BBC4 have curated an hour-long Christmas special in which several of British folk’s brightest lights come together to celebrate midwinter in raucously enjoyable style. The ever impressive Bellowhead and Mercury nominated alternative folkies The Unthanks are most prominent among the cast, with their various members partaking in ten of the fifteen songs, but the rest of the participants are no slouches. They include Thea Gilmore, who will be performing her new festive single ‘That’ll Be Christmas’ (out December 14, taken from the album Strange Communion), multiple award-winning artist Jim Moray, MOJO Award winner Lisa Knapp, duo Belshazzar’s Feast, John Boden of Spiers & Boden, and Sam Lee.
Dubbed ‘Fire & Ice’ and filmed at Shoreditch Town Hall, the atmosphere is one of “an old music hall combined with a festive Victorian family parlour, bedecked with garlands, period lamps and fireplace”, with even the audience dressing up in “old-fashioned finery”. Opening with a rendition of ‘Silent Night’ from Lizzie Jones, who plays trumpet for The Unthanks, the set rumbles merrily along until the final knees-up, a singalong ensemble performance of ‘Jingle Bells’ featuring the entire cast.
‘BBC4 Christmas Session: Fire & Ice’ airs on Thursday December 17 at 9pm on BBC4, and repeats the next day at 3:05am. Preview photos and video excerpts here.
Lizzie Jones, ‘Silent Night’
Bellowhead, ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High’
Bellowhead, ‘Whiskey Is The Life Of Man’
The Unthanks, ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’
Thea Gilmore, ‘That’ll Be Christmas’
Bellowhead, ‘Mistletoe Bough’
Sam Lee and John Boden, ‘On Christmas Day’
Lisa Knapp with Jim Moray and Becky & Rachel Unthank, ‘The Coventry Carol’
Jim Moray, ‘Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel’
Belshazzar’s Feast, ‘Sans Day Carol’
Belshazzar’s Feast, ‘Softly Good Tummus’
The Unthanks, ‘Tar Barrel In Dale’
The Unthanks, ‘Betsy Bell’
Bellowhead, ‘Sloe Gin Set’
Ensemble led by Bellowhead, ‘Jingle Bells’