Joe Stilgoe in Chichester's Minerva Theatre for double dose of Christmas

Joe Stilgoe will be offering a double dose of festive delights when he brings his Christmas At The Movies show to Chichester’s Minerva Theatre on December 19 and 20 (returns only).

Joe Stilgoe
Joe Stilgoe

Brighton-based Joe created the show to follow on from his Songs on Film show.

As a self-confessed film nerd, Joe adds his own original and stylish orchestrations to some of the most memorable moments in movie history, now turning his attention to Christmas music from It’s A Wonderful Life to White Christmas, from Home Alone to Elf.

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The Christmas show accompanies the release of Joe’s Christmas album which comes complete with star-studded line-up, big-band songs, Christmas choirs and fireside yuletide lullabies.

“It has been a funny year,” says Joe. “We ended up doing two albums and half another album. It is just the way it happens, in the way you speak to actors who have got five films coming out at the same time.

“But it has always been on my to do list to do a Christmas record. I have always been the biggest Christmas fan there is. I just love absolutely everything to do with Christmas, how it looks, how it feels, and particularly as you get older, you think of the way people are towards each other at Christmas. And it is not just being sentimental or rose-tinted, but Christmas really is a time of fun and family and benevolence to all.

“I have always written songs about that time, and there are so many Christmas songs around, and I do so many gigs around this time of year.

“And people think of the old swing classics particularly at Christmas. They think of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole and Ella…

“And people are in their best clothes and being glamorous and having fun. It is always a wonderful time.

“Ours is going to be quite a small Christmas this year. People have dispersed! We will have my parents over and we will go to church and down to the seafront and maybe have a paddle.

“I am working at the Albert Hall on Christmas Eve until late… but it will be great. Dad (Richard) will come and butcher a few carols on the piano and my nearly-five year old will tell him that he is getting Silent Night wrong. Except that she will call it Silas Night. And it will be a jolly time.

“Usually it is a big family thing. There are five children and there are 15 grandchildren, but this year it will be quite quiet which will be lovely.”

As for the Christmas album, a big part of the fun was that Joe was joined by host of special guests and friends, including Grammy nominated saxophonist Amy Dickson on Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, the Canterbury Cathedral Girls Choir on Rest in Peace and Rob Brydon on I’ll Be Home For Christmas.

Tantalisingly, Joe says there is a Rob version in which he lapses into a Michael Caine voice on the lyrics – but it was the more serious version that made the cut: “One day I will have to release the out-takes!

“We were umming and ahhing about whether Rob should do something funny because that’s what he is known for, but he does like to get that old rich baritone out!”

Joe has also worked on the album with jazz musician Ben Castle, son of Roy, on Roy’s song Little White Berry.

“I got in touch with Ben because I wanted him to give his blessing.”

There are also a couple of new songs from Joe.

Joe admits to a certain nervousness about the release: “People can be a little bit stodgy about which Christmas songs they will and won’t listen to because the songs are so sacred to them – no pun intended!

“So trying to create new music that people will listen to for Christmas is always a little bit worrying, but hopefully these will be songs that people will want to listen to again and again over the years.”