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Saturday, 15 December, 2001, 17:10 GMT
Christmas number one race is close
Robbie Williams at the Albert Hall
Williams and Kidman face a battle for the top spot
Bookies expect a "photo finish" for the Christmas number one slot between glamorous duo Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman and little-known singer Gordon Haskell.

The Williams and Kidman cover of the Sinatra classic Somethin' Stupid had been strong favourite to top the festive charts this year - at 4/7 with William Hill and 2/5 with Paddy Power.

But Hills expects a close contest after the odds on dark horse candidate Haskell, 55, from Sturminster Newton, Dorset, dropped dramatically from 33/1 to 5/4.

Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman sings 'Somethin' Stupid' with Robbie Williams
Children's TV characters The Tweenies are at 14/1 with Hills, Sophie Ellis Bextor is at 20/1, and Sir Cliff Richard is at 25/1.

The odds on actress Kate Winslet's charity single What If, from the animated film Christmas Carol: The Movie, have long since drifted beyond 33/1.

HMV has also been predicting Haskell's ballad, How Wonderful You Are, might just jump in and steal the Christmas crown.

The single, which will be released on Monday, has received a lot of airplay on BBC Radio 2.

HMV top 5 Christmas Predictions:
1. Gordon Haskell / How Wonderful You Are
2. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman / Somethin' Stupid
3. Daniel Bedingfield / Gotta Get Thru This
4. Sophie Ellis Bextor / Murder on the Dancefloor
5. Stereophonics / Handbags and Gladrags

A spokesman for HMV said: "We know from previous experience that anything is possible when it comes to the Christmas number one.

"However HMV will stick its neck out and plump for Gordon Haskell - just.

"If this virtual unknown does pull it off to deny Robbie, it will be one of the biggest upsets in charts history."

Haskell played with the 1970s band King Crimson, but has more recently been playing pub gigs.

He says he wrote the song as he walked around a local supermarket with his 82-year-old mother.

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