Christmas number ones: Every festive chart topper since records began, from The Beatles to Ed Sheeran

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  • Cliff Richard
    Cliff Richard
    British singer
The Spice Girls achieved three consecutive Christmas number ones in the 1990s
The Spice Girls achieved three consecutive Christmas number ones in the 1990s

The race to be top of the British singles chart at Christmas has been an annual event every December since 1952.

The Beatles, unsurprisingly, hold the record for the most Christmas number ones, with four, however the top spot has been claimed for the last three years by YouTuber LadBaby. The Spice Girls also had an impressive three consecutive victories in the mid-Nineties, with Cliff Richard also having a hat trick to his name.

Band Aid’s charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” enjoys the distinction of being the only song to have topped the charts on 25 December on three occasions. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was number one on the big day in 1975, and again when it was re-released in 1991 as a tribute to the band’s late frontman, Freddie Mercury.

A 2002 win by Girls Aloud, then recently emerged from ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals, was a forewarning of Simon Cowell’s imminent Christmas chart takeover.

The winning acts from his successor series, The X Factor, stormed to the top every year between 2005 and 2008 before the public revolted and a protest campaign led to rap-metal band Rage Against The Machine’s 1992 track “Killing in the Name” beating Joe McElderry in 2009.

The rebellion was short-lived, however, with X Factor alumni Matt Cardle, Sam Bailey and Ben Haenow all subsequently achieving the number one spot.

Here’s the complete list of every British Christmas number one since records began.

Looking through it, the British public reveals reassuringly good taste, broadly speaking. Although there are a few novelty record atrocities in there – Benny Hill, Mr Blobby, Bob the Builder – such classic artists as Harry Belafonte, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Pink Floyd, The Human League, The Pet Shop Boys, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson all feature.

Christmas number ones:

  • 1952 “Here in My Heart” – Al Martino

  • 1953 “Answer Me” – Frankie Laine

  • 1954 “Let’s Have Another Party” – Winifred Atwell

  • 1955 “Christmas Alphabet” – Dickie Valentine

  • 1956 “Just Walkin’ in the Rain” – Johnnie Ray

  • 1957 “Mary’s Boy Child” – Harry Belafonte

  • 1958 “It’s Only Make Believe” – Conway Twitty

  • 1959 “What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes At Me For?” – Tennessee Ernie Ford

  • 1960 “I Love You” – Cliff Richard

  • 1961 “Moon River” – Danny Williams

  • 1962 “Return to Sender” – Elvis Presley

  • 1963 “I Want To Hold Your Hand” – The Beatles

  • 1964 “I Feel Fine” – The Beatles

  • 1965 “Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out” – The Beatles

  • 1966 “The Green, Green Grass of Home” – Tom Jones

  • 1967 “Hello Goodbye” – The Beatles

  • 1968 “Lily the Pink” – Scaffold

  • 1969 “Two Little Boys” – Rolf Harris

  • 1970 “I Hear You Knockin’” – Dave Edmunds

  • 1971 “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)” – Benny Hill

  • 1972 “Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool” – Jimmy Osmond

  • 1973 “Merry Xmas Everyone” – Slade

  • 1974 “Lonely this Christmas” – Mud

  • 1975 “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

  • 1976 “When a Child is Born” – Johnny Mathis

  • 1977 “Mull of Kintyre/Girl’s School” – Wings

  • 1978 “Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord” – Boney M

  • 1979 “Another Brick in the Wall” – Pink Floyd

  • 1980 “There’s No One Quite Like Grandma” – St Winifred’s School Choir

  • 1981 “Don’t You Want Me?” – The Human League

  • 1982 “Save Your Love” – Renee & Renato

  • 1983 “Only You” – The Flying Pickets

  • 1984 “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid

  • 1985 “Merry Christmas Everyone” – Shakin’ Stevens

  • 1986 “Reet Petite” – Jackie Wilson

  • 1987 “Always on My Mind” – The Pet Shop Boys

  • 1988 “Mistletoe and Wine” – Cliff Richard

  • 1989 “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid II

  • 1990 “Saviour’s Day” – Cliff Richard

  • 1991 “Bohemian Rhapsody/These Are the Days of Our Lives” – Queen

  • 1992 “I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston

  • 1993 “Mr Blobby” – Mr Blobby

  • 1994 “Stay Another Day” – East 17

  • 1995 “Earth Song” – Michael Jackson

  • 1996 “2 Become 1” – The Spice Girls

  • 1997 “Too Much” – The Spice Girls

  • 1998 “Goodbye” – The Spice Girls

  • 1999 “I Have a Dream/Seasons in the Sun” – Westlife

  • 2000 “Can We Fix it?” – Bob the Builder

  • 2001 “Somethin’ Stupid” – Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman

  • 2002 “Sound of the Underground” – Girls Aloud

  • 2003 “Mad World” – Gary Jules and Michael Andrews

  • 2004 “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” – Band Aid 20

  • 2005 “That’s My Goal” – Shayne Ward

  • 2006 “A Moment Like This” – Leona Lewis

  • 2007 “When You Believe” – Leon Jackson

  • 2008 “Hallelujah” – Alexandra Burke

  • 2009 “Killing in the Name” – Rage Against The Machine

  • 2010 “When We Collide” – Matt Cardle

  • 2011 “Wherever You Are” – The Military Wives Choir with Gareth Malone

  • 2012 “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” – The Justice Collective

  • 2013 “Skyskraper” – Sam Bailey

  • 2014 “Something I Need” – Ben Haenow

  • 2015 “A Bridge Over You” – The Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir

  • 2016 “Rockabye” – Clean Bandit

  • 2017 “Perfect” – Ed Sheeran

  • 2018 “We Built This City” – LadBaby

  • 2019 “I Love Sausage Rolls” – LadBaby

  • 2020 “Don’t Stop Me Eatin’” - LadBaby

Amazingly, many of our favourite seasonal songs never made it to the summit: “I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day” by Wizzard, “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, “Last Christmas” by Wham! and “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey all missed out.

Those artists can take comfort from their annual royalty cheques, however.

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