IF YOU had told Blythe Duff she would end 2020 recording a single already being touted in some quarters as a potential Christmas number one, she’d have laughed her head off.

“It’s unbelievable, after this year of all years, to have been able to tick off the biggest wish on my bucket list,” she marvels.

“A Christmas number one? Well, I don’t know. But Cammy reliably informs me for it to be kicking around in the top 20 – it even got to number six at one point – is a good sign.”

Cammy is Cameron Barnes, singer-songwriter, actor and one of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who has teamed up with Blythe to release one of the most magical and unusual festive records you will hear this year.

Sparked by the controversy surrounding the classic Pogues song Fairytale of New York, in which a drunken couple hurl insults at each other while reflecting on their relationship, Blythe and Cameron have reimagined the song as a poignant and powerful conversation between a mother and son.

Their version of the 33-year-old hit, and the heartbreaking video they have made to accompany it, have lit up social media, and Blythe has been inundated with calls and messages from fans.

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“Men, in particular, seem quite moved by it, and hopefully we have done it in such a way that it is heartbreaking, but not overly sentimental, or crass,” she explains.

“It’s such a beautiful song, and so well-known, it always conjures up images of Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl sparring with each other on the Top of the Pops. We knew we had to make a video to make it land as the story of a mother and son.

“Some people did look at us strangely when we told them what we were doing in a kind of ‘danger danger’, don’t go near it’ way, but everyone has loved it.”

Blythe wrote a short script, about a singer and single mum called Chrissy Chalmers, who is living life vicariously through her multi-talented musician son Guy.

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She has encouraged him to leave Glasgow and follow in her footsteps to seek his fortune in New York City, but it has not worked...how can he tell her their dreams have fallen flat?

It is not the first time Blythe and Cameron have acted together. They met while playing mother and son in the National Theatre of Scotland’s groundbreaking production The James Plays in 2014 and have remained firm friends ever since.

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Cameron’s gran, a huge fan of Taggart - the STV drama series in which Blythe played no-nonsense Glasgow cop Jackie Reid for 21 years, was especially over the moon about the friendship.

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“Margaret was a lovely woman – she told Cammy to smarten himself up and wear a shirt if he was coming to meet me,” she laughs.

“And he is incredibly talented - his voice blows me away.”

Backed by Scott Wood and Mhairi Marwick who added string, piano, whistle and percussion, and recorded under strict Covid guidance, the song was ready within a week.

“I love singing, my dad sang in male voice choirs, and I have done the odd song on stage, but I’m never going to do musical theatre,” says Blythe.

“I don’t have the technique, and I know that, but I do love to sing, it has always been part of my life. Getting the chance to do this has been amazing but I admit I felt a bit overwhelmed in a studio with Cammy, Scott and Mhairi....”

BAFTA-winning director Michael J Ferns was in charge of the video – and there is a Taggart connection here too.

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“When Michael was 12, we filmed an episode of Taggart in his grandparents’ house, and he says that was the moment he knew he wanted to work in the industry,” says Blythe, smiling.

“We had a real connection as soon as we spoke about this project, and he brought so much energy and creativity, it was really emotional.”

Michael says he jumped at the chance to work with Blythe.

“My 12-year-old self would never have forgiven me if I had turned it down,” he laughs.

“It’s not really obvious to me precisely what we’ve made, it’s part music video, part short film I suppose. Positive mother-son relationships are portrayed so rarely in music.

“There’s something uniquely evocative and relatable about exploring truly unconditional love - none of the jealousy of romance and exclusivity of sex.

“It’s human and complex, sure, but it’s wholesome and uplifting in exactly the way we all need most right now.”

All profits from Fairytale of New York are going to Nordoff Robbins and ACT the Actors’ Children’s Trust.

“These are two amazing charities, doing such great work this year and always,” says Blythe.

“Musicians and actors are struggling so much just now, it’s really tough. We have set up a JustGiving page to support them.

“Whether we make it to number one or not, if everyone who has watched the video and felt moved by it or has shed a tear gave us a pound, we could make a huge sum of money for these two wonderful causes.”

The single and video for Fairytale of New York is available on YouTube here. You can also support Blythe and Cameron by donating to their Just Giving pages here