In defence of Jools Holland’s New Year’s Eve Hootenanny

“No, not the Hootenanny,” exclaimed eternal teenager Jeremy Usborne on the classic New Year’s Eve episode of Peep Show.Never the Hootenanny. We’re better than that.” Well, are we?


Jools Holland’s annual pre-recorded bout of enforced seasonal fun has been a television fixture since 1993, when a wise BBC commissioning editor decided that viewers who couldn’t be arsed to go out for New Year’s Eve deserved to be just as disappointed as the people who did. But maybe the Hootenanny, an epic version of Later with… Jools Holland with more Paul Weller than you’ve ever wanted in your life, isn’t as awful as we think it is.

Over the years the show has attracted some huge, huge names – and also Paul Weller – meaning that if you’re watching the Hootenanny you’re much more likely to start the new year with some serious star power than if you go to that crummy house party at Kev’s place, again. Yes, even if someone there talks loudly at you for 20 minutes in the kitchen and insists they’re second cousins with Serge from Kasabian.

The Hootenanny’s talent for bringing in classic names, fresh meat and um, Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics year in, year out, is unparalleled. Adele, Florence and the Machine, rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Dizzee Rascal, Bobby Womack and Haim have all stopped by the studio to deliver some festive cheer and willingly, nay, encouragingly let dear Jools boogie woogie alongside them. Sure, when it comes to actual NYE they’re all probably hanging out on Richard Branson’s private island – yep, even Amy and Bobby – sipping cognac out of oyster shells, but hell, for at least a few hours in early autumn they deigned to be in the same room as the cast of Never Mind The Buzzcocks and ate cold canapés with real life smiles on their faces. And they didn’t do it for themselves, they did it for us, for us at 11.30pm on December 31, stuck to the sofa because party plans fell through, because it was too cold to go out, because the pub was too busy, because your ex texted you two hours ago to call you a dick.

Sure, the Hootenanny is cheesy as fuck, but it’s Christmas. This is the time to embrace cheese and hold its melty goodness close to your chest as Sting sings a big band number with Paloma Faith cackling away on backing vocals. There have been some majestic moments on the Hootenanny. Let’s remember some of the best…

The late, much loved Kirsty MacColl’s stunning version of Cole Porter’s 1934 showtune ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ with bagpipes and drum backing from the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards.


Florence Welch shimmying her way through jazz standard ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’

Amy Winehouse covering Toots and the Maytals’ ‘Monkey Man’

Mavis Staples blasting through The Staple singers genius ‘I’ll Take You There’

Bobby Womack and Damon Albarn being excellent together

Sam minus Dave

Never the Hootenanny? Sometimes the Hootenanny, we say.