This week's UK news: 16 December 2010
17 December 2010

The battle for the top-selling Christmas song begins

Bands and singers have always wanted to have the best-selling song at Christmas. Traditionally, people produced a "Christmas single". This usually had lyrics about Christmas and sometimes the sound of bells in the background.

But things have changed a bit. For the last few years, Simon Cowell has gone for the Christmas Number 1 every time. Cowell isn't a performer. He is the creator and chief judge of a programme called The X Factor, which dominates UK television in the autumn.

The X Factor is a talent show for singers. People queue to take part, and the judges choose several acts each. They support their own acts through performances each week. The television audience votes for who stays each week.

The final show finds the winner two weeks before Christmas, and their song is released that night. This year's winner is a house painter called Matt Cardle.

Not everyone is happy about the domination of the X Factor song. Last year there was a campaign on Facebook to get people to download a different song, to stop the X Factor winner getting to Number 1 at Christmas. The same thing is happening this year. The rival song, by John Cage, is unusual: it is silent.

See what the UK was like 50 years ago

In the 1930s, the British Council started making films to show people in other countries what life was like in the UK. The idea was to show the best of Britain to the rest of the world. The films were shown in embassies, and other official places. Subjects included cricket, public houses, the Royal Family and gardens.

Now some of the films are on show again for the first time in 30 years. They have been digitised and can be seen on the web.

Royal Family caught in student protests

There has been a lot of anger about Government plans to raise the amount of fees UK students pay for their university courses. These have included large demonstrations in London.

The biggest of these was held last week as members of Parliament voted for the fee rise by 21 votes. The most surprising thing was that the Queen's eldest son and his wife were caught in the middle of the protest.

The Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, were being driven to the theatre when their car drove into a street filled with protestors. The car was unable to move away fast and the Duchess of Cornwall was apparently poked by a protester outside the car. Questions are being asked about why the Royal security police did not change the route to avoid problems.

Cookbook is top seller

Jamie Oliver is probably one of the best-known chefs in the UK. Since he starred in his own TV programme in his early 20s, he has used his fame to improve people's eating habits.

So far he has helped to improve school dinners, has taught thousands of people in the UK and Australia to cook, and encouraged Americans to eat more healthily. He has also set up training restaurants in the UK, Amsterdam and Melbourne and has set up a chain of shops and restaurants.

He also writes cookbooks. The latest, called Jamie's 30-Minute Meals, has done amazingly well. Since it came out two months ago, it has been at the top of the best-seller lists and is the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever. Soon he is likely to become the best-selling non fiction author in history.


by Susan Young


  • This week's UK news: 10 December 2010
  • This week's UK news: 3 December 2010
  • This week's UK news: 26 November 2010
  • This week's UK news: 19 November 2010   

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