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Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge


Who have been the youngest and oldest artists to top the charts?

THE youngest artist to receive a singing credit on a No.1 British hit was Little Jimmy Osmond with Long Haired Lover from Liverpool. The song topped the charts on November 25, 1972. Jimmy was nine years and eight months old at the time.

Interestingly, the B-side was a cover of Neil Reid's Mother Of Mine recorded nine months previously. At 12 years and nine months, Neil is the youngest person to have a No. 1 in the albums chart.

Donny Osmond is the second youngest to record a No.1 -- Puppy Love, when he was 14 years and six months. Both songs were voted in 2004 into Channel 4 TV's Top 100 Worst Ever Songs compilation.

The youngest female artist to reach No.1 was Helen Shapiro in June 1961 with You Don't Know. She was 14 years and ten months.

While still at school, Helen headlined a British tour with The Beatles in support, but later on the arrival of newer sounds and images spelt the end of a pop career for the teenager who always seemed mature beyond her years.

Curiously, Marie, another Osmond sibling and nine months Helen's junior, almost usurped Shapiro's feat, but Gary Glitter's I Love You Love Me Love kept the 14-year-old's Paper Roses in second place for four weeks in 1973 and denied the Osmond family a unique double.

The oldest artist to receive a singing credit on a No.1 was Louis Armstrong with What A Wonderful World, in spring 1968. Louis was 66 years and ten months at the time.

He often claimed to have been born on July 4, 1900, though baptismal documents indicate he was 13 months older.

The record wasn't a hit in the US until nearly 20 years after its release when it was used in the movie Good Morning Vietnam.

The oldest female artist to reach No.1 is Cher. When Believe topped the charts in October 1998, she was 52 years and seven months.

The song was voted the world's eighth favourite in a BBC poll and remains the biggest selling song by a female artist. Conversely, it joins Jimmy and Donny in the Top 100 Worst Songs compilation.

David Morgan, Laleham, Surrey.


Viscount Castlereagh was said to be one of the worst parliamentary speech-makers of all time. Do his speeches still exist?

ROBERT Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, was born on June 18, 1769 in Dublin, the son of Robert Stewart, an Anglo-Irish landowner elevated to the peerage in 1789.

He was educated at Armagh and St John's College, Cambridge, and was elected to the Irish Parliament in 1790.

He was instrumental in creating the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland in 1800 and took his seat in the House of Commons from his Down constituency in 1801.

Castlereagh was one of the most distinguished Foreign Secretaries in British history, having led the European diplomacy that followed the end of the French Wars.

He helped forge the Fourth Coalition, an alliance of great powers that finally overthrew Napoleon and was instrumental in deciding the form of the peace settlement of Vienna. The idea of a Concert of Europe was largely his creation.

While renowned for the sagacity of his advice in committee and the straight-forward boldness of his action as an administrator, his rambling, laboured speeches were a source of amusement.

Lord Brougham wrote of Castlereagh: 'No man ever attained the station of a regular debater in our Parliament with such an entire want of all classical accomplishment and, indeed, of all literary provision whatsoever.

'His diction set all imitation, perhaps all description, at defiance.' Collected examples included: 'The features of the clause'; 'the ignorant impatience of the relaxation of taxation'; 'sets of circumstances coming up and circumstances going down'; 'the honourable and learned gentleman's wedge getting into the loyal feelings of the manufacturing classes'; and 'the Herculean labour of the honourable and learned member, who will find himself quite disappointed when he has at last brought forth his Hercules'. …