John Peel Wiki
Festive Fifty
1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

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Until 16 November 2008, there was no broadcast copy of the 1977 Festive Fifty in circulation: on that day, however, Yahoo Peel Mailing List member Bill S submitted two mp3s containing the top 13, thus bringing an end to the chart's status as one of the two great lost rundowns. Since then, Bill S's files have been remastered and two further sections of the four shows have become available. Many thanks to Bill (from North Wales) for all of these! See 22 December 1977 and 27 December 1977 for details. If you have any further sections (or anything at all of the still missing 1976 Festive Fifty shows), please contact the Peel Mailing List, who will welcome you with open arms and worldwide dancing on the streets.

Broadcast dates


Information on this list finally surfaced in late 2007.

(From the ever wonderful rocklist):

DJ John Peel's long lost "Festive 50" of top tracks of 1977 has been reconstructed as part of the new definitive history of his show THE PEEL SESSIONS, published by BBC Books. The rundown presents a startling snapshot of Peel's personal view of a year when music changed for ever, with punk and reggae elbowing out the rock legends.

The first ever Festive 50 poll of his listeners' all-time favourite tracks was broadcast over Christmas 1976, but with everything changing in 1977, Peel and his producer John Walters decided not to run a poll that year. Instead, Peel chose his own favourites, but presented it as a 'Festive 50' chart rundown anyway. The Top 13 are well-documented, but the full chart is the "Forgotten Fifty", remembered only in fragments by even diehard listeners.

Prompted by queries and tip-offs from fellow members of the Peel Mailing List on Yahoo, author Ken Garner reconstructed the chart in his The Peel Sessions book from a combination of listener diaries & off-air tapes, and the programme scripts kept on microfilm at BBC Written Archives, Caversham. "Even though he referred to it on air as the Festive 50, Peel clearly chose 60 personal favourites from across the year to spin again, plus The Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' cheekily thrown in as an extra at the start", he says: "The track was still banned at the BBC in Silver Jubilee Year - although Peel had of course played it twice before the ban was imposed - and you can imagine the furore if he had drawn attention to it by 'placing' it. This way he sneaked it in with no-one noticing." Although no chart placings are given on the scripts, it was possible to count backwards from the number one at the end of the final countdown show. "The Forgotten Fifty as a whole in its range and order is very much like the nightly Peel shows of the time in its mixture of old and new, the fashionable alongside the uncool" says Garner, "with some giveaway Peel running-order jokes, like following The Boys with The Yobs." (It's worth noting that The Boys and The Yobs were actually the same band, however.)

John Peel's Forgotten Fifty Of 1977

Number 13: The Jays, Jayes or J. Ayes?

There seems to be some confusion surround the actual name of the artists behind the classic Reggae track, Truly. Original scans of an early 1977 releases of the vinyl show the artist as being "J. Ayes and Ranking Trevor"[1], but a more official 1978 release of the song lists the artist as "JAYES".[2]

Despite this evidence to the contrary, it seems as though the popular Jamaican trio The Jays were actually behind the song. Documented as working on the song with Ranking Trevor, the song appears on many compilation albums along with another popular collaboration Ya Ho[3][4][5]. It seems highly likely that the early pressings of Truly contained a simple misprint that even survived attempts to correct it, providing more confusion for collectors.

Favourite sessions show

  • The Peel show from the night after the broadcast is available, when Peel played his favourite sessions of the year and made several references to the list. See the 28 December 1977 show.


  • See broadcast date pages for details.