I'M GONNA SPEND MY CHRISTMAS WITH A DALEK

 

The Go-Go's: I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek
7" vinyl, limited picture sleeve, December 1964
Oriole CB 1982

A. I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek
B. Big Boss Man

Composed by Les Vandyke
Produced by Johnny Worth

 

The Go-Go's, a semi-professional group from Newcastle, released this short record just in time to hit the Christmas market of 1964. With Doctor Who back on TV for its second season, and The Dalek Invasion Of Earth fufilling the nation's craving for the evil robots, merchandise companies throughout the UK had craftily guessed the villans' market potentional and released annuals, board games, play suits, puzzles, models and even bubble-bath. A Dalek-themed record would have been remarkably unremarkable to the general public of December 1964.

To modern Doctor Who fans, however, the concept is unthinkable - and immensly embarressing. There are few fans around the world who would not happily erase musicians Mike Johnson (19), Alan Cairns (20), Abe Harris (20), Bill Davison (22), Les McLeian (19) and Sue Smith (17) from history - if only they could. Writer and producer Les Vandyke (working under the pseudonym of Johnny Worth) has a monstrosity to answer for: a children's novelty song with a cute-sounding Dalek vowing his love to the listener and wishing them a merry christmas. And asking for more plum pudding.

The vocals are sung by Sue Smith (who puts-on a child-like voice and mis-pwonounces her 'r's) and spoken by a male member of the group in the guise of a nasal-voiced Dalek - a format that presumeably defined The Go-Go's style, for the B-Side (a traditional R&B blues number) repeats the technique (without the silly voices, of course). The up-beat song is performed by several organs and electric guitars, with typical '60s "space" sound effects that fooled a contemporary reviewerer into thinking that they were samples from the Doctor Who TV theme. And, famously, a limited amount of copies came in a black and white picture sleeve, showing a cut-out Dalek frightening crowds of people in the high-street. Sue Smith even remembers standing in London with a Dalek for publicity purposes. Was there no limit to this band's cheek?

Unfortunately, with the passing of time, the novelty factor morphed into distain. BBC Video issued a short section of the song on Daleks - The Early Years in 1992, with narrator Peter Davison emphasising the kitsh factor in the Daleks' "very own pop record". The following year, BBC Radio 1 ended their 30th Anniversary Doctor Who facts week with an edited broadcast of the single, which the DJs mocked and decided was simply "ill-conceived". Such contempt has also led to numerous mistakes in reports concerning the record. 'I'm Going To Spend My Christmas With A Dalek' by The Go-Joes, for instance - a title used by Doctor Who Magazine in DWM 54 and regularly thereafter until a letter from Completely Useless Encyclopedia writers Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons in 1997 put them straight. Further reports have spoken of The Go Gos, The GoGos, The Go Go's or even The Gogo's, and composer Les Vandyke was mistaken for a Van Dyke even in October 2000's Who Is Dr Who sleevenotes.

But the release of that CD, the first reprint of the song since the original release, sparked a revival of appreciation. DWM reviewer Vanessa Bishop found it all "terribly endearing" in January 2001, and The Who Shop showed their appreciation by offering a 1'06" wav download of the original Doctor Who theme with Dalek vocal samples from the single overlaid, presented as a Christmas message from the Daleks in December 2000. For as a press-cutting from 1964 concludes, "The kids will go for it in a big way, and the tune is catchy enough to keep the grown-ups' feet tapping" - even if it took 37 years to be adored.

 

Rereleases

Standard issue 7"

Compilation CD, October 2000: Cherry Red / RPM Records RPM 200

 

Reviews

  • This song is a spoof. It was sung by a 17 year old pretending to be 8, and a middle-aged bloke pretending to be a robot who wants "more plum pudding and custard". It cannot, and should not, be taken seriously. That's my excuse for loving it to bits, anyway. TME
  • I realise I'm in the minority when I say this and I fully expect this to do nothing for my credibility, but I really can't stand this. Those into kitsch items with poor Dalek impressions and a 17 year old trying to sound like a kid may enjoy this, but if I have to listen to it one more time I'll rip the speakers off the wall. It was a mirror of the Dalek-loving time, and you can't blame The Go-Go's any more than you can blame Geri Halliwell for jumping on the salsa bandwagon in 1999. But no-one likes Geri Halliwell. Koquillion
  • This represents novelty records at their worst. Here we have a lead vocalist who seems to be attempting to imitate a 5-year old Bonnie Langford with a Jonathan Ross style speech impediment. The Dalek fares no better and appears to have mutated into Barney the dinosaur along the way. Gruesome. If you can sit through this in its entirety without being violently ill, you're either stone deaf or mentally deranged and should seek professional help immediately! Steve