History of the Official Charts

The heritage represented by the Official Charts began with the creation of the UK's first singles chart in November 1952.

The story of the UK’s Official Charts began back in November 1952, when the then advertising manager of the New Music Express, Percy Dickins, decided that he needed some method to encourage advertisers to his new music paper.

Dickins compiled the very first charts by phoning around to a handful of his retailer friends, totting up the number of copies sold of their biggest sellers to create an aggregated chart. Thus, the first UK Singles Chart was born – with Al Martino’s Here In My Heart at Number 1.

Over the following seven decades (from the Fifties to the Twenties), the UK charts have seen a dramatic number of changes – reflecting the changing face of the entertainment industry.

Click through below to read our decade-by-decade review, summarising these changes over the past 70+ years.

The Fifties
The UK's first singles chart, Al Martino, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.

The Sixties
The Beatles began to rule, Engelbert scored a million twice in a year and the charts became "Official" for the first time.

The Seventies
The decade of punk, disco, 8-tracks and cassettes.

The Eighties
Compact Discs arrived, along with Band Aid, Madonna, U2 and Gallup.

The Nineties
Bryan Adams, Wet Wet Wet and Whitney heralded the decade of the marathon Number 1 and Elton John's biggest single of all time. Gallup handed over chart compilation to Millward Brown (now named Kantar).

The Noughties
Downloads transformed music, Pop Idol and X-Factor arrived, and the public protested via the Official Singles Chart.

The Teens
Music streaming arrived on the charts, as Adele, Calvin Harris, Ed Sheeran and Rihanna ruled the roost.

The Twenties
Streaming begins to dominate music consumption, Kate Bush and Taylor Swift break records, the UK sees its first centenarians at Number 1, ABBA make their comeback, and the Official Singles Chart turns 70.