Spread a Little Happiness

Spread a Little Happiness" is a song by the musical comedy composer Vivian Ellis and writer Clifford Grey from their 1929 West End musical Mr. Cinders. In the original production it was sung by Binnie Hale as the character Jill Kemp;[1][2][3] a recording of her performance of the song was released by Columbia in 1929.[4]

"Spread a Little Happiness"
Song by Binnie Hale
Composer(s)Vivian Ellis
Lyricist(s)Clifford Grey

In 1982, the song was sung in a revival of Mr Cinders at the King's Head Theatre, London and later at the Fortune Theatre after the show was transferred there. In this revised version the song was sung by Jim Lancaster, the male lead, rather than by Jill.[1]

The song was used as the theme tune for a 2009 BBC Radio 4 comedy series of the same title, written by John Godber and Jane Thornton, set in a Yorkshire sandwich bar.[5]

Sting versionEdit

"Spread a Little Happiness"
Single by Sting
from the album Brimstone and Treacle soundtrack
ReleasedAugust 1982
Composer(s)Vivian Ellis
Lyricist(s)Clifford Grey
Sting singles chronology
"Spread a Little Happiness"
"If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"

In 1982, English musician Sting covered the song for the soundtrack of the film Brimstone and Treacle, reaching number 16 in the UK.[6]


Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (1982) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 80
Ireland (IRMA)[8] 16
UK Singles (OCC)[9] 16

Other usageEdit

Comic book series The Sandman, published by the DC Comics imprint Vertigo, includes a piece of the song in issue #6 24 hours (1989), written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Mike Dringenberg and Malcolm Jones III[10]


  1. ^ a b Gänzl and Lamb, pp. 131–132
  2. ^ "Adelphi Theatre", The Times, 12 February 1929, pg. 12
  3. ^ Gordon and Jubin, p. 179
  4. ^ Columbia black & gold no. 5334; matrix A8686
  5. ^ "Spread a Little Happiness, Series 1, Episode 1". BBC Radio 4 Extra. 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Chart positions". bebo.com. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  7. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 295. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid-1983 and 12 June 1988.
  8. ^ "Chart Track: Week 32, 1982". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  10. ^ The Sandman #6 (1989)


  • Gänzl, Kurt; Andrew Lamb (1988). Gänzl's Book of the Musical Theatre. London: The Bodley Head. OCLC 966051934.
  • Gordon, Robert; Olaf Jubin (2017). The Oxford Handbook of the British musical. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-19-998874-7.