The UK certainly hasn’t had much success at Eurovision over the last couple of decades – the last win was in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves; and the last runners-up place was in 1998 with Imaani. In the 21st century, the UK has only reached the top 10 twice (third in 2002 and fifth in 2009). In fact, since 2003, more often than not, the UK has finished outside of the top 20, including three last-placed finishes and a famous nul-points for Jemini in 2003.
Needless to say that in Eurovision 2019 winner betting, the UK are very much non-hopefuls with odds of 150/1, alongside the likes of Estonia, Poland and Lithuania, all of which may not even qualify for the grand finals.
But let’s throw it back to the good times – when the United Kingdom actually won the Eurovision Song Contest (it’s happened five times) and when the acts even reached number 1 in the charts.
Sandie Shaw – ‘Puppet On A String’
At the 1967 contest in Vienna, Sandie Shaw gave the United Kingdom their first victory, with ‘Puppet On A String’. She finished with 47 points, well ahead of the Irish entrant in second-place. Despite not receiving any points from Spain or then-Yugoslavia, three countries awarded Shaw seven points, which helped her margin of victory. ‘Puppet On A String’ was actually released before Eurovision, but it wasn’t until after the contest that it reached number 1 in 10 worldwide charts, including the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Argentina. It also reached the top 10 in eight countries. Shaw even re-recorded the track in early 2007, in honour of her 60th birthday.
Sir Cliff Richard – ‘Congratulations’
Sir Cliff Richard may have been robbed of Eurovision success in 1968, but his song ‘Congratulations’ remains one of the best and most-loved Eurovision songs of all-time. The contest in London was won by Spanish act, Massiel, who sang ‘La La La’ and beat Sir Cliff by a solitary point. The song was released and charted in March, a month before the Eurovision Song Contest. Reaching number 1 in seven countries (making two charts in Belgium: Flanders and Wallonia) and the top 10 in a further seven countries, the song is still popular today. In fact, in 2005, a programme was televised to celebrate 50 years of Eurovision and it was aptly named ‘Congratulations: 50 years of the Eurovision Song Contest’, with Sir Cliff opening the show.
Brotherhood Of Man – ‘Save Your Kisses For Me’
The 1976 contest was held in The Hague and won by Brotherhood Of Man, who earned 164 points with their song ‘Save Your Kisses for Me’. They were awarded 12 points from seven different countries and received points from every voting nation. The song to this day remains the biggest-selling single for a winning entry in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. It was released two weeks before the Eurovision Song Contest aired and reached number 1 in eight countries. It was also number 1 in the UK for six consecutive weeks.
Bucks Fizz – ‘Making Your Mind Up’
The 1981 contest was staged in Dublin and the UK were represented by Bucks Fizz. The win – the UK’s fourth in the contest – launched the group’s successful music career and their performance also remains one of the most iconic in Eurovision history. Bucks Fizz beat German act Lena Valaitis by four points. Released on March 12 1981, a month before Eurovision, ‘Making Your Mind Up’ was Bucks Fizz’ first number 1 and topped the charts in eight countries, including Denmark, Israel and Spain. The band were actually formed to enter ‘A Song for Europe’ and it was a decision that paid off – Bucks Fizz continue performing today, despite the line-up changing numerous times over the years.
Gina G – ‘Ooh Ahh…Just A little Bit’
Gina G could only finish eighth at the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, but it didn’t stop her song becoming a chart hit. The song remains the last UK Eurovision entry to top the charts. Despite reaching number 1 in the UK, ‘Ooh Ahh…Just A little Bit’ could only make the top 5 in Australia and Norway, while flopped at 88 in the German charts. It was the Australian singer’s most successful hit and was re-released in 2004. Unlike many Eurovision entries, the song was a success in the US, peaking at 12 and spending 30 weeks in the top 100 – so much so, that it was nominated for a Grammy Award at the 1998 ceremony. Unfortunately for Gina, she was beaten by Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder.