennon While Making ‘the White Album’

Eric Idle said he was scared to ask Paul McCartney for permission to sing ‘Love Me Do’

Idle was the first to sing a Beatles song on The Masked Singer. So, it was a historic moment for the show that made Idle’s struggles worth it. He told Yahoo! he was scared of asking Paul for permission to sing The Beatles’ “Love Me Do.”

“Well, I have a friend who worked at Apple in London, and he said, ‘I think Paul will have forgiven you by now,'” Idle said. “Because, you know, I played [Paul] in the Rutles. … So, I worked up the courage, and I wrote to Paul — I sent him an email.

“And he probably almost immediately said, ‘Yes, absolutely, of course you can.’ The producers were very happy, but he said, ‘There’s only one condition: You have to tell me when it’s on, so I can be sure to miss it.'”

RELATED: Why It Was Complicated for George Harrison to Go See Paul McCartney Perform in 1989

Idle said Paul wasn’t the biggest fan of ‘The Rutles’

The Rutles started as a sketch for the BBC television comedy series Rutland Weekend Television. Since the fans loved the sketch, Idle wrote the mockumentary television film All You Need Is Cash. Idle explained that Paul wasn’t a fan of any of it, especially Idle’s portrayal of him as Dirk McQuickly.

“The person who was on board was George Harrison; we were good pals, and he’s in the film, actually,” Idle said. “As for Paul, my wife and I bumped into him in Regents Park shortly after with Linda [McCartney], and he said, ‘Oh, I’m not sure we’re talking to you!’ And then just Linda loved [All You Need Is Cash]. She just loved it.

“And she loved me playing him. Obviously, he wasn’t quite so comfortable in those days, but I was very pleased that when they did the 50th anniversary of the Ed Sullivan performance, he asked me to come on the show with him and Ringo and do a Rutles joke. So, it’s OK now.”

Thankfully, Paul allowed Idle to sing “Love Me Do” on The Masked Singer. The comedian’s performance was one of the best.

RELATED: George Harrison Would’ve Been in a Band With John Lennon Again Any Day, but Not Paul McCartney