It's sure to be a hoot with Jools
I t's going to be a hoot for the 20th year, but as frontman Jools Holland warms up the audience at the filming of his annual televised Hootenanny, he says: "That this is happening now is our secret.
"If any man, woman or child should speak of this, they will be slain by archers by the morning."
Hopefully the revelation that Holland's annual New Year's Eve bash isn't broadcast live, but filmed at the BBC studios in west London on a Wednesday night in mid-December won't shock you to the core.
But can you really imagine the likes of Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn, Petula Clark, Emeli Sande, The Hives, Jake Bugg, Lianne La Havas, The Dubliners, Bettye LaVette, Roland Gift, Adam Ant and Paloma Faith giving up their New Year's Eve to record a TV show? Probably not, even if it is the 20th anniversary edition.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
The first Jools' Annual Hootenanny was shown on December 31, 1993 and featured Sting, Paul Young, Dina Carroll and, dating the show considerably more, Chaka Demus & Pliers.
Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra have helped usher in each New Year ever since, although this year's Hootenanny will be the last filmed at the BBC's Television Centre. The iconic building was sold back in July, leaving Hootenanny and its parent show, Later... With Jools Holland, temporarily homeless.
That's a matter for another time – the show must go on and all that. Let's have a look at the line-up ...
None of the names are surprising, least of all Emeli Sande, pictured below, who seems to have appeared on every show on TV in the past few months: The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Sports Personality Of The Year, Gardeners' World, Wheel Of Fortune, Deadliest Catch ...
OK, slight exaggeration but whether she was on those programmes or not scarcely matters – she just feels inescapable at the moment.
But it would be odder if she wasn't on Hootenanny – her debut album Our Version Of Events was the UK's biggest- selling of the year and, as you'll see on New Year's Eve, her performance of Heaven is stunning.
Other newcomers on the show include Lianne La Havas, who has also had something of a special year. Tipped for success at the start of 2012, her debut Is Your Love Big Enough? was recently named album of the year by iTunes.
Then there is Jake Bugg, whose Lightning Bolt is well worth staying up late for.
Over on the other side of the studio is a man at the other end of his career, Bobby Womack. His album The Bravest Man In The Universe was made with Damon Albarn and Richard Russell earlier this year and, even though he remains seated for his performance, the size of his voice more than makes up for any physicality lacking in the performance, as does The Hives' frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, who dived around the studio all evening.
Also at the more mature end of the scale, there is Petula Clark. She is 80, but neither looks nor sounds it as she runs through I Couldn't Live Without Your Love and, of course, Downtown, backed by Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
"I think we've captured something very special," Jools says after filming. "The balance of artists was perfect, and each of them performed beautifully. The atmosphere was just fantastic."
The atmosphere was indeed fantastic, helped by the wine smuggled to audience members by friendly floor staff.
It might be mid-December in reality, but with a countdown to midnight (which took place at about 10pm) and a few verses of Auld Lang Syne it really does feel like I've been fast- forwarded to the new year.
Jools' Annual Hootenanny is on BBC Two on Monday, December 31, from 11.10pm.