The Week Ahead: Syria, travel concerns and the Christmas Number One

As we find out what will be the festive Number One, Chris Bond looks at what's likely to be making headlines in the week ahead as the countdown to Christmas begins.

Festive chart: Will the charity single for the Jo Cox Foundation be the Christmas Number One? (Picture: PA).

Commuter woes

Few strikes have provoked such public anger and frustration as the Southern Rail strike. Friday saw drivers walk out for a third day after conciliation talks failed coming ahead of a planned conductors’ strike this week. Aslef and the RMT unions are in dispute with Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink over changes to guards’ roles on driver-only operated trains.

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Ministers accuse the unions of playing political games and the unions claim changes being brought in are “inherently unsafe”. In the meantime it’s the poor fare-paying public that suffers – just as they’re making their Christmas travel plans.

Human tragedy

It’s impossible not to be moved by the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. At the weekend, the Syrian government suspended the evacuation of civilians and fighters from eastern districts of the city, accusing rebels of breaking terms of the ceasefire. The battle for Syria’s second city has raged for four years and appears to be reaching its denouement with Syria’s army, backed by Russia, having taken nearly all rebel-held districts in eastern Aleppo.

But as is often the case in times of conflict it is ordinary civilians that suffer the most with the UN saying at least 50,000 are still trapped in this once-beautiful city. It won’t end here, though. This is not a fight just for Aleppo, or even Syria, but for who is the dominant force in the Middle East.

Star royal

Of all the principal members of the Royal Family surely none has seen their public undergo a more dramatic transformation than Prince Harry. The man who is fifth in line to the throne has been both a party prince and a soldier in the past, but in the last couple of years he’s matured into an impressive figure.

He founded the hugely successful Invictus Games and, like his mother, has shown empathy with children and has also stepped up to the plate on the Royal duties front, as he showed during his recent trip to the Caribbean – all of which has endeared him to the British public.

This week he’s on our TV screens for a documentary on Lesotho, which follows him to remote locations where he discovers stories to tell to the world.

Last Post

If you haven’t posted all your Christmas cards and presents yet then you’re cutting it fine. As we all know this is the busiest time of year for Royal Mail and they have warned customers not to get caught out, reminding them that the last posting date for Christmas delivery is tomorrow for second-class and Wednesday for first-class. But for those who really leave it to the last minute, there’s a special delivery option up until December 23.

Number One

It’s that time of year when the race to be the Christmas Number One really hots up. There have been some good, and also some not so good, songs that have reached the top spot in the past but this year’s Number One could be particularly poignant with a single in memory of former Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox looking like a hot favourite.

The track, which is a cover of the Rolling Stones hit You Can’t Always Get What You Want, features the likes of Kaiser Chiefs’ frontman Ricky Wilson, Cockney Rebel’s Steve Harley, KT Tunstall and David Gray and was released on Friday.

The smart money will be on this topping the charts, especially now that bookmakers William Hill have said they will donate the money staked on the single to charity.

We’ll find out soon enough with 
the full Christmas Top 40 countdown on BBC Radio 1’s Official Chart on Friday.