Nina Stibbe picks a soundtrack to Love, Nina

We asked the author to put together a list of songs that could be considered a soundtrack to Love, Nina, set in mid-80s London. Stibbe recruited her three charges - Sam and Will Frears, and neighbour Tom - to help; the result is an incredibly nostalgic playlist does terribly well at bringing the book to life

Day to day life with Sam and Will (and Tom next door) meant Radio One. I can’t pretend the soundtrack of the Gloucester Crescent years was eclectic, obscure or even varied, but it was very cool. It’s the boys’ soundtrack and they were true pop-lovers and wouldn’t have stood for anything but the best.

1. Spandau Ballet.

Sam and I preferred True but Tom knew all the words to Gold. Anyway, whatever Spandau track came on the radio we’d be happy and all sing along.

2. Musical Youth – Pass the Dutchie.

The boys loved this. They also loved the video which shows the band performing the song on the Southbank when an old-school type official appears and arrests them (for having a nice time) and they end up court where they win over the stuffy judge with their charming song.

3. Duran Duran.

Sam had the album Rio and particularly loved Hungry like the Wolf.

4. Bananarama – Robert de Niro’s Waiting.

Very tuneful.

5. Michael Jackson

Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’ and Thriller from Thriller the album were much loved, but it was Billie Jean that we loved best and mumbled the lyrics when it came on.

6. Police – Every Breath You Take.

We all liked this, including Mary-Kay. The boys liked the band so much they made Police posters for my room.

7. Prince – Little Red Corvette.

Michael Neve introduced Prince to the house and we loved this. It was a bit different to the poppy stuff.

8. Survivor – Eye of the Tiger.

The theme song for Rocky lll. This macho song actually got on my wick a bit, but it was played all the time and I can’t deny it a place on the list.

9. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message.

I think Will particularly loved this one, again, not my favourite but it deserves to be on the list just by being everywhere all the time back then.

10. Wham! – Young Guns (Go For It!)

We all loved this (and all of Wham!’s songs). Witty lyrics and such energy.


Love, Nina

Nina Stibbe

Being a nanny is great. Not like a job really, just like living in someone else's life. Today before breakfast Sam had to empty the dishwasher and Will had to feed the cat.

Sam: I hate emptying the dishwasher.
MK: We all do, that's why we take turns.
Will: I hate the cat.
MK: We all do, that's why we take turns.

In the 1980s Nina Stibbe wrote letters home to her sister in Leicester describing her trials and triumphs as a nanny to a London family. There's a cat nobody likes, a visiting dog called Ted Hughes (Ted for short) and suppertime visits from a local playwright. Not to mention the two boys, their favourite football teams, and rude words, a very broad-minded mother and assorted nice chairs.

From the mystery of the unpaid milk bill and the avoidance of nuclear war to mealtime discussions on pie filler, the greats of English literature, swearing in German and sexually transmitted diseases, Love, Nina is a wonderful celebration of bad food, good company and the relative merits of Thomas Hardy and Enid Blyton.

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