Chanukah for the Baddiels! Football and the Broons

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Chanukah for the Baddiels! Football and the Broons

Brigit Grant finds out how famous brothers Ivor and David Baddiel celebrate the festival of lights, in a rather unorthodox way!

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

David and Ivor Baddiel at Chelsea together
David and Ivor Baddiel at Chelsea together

Though one has raved about the hymns and homeliness of Christmas and the other associates December with scripting X Factor, the Baddiel brothers have an enviable Chanukah legacy.

Coerced into recollecting (please Ivor, please), older brother Ivor paints a picture of a childhood Chanukah that would satisfy most kids. Old enough to have missed the technology that now interrupts chagim, the Baddiels got their big present on the first night and then the gifts decreased in size. “Football was a big part of our lives and our presents,” says Ivor who puts Subbuteo on top of the bros’ gift list.

Invented in 1947 the game, created by Peter Adolph and originally made of cardboard, had matured by the seventies.

“A lot of people had it set up on their dining-room table, but ours was all over the floor, so the players  got decapitated which explains why half the teams were made up of only legs and no bodies.”

Well-known for their support of Chelsea, there were occasional games when the brothers’ allegiance switched to Swansea as their Welsh father, Colin, took them to see his parents every summer.

“I think they were in the fourth division and the opening game of the season was usually against Carlyle, but it was a fun family time.”

Much fun was also had when they got Rebound for Chanukah, a game that fell between bowling and curling and Striker  and Super Striker, which was the new and improved Subbuteo for kids.

If you loved football, then you would love Striker and Super Striker, which unlike Subbuteo had players who could kick a ball.

Subbuteo, anyone?

“I think I got a skateboard one year,” muses Ivor. “And there was also the board game Movie Maker, which was like Monopoly but set in Hollywood, so you had to buy directors and actors.”

As a prelude to the brothers’ careers in the entertainment industry it was beaten only by the horse-racing thriller TotoPoly (circa 1938) a game of two halves but without a ball.


The annuals that arrived over eight nights included The Beano, Dandy, Shoot, Wizzer and Chips, and then there were the more unusual ones. “That came out of Scotland,” explains Ivor.

“They were Oor Wullie (Scottish for William) about a boy who sat on a bucket a lot and The Broons, a family who lived in the fictional town of Auchenshoogle. I’ve still got the annuals.”

The Broons!

Retrieving them from his book shelf, Ivor talked about the idiosyncratic Chanukah traditions of his late mother Sarah.

“She came here from Germany when she was three months old with a swastika stamped on her passport, but the German influence was always there, so we called her parents Oma and Opa and Chanukah was all about the Bundt.

 The bundt is a type of cake, but for mum it was a plate piled high with goodies – sweets, chocolate umbrellas, fruit, nuts and marzipan. I love marzipan and remember shovelling it in.

My mother continued doing the bundt year after year.” In more recent years, Sarah Baddiel would arrive at the homes of her sons laden with Menorahs.

Family picture, back in the day

“Nine or ten was the usual, so that our children, her grandchildren all got a chance to light candles.” Ivor chuckles at her enthusiasm for the flames which is still alive in their homes as the brothers always get together for the festivals.

“Dan lives in New York, but David and I organise it, although it might not always be on the right day because we’re busy.”

And if caught at the right moment devout Jewish aethist David [Baddiel] will wax lyrical on Twitter about the JN’s Chanukah in the Square festivities and Ivor  will dig out a dreidel while spinning a script for Dermot  O’Leary.

  • David Baddiel has a new show –Trolls: Not the Dolls (work in progress) at the Soho Theatre. 
  • The Broons Annual & Oor Wullie Annual 2018 are available at



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