60 Years Of The Charts


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Paul Gambaccini presents a three-part series celebrating 60 years of British chart action.

The first chart of best-selling records in the UK - a Top Twelve - was published in the New Musical Express for the week ending 15 November 1952.

Part one reveals the origins of the sales chart, which developed from sheet music sales and underwent various refinements over the years.

Significant chart records are featured: the first rock 'n' roll record to reach number one, the first British act to top the list, the longest runs at number one, and the artists with the most number ones.

We also hear the most successful male artists, female artists and groups, plus the first number one based on digital sales alone.

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Paul Gambaccini continues to celebrate 60 years of British charts.

From the very first chart show - broadcast on Radio Luxembourg - programmes counting down the charts have guaranteed large audiences.

This programme surveys 60 years of chart shows on radio and television, including 42 years of the BBC's TV chart show Top Of The Pops.

It blends archive material with interviews, including comments from past BBC chart presenters David Jacobs, Alan Freeman, Tony Blackburn, Tommy Vance and Reggie Yates

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Paul Gambaccini concludes his celebration of 60 years of British chart action.

The pop chart has always been viewed by record companies as the most effective way of advertising their product. Consequently, they have tried to manipulate it by both fair means and foul.

The programme examines the techniques that have been used over the decades to create a hit - 'buying in', discounting, coloured vinyl, remixes, different formats and the practice of winning airplay months ahead of release date.

The impact of download sales and the decline of physical product sales have been significant factors since 2004. Downloading has put control of the charts back in the hands of the consumer.

But does this mean that the chart is now much more accurate as a measure of the popularity of songs? And does anyone care about chart positions anymore?