Starter for ‘Top’ Tens

6 Dec 2023

We used our new favourite musical Starter For Ten (opening at BOV in Feb ’24) as inspiration for a festive gift for you. 

As the show is set in 1985, we’ve come up with a festive playlist from that decade that picks out some classic Christmas bangers we reckon each character would stick on their Spotify (if such a thing existed).

Which tracks would make it onto your mixtape?

Brian - It’s a no-brainer for our Brian.

Last Christmas (1984) is the Wham! gift that keeps on giving. This seasonal pop classic is a tale of betrayed love which touched hearts and still does today - the perfect choice for our lovesick hero Brian.

Scoring a Xmas No1 in the UK is a pretty big deal. Last Christmas didn't achieve that for Wham! for quite a while, stalling at No2, and for more than 35 years had the distinction of being the highest selling UK single of all time not to reach No1.

This finally happened in 2021 - 36 years after its original release and when our Brian would have been pushing 54! 

Irene -
Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens gives Brian's mum Irene all the feels. The perfect festive feel good track for the Christmas kitchen disco, she can’t wait to see Old Shaky on Top of the Pops this year!

Due for release in 1984, it was held back so as to not clash with the release of the Band Aid single. When it was released in 1985, it gave Shakin' Stevens his 4th and final UK chart topper.

Patrick - Not a huge fan of populist Christmas tat, Patrick does however have a soft spot for the classic In Dulci Jubilo, which he first encountered at primary school in the 70s – he now performs it at his solo recorder concert every Christmas.

While it became Mike Oldfield's first top 5 single in the UK (and also the definitive sound of Christmas from 1975 onwards), Patrick must admit In Dulci Jubilo really comes into it own, for him, when heard in Pearsall’s sumptuous 1837 arrangement with its intriguing mix of Latin and English.

Rebecca -

The only acceptable song for someone allergic to Christmas music has to be Christmas Wrapping (1982) by the American new wave band the Waitresses. Forced to write a Christmas track by their record label, even they didn't like the idea.

Christmas Wrapping is told from the perspective of a single woman, determined not to participate in the exhausting holiday season. We hear ya Rebecca.

The good news is this anti-Christmas track with a gooey soft-centre became The Waitresses top charting single in the UK.

Alice loves Christmas and the chance to get home to the idyllic world of the Cotswolds and the arms of her waiting family. 

The 1980 hit Stop the Cavalry reached No 3 that December. It was written as an anti-war song written and performed by English musician Jona Lewie who described the song's soldier as being "a bit like the eternal soldier at the Arc de Triomphe".

But Alice just likes it because it reminds her of two of her favourite things - horses and men. 

Bamber Gascoigne

There’s No One Quite Like Grandma is a song by the Stockport-based primary school St Winifred's School Choir, released as a single in November 1980. 

We like to think that these angelic darlings in their bright pink cardigans, full of love for dear old granny would be a favourite of quiz show legend Bamber and always bring a tear to his eye. 

It was number-one on the UK Singles Chart from 21 Dec 1980 to 3 Jan 1981 but feels like longer to many...

Enjoy our Starter for Ten Christmas playlist here!

Starter for Ten plays 29 Feb – 30 Mar