Race for festive number one hots up

ROCK sensations The Darkness launched their bid to land the Christmas number one spot yesterday – and were given a flying start by record buyers.Stores reported a roaring trade in sales of the Suffolk group's festive single Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) – and one bookmaker even halved the odds of it making the top spot in Sunday's chart.

By Jonathan Barnes

ROCK sensations The Darkness launched their bid to land the Christmas number one spot yesterday – and were given a flying start by record buyers.

Stores reported a roaring trade in sales of the Suffolk group's festive single Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End) – and one bookmaker even halved the odds of it making the top spot in Sunday's chart.

The EADT has teamed up with BBC Radio Suffolk for a campaign to put The Darkness on top of the pops.


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Hopes were high as the Lowestoft rockers' new single proved very popular with the Suffolk public.

Ross Alderdice, assistant manager at MVC in Bury St Edmunds, said it would be a boost for East Anglia if The Darkness could hit the top spot.

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"I think it would be good for the area if they can get to number one. Though it is nothing out of the ordinary, I think the track is what you would expect from a Christmas hit and it is the best song released this Christmas," he said.

"The sales have been going very well. It has probably been the biggest seller and I think it will carry on. But we won't know for sure until the weekend when more people buy singles and the kids break up from school."

Matthew Haynes, manager at the town's Woolworths, said the opening day exchanges were close between the modern rock giants and a cover of John Lennon's classic Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by contestants from ITV1 show Pop Idol.

He said: "The sales of the Darkness single are going very well and I think it has been the best seller yesterday along with Changes by Ozzy and Kelly Osbourne.

"But I think the Pop Idols will be Christmas number one because of the television programme and their album is also selling well."

Martin Hay, of Compact Music in Sudbury, is tipping The Darkness for the Christmas number one spot.

He said: "The Darkness are my bet for the Christmas number one, a lot of people are coming in and asking about their music.

"We have sold around six singles so far but know there is a big demand for the song and we expect sales to pick-up this week. A lot of people have also placed orders for the 12" picture disc."

Chris Barrett, owner of Rex Records in Ipswich, said: "The Darkness single has been our top-seller of the day – we've sold more than 20 copies, which is good going. I think it's a definite contender for the Christmas number one."

Shops in Colchester saw the single by The Darkness flying off the shelves.

The HMV store in the town saw 42 CDs and 14 DVDs of The Darkness single sold, as opposed to just nine Pop Idol CDs.

Meanwhile, fans of The Darkness in north Suffolk were also keen to snap up copies of the Christmas single.

The band has a strong fan base in its home town of Lowestoft and other parts of the Waveney area.

A spokeswoman for Andy's Records, in London Road North, Lowestoft, said: "There is no doubt that The Darkness single is the most popular record we are selling.

"I am convinced that it will be number one not just locally but will be the national number one for Christmas."

It was a similar story a few miles away at Beccles.

A spokesman for Morlings music and record shop in New Market, Beccles, said the record had been so popular it had sold out within a few hours of going on sale.

"We have sold all our copies of The Darkness new Christmas single and have had to order in more," he said.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has been inundated with bets on The Darkness to be number one at Christmas.

It has slashed the odds in half from 4-1 to 2-1. One week ago, the rockers were 7-1 shots.

Ladbrokes spokesman Warren Lush said: "We are not inclined to believe there are dark forces at work but the fact that The Darkness single can be bought for £1.99 and the Pop Idol single is available for £3.99 has to be a factor."

TOP 10 CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONES TO FORGET

1. Lily the Pink – The Scaffold (1968)

2. Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West) – Benny Hill (1971)

3. Two Little Boys – Rolf Harris (1969)

4. Long Haired Lover From Liverpool – Jimmy Osmond (1972)

5. Mull of Kintyre – Wings (1977)

6. Mary's Boy Child – Boney M (1978)

7. There's No-One Quite Like Grandma – St Winifred's School Choir (1980)

8. Mistletoe and Wine – Cliff Richard (1988)

9. Mr Blobby – Mr Blobby (1993)

10. Can We Fix It? – Bob The Builder (2000)

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