When the UK singles chart was launched in November 1952 there were far fewer records released each week than there are today. With less competition for chart positions many singles that made it to the top of the chart stayed there for longer than current releases. In the years 1952 to 1959 there were only 94 number 1 hits of which seven stayed at the top for nine weeks or more.
As usual, when there is a tie for a position in my lists, weeks in the top 10 are taken into account and so I will exclude Here in my heart by Al Martino and Diana by Paul Anka, both of which topped the chart for nine weeks but spent less than twenty in the top 10. That leaves these five records as the most successful of the 1950s.
Oh Mein Papa – Eddie Calvert
Eddie Calvert’s instrumental version of Oh mein Papa first reached the top of the UK singles chart in the week ending 9 January 1954 after spending its first three weeks at number 6. The tune was number 1 for nine weeks and occupied the top 10 for twenty weeks. It spent twenty-one weeks in the full chart, which was a top 12 at the time.
Secret Love – Doris Day
Secret love by Doris Day also spent nine weeks at number 1 but in two runs. It first hit the top spot in the week ending 17 April 1954 for a single week but returned in the week ending 8 May the same year for eight more weeks. In total, the song spent twenty-seven weeks in the top 10 and twenty-nine in the top 20.
Cara Mia – David Whitfield With Mantovani & His Orchestra
In the week that Doris Day’s Secret love fell from the top of the chart it was replaced there by Cara Mia by David Whitfield with Mantovani & His Orchestra. The song spent ten weeks at the top of the chart and a total of twenty non-consecutive weeks in the top 10. It occupied the top 20 for twenty-five weeks.
Rose Marie – Slim Whitman
Rose Marie by Slim Whitman first entered the top 20 in the week ending 16 July 1955 and reached number 1 two weeks later. Once it held the top spot, the song stayed there for eleven weeks. In total, the song spent seventeen weeks in the top 10 and nineteen in the top 20.
I Believe – Frankie Laine
Spending nine, ten or eleven weeks at number 1 is a remarkable feat, but the achievements of the previous four singles were eclipsed by I believe by Frankie Laine. First reaching the top of the UK singles chart in the week ending 25 April 1953, the song spent an initial nine weeks there. Then, after one week at number 2, the song returned to number 1 for another six weeks. It dropped to number 2 for a second time then grabbed the top spot for a final three weeks. This record of eighteen non-consecutive weeks as the UK’s best selling single has never been broken. All in all, the song spent thirty-five weeks in the top 10 and thirty-six in the top 12.