THE annual Hootenanny is upon us, with ringmaster Jools Holland still at the centre of New Year's Eve's biggest party.
"That this is happening now is our secret," says Jools Holland as he warms up the audience at the filming of his annual televised Hootenanny.
"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.
The first Jools' Annual Hootenanny was shown on December 31, 1993 and featured Sting, Paul Young and Dina Carroll.
None of the names are surprising, least of all Emeli Sande who seems to have appeared on every show on TV in the past few months. 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 here she performs Heaven.
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's 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's Petula Clark. She's 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. They also back Ruby Turner through a few numbers, soul queen Bettye Lavette, Lianne La Havas and Paloma Faith too, plus Fine Young Cannibal Roland Gift, who sings out 2012 with a classic, and Kevin Rowland of Dexy's Midnight Runners. A party really isn't a party without Come On Eileen, is it?
And let's not forget The Pipes And Drums from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards.
It wasn't just the musicians enjoying a party on the night.
Joining in were comedians Greg Davies, Jon Culshaw and John Bishop, the latter pair trading Bishop impressions. Comedy Awards best actor Peter Capaldi was also there, as well as Professor Green, Nick Knowles and Fiona Bruce.
"I think we've captured something very special," Jools said 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 around 10pm) and a few verses of Auld Lang Syne it really does feel like I've been fast-forwarded to the new year."