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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This Festive Fifty set a pattern that appeared to displease both JP and FF historian Mark Whitby:

Pleasant enough but, as the Festive Fifty continued its countdwon, I was becoming more convinced that we had a formula here being done to death and a tenth anniversary Festive Fifty that contained some good stuff but, overall, was not of vintage quality....There are some examples of genuine inspiration, but as the chart wore on there was a feeling that the track being played had already appeared somewhere down the chart. When Peel actually did this at one point, the error seemed loaded with unintended irony. (Whitby, M., The Festive Fifty, Nevin Publishing, 2005, p.22.)

Despite this, JP considered playing numbers 60-51 at one point as some of his favourites of the year gained places. (See 15 December 1986.) The Smiths dominated the chart (seven entries in total, with four of these in the top ten, including the number one spot, and five of them coming from The Queen Is Dead). However, this number of entries was equalled by the Fall, who also had two in the top ten. Long time chart entrants Half Man Half Biscuit had their first successes, and Elvis Costello had his last. Additionally, the Costello track was one of three JP admitted never having played on the radio previously: the others were by the Mission and The The. One track, by Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle, was at the time unreleased on LP or tape.

The Peel Sessions (Garner, K., BBC Books, 2007) lists the final show of the chart as being 31 December 1986: Peel states at the end of the final programme that the next night was in fact "Janice (Long) and John's New Year's Eve Special".

In early January 1987 JP submitted some reflections on the 1986 chart in The Observer.


The Festive Fifty Of 1986

  • 50:

    John Peel's Festive Fifty - 1986

    Pogues, 'Body Of An American (EP-Poguetry In Motion)' (Stiff)
  • 49: Mission, 'Serpent's Kiss (12 inch-1)' (Chapter 22)
  • 48: Fall, 'Dktr. Faustus (LP-Bend Sinister)' (Beggars Banquet)
  • 47: Camper Van Beethoven, 'Take The Skinheads Bowling (12 inch)' (Rough Trade)
  • 46: Colourbox, 'The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme (7 inch)' (4AD)
  • 45: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix (LP-Kicking Against The Pricks)' (Mute)
  • 44: Mighty Mighty, 'Is There Anyone Out There? (7 inch)' (Girlie)
  • 43: Shop Assistants, 'I Don't Want To Be Friends With You (7 inch)' (Blue Guitar)
  • 42: Flatmates, 'I Could Be In Heaven (7 inch)' (Subway Organization)
  • 41: Billy Bragg, 'Greetings To The New Brunette (LP-Talking With The Taxman About Poetry)' (Go! Discs)
  • 40: Elvis Costello, 'I Want You (LP-Blood And Chocolate)' (Demon)
  • 39: Half Man Half Biscuit, 'Dickie Davies Eyes (7 inch)' (Probe Plus)
  • 38: Cocteau Twins, 'Those Eyes, That Mouth (EP-Love's Easy Tears)' (4AD)
  • 37: Fall, 'Lucifer Over Lancashire (7 inch-B side of Mr. Pharmacist)' (Beggars Banquet)
  • 36: Wedding Present, 'Felicity' (Peel Session)
  • 35: Smiths, 'Cemetery Gates (LP-The Queen Is Dead)' (Rough Trade)
  • 34: Mighty Lemon Drops, 'Like An Angel (7 inch)' (Dreamworld)
  • 33: Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle, 'I Wish I Could Sprechen Sie Deutsch' (Peel Session)
  • 32: The The, 'Heartland (7 inch)' (Epic)
  • 31: We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It, 'Rules And Regulations (EP-Rules And Regulations)' (Vindaloo)
  • 30: Very Things, 'This Is Motortown (7 inch)' (D.C.L. Electric Recordings)
  • 29: That Petrol Emotion, 'It's A Good Thing (7 inch)' (Demon)
  • 28: Wedding Present, 'You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends (7 inch)' (Reception)
  • 27: Age Of Chance, 'Bible Of The Beats (7 inch)' (Riot Bible)
  • 26: Fall, 'R.O.D. (Realm Of Dusk)' (Peel Session)
  • 25: Soup Dragons, 'Whole Wide World (7 inch)' (Subway Organization)
  • 24: Billy Bragg, 'Levi Stubbs' Tears (7 inch)' (Go! Discs)
  • 23: Pastels, 'Truck Train Tractor (7 inch)' (Glass)
  • 22: Primitives, 'Really Stupid (7 inch)' (Lazy)
  • 21: Cocteau Twins, 'Love's Easy Tears (7 inch)' (4AD)
  • 20: Fall, 'Bournemouth Runner (LP-Bend Sinister)' (Beggars Banquet)
  • 19: Bodines, 'Therese (7 inch)' (Creation)
  • 18: Wedding Present, 'This Boy Can Wait (7 inch-b side of You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends)' (Reception)
  • 17: Soup Dragons, 'Hang Ten! (7 inch)' (Raw TV Products)
  • 16: Wedding Present, 'Once More (7 inch)' (Reception)
  • 15: Fall, 'Living Too Late (LP-Bend Sinister)' (Beggars Banquet)
  • 14: Half Man Half Biscuit, 'Trumpton Riots (7 inch)' (Probe Plus)
  • 13: Weather Prophets, 'Almost Prayed (7 inch)' (Creation)
  • 12: Smiths, 'Bigmouth Strikes Again (LP-The Queen Is Dead)' (Rough Trade)
  • 11: Smiths, 'Ask (LP-The World Won't Listen)' (Rough Trade)
  • 10: Fall, 'US 80s 90s (LP-Bend Sinister)' (Beggars Banquet)
  • 09: Jesus And Mary Chain, 'Some Candy Talking (7 inch-NME's Big Four)' (New Musical Express)
  • 08: Shop Assistants, 'Safety Net (7 inch)' (53rd & 3rd)
  • 07: Smiths, 'The Queen Is Dead (LP-The Queen Is Dead)' (Rough Trade)
  • 06: Smiths, 'I Know It's Over (LP-The Queen Is Dead)' (Rough Trade)
  • 05: Smiths, 'Panic (7 inch)' (Rough Trade)
  • 04: Primal Scream, 'Velocity Girl (7 inch-B side of Crystal Moment)' (Creation)
  • 03: Fall, 'Mr. Pharmacist (LP-Bend Sinister)' (Beggars Banquet)
  • 02: Age Of Chance, 'Kiss (7 inch)' (Riot Bible)
  • 01: Smiths, 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (LP-The Queen Is Dead)' (Rough Trade)


  • This Festive Fifty is well served by a set of recordings which appear to represent the shows in their entirety: these are documented on the date pages.