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The BBC's Francesca Kasteliz
"Even Cliff's own record company turned it down"
 real 28k

Sunday, 21 November, 1999, 10:58 GMT
Sir Cliff's prayer could be answered
Sir Cliff is about to become bigger than the Beatles

The controversy surrounding Sir Cliff Richard's single The Millennium Prayer may have helped it to become a top five hit despite a severe lack of airplay.

Some high street stores say the charity single has sold twice as many copies as Robbie Williams' current release, She's The One, although some radio stations condemned it for being dreary and old-fashioned.

Sir Cliff's No 1 hits
Living Doll 1959
Please Don't Tease 1960
I Love You 1960
The Young Ones 1962
Bachelor Boy 1963
Summer Holiday 1963
The Minute You're Gone/Just Another Day 1965
Congratulations 1968
We Don't Talk Anymore 1979
Mistletoe and Wine 1988
Saviour's Day 1990
The track sets the words of The Lord's Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

When The Millennium Prayer was released, many radio stations refused to put it on their playlists.

BBC Radio 2 claimed the single did not have "broad enough appeal", while London's Capital Radio, the UK's largest commercial radio station, also failed to recommend the song for either its main network or its frequency for more traditional pop, Capital Gold.

Undaunted, Sir Cliff has promoted it via the internet and church groups.

It became the third best-selling single in the country based on its first day's sales. On the day of its release the record was outselling acts like Blur and Texas, both of whom released new singles this week, by almost three to one.

Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said: "It just shows that you can never write Cliff off. He's got a tremendous fan base and he's still able to achieve chart success.

Christine Whitehead co-ordinator of the Cliff Richard fan clubs said: "Everyone I have spoken to, whether they be Sir Cliff fans or not, have liked this single. I am so pleased that it has done so well."

If the record makes the charts, Sir Cliff will be the UK's biggest ever charting artist with his 132nd hit in 41 years - overtaking even the Beatles.

The Top 40 is revealed on Sunday evening.

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See also:
17 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Sir Cliff's Millennium hit
08 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Christians call for Sir Cliff boycott
10 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Imagine Lennon as festive number one

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