Released in a bid to corner the Christmas pop charts at the height of The Daleks’ popularity – it didn’t – I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek by The Go-Go’s was a 1964 single that was written and recorded in a rush to cash in on the Beatle-rivalling wave of ‘Dalekmania’ that sprang up around their first appearance in Doctor Who. It’s extremely silly and it’s also extremely good. No, really.
Doctor Who fans have traditionally regarded I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek as little more than a punchline, but contrary to popular belief was actually a serious attempt at scoring a festive hit single, written and produced by one of the pop industry’s top talents of the time with the active involvement of notoriously exacting Dalek creator Terry Nation and a fairly convincing approximation of an authentic Dalek voice; as those Doctor Who fans will also tell you, this was not exactly a common occurrence back then. It’s a fairly straightforward pop record for the time, and actually quite exciting in its own peculiar space-age way, but it’s also an easy target for anyone who doesn’t really know that much about anything that isn’t directly related to Doctor Who and in all honesty may not even have heard it in the first place. Not that they like anyone else making jokes about Doctor Who, of course.
(Music For) The Head Ballet is a podcast hosted by Paul Abbott which celebrates the art of the novelty record in all of its many and varied forms. Amongst the frequently disregarded discs Paul and his guests have given a spin to are Camouflage by Stan Ridgway, the Transformers: The Movie soundtrack and Anyone Can Fall In Love by Anita Dobson, and on this edition you can hear me chatting to Paul about I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek. As well as discussing the background to I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek itself and the fascinating story of cash-in merchants extraordinaire Oriole Records, we also take a look at who The Go-Go’s actually were and what little is known about them now, what was on the conspicuously more credible and musically robust b-side, who and what else was vying for space in the record racks as Christmas approached in 1964, whether Daleks can hold guitars, and why the single was actually a little more ‘official’ than most observers seem to assume. We also find plenty of perfectly valid excuses to mention a festive-tinged bit of cash register-slamming by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and the small matter of Adam Faith battling the Loch Ness Monster.
You can download (Music For) The Head Ballet: I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek By The Go-Go’s here or listen to it below. ME-RRY CHRIST-MAS.
Meanwhile, if you’ve already listened to the podcast and you’re curious about the single’s little-heard b-side Big Boss Man, here it is!
You can follow (Music For) The Head Ballet on Twitter at @HeadBalletPod.
Buy A Book!
You can find a lot more of my thoughts on Doctor Who in the sixties and The Daleks in particular in my book Can’t Help Thinking About Me, a collection of columns and features with a personal twist. Can’t Help Thinking About Me is available in paperback here or from the Kindle Store here.
Alternately, if you’re just feeling generous, you can buy me a coffee here. It’s doubtful that they would have played Big Boss Man in the hip hangout coffee bars at the time, but you never know.
You can hear to me on another edition of (Music For) The Head Ballet talking about early George Martin production Ringing On The Engine Bell by Bernard Cribbins here.
Paul has appeared on Looks Unfamiliar talking about The Compleat Beatles, Zeeb And The Martians, Crab E. Crab, Rock Lords: Narlies, the Commodore Plus/4 and The Late Night Funster Show here, and the Christmas Special of The Peter Serafinowicz Show here, and stood in as host to chat to me about California Fever, Galloping Galaxies!, Bad Ronald, In-Flight Entertainment, The Chronicles Of Narmo by Caitlin Moran, Pirate Radio Four, The Collings And Herrin Podcast and What’s That Noise? here and Karen Gillan’s horror short The Hoarding here.
If you’re more interested in Doctor Who-related chat, you can listen to me talking to Emma Burnell and Steve Fielding about representations of politics and politicians in Doctor Who on The Zeitgeist Tapes here.
Black And White Christmas is a feature with an accompanying playlist looking at some of my favourite little-known Christmas records from the sixties, including I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas With A Dalek and a bit of seasonal cynicism from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; you can find it here. You can read much more about early Doctor Who adventures that didn’t capture the public imagination quite to the same extent as The Daleks did in There’s Not An Ounce Of Curiosity In Me! here and All We Do Is Stand Around here, and about the oddly obscure status of some once-prominent Dalek-adjacent Doctor Who characters in Katarina Amongst The Pigeons here.
Special thanks to The Space Museum for the upgraded (i.e. less battered) image of the picture sleeve – you can find their excellent online Doctor Who scrapbook here.
© Tim Worthington.
Please don’t copy this only with more italics and exclamation marks.