Scott Mills: 'The Christmas chart is a uniquely British phenomenon - it means more than any other'

Radio 1's Official Chart show host looks back on his favourite Christmas Number 1s.

My earliest memory of Christmas music is listening to the Official Chart on Radio 1 and being so excited about who might be the Christmas Number 1. 

I was excited every week about the charts anyway, I was obsessed with them. When I was 12 years old, I would write down the Top 10 from hearing it on Radio One and then go and present it at my local hospital radio station. They’d be like, 'Here's Scott with the charts.' So my first actual chart show was when I was 12. 

Hosting the Radio 1 Official Chart Show is something I've wanted to do for a long time. On Wikipedia, it says all the presenters of the chart over the years and, just for my name to be on there, I find it insane. And the Christmas chart in particular means more than any other, it is the big one.

MORE: Every Official Christmas Number 1 ever

I have been presenting the Official Chart for Radio 1 since June 2018. So, so far, all of the Christmas Number 1s that have been mine, as the official gatekeeper of the chart, have been Ladbaby. But even before I took over the chart officially, I had already announced a Christmas Number 1.

Joe McElderry and Rage Against The Machine

It was a time when, for a few years, it was just kind of accepted that X Factor, whatever the winning song is, would be number one at Christmas. The winner that year was Joe McElderry with this song, The Climb (originally recorded by Miley Cyrus) and it was absolutely on course to do it again. And everyone at that point was like, well, it’ll be X Factor again. 

Then, this Facebook campaign started to get an anti-X Factor song to be Number 1 at Christmas - Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine. I remember seeing it in the news and thinking, well, that's not going to work. I truly, honestly did not believe that an internet campaign could stop the force of X Factor. No way. 

And then the day arrived. I'd heard it was close but we were certain that Joe would do it, we had booked him to come onto the show and everything - and Rage Against The Machine would be Number 2. I remember exactly where I was, in my old flat, in Holland Park in London. I got a call about midday from the producer. And he just said, 'They’ve done it.' I was like, 'What do you mean? This is a joke, right?'. 

MORE: The Official Top 20 biggest Christmas Number 1s ever

I just remember thinking, if I can't believe it and I'm a DJ on Radio One, the public are never going to believe this. I went into Radio 1 that day and, with the knowledge that I had, feeling so excited to do that show. 

I remember it so well, I was really milking it on air, and then I got to the big moment. I left the most ridiculously long gap between the jingles and announcing the Number 2, it must have been 10 seconds (which my colleagues still rib me for to this day, by the way) and then I said, 'It's Joe' and played The Climb. 

I was absolutely buzzing to announce it, it was just so unexpected. The texts that we received just blew up, it was such an exciting show, it felt like a real moment, when literally everyone was listening to find out the result. And still, to this day, is one of the radio moments I talk about the most, as being so exciting to be part of radio and chart history. 

Scott Mills

From: 15 June 2018            
To: September 9 2022

Scott covered the chart many times before he became permanent host in June 2018, first covering for Mark Goodier in 1999!

I have been part of a couple of campaigns myself though. The first was when The Darkness released a new song called Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) in 2003. I did a massive campaign on my Radio 1 show to get Mad World by Gary Jules & Michael Andrews to Number 1. It was in the film Donnie Darko, which was just out and, as it was a less obvious choice, we decided to just have a bit of fun with it on air. 

And once again, I remember getting a call on that Sunday telling me Mad World was Number 1, not the Darkness. I actually feel quite bad about that now, because that was my fault entirely. I banged on about it so much for weeks. So I'd like to apologise to The Darkness for that. 

Then, again, a year after Joe McElderry lost out to Rage Against The Machine, X Factor really wanted to get back to Christmas Number 1 again, this time with When We Collide by Matt Cardle. There was this song called Surfin’ Bird, a song from the Sixties which featured on Family Guy. So I started another campaign on air to get it to Number 1. We never thought it would happen, a silly cartoon song called Surfin’ Bird against Matt Cardle. I just thought it'd be a bit of throwaway fun on air. I even had a call from someone quite high up in Simon Cowell’s record label Syco asking us to 'ease off with the Surfin’ Bird thing', they didn’t want it to happen again, that would’ve been embarrassing. 

MORE: Every Official Christmas Number 2

The Christmas Number 1 is a uniquely British phenomenon, one of our quirky Christmas traditions. It’s not something that they really have in other countries. If you go to America and show them a Christmas cracker, they don't know what it is - and nobody else goes big on pigs in blankets or sprouts either. You know, it’s like that, it's such a British thing. 

The excitement for the Christmas Number 1 race began in the 70s. It was a time when life in the UK at times was pretty bleak, there was a lot of discontent in the country. But it was also the glam rock era and in 1973 two of the biggest bands of the time, Slade and Wizzard, released two opposing Christmas glam rock songs. Believe it or not, I am too young to remember this, but my mum tells me that it was a massive story - who was going to be Number 1 that year. 

At the time, Top Of The Pops was also huge, another uniquely British institution. You would watch it with the family on Christmas Day, to hear the Christmas Number 1. It was huge in building the tradition. Ever since then, it has become an annual event, who is going to be the Christmas Number 1? 

The first Christmas record I remember actually buying was Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone. And I played it and played it and played it and played it. And that's why songs like that are still around now, because people of my age now remember loving songs back then - they’ve all got kids, so their kids love them. That’s why the old songs stick around. 

In recent years, lots of classic Christmas songs have returned to the charts every year - Slade, Wizzard, Wham!, Mariah Carey, lots of great old Christmas songs. There’s not as much appetite for the newer songs yet, but that’s because the classic songs mean so much to all the family. 

There are occasional more modern ones that slip through the net, like One More Sleep by Leona Lewis, Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas (even though I suppose that's quite old now), but we tend to like the ones from the 70s and 80s more, because everyone knows them.

QUIZ: How well do you know your Christmas Number 1s?

Many of them are very British songs too, they’re not known overseas. We have actually tested this out on my show. There’s a service in America called Dial-A-Carol, which you can call, 24/7, during the Christmas period and they will sing you a Christmas song. We do this as a joke on my show every year. So we always like to call up and ask for The Pogues’ Fairytale Of New York. Or Wizzard. Or Last Christmas. And they’re like, 'Sorry, we don’t have that. We can do you, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer?' 

I feel very honoured to be able to announce the Christmas number one every year. The announcement is one of the big moments of the year in my calendar. 

It’s a very special moment every year, something that we should keep hold of and not lose. I love it.

The 2021 Official Christmas Number 1 winner will be announced on Friday, December 24 on BBC Radio 1's Official Chart with Scott Mills from 4pm. The full Top 100 Official Christmas Singles Chart and Albums Chart will be published on from 5.45pm.

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When will Radio 1, Scott Mills, Top Of The Pops Brand Christmas On Air After Boxing Day ? than Data Before, As is not right and not Official To Have a Christmas Charts Based on Data Sales Before Christmas Day or Up to 19th December, it too early which there have always done, So really the most Christmas Charts Mainly You Can Trust is the week after Branded, Christmas Start, 25th and 26th.December




This Week is really a Normal Data (24th Dec -30th Dec 2021 Track) Based Up to 23rd December Sales and Unit Only, Christmas Weekly and Christmas #1 Sales & Unit at Christmas This Year is From 31st December 2021 (Unbranded As Christmas Charts For Media Broadcast) Based From 24th Data and At Christmas, it's a UK phenomenon Weekly Charts (Best Charts Of Year) Weekly After Christmas Branded Edition Always is, As It Pure Christmas Data, The media, radio and TV editions is nearly a week data before Christmas and always has been this way, So The Charts is so special After Boxing Day weekly Broadcast not Before , Why Say This is A Christmas Charts if the data before 25th or even 20th December, than Believe The Unbranded (Than Branded) as Real-Time Charts At Christmas.