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The Network Chart Show

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Network Chart Show
Other names
GenreTop 40
Running time3 hours (4:00 pm–7:00 pm)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Home stationCapital FM
Hosted by
Recording studioGlobal's London studios
Original release30 September 1984 (1984-09-30) – 30 December 2018 (2018-12-30)
Audio formatStereo

The Commercial Radio Chart Show is a radio programme, that was broadcast across commercial adult contemporary and contemporary hit radio stations across the United Kingdom, from 30 September 1984 to 30 December 2018. It had many different names over the years, beginning with simply The Network Chart Show in 1984 (later sponsored by Nescafe) before securing sponsorship with Pepsi between 1993 and 2003 which led to the birth of The Pepsi Chart. Since then, it has been known as Hit40UK, The Big Top 40 Show, The Vodafone Freebees Big Top 40, The Vodafone Big Top 40 and, finally, The Official Vodafone Big Top 40 between October 2017 and December 2018.

The show was cancelled at the end of 2018, after the producers – Global Radio – withdrew it from syndication following Bauer Radio’s decision to stop broadcasting the programme. The final syndicated commercial radio chart show was broadcast on 30 December 2018 by Marvin Humes and Kat Shoob. It was replaced on Global-owned stations by The Official Big Top 40.


Originally, the main presenter was David Jensen (known then as "Kid Jensen") with holiday cover provided by Timmy Mallett and Alan Freeman, and in later years, Pat Sharp. Jensen would record trailers to run on local stations during the week which famously started with the words "Hi Chart Fans!!".

The programme featured the Network Top 30 and ran from 5-7pm, competing directly with BBC Radio One's Top 40 chart show. It was produced by Capital Radio from their studios on Euston Road in London.

The Network Chart Show aired on Independent Local Radio (ILR) stations using the transmission circuits of Independent Radio News, which meant it was originally broadcast in mono in most areas (some stations near to the London area were able to receive Capital on FM well enough for 'off air' rebroadcast). Later, some circuits were upgraded to enable stereo transmission, followed by a satellite distribution service later on.

The programme went on air at exactly 5:00 pm, displacing IRN's hourly national news bulletins at 5 pm and 6 pm, originating from LBC. Each local station carrying the programme would play their own 10-second ident before linking up with the network feed. The final song faded out shortly before the 7pm networked news, allowing each station to opt-out for an ident before rejoining for the IRN bulletin.

Eventually, on Sunday 21 October 1990, the programme was extended to start following the 4 pm IRN bulletin, with the chart expanded to a Top 40 – although not all of the stations took the extra hour to begin with. From 1985 the programme was sponsored by Nescafe.

The Network Chart

The chart was owned by Association of Independent Radio Contractors (AIRC)–the trade body for ILR stations. The chart was distributed by Satellite Media Services, produced by Capital Radio and compiled by the Media Research Information Bureau (MRIB). The chart differed from the entirely sales-based "official" Gallup chart (now the OCC) used by the BBC as it included airplay statistics when compiling the chart. In 1987, sales data for a Thursday-to-Wednesday week was logged manually in diaries by 300 record shops and posted to MRIB.[1] In 1991, data was being collected from around 300 independent record shops who were provided with a checklist of currently released singles. Sales were "checked off against ticks on the retailers' masterbags" and these figures would be collected by telephone on Thursdays. Airplay statistics were factored in by all Independent Local Radio stations providing which playlist (A, B, or C) the current releases were on. More weight was given to the larger stations at the time, such as Capital (17 percent), BRMB, Clyde, GWR, Metro, and Piccadilly. If a record was on every Independent Local Radio station's A list the sales were boosted by 40 percent.[2]

For its first three years, the Network Chart was more up-to-date than the BBC chart broadcast simultaneously (which had been around since the previous Tuesday), with many singles entering, and reaching their peak on, Sunday's new Network Chart before they did so on the official chart announced two days later.

From 4 October 1987 the official (Gallup/OCC) chart which was broadcast by the BBC was brand new on a Sunday afternoon and was more up-to-date, using a Monday-to-Saturday sales week compared to the Network Chart's Thursday-to-Wednesday one.[3] Even when the Network Chart was more up-to-date, though, the Gallup chart was always considered the industry-recognised "official" Top 40, and was promoted as such by the BBC.

In compiling the chart MRIB employed a sliding scale, meaning that for the lower reaches of the Top 40, airplay counted almost as much as sales. This often meant that the 40-to-20 positions could be very different between the Network and BBC charts. The weight given to airplay diminished the higher one went in the chart, and the Top 10 was meant to be entirely sales-based, although the Network Chart did not register sales from Saturday, the single most important record-buying day, until a week later. It was not unusual for the MRIB and Gallup charts to have different songs at Number One.

Because the chart did not include sales from the likes of Woolworths & WH Smith, some songs with more specialised appeal (including many by The Smiths) peaked higher than on the official chart, whereas some songs with more middle-of-the-road appeal (such as Su Pollard's "Starting Together") might sometimes peak lower. This had also been the case with the Record Business magazine chart used by ILR in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which also did not include data from the more family-friendly shops. As with the Record Business chart, regional charts were also produced by MRIB for individual ILR stations.


A TV version launched in 1987 called The Roxy - presented by David Jensen and Kevin Sharkey using the chart data from The Network Chart. The show itself tried and failed to compete with the BBC who had the long-established Top of the Pops. It ran for just under a year and was produced by Tyne Tees Television, but was often beaten in the ratings by rival programmes on other channels such as EastEnders. The TV show was axed after industrial disputes saw the end of live performances.

On 16 March 1989, Fantail Publishing released a tie-in book called, The Network Chart Book Of Hits, which was a review of the previous year, 1988 in music. It featured a selection of the singles, albums and music videos charts, as well as interviews with some of the artists who had big hits that year. The book was introduced by David Jensen and the author was Mike Hrano.

Teen magazine Number One used The Network Chart singles and albums charts from January 1985 until summer 1990, when it was sold by its publishers, IPC Media to BBC Magazines. From then on it featured the official national singles and albums charts until the magazine's demise in early 1992. Also, the national Sunday newspaper, The News of the World, used to feature The Network Chart Top 20 singles chart in their music section in the late 1980s and early 1990s, whereas The Sunday People featured the MRIB top 10 right up to MRIB's Singles/Album Chart demise in April 2008, although Independent Radio stopped using it in August 1993.


From 1 August 1993, Neil Fox took over the rebranded Pepsi Network Chart which later became the Pepsi Chart and then Hit40UK. On 15 June 2009, Hit40UK became The Big Top 40 Show. All these shows mostly used the Official Top 10, except The Big Top 40 which uses the iTunes live top 10, at the end of the show, and kicks off with the full week's top 10 on iTunes. The 40-11 on all of them is a 50/50 sales/airplay chart. In January, 2019, all re-branded versions of The Network Chart were finally replaced with The Official Big Top 40 which has more listeners than The Official Chart on BBC Radio 1 which is complied by the Official Charts Company.[4]


  1. ^ "The Art of Charting". Record Mirror. 9 May 1987. p. A8. ISSN 0144-5804.
  2. ^ "There is only one chart, isn't there?". Music Week: 13. 12 October 1991. ISSN 0265-1548.
  3. ^ "The Art of Charting". Record Mirror: A8. 9 May 1987. ISSN 0144-5804.
  4. ^ Global [@global] (15 May 2019). "@BigTop40 remains the biggest UK chart show, beating its nearest competitor by 153,000 listeners!" (Tweet). Retrieved 6 June 2020 – via Twitter.

External links

This page was last edited on 28 June 2020, at 18:04
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