The Military Wives are today confirmed as the queens of Christmas 2011, the Official Charts Company can reveal.
'Wherever You Are' by the Military Wives with Gareth Malone is the UK’s Official Christmas Number 1 of 2011, having sold a staggering 556,000 copies in the past week, more than the rest of the Top 12 combined. The Military Wives track becomes the 60th Official Christmas Number 1 of all time and winners of the first ever Official Singles Chart Number 1 Award.
Watch an interview with Military Wives choir members Sam Stevenson, Nicky Kenyon and Kerry Riva with co-host of today’s Christmas Day Top Of The Pops and this evening’s BBC Radio 1’s Official Chart Show, Reggie Yates, below.
Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot says, "Many congratulations to the Militay Wives and Gareth Malone, who have made this year's race for the Official Christmas Number 1 one of the greatest of all time. To have achieved more than 500,000 sales in a week without the backing of a vast promotional operation over many weeks, like X Factor, is truly remarkable.
It is hard to think of a more deserving winner in 60 years of Christmas Number 1s. And their victory should prompt all of us to think of the many wives and families of servicemen who are not home this Christmas."
Gareth Malone, Military Wives choirmaster said "This is so surreal. Who would have guessed in those first rehearsals that we could take Christmas Number 1? It's testament to the Military Wives' hard work and the nation's support of them as well as the power of choral singing. It's a winning combination – a Christmas Number 1 winning combination! Thank you to the British public for supporting The Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help by buying this single. Chris Evans and Radio 2 have helped us to showcase the talent and strength of these amazing women. The support of the British military for the choir has been fantastic. I'm delighted that they have found their voice. We did it!"
Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2 DJ and supporter of the Military Wives 2011 campaign, says "Certain things in life you have to do. When the Military Wives landed on our doorstep it was almost like a calling. We had to do whatever we could to help. And so that's what we did. It was a complete joy to be involved in from the start to finish. Big up The Wives, Gareth Malone and Paul Mealor for Knighthoods."
The Wives' single, which is in aid of The Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen Families Association, is performed by a choir made up from women whose loved ones are deployed in Afghanistan, which was put together by choir leader Gareth Malone for the fourth series of BBC2's The Choir.
The song combines a poem compiled from letters to and from servicemen and their wives, with music composed by Royal Wedding composer Paul Mealor. The song was performed by the Military Wives at the Royal British Legion's Festival Of Remembrance earlier this autumn.
Composer Paul Mealor comments "This is truly unbelievable! Never, when I sat down to compose this song, did I imagine it could get Christmas Number 1 and touch so many people's hearts. The support we have all received has been overwhelming. The Military Wives now have a coive that non one for evermore, will ever underestimate! Blessings to Gareth, The Wives, and all our supporters, wherever you are!"
Biggest first week sales since 1994
Sep 1997: Something About The Way You Look / Candle In The Wind 97 - Elton John (1,983,000)
Feb 2002: Anything Is Possible/Evergreen - Will Young (1,108,000)
Mar 2002: Unchained Melody - Gareth Gates (851,000)
Dec 2005: That's My Goal - Shayne Ward (742,000)
Dec 2008: Hallelujah - Alexandra Burke (576,000)
Dec 2006: A Moment Like This - Leona Lewis (571,000)
Dec 2010: Military Wives with Gareth Malone – Wherever You Are (556,000)
© Official Charts Company
Full details of rest of the festive charts to follow at 4pm today as per usual Official Chart Sunday releases, embargoed until 7pm. The Official Singles Chart Top 100 will also go live today from 7pm on www.theofficialcharts.com