A Bridge over You

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"A Bridge over You"
NHS Choir - A Bridge over You.jpg
Single by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir
from the album Something Inside So Strong
Released9 December 2013
  • 4:10 (single version)
  • 5:25 (extended version)
  • Dan Ludford-Thomas
  • Peter Mitchell
  • Megan Clark (exec.)

"A Bridge over You" is a charity single recorded and released independently by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, the choir of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust located in south-east London. It is a mashup of "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel and Coldplay's 2005 single "Fix You",[1][2] with additional arrangement by the choir's conductor, Peter Mitchell.[3] It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart at Christmas 2015.[4][5]

Background and recording[edit]

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir had previously appeared on the first series of Gareth Malone's BBC Two show The Choir: Sing While You Work, a competition between workplace choirs, in 2012.[6] They finished the show as runners up.[1] "A Bridge over You" was recorded in 2013, following the choir's appearance in the competition.[7]

It was recorded at Angel Recording Studios in Islington, north London, with piano accompaniment by Liam Dunachie, guitars by Ed Cusick, bass by Sam Weston, drums by Christian Rae, and vocal direction by Dan Ludford and Peter Mitchell. The single was created and arranged by Adam Morris, with additional arrangements made by Peter Mitchell and Liam Dunachie. At the time of recording, the choir's artistic director was Dan Ludford-Thomas, the musical director Peter Mitchell, and the accompanist Liam Dunachie.[8] An accompanying video featuring the song over footage of NHS staff working at the Trust was uploaded to YouTube.[9]

Christmas number one campaign[edit]

A social media campaign to get the choir to the "Christmas number one", a period traditionally resulting in higher sales than the rest of the year,[10][11] was launched in October 2015 by choir member Katie Rogerson, junior doctor Harriet Nerva, and Joe Blunden, a communications manager for the National Health Service (NHS).[12] At the time, Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt was debating extending the contracted hours of junior doctors, a move that proved controversial and which prompted the British Medical Association to consider strike action.[13][14][15]

Nerva created a Facebook event for the campaign after the video "moved [her] to tears", telling Mirror Online that "getting it to Number One would bring to the public's eye the fantastic service it provides in very challenging times".[13] Rogerson told The Guardian that "it’s a challenging time for the NHS and morale is quite low ... We wanted people to recognise all the brilliant things that happen on an everyday basis rather than feel miserable and unappreciated."[12]

On 13 January 2016, the UK Government announced that the value-added tax on sales of the single—16.5p from every 99p sale—would be donated to charity.[16]

Release and reception[edit]

"A Bridge over You" was originally released independently by Blunden on behalf of the NHS Trust through EmuBands on 9 December 2013[3][17][18] in support of various charities including Carers UK, Mind and other smaller healthcare related charities.[8] The 2015 campaign's organisers asked supporters not to purchase the song until the week of the Christmas charts so as to focus sales.[19][20]

On the week of the Christmas charts, Justin Bieber, whose song "Love Yourself" was the favourite for the accolade,[21][22] tweeted his support for the choir's song: "For 1 week it’s ok not be #1. [sic] Let’s do the right thing & help them win. It’s Christmas."[4] Following his tweet, many bookmakers harshly lowered odds on the choir to achieve the Christmas number one,[2] while Coral suspended betting altogether.[23][24] On Christmas Eve, itv.com commented that the choir "now look unbeatable".[23]

It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart at Christmas 2015, selling more than 127,000 copies,[25] 88,000 sales fewer than Ben Haenow's 2014 Christmas number one "Something I Need".[9] It beat off competition from Bieber as well as The X Factor winner Louisa Johnson, Adele, and Stormzy.[24][26] It was the closest run-in to the Christmas number one since 2009, when Jon Morter's anti-X Factor social media campaign resulted in Rage Against the Machine's 1992 single "Killing in the Name" taking the accolade ahead of the competition's winner Joe McElderry.[27] Blunden was in regular contact with Morter during the campaign for his previous experience with Christmas chart campaigns.

Blunden, who was manager of the #NHS4XmasNo1 campaign, told The Telegraph on Christmas Day that "it’s an historic day for the NHS...a day that the country has shown just how much they love their NHS".[28] Zoe Davies, a medical registrar who sings part of the opening solo, told The Northern Echo that "it gives the NHS a morale boost at a time of uncertainty about junior doctors' contracts and nurses' bursaries being taken away".[29] Chidi Ejimofo, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine who sang the male solo part,[30] told the South London Press "...it is about so much more than the front line doctors and nurses. This song celebrates the work of all the unsung heroes in the NHS, whose amazing work is often taken for granted.".[31][32]

In its second week on the UK Singles Chart, the song broke the record for the biggest fall for a UK number one single, when it fell to number 29 on 1 January 2016.[33] Previously, the record had been held by McFly's "Baby's Coming Back/Transylvania", which fell from number 1 to number 20 on 20 May 2007.[33] The song dropped out of the charts completely the following week, making the song's two-week chart run the shortest ever for a UK number one single.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the website of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir.[8]


Chart (2015) Peak
Scotland (OCC)[34] 1
UK Singles (OCC)[35] 1
UK Download (OCC)[36] 1
UK Indie (OCC)[37] 1

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format
United Kingdom 9 December 2013 Self-released (via EmuBands) Digital download


  1. ^ a b "NHS Choir beat Bieber to UK Christmas number one". 25 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b Kyriazis, Stefan (24 December 2015). "Justin Bieber backs NHS Choir because he knows he'll lose says Xmas Grinch Kate Garraway". Daily Express. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "benenden hospital's singing surgeon". www.benendenhospital.org.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b Khomami, Nadia (25 December 2015). "Justin Bieber beaten by NHS choir to UK Christmas No 1". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  5. ^ Foster, Patrick (25 December 2015). "NHS Choir beat Justin Bieber to Christmas number one spot". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Gareth Malone on The Choir: Sing While You Work, Military Wives and getting competitive". RadioTimes. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  7. ^ Blake, Jimmy (22 December 2015). "Christmas number one: Why the X Factor is an outsider". Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "The Trust Choir – Lewisham and Greenwich". www.lewishamandgreenwich.nhs.uk. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  9. ^ a b "NHS Choir aims for Xmas number one". Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  10. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (25 December 2015). "Every Christmas No 1 since 1990 ranked from worst to first". Metro. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Sound of silence vies to be Christmas number one". Telegraph.co.uk. 16 October 2010. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  12. ^ a b Johnson, Sarah (23 December 2015). "NHS choir: 'I want to show how proud I am of the health service by getting our song to No 1'". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  13. ^ a b Bloom, Dan (27 October 2015). "Christmas No1 campaign for NHS choir wins nearly 100,000 fans in a week". Mirror Online. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Junior Doctors strike called off at last minute after breakthrough during 'positive talks'". Express.co.uk. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  15. ^ Donnelly, Laura (30 November 2015). "Hopes that junior doctors' strikes could be off as BMA considers truce". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Government donates VAT from NHS Choir's Christmas number one". GOV.UK. 13 January 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  17. ^ "Congratulations to NHS Choir – Christmas #1! – EmuBands". EmuBands. Archived from the original on 31 December 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  18. ^ Trotter, Sarah (26 November 2013). "Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust choir back with Christmas charity single after TV fame". News Shopper. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  19. ^ "NHS choir on a mission to take Christmas No1". The Telegraph. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  20. ^ "NHS choir aims for Christmas Number 1". 30 November 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  21. ^ "Who are the contenders for this year's Christmas number one?". liverpoolecho. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  22. ^ Hall, Christopher James. "Who will be the Christmas Number One – and when will it be announced?". Lincolnshire Echo. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  23. ^ a b "'A Bridge Over You' now favourite for Christmas number 1". ITV News. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  24. ^ a b Strang, Fay (25 December 2015). "NHS Choir has beaten Justin Bieber to Christmas Number One". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  25. ^ Morgan, Georgia; McHale, Kirsty. "The NHS choir beat Justin Bieber to number one". The Independent. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  26. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (21 December 2015). "Christmas number one: Meet the contenders Justin Bieber, NHS Choir, Stormzy and Louisa Johnson". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  27. ^ "Bieber Beaten By NHS Choir To Christmas No 1". Sky News. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  28. ^ Foster, Patrick (25 December 2015). "NHS Choir beat Justin Bieber to Christmas number one spot". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  29. ^ Minting, Stuart. "Doctor stunned by Christmas No 1 solo triumph". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  30. ^ Kmietowicz, Zosia (5 January 2016). "NHS choir's number one hit puts health service in media spotlight over Christmas". The British Medical Journal. 352: h7022. doi:10.1136/bmj.h7022. PMID 26732692. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  31. ^ Gould, Kate (31 December 2015). "NHS choir beats Bieber to No 1 Christmas spot". Tindle Newspaper Group. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  32. ^ "News:Help the NHS Charity choir get to Number 1 this Christmas". NHS England. 21 December 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  33. ^ a b "Justin Bieber back at chart top spot for 2016". BBC News. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  35. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  36. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  37. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company.