The Official Big Top 40

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The Official Big Top 40
Other namesThe Big Top 40 Show (2009)
The Vodafone Freebees Big Top 40 (2010-2011)
The Vodafone Big Top 40 (2011-2017)
The Official Vodafone Big Top 40 (2017-2018)
GenreDownload chart
Running time180 minutes
Country of originUnited Kingdom
SyndicatesSee section: Stations
Hosted byKat Shoob (2009–2018)
Rich Clarke (2009–13)
Marvin Humes (2014–2018)
Greg Burns (cover) (2014–16)
Matt Wilkinson (cover) (2009–)
The Bassman (cover) (2016–)
Will Manning (2019-)
Created byGlobal
Produced byPaddy Bunce (2009–2012)
Greg Hughes (2012–2016)
Rich Steel (2016–)
Original release14 June 2009 – present

The Official Big Top 40 is a radio chart show broadcast on Global's Capital and Heart networks. The show is presented by Capital's Will Manning. Before January 2019, the show was previously broadcast on 140 commercial radio stations in the UK with an audience each week of 2.5 million listeners. It was the single biggest radio programme on UK commercial radio, and around twice the size of its competitor. Between 2010 and 2018 the show was sponsored by Vodafone. However, in September 2018, Bauer announced that their Hits Radio network would ditch the show to allow for 'more competition' on a Sunday afternoon. This led to Global making the decision to withdraw the show from syndication for other groups such as UKRD, Quidem, Nation and Lincs FM Group, leaving it predominantly on their own Capital and Heart networks.[1] The chart has no affiliation with the Official Charts Company as it is based on commercial radio airplay and music download figures provided by Apple Music and iTunes. It does not measure the entire UK singles market each week across all retailers and digital services as the BBC Radio 1 Official Chart does. The chart is a combination of weekly iTunes sales data, Apple Music and other streaming sources, alongside the biggest tracks played on the radio stations that broadcast the show. It was the only UK chart to include airplay in its algorithm.


The Big Top 40 Show was launched following the demise of Hit40UK,[2] and is produced by Global, broadcast from studios in Leicester Square in London. It claimed to be the first real-time chart ever to be broadcast in the United Kingdom, on over 100 commercial radio stations across the country. Listeners could, in theory, by downloading change the top 10 even during the show; the Top 10 being revealed from 6:10pm. In October 2017, the show reverted to a more traditional style of running down the 40 biggest tunes of the week rather than taking into account real-time iTunes sales for the Top 10.[3]

The first show was broadcast on Sunday 14th June 2009.[4] The first no.1 song was "When Love Takes Over" with David Guetta and Kelly Rowland. It was top again the following week.

The show was originally presented by Capital Radio DJs Rich Clarke and Kat Shoob,[5] with Heart presenter Matt Wilkinson deputising for both Clarke and Shoob. The show is carried via the IRN satelitte feed, on the stereo channel, and features the Capital voice over Howard Ritchie and the female Heart voiceover, who announce the chart position for each of the songs broadcast, along with the presenter's name. Howard also voices each of the split identifiers, which are triggered by the Big Top 40 team during the show, and play out on the majority of client stations and announce the station name.[6] Clarke presented his final show on 29 December 2013, with former JLS member and now LuvBug frontman Marvin Humes joining the show from 5 January 2014[7] with The Bassman and Wilkinson deputising for Humes and Shoob.

Will Manning will present the show from January 2019.[8]

The chart[edit]

The chart is a combination of weekly iTunes sales data, Apple Music and other streaming sources, alongside the biggest tracks played on the radio stations that take the chart. It’s the only UK chart to include airplay in its algorithm, much like Billboard in the USA. The unique algorithm is designed to ensure it reflects the most popular songs, which resulted in the show having an audience of 2.5 million listeners when syndicated across the UK every Sunday. The chart is based on music download and streaming data provided by iTunes, Apple Music and airplay data from the commercial radio stations on which the show is broadcast.[9] When syndicated across commercial radio, the show started at exactly 4:02pm (which allowed stations who carry IRN/Sky News bulletins on the hour to do so) with a recapitulation of the previous week's top five songs. This is followed by a countdown of numbers 40 to 1, compiled again by iTunes downloads and Apple Music streams from the previous seven days, but also includes music streaming and airplay on the stations which carry the show. A recap of the climb/fall was broadcast after every 10 songs. Competition announcements, live calls from contestants, interviews with the artists making that particular week's chart, and advertisements made up the remaining airtime. The show finished at exactly 6:59pm.

Unlike the chart compiled by the Official Charts Company, it does not take into account other purchase methods such as CD singles or Amazon MP3 or streams from the majority of the streaming market that take place via outlets such as Deezer, Google Play, Tidal and more. The Official Chart, broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and MTV, instead captures physical sales, digital downloads, and streams across more than 15,000 outlets daily; it is the most comprehensive research panel of its kind capturing data on 99.9%[10] of all singles consumed in the UK each week, and 98% of all albums. It is therefore subscribed to by the British music industry and wider media as the UK's official weekly measure of recorded music popularity.

The song holding the record for most weeks at No.1 is "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber with 11 non-consecutive weeks.[11]

The song that has spent the most consecutive weeks at No.1 is "These Days" by Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen (4 February - 1 April 2018).[12]

2016 network failure[edit]

On 8 May 2016, a technical problem at Arqiva's satellite communication centre caused the IRN satellite feed, which would usually connect to Leicester Square just before 1600, to fail to do so and it stayed connected to Wireless Group's Signal 1 FM, following the end of the networked afternoon show. The feed went quiet, and the silence continued for about 13 minutes into the show. A Signal 1 producer provided the network with a 30-minute feed of songs before the chart returned at about 1645. A similar incident occurred on 11 June 2017, but this was restored by about 1610.

Radio stations (2009–2018)[edit]

Some stations may be stated more than once, due to the location and coverage area.


Withdrawn from syndication[edit]

On 19 September 2018, Bauer confirmed that their Hits Radio Network would drop the Big Top 40 coinciding with the expiration of its contract at the end of 2018. A spokesperson for the company said their move will allow for "more competition" on a Sunday afternoon.

This led to Global making the decision to discontinue the show all together for the wider network, outside of their own Heart & Capital networks, which will continue to run a revamped version of the show.

The final show across the full commercial radio network aired on 30 December 2018. This was also the final show for Marvin Humes & Kat Shoob.

Bauer-owned stations which had previously taken the Big Top 40 moved over to carry The UK Chart Show, presented by Sarah-Jane Crawford; this absorbed a show which Crawford had been hosting in the Sunday afternoon slot on Hits Radio Manchester and Hits Radio UK since the relaunch of Key 103 as Hits Radio in July 2018.[14]

Stations owned by Wireless Group received a new top 40 countdown, the Total Access Chart (taking its name from the network's weekday evening Total Access show). This is fronted by Olivia Jones, formerly of The Hits Radio and KMFM.[15]

A group of local stations in Wales operated by Nation Broadcasting used the slot vacated by BT40 for a music and entertainment programme helmed by performer Jay James.[16]


  1. ^ Marvin Humes and Kat Shoob leave Big Top 40 – RadioToday
  2. ^ Emma Barnett, Technology and Digital Media Correspondent (22 May 2009). "The 'Top 10' singles go real time in iTunes deal".
  3. ^ Official Big Top 40 website
    - "Wise Buddah".
  4. ^ "Charts - Big Top 40". 20 March 2016.
  5. ^ Rich and Kat Big Top 40
  6. ^ Howard Ritchie Radio Talent
  7. ^ Corner, Lewis (12 December 2013). "Marvin Humes to present Capital FM's Big Top 40 countdown". Digital Spy. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Help & FAQ's - Big Top 40". 20 March 2016.
  10. ^ "How The Charts Are Compiled". Official Charts. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Big Top 40 Chart Stations
  14. ^ "Hits Radio to launch its own UK Chart Show", RadioToday
  15. ^ "Wireless creates its own weekly Top 40 shoe", RadioToday
  16. ^ "Jay James joins Nation Broadcasting network", RadioToday

External links[edit]