In Depth

Eurovision 2017: What are the UK's chances of winning?

Lucie Jones flies the flag in the bid to end 20 years of hurt, but will Brexit get in the way?

It's been 20 years of Eurovision hurt for the UK, which hasn't seen a single entry in the song contest win since 3 May 1997, when Katrina and the Waves secured a landslide to match Tony Blair's victory just a few days earlier.

In fact, not one has come anywhere close to adding to the country's tally of five victories in the competition.

"To be honest, it's been so long since a Brit lifted the trophy that history has turned into legend, truth into fake news and only the most seasoned of fans can remember when the contest last shone a light on the UK," says Bella Qvist in The Guardian

Eurovision 2017 takes place in Kyiv, Ukraine, next week, so will this be our year?

What are the UK's chances?

In the last 13 years, the UK has come bottom three times and has been placed in the top ten only twice.

Last year's entry, Joe and Jake, followed in the footsteps of 2015's Electro Velvet to finish in the bottom three.

The UK's poor performance in recent years is often blamed on the political side of the voting system.

According to a YouGov poll in 2013, out of all of the nationalities taking part, it is the British who most believe Eurovision is "all political", while Sir Terry Wogan notably stepped down from commentating on the event in 2008 for that very reason, saying it was "no longer a music competition."

However, "comforting as it might be to blame bloc voting for the UK's endless poor record, it's not the only reason we don't do well", says the Daily Telegraph

Who is representing us this year?

Lucie Jones, who made her name in the 2009 series of the X-Factor, will take to the stage with Never Give Up on You.

The song matches it's singer's strong credentials as it is written by 2013 Eurovision victor Emmelie de Forest. "I am a huge fan of Emmelie. It's an honour to be singing her song," Jones said.

Nevertheless, the UK is a rank outsider with the bookies, with odds of 66/1.

What does Brexit mean for Eurovision?

Unsurprisingly, the focus this year in the competition has been on the effect of the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Charlotte Rancie of the Daily Telegraph writes: "Brexit has certainly made headlines and caused consternation among the EU member states, who do after all make up a significant chunk of the number of European-voting countries. Would they be cruel enough to take it out on us at Eurovision?"

However, the UK's Eurovision guru, Graham Norton, has been quite laidback about it all.

"I know a lot of people are nervous about what the Brexit effect will be, but what can it be? We can't do much worse," he said.

Are any Eurovision parties being held?

The Luxe Club in central London boasts that its Eurovision party will be "bigger, better and camper than ever". According to Hello!, it will be serving "Eurotastic" cocktails while there will be a Eurovision karaoke competition before the show itself is broadcast on big screens.

Similar bashes will take place elsewhere in the UK, including at Camp and Furnace in Liverpool, the Duke of York's Picturehouse in Brighton and Bar Pop in Manchester.

Who are the UK's past winners?

Katrina and the Waves last grabbed the title for the UK in 1997, when Love Shine a Light scored 227 points.

The UK hit the right beat four times before that. Sandie Shaw triumphed in 1968 with Puppet on a String, followed the next year by Lulu and Boom Bang-a-Bang.

Then there was a long wait until 1976, when Brotherhood of Man were the champs with Save Your Kisses For Me, which also went on to be the highest-selling single of the year in the UK. Five years later, Bucks Fizz went home triumphant with their hit Making Your Mind Up - which included the famous whipping-the-skirt-off-routine midway through the song.

So who will win?

According to William Lee Adams, founder of Eurovision news site Wiwibloggs, "Russia could show up without a song and they could still make the final", such is the unwavering nature of the former Soviet Union's voting bloc.

"That theory will be put to the test in 2017," says the Telegraph, as Russia is not participating, "having been controversially excluded by hosts Ukraine because their act had previously travelled to the disputed territory of Crimea".

Italy is favourite to win with "an entry that is set to make viewers go wild", says the Daily Express.

Francesco Gabbani's Occidentali's Karma (Westerner's Karma) went viral when it was released earlier this year, adds the paper.

"Looking at the songs tipped to win this year – Italy, Bulgaria and Sweden – the common denominators seem to be a single, attractive man who sings about love (or karma) while gesticulating wildly with his hands," says Qvist.

Eurovision 2017: The UK contenders - all picked from The X Factor

24 January

The UK contenders for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest have been announced - and they are all former contestants from The X Factor.

Six acts will battle it out in BBC2's Eurovision: You Decide on Friday, with the public voting on who will go to Kiev, Ukraine, in May. The show will be hosted by the Great British Bake Off's Mel Giedroyc and feature live performances from all the hopeful candidates. 

However, there have been a few raised eyebrows over the shortlist.

"If Britain wasn't already the laughing stock of Europe then this should do it," says Roisin O'Connor at The Independent. "The UK's Eurovision contenders have been revealed and they are all failed X Factor auditions."

Making matters worse, she adds, "there's also a running theme of sickly sweet, 'save the world with love'-type ballads" and although most Eurovision songs sound as though they were written 40 years ago, "couldn't we have at least tried to update the sound a bit?"

It may not be as bad as it sounds. Steven McIntosh and Mark Savage at the BBC say TV talent has "good form at Eurovision, with two previous winners graduating from singing contests like X Factor".

Sweden's Loreen, who won the competition in 2012, was a runner-up on Swedish Idol, where she performed under the name Loreen Talhaoui, while fellow countryman Mans Zelmerlow triumphed at the 2015 contest "having earned his stripes on Swedish Idol and Let's Dance, which is his home country's version of Strictly".

Among the more recognisable names among the Brits competing this year are Lucie Jones and Danyl Johnson, who both appeared in the 2009 series, which was won by Joe McElderry.                                   

Jones's song, Never Give Up on You, also has winning credentials, being written by 2013 Eurovision victor Emmelie de Forest.

Other contestants include Holly Brewer, who sang at the wedding of reality TV star Mark Wright and actress Michelle Keegan, while Nate Simpson's audition for The X Factor last year prompted Nicole Scherzinger to say: "You opened your mouth and Jesus came out" - although she later kicked him off the show during the judges' houses round.

Olivia Garcia appeared in the most recent series, failing to impress Simon Cowell, and wedding singer Salena Mastroianni, who is distantly related to Italian film star Marcello Mastroianni, auditioned for the show in 2012, but didn't progress beyond the initial stages.

Eurovision: You Decide airs on BBC2 on Friday at 7.30pm.


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