EAST Cleveland X Factor champion James Arthur retained his charts crown after a neck-to-neck contest with Will.i.am and Britney Spears.

Despite stiff mid-week competition, the 24-year-old singer from Saltburn saw debut single, Impossible, stay ahead of the American duo's offering for another week.

It means Will.i.am is still looking for his second number one as lead artist and Britney will have to wait to score her highest-charting UK single since Every Time in 2004.

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Impossible became the fastest-selling X Factor winner's single ever when it debuted at number one on December 16 and is now nearing a million sales.

It missed out on the Christmas top slot to the Justice Collectives cover of He Aint Heavy, Hes My Brother, but returned to number one last week.

Meanwhile, Arthur's former bandmates are still hoping the singer will be able to team up with them once more.

The singer caught up with his old friends over the holidays, telling them of his excitement of working on his album.

The James Arthur Band band, made up of Richard Doney, Jez Taylor, Chris Smalls and Jordan Swain, was formed in 2011 and they were a popular fixture on the Teesside scene. However, several gigs around the region had to be cancelled when Arthur was first picked as a finalist.

Bassist Doney feels sure they will reunite one day.

“It’s early days yet and we’re all pretty busy with other stuff, like the drummer who’s in two other bands, so we’ll just have to wait and see," he said.

“Obviously, we can’t work together as the James Arthur Band without James, that would be silly.

“But at some point, when we want to or we can we’ll get back together in a room with our instruments.”