The Wombles are now among the favourites to top this year’s Christmas charts, with bookies slashing their odds after “unprecedented” betting.
“This is the biggest ever November gamble for a song to be the Christmas number one,” said William Hill’s spokesman Rupert Adams. “On Sunday we were offering 50/1 on The Wombles gaining the top spot; now they are just 7/1 and could get shorter.”
However, there’s still a big challenge ahead to beat The X Factor’s winner and a Rage Against The Machine-style Nirvana campaign. Other contenders include Mariah Carey & Justin Bieber, the cast of reality show The Only Way Is Essex, and Amy Winehouse.
The Wombles single and video got lots of national press coverage, beginning with a short piece on page three of The Sun on 14 November: “The X Factor’s winner was last night tipped to be kept off the top of the Christmas charts – by the Wombles. Cuddly Orinoco and his crew are re-releasing their 1974 hit Wombling Merry Christmas.”
That story was picked up by The Guardian’s Media Monkey: “This year Simon Cowell, who was pretty grumpy about the whole anti-X Factor campaign, will have to mind his Ps and Qs if he is unhappy with his main rival for the top spot. Enter national treasures the Wombles and a re-release of 1974’s Wombling Merry Christmas. The tip is on for the Wombles to take it by a nose.”
The Huffington Post UK said: “The children’s character favourites took Glastonbury by storm this year and now they’ve put themselves in the ring against Simon Cowell’s popular music machine.”
The Metro devoted the whole of page three to The Wombles on 15 November, with images from the new Wombling Merry Christmas video: “The video sees the novelty stars send up former X Factor hopefuls Jedward as they perform to judges, including a Womble Simon Cowell.”
The Telegraph reported that a Wombles Christmas number one could hit bookies: “A Wombles win could cost bookmakers across the country nearly £500,000.”
London 24 said: “East will battle west as London acts vie for this year’s Christmas number one single, with The Wombles of Wimbledon Common taking on The Only Way Is Essex. An undoubtedly hideous version of the Wham! hit Last Christmas is being released, and TOWIE’s effort is being given the same odds as The Wombles.”
The Daily Star said: “Bookies had expected the eventual X Factor winner to be a dead cert to top the charts on Christmas Day. The video for Wombling Merry Christmas sees the friendly creatures sport Jedward hairdos in front of an X Factor-style judging panel.”
Even New York’s stylish guide to popular culture, BlackBook, picked up on the coverage with an article titled “What the hell are The Wombles and why are they climbing up the British charts?”
When to buy the single
The Official Charts Company has confirmed that this year’s Christmas number one will be announced on Christmas Day itself, as it falls on a Sunday. William Hill says that bets for Christmas number one “will be based on the last official Radio 1 pop chart to be released on or before 25 December”.
The official charts are dated to Saturday, so the qualifying period is 18-24 December – which is when the Nirvana campaign is telling people to buy Smells Like Teen Spirit.
However, the X Factor single is due for release immediately after the live TV final on 11 December, so it will enter the chart on 18 December, before battling for the official Christmas number one the following week.
Wombling Merry Christmas will be released on Monday 12 December, and Mike Batt and The Wombles have asked supporters to buy or download it between 12 December and 16 December – ideally on 12 December for maximum impact. You can get it from music download retailers including:
Mike Batt has also announced that there will be a physical CD single, exclusively from HMV (£2.99), with two extra tracks – Miss Adelaide and The Wombles’ Warning.
Facebook and Twitter
The Facebook campaign has resumed in earnest, led by Haydon the Womble, after it had to be postponed last year. Join the Facebook group and help spread the word!
The Wombles now have an official Twitter account, @Womble_HQ. They said: “We are now on Twitter so any messages for Great Uncle Bulgaria and all of us will be answered! Tell your mates!”
You might also like the lovely cover version of Wombling Merry Christmas by The Very Most, an indie-pop band from Boise, Idaho. It’s part of their new four-track EP, Snow Covered. You can preview and download it from
iTunes or Amazon.co.uk.