BLACK CHRISTMAS?

Looks like the race between the rockers and the 'Pop Idol' finalists will be very very close...

The odds of The Darkness scoring Christmas Number One have been slashed in half at the start of their crucial week.

Singer Justin Hawkins had already conceded that ‘Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End)’ would probably finish second to the ‘Pop Idol’ finalists’ version of ‘Merry Xmas (War Is Over)’.

Now, bookmakers Ladbrokes have reduced the Lowestoft rockers chances from 4/1 to 2/1. A week ago the odds stood at 7/1. However, ‘Pop Idol’ is still in the lead, with odds of 1/2.

Stealthy pricing might have worked in The Darkness’ favour. 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.”

Both tracks were released in the UK today (December 15), and the Christmas Number One will be announced on Sunday. The current UK Number One, ‘Changes’ by Ozzy Osbourne and Kelly Osbourne, has odds of 16/1.