Author becomes first debut novelist to score Christmas number one

Alex Green, PA Entertainment Reporter
·3-min read

Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club has become the first debut novel to score a Christmas number one.

The Pointless host’s mystery, about a group of pensioners who set about solving the murder of a property developer in a luxury Kent retirement village, beat Barack Obama to the top the festive chart.

The novel sold 134,514 copies in the week ending December 19, according to sales monitor Nielsen BookScan.

Graham Norton Show – London
Richard Osman (Matt Crossick/PA)

This was more than twice as many as A Promised Land, the first volume of the former US president’s memoirs of his time in office, which sold 66,531.

It is the first debut novel to top the Christmas book chart since official sales records began in the late 1990s, and the first adult novel to top the Christmas list since Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol in 2009.

The Thursday Murder Club was met with widespread acclaim when it was published in September.

Global film rights to the book have been bought by Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment.

Osman tweeted: “Well this is just the most wonderful news. #TheThursdayMurderClub is Christmas number 1. I’m absolutely overwhelmed. Thank you all so much. Merry Christmas.”

Osman recently announced he is leaving TV production company Endemol after 20 years.

He was creative director at the company and worked on shows including Prize Island for ITV.

David Walliams, who has scored three of the previous four Christmas number ones, settled for number three with Code Name Bananas, the tale of a boy and a gorilla who become friends during the Second World War, shifting 55,129 copies.

Graham Norton Show – London
David Walliams (Matt Crossick/PA)

Fourth place was taken by slimming cookbook Pinch Of Nom: Quick And Easy by Kay Featherstone and Kate Allinson, which sold 52,955 copies, while Charlie Mackesy’s illustrated tale The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse was at five with 52,099 copies sold.

Other books on the list included The Ickabog by JK Rowling, A Del Of A Life by Sir David Jason and A Life On Our Planet by Sir David Attenborough.

Hazel Kenyon, Nielsen Book Research director, said: “Congratulations to Richard Osman on scoring the Christmas number one crown. I very much look forward to seeing him now appear as an answer on Pointless to a question on Christmas number one bestsellers.”

The UK Christmas book chart 2020

1. The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman) 134,514
2. A Promised Land (Barack Obama) 66,531
3. Code Name Bananas (David Walliams) 55,129
4. Pinch of Nom: Quick & Easy (Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson) 52,955
5. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse (Charlie Mackesy) 52,099
6. Guinness World Records 2021 (Guinness World Records) 35,229
7. Shuggie Bain (Douglas Stuart) 31,218
8. The Ickabog (JK Rowling) 31,159
9. A Del of a Life (Sir David Jason) 23,973
10. A Life on Our Planet (Sir David Attenborough) 23,686