I Wanna Be Xmas #1!



So, way back when, in the year 1995, I worked at a radio station called B97, which was a rebrand of its original name Chiltern Radio 96.9…this is in a town called Bedford in East Anglia in the UK.  The station had partnered with the local commercial TV network (Anglia!) to raise money and toys for the annual Anglia TV Kids Toy Appeal.  As well as promoting it on air, and running trails for it and encouraging the listeners to send in toys, the programme controller, Derek, decided it would be a fun idea for us to record and release our own Xmas single. So, being the only musician at the radio station, he came to me and asked me to write it, record it and sort the whole thing out.  To do this I had to include the breakfast show team (as it was to be ‘their’ Xmas song) and the whole station was to help promote it and sell it.

So what was I to do?  Yes I was a musician, a bad one!  I play bass guitar, but I am no Paul McCartney!  So I got in touch with an old chum from the radio station, Paul garner (now very well-known for his comedy writing for the likes of Ali G, Bo Selecta, etc…).  he was a much more accomplished musician, played guitar,piano, drums…he could even sing!  We spent a few evenings thrashing out the concept, and then arrived at the final song.

The old Chiltern Radio

The old Chiltern Radio

Meanwhile, the breakfast show team had done a deal with a local recording studio, The Bunkers, to allow us time and studio space to record and master the song.  So, over a couple of long evenings, Paul and I, and the Bunkers team, set about recording our silly, comedic Xmas single.  As a sound engineer I loved the sessions…not just getting to play my bass and sing, but to watch paul do his thing, and help out with all the technical stuff!  We decided we wanted a big chorus type affair for the, well, choruses, and for the big ending, so we arranged for all the radio station staff, friends and family plus some mad volunteers from Yamaha who were based up the road in Milton Keynes, to come down to the Bunkers one afternoon and sing a few lines like a bunch of nutters.  Anglia TV even filmed it and we got our ugly mugs on the telly that evening.

Finally the song was finished.  Colleagues at the radio station had done a deal with a local duplicating house to get the track manufactured, and all the WH Smith stores in the region agreed to sell it for us.  We debuted the single on the breakfast show with Neil & Tim, then set about promoting the heck out of it.

Did it sell?  Yes it did actually!  We made a decent amount of money from it, and I believe it charted somewhere in the high hundreds (terrible, really!).  It was a lot of fun to do, helped a great cause, and allows me to say that I have released an Xmas single in my life!!

And now I reckon it’s time for its revival.  Xmas 2009 is rushing towards us and I think we need a serious threat to the X-Factor dominance of the Xmas #1 spot.  So have a listen to our wonderful song, and let me know if you’d support us releasing it for Xmas.  Money would go to the Stroke Association if we were to do this.

So here it is…”Floppy Gifts For Christmas”…slightly crappy quality as I grabbed this version from a cassette copy – just clicky the PLAY button below…….

Written by Paul Garner & Neil Gardner

Performed by Paul Garner, Neil Gardner, Neil Bentley, Tim Page, B97 Crew, Yamaha Crew

Recorded at The Bunkers, Bedford

Thanks to B97/Chiltern Radio & all who helped make it possible.


About hokusbloke
30-something radio producer/director/writer, owner & MD of Ladbroke Productions (the UK's oldest independent radio production company). Lover of far fetched fiction, scifi and fantasy, my cats and all thinks tech. I am also the Chair of the Radio Independents Group, a former Trustee of the Radio Academy, and a Fellow of the RSA. I co-wrote, produced and directed Robert Rankin's "The Brightonomicon" audio series, produce Dr Who audiobooks for the BBC, and directed several sci-fi radio plays for BBC Radio 4 in 2009. I am a strong advocate for more SF audio and radio...keep watching this space for upcoming news!

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