Mowgli and Muppets top the charts

WITHOUT even the hint of a video nasty, the Christmas video charts are looking more wholesome than they have done for years.

Walt Disney has numbers one and two in the Music Week video charts. The Muppet Christmas Carol, made by the late Jim Henson but now owned and distributed by the Disney organisation, has just pipped The Jungle Book to number one, though The Jungle Book has been at the top for nearly a month and is expected to have sold more than 2 million copies by January.

With Beauty and The Beast at number four, and Peter Pan at number 12, not to mention Aladdin on general film release, Disney is probably more popular with children this year than it has been for two decades.

Teenybop idols Take That top the specialist music videos, with the Irish country singer Daniel O'Donnell keeping the better known Cliff Richard and Michael Jackson at bay.

A survey of W H Smith stores does, however, reveal some interesting regional variations, indicating that local passions can still challenge the big international blockbusters.

At W H Smith's biggest outlet, in Liverpool, a local history on video, Life And Times: Footage of Liverpool in the 30s and 40s, has been outstripping the Disney best- sellers with about 600 copies sold per week. In Birmingham the same is true of Balti, an Asian cookery video.

Sales of comedy tapes at W H Smith also show the power of regional favourites. Jethro, a West Country comedian, has sold so many tapes in Devon and Cornwall particularly that his A Portion of Jethro now tops the national comedy chart, with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson's Bottom Live second, and Roy 'Chubby' Brown Exposed third.

Among the titles for children, Mr Blobby is kept in fourth place behind Beauty and The Beast, The Jungle Book and The Muppets.

Peter Smith, manager of W H Smith in Liverpool, said: 'Comedy and muscials always do well at Christmas. As well as the ones at the top of the charts, we have been selling loads of the Laurel and Hardy back-catalogue films - people are buying up to 12 at a time of those. And, believe it or not, we are selling hundreds of copies of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

'But Liverpudlians also seem to have this thing about local videos. We sell Merseyside At War all year round as we do a video about the Liverpool overhead railway. And the new one, Life And Times, is selling like hot cakes,' he said.

(Table omitted)

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