THE OFFICIAL UK Singles Chart began in 1952 after appearing in the New Musical Express.
The emergence of a serious contest for the Christmas number-one spot began in 1973 when the band Slade deliberately released “Merry Xmas Everybody” as an effort to reach the top of the charts on Christmas.
The Beatles are the only act to have four Christmas number ones, three consecutively starting from 1963.
On two occasions, in 1963 and 1967, they had both the Christmas number one and the number two and are the only act to have achieved this.
As part of two acts, George Michael repeated the feat with Band Aid and Wham! in 1984.
Paul McCartney, meanwhile, has been top eight times with various acts.
Cliff Richard has spent four Christmasses at number one; two as a solo act, one with The Shadows and one as part of Band Aid II.
The Spice Girls later equalled the record of having three consecutive Christmas number ones, from 1996 to 1998.
Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm achieved a fourth Christmas number one as a member of The Justice Collective in 2012, which also gave Robbie Williams his third.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, which reached the number-one spot at Christmas 1975 and 1991, is the only record to have reached the top twice.
“Mary’s Boy Child” is the only song to be Christmas number one for two entirely unrelated artists (Harry Belafonte in 1957 and Boney M. in 1978), although “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” has been Christmas number one for three generations of Band Aid.
The original version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is the second best selling single in UK history.
Rage Against The Machine secure the top spot in 2009 as the Great British public joined forces to stop the X Factor juggernaut that had seen winners get the festive number one four years in a row.
X Factor winners continued to dominate in three of the following four Christmases, but the battle for last year’s top spot was a two-way fight between pint-sized Canadian pop prince Justin Bieber and The Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir’s charity single A Bridge Over You – which thankfully and rightfully bagged top spot for Christmas Day.
But who are this year’s contenders for the most prestigious number one of the year – the winner of which will be crowned on Friday, December 23?
The Official Christmas Number 1 Contenders 2016:
* Friends of Jo Cox – You Can’t Always Get What You Want
In memory of late MP Jo Cox, musicians such as David Gray, KT Tunstall and Ricky Wilson have come together with the Parliament Choir and Royal Opera House Thurrock Community Chorus as Friends of Jo Cox.
Their cover of The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want was released on December 16, with proceeds going towards the Jo Cox Foundation.
* The London Hospices Choir – The Living Years
The London Hospices Choir are made up of patients, staff and volunteers from 18 hospices in the capital.
They’ve covered Mike & The Mechanic’s touching track The Living Years in support of the hospice network – and they even have one of the band’s former co-frontmen Paul Carrack on board.
Could this song replicate the success of last year’s festive chart-toppers The NHS Choir?
* Matt Terry – When Christmas Comes Around (X Factor winner’s single)
Just two out the last five Christmas Number 1s have come from X Factor winners.
Can this year’s champion Matt Terry reclaim it with his winner’s single?
When Christmas Comes Around is an original track and written by Ed Sheeran – two facts which give it a real chance.
* Clean Bandit – Rockabye
Clean Bandit’s Rockabye has been Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart for the last five weeks. Can it continue its lead all the way until the end of the year?
* Taylor Swift & Zayn – I Don’t Wanna Live Forever
‘Zaylor’ may have thrown in a late contender for the festive top spot without even realising it with their new collaboration.
Released ahead of the new Fifty Shades Darker film, there’s every chance each of the singer’s loyal fantasies of millions could see them climb to the top.
* Louis Tomlinson and Steve Aoki – Just Hold On
Another song making a surprising last minute bid for the Christmas Number 1.
The One Direction singer’s first solo offering might not be particularly festive, but it’s certainly uplifting – especially after performing it on The X Factor final as a tribute to his late mother.
* Vaults – One Day I’ll Fly Away
Two ghosts of John Lewis’ Christmas TV advert past have reached the summit on the Official Chart; can it go all the way this year and claims the Official Christmas Number 1?
The act behind this year’s song – a cover of Randy Crawford’s One Day I’ll Fly Away – is South London trio Vaults.
* Inspiral Carpets – Saturn 5
Fans of Manchester band Inspiral Carpets have launched a campaign to get the band – and their 1994 song Saturn 5 – to the top this Christmas in honour of the band’s late drummer Craig Gill, who died on November 22 at the age of 44.
* Sir Cliff Richard – It’s Better To Dream (Christmas Mix)
Sir Cliff has a long history of releasing songs around Christmas time, and with a lot of success, landing two festive Number 1s with Mistletoe and Wine in 1988 and Saviour’s Day in 1990.
Now, 26 years on, he’s throwing his hat into the ring with It’s Better To Dream (Christmas Mix).
* Terry Wogan – The Floral Dance
Fans of the late Sir Terry Wogan have launched a campaign to claim the Christmas Number 1 for the Irish DJ following his death earlier this year.
The song in question is his 1978 debut single The Floral Dance, which originally peaked at Number 21 on its release.
The ‘Floral Dance for Christmas Number 1′ Facebook page has already picked up lots of support.
******************** in a box please *************
A look back over the chart-topping, snow-falling, bell-ringing festive hits of the past.
2015: The Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir (conducted by Gareth Malone) – A Bridge Over You
2014: Ben Haenow (X Factor) – Something I Need
2013: Sam Bailey (X Factor) – Skyscraper
2012: The Justice Collective – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.
2011: The Military Wives Choir – Wherever You Are
2010: Matt Cardle (X Factor) – When We Collide
2009: Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name
2008: Alexandra Burke (X Factor) – Hallelujah
2007: Leon Jackson (X Factor) – When You Believe
2006: Leona Lewis (X Factor) – A Moment Like This
2005: Shayne Ward (X Factor) – That’s My Goal
2004: Band Aid 20 – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
2003: Michael Andrews and Gary Jules – Mad World
2002: Girls Aloud – Sound of the Underground
2001: Robbie Williams & Nicole Kidman – Somethin’ Stupid
2000: Bob The Builder – Can We Fix It?
1999: Westlife – I Have A Dream / Seasons In The Sun
1998: Spice Girls – Goodbye
1997: Spice Girls – Too Much
1996: Spice Girls – 2 Become 1
1995: Michael Jackson – Earth Song
1994: East 17 – Stay Another Day
1993: Mr Blobby – Mr Blobby
1992: Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
1991: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody / These Are The Days Of Our Lives
1990: Cliff Richard – Saviours’ Day
1989: Band Aid II – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
1988: Cliff Richard – Mistletoe & Wine
1987: The Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind
1986: Jackie Wilson – Reet Petite
1985: Shakin’ Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone
1984: Band Aid Do They Know It’s Christmas?
1983: The Flying Pickets – Only You
1982: Renee & Renato – Save Your Love
1981: The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
1980: St Winifred’s School Choir – There’s No One Quite Like Grandma
1979: Pink Floyd – Another Brick In The Wall
1978: Boney M – Mary’s Boy Child-Oh My Lord
1977: Wings – Mull Of Kintyre / Girls’ School
1976: Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born (Soleado)
1975: Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
1974: Mud – Lonely This Christmas
1973: Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
1972: Little Jimmy Osmond – Long Haired Lover From Liverpool
1971: Benny Hill – Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)
1970: Dave Edmunds – I Hear You Knockin’
1969: Rolf Harris – Two Little Boys
1968: Scaffold – Lily The Pink
1967: The Beatles – Hello Goodbye
1966: Tom Jones – The Green Grass Of Home
1965: The Beatles – Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out
1964: The Beatles – I Feel Fine
1963: The Beatles – I Want To Hold Your Hand
1962: Elvis Presley – Return To Sender
1961: Danny Williams – Moon River
1960: Cliff Richard & The Shadows – I Love You
1959: Emile Ford & The Checkmates – What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For
1958: Conway Twitty – It’s Only Make Believe
1957: Harry Belafonte – Mary’s Boy Child
1956: Johnnie Ray – Just Walkin’ In The Rain
1955: Dickie Valentine – Christmas Alphabet
1954: Winifred Atwell – Let’s Have Another Party
1953: Frankie Laine – Answer Me
1952: Al Martino – Here In My Heart