SAM Ryder said “it looks like Christmas came early” after his debut album – There’s Nothing But Space, Man! – topped the UK charts.

The 33-year-old singer, who lives in Brightlingsea, finally clinched the top spot after placing second in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest and peaking at number two in the Official Singles Chart with his uplifting pop song Space Man earlier in this year.

It has become the first debut album by a British male solo artist to reach number one in more than three years.

Ryder, originally from Maldon, told the Official Charts Company: “It looks like Christmas came early, because we achieved a number one record together. Thank you all so much. If you knew the amount of people who’ve worked so hard on this, it’d blow your mind. This is pure collaboration.

“It couldn’t have been done without so many fabulous, amazing, optimistic legends. I love you, peace.”

Thurrock Gazette:

The album’s success rounds off a mammoth year of success for the singer from Essex, who rose to fame as the British hopeful in Eurovision missing out on the top spot to Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra.

He has gone on to perform at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace, appeared at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert at Wembley Stadium singing a rendition of Queen’s Somebody To Love with Brian May, Roger Taylor and Foo Fighters, and has been commissioned to host his own BBC One New Year’s Eve TV special alongside special guests Mel C and Sigrid.

When asked what his favourite moment of 2022 is, Ryder told BBC’s The One Show: “I mean, it’s hard to pick … but the Jubilee was something really spectacular.

“I think being a part of that really felt like it transcended music because the feeling in London and across the globe, like all of us felt this sense of unity and togetherness.

“I remember everything about that day, walking to stage, everyone was terrified because the pollen, remember, that day was like absolutely coming off the trees and sheets, and everyone was sneezing backstage, all the singers were terrified, but it was just amazing seeing everyone there under common cause.”

He added: “I didn’t know that anything this year was on the horizon or on its way or in the stars, so I’m just going to go forward with a hell of a lot of gratitude for what’s happened this year and get my head down, try and do my best work and … weave my best magic.”

Ryder fought off competition from US singer SZA’s long-awaited second studio album SOS, which placed in number two.

Meanwhile in the singles chart, Last Christmas by Wham secured the top spot boasting 11.4 million streams, according to the Official Charts Company.

Originally released in 1984, the track once held the record for the best-selling single never to have hit number one in the UK, being famously kept at number two by Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?

It first reached the top spot on New Year’s Day in 2021, at the time breaking a chart record for the longest time a track has taken to top the singles chart, which is now held by Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.

In total, six of the top 10 songs in the charts this week are Christmas tracks, including Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You and Michael Buble’s cover of It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.

Ryder was also asked on The One Show about performing his favourite songs with some of music’s biggest stars in Ryder Rocks New Year’s Eve.

He said on Friday: “So no, no matter what kind of year you’ve been through, this is one to celebrate … New Year’s is not just type of celebration, but we reflect so much.

“Whether you’ve gone through hardship, or you’ve lost someone that you love, all of us are moving forward in the same direction.

“So, we may as well go down together. We’ve got an amazing show planned.”