From Bucks Fizz to Jemini: The best and worst UK Eurovision acts ever
We had a strong start in the early days of the contest, but in more recent years the UK has not fared so well.
This year’s UK Eurovision Song Contest representative Michael Rice has a lot to live up to thanks to the plethora of delights previously offered up at the musical extravaganza.
From the heady heights of the days of Bucks Fizz and Katrina And The Waves, to the lows of Daz Sampson and Jemini, the UK has attempted to entertain its European neighbours with some interesting performances over Eurovision’s more than 60-year history.
Rice, who will perform Bigger Than Us at the grand finale in Tel Aviv on May 18, will be hoping to find a place at the more successful end of the scale of UK contestants.
Ahead of the big night, we take a look at the UK’s most successful and most tragic attempts at wooing the continent in the competition.
1. Sandie Shaw, 1967
After several second-placed finishes, the UK scored its first winner in 1967 as psychotherapist-turned-singer Sandie Shaw scored big with Puppet On A String.
2. Cliff Richard, 1968
A year later, Sir Cliff Richard (just known as Cliff back then) finished a respectable second with Congratulations in 1968. He later came third with Power To All Our Friends in 1973. Losing out to the Spanish entry Massiel and her song La La La in 1968, an emotional Cliff described having to lock the doors of the green room toilets to avoid TV cameras filming him crying.
3. Lulu, 1969
The UK’s prolific success continued as Lulu’s Boom Bang-A-Bang shared the top spot with France, the Netherlands and Spain with 18 points apiece. The Scottish singer went on to record the self-titled soundtrack to The Man With The Golden Gun.
4. Brotherhood Of Man, 1976
Another UK victory came in 1976 with Brotherhood Of Man’s Save Your Kisses For Me. The band’s manager Tony Hiller put the song’s success down to their TV appearances across France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland the year before the contest.
5. Bucks Fizz, 1981
The quartet’s skirt-ripping entry, Making Your Mind Up, won the contest in 1981. The band were formed specifically to enter the contest and their stage act, where the two male members ripped off the skirts of Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston, has gone down in Eurovision history.
6. Katrina And The Waves, 1997
Katrina And The Waves were the last UK act to take the title, with their entry Love Shine A Light in 1997. It may have been the heyday of Britpop back home, but this gentle clap-along ballad was lapped up by the European public in a way that no British entry has ever managed since.
7. Jemini, 2003
Years of disappointment have followed since the UK’s last victory 21 years ago. By far the most disheartening year was the infamous “nul points” for Jemini, which left Britons weeping into their snack bowls. The duo’s Cry Baby failed to get a single point for the first time in the UK’s history, finishing last in the 26-nation competition held in Latvia. To add insult to injury, the band’s dressing room was vandalised as they gave interviews following their defeat.
8. Daz Sampson, 2006
Daz Sampson and his tragically-named Sampsonites (young women dressed as schoolgirls) was perhaps one of the worst songs inflicted on the rest of Europe. But the UK’s biggest sin was allowing Sampson to perform his feign-rap in front of our continental neighbours. The real damage had already been done after Teenage Life became a top 10 hit in the UK singles chart.
9. Scooch, 2007
Ten years after Katrina And The Waves swept to victory, the UK sent its most kitsch entrant yet with Steps-lite act Scooch. The camp quartet and their air stewards outfits came a lowly 22nd with their entry, Flying The Flag (For You). They received only 19 points, which included a maximum 12 points from Malta, who later revealed it was a protest vote against block voting.
10. Engelbert Humperdinck, 2012
Veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck fared no better in 2012 when his entry, Love Will Set You Free, only narrowly avoided finishing rock-bottom. “The Hump” scored a grand total of 12 points, with only Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Ireland voting for him, leaving him just one position above bottom-placed Norway in Baku, Azerbaijan.
11. Lucie Jones, 2017
Finally, last year’s entry Lucie Jones managed to get the UK its highest points haul in eight years with a not-too-shabby 111 for her rousing performance of ballad Never Give Up On You. The former X Factor star’s effort saw us finish in 15th place.
12. SuRie, 2018
The British public hoped Susanna Marie Cork, or SuRie, would be the one to turn around their fortunes with her song Storm. But her performance was interrupted when a stage-invader wearing a black and red bandana and slogan T-shirt snatched the microphone. The additional drama did not help her score and she finished an unimpressive 24th out of 26.
The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest is due to be held in Israel between May 14 and 18 after the 2018 contest was won by Israel entry Netta with her song Toy.