Eurovision UK stars' transformations from Lulu to EastEnders' actress

In the years since the Eurovision Song Contest was launched, the United Kingdom has sent an act all but twice.

Joining the competition in the second year, 1957, the country pinned its hopes on Patricia Bredin who was eventually named in seventh place.

In the following decades, the track record for doing so well has been a bit of a rollercoaster as fans will attest too, however there have been countless acts that have stayed in people’s minds long after they performed.

From Cliff Richard in 1968 to Olivia Newton John in 1974, some have gone on to establish massive international careers, while others will forever be remembered for their participation in this particular event.

Last year Sam Ryder proved that the country stood a chance at soaring back up the leader board, and while he narrowly missed out on winning, his success played a part in the UK being handed the baton to host this year on behalf of Ukraine.

But as we wait to see Mae Muller take to the stage with her hit I Wrote A Song, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of the acts we can’t stop thinking about – and some of the transformations they’ve undergone in the years since.

Sandie Shaw- Puppet on a String (1967)

The first act to ever bring home a Eurovision title to the UK, Sandie Shaw was one of the most successful British female singers of the 1960s.

Born and raised in Essex, she first worked at the Ford Dagenham factory after leaving school, doing some part-time modelling before taking part in a local talent contest set her on the path to become a professional singer.

While she had three number one singles during the height of her success, she retired from the music industry in 2013.

Lulu- Boom Bang-a-Bang (1969)

Scottish singer Lulu was involved in a four-way tie when competing in Eurovision in 1969.

While she picked up the UK’s second win, it was one we shared alongside France, Spain and the Netherlands.

Her song Boom Bang-a-Bang was a plea for her lover to ‘cuddle her right’ and she then went to explain ‘my heart goes boom bang-a-bang boom bang-a-bang when you are near’.

It made it to No.2 in the UK Singles Chart and was a major hit throughout Europe.

Lulu found great success with other songs too, including To Sir With Love, from the 1967 film of the same name.

It also topped the Billboard Hot 100 and was the title song for 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

This year she appeared on the fourth series of The Masked Singer as Piece of Cake’, but was the second contestant voted out of the competition.

Mary Hopkin- Knock, Knock Who’s There? (1970)

Welsh singer Mary Hopkin came second in Eurovision 1970 with the song Knock, Knock Who’s There?

Despite being the favourite heading into the contest, she lost to All Kinds of Everything, performed by Irish singer Dana.

While she released some music in the two years after the contest, she withdrew from the music industry for a time to start a family.

However over the years she has worked on projects including providing the vocals to the soundtrack of the movie Blade Runner, briefly joined a group called Oasis in the early 1980s and also released an album with her daughter, titled Two Hearts, this month.

Bucks Fizz- Making Your Mind Up (1981)

The pop group Bucks Fizz was formed specifically to compete in the contest in 1981.

While their song did win, they also received plenty of attention for their dance routine which saw the male members of the group rip the female members’ outer skirts off to reveal much shorter mini-skirts beneath on stage.

Since its formation there have been 16 members be part of the band, with its most recent third album being released back in 2020.

Samantha Janus- A Message to Your Heart (1991)

Singer and actor Samantha Janus, now Womack, represented the UK in 1991 with the song A Message to Your Heart

It placed tenth and reached number 30 on the UK Singles Chart, however the singer said she felt it was a failure and the result left her ‘devastated’, so much so she thought it might spell the end of her career.

However, she went on to carve a successful career as an actor, first in the mid-1990s with a role in Game On, and later appearing in Pie in the Sky and Babes in the Wood.

She has since become known for playing the role of Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders, first from 2007 until 2011, before returning in 2013 and staying on until 2017.

Sonia- Better the Devil You Know (1993)

By the time she entered Eurovision, Liverpudlian Sonia Evans already had a UK number one hit under her belt (1989’s You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You) and had also been the first female UK artist to achieve five top 20 hit singles from one album.

Her song Better the Devil You Know was a huge hit at Eurovision in 1993 and saw her named runner-up.

The following year Sonia starred as Sandy in a West End revival of the musical Grease, while on television she appeared as Bunty in the 1998 BBC comedy series The Lily Savage Show.

Her most recent screen appearance was on Channel 5’s Celebrity 5 Go Caravanning in 2018.

Katrina and the Waves- Love Shine A Light (1997)

The last time the UK won Eurovision was back in 1997 when Katrina and the Waves’ hit Love Shine A Light stood out.

However, it was more than a decade earlier that they had took off, with their memorable track Walking on Sunshine hitting the airwaves.

The last time the band released any music together was back in 1999 when they officially broke up.

Josh Dubovie- That Sounds Good to Me (2010)

In 2003 UK act Jemini had its infamous nul points result, which was the first time that the country had come last in the contest.

In the years since the UK has finished last another four times, including in 2010, when Josh Dubovie only managed to pick up 10 points in total.

His song That Sounds Good to Me was also named the lowest charting UK Eurovision entry to date when released.

In 2013 the singer rebranded, ditching his last name and shifting his musical style towards RnB and dance.

That year he said in an interview that internet searches for his name produced countless references to Eurovision, so a name change was needed to help him move beyond the contest.

The second Eurovision semi-final airs on Thursday at 8pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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