Last year an SNP supporter called on the Scottish Parliament to “to make appropriate representations to take forward calls for Scotland to have its own entry in the Eurovision Song Contest.” It hasn’t happened yet and thank god for that. It’s bad enough having one British entry humiliated over the past few years without being subjected to four separate embarrassments.
Having said that, Scotland has been well served in the Contest since its inception in 1956 and here are some of them:
1. Kenneth McKellar – A Man Without Love (UK 1966) 9th
Kenneth sang all five prospective UK entrants, including a song called A Touch of the Tartan. The dreary A Man Without Love won the day but any hope of overall victory was lost. Going last was no advantage as the mid-table obscurity of 9th was the UK’s worst performance since the competition began, despite being only one of two British entries ever to get top marks from Ireland (the other being Katrina and the Waves some 31 years later).
2. Lulu – Boom-Bang-A-Bang (UK 1969) 1st equal
Lulu sang all six UK songs including an Elton John/Bernie Taupin song called Can’t Go On (Living Without You) on her Happening for Lulu show. The public could live without it and it finished last. Voting had been done by postcard in those days. A shambolic scoring system, which almost brought the Contest to an end, saw a four-way tie for victory, a situation no-one legislated for. The resultant farce saw the UK share the prize with hosts spain, the Netherlands and France. The song was recorded and released in a number of languages and remains Lulu’s biggest hit, much to her chagrin.
3. Christian – Shine It On (UK 1978) 3rd= in UK heat behind Co-Co
A well kent face on the Scottish entertainment scene, especially in panto (oh, no he isn’t…), Christian aka Chris McClure was drawn to sing first and was *this close* to representing the UK in Paris. “Around this time I had two songs up for selection in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest final 10, “Shine It On” and a ballad “Home”. Up until the last three votes, I was leading and then the English votes came in and blew me away.” The records show no sign of Home being in the final 12 and that’s where he stayed in April 1978.
4. James Oliver – What We Say With Our Eyes (UK 1985) 6th in UK heat behind Vikki
Glaswegian James (real name James McLaren) limped in 6th with a sad ballad and also appeared in 1988 and 1989. In 1988 he appeared with Linda Carroll as a duet called Klass performing One More Chance, which finished last of eight 8 behind Scott Fitzgerald. A year later technical problems, not for the first time, put paid to any chance of victory as Can’t Stop Loving You finished a lowly 7th behind Live Report, who went on to finish 2nd in the Contest proper, and Linda Carroll, his partner of the previous year.
5. Fiona Kennedy – So Do I (UK 1985) 7th= in UK heat behind Vikki
Record Breakers presenter Fiona Kennedy, daughter of Calum, teamed up with Yorkshireman Mike Redway who had sung Have No Fear James Bond Is Here in the original Casino Royale movie. Sadly it would take more than 007 to rescue their dreary So Do I ballad.
6. Rikki – Only The Light (UK 1987) 13th
Having won the UK heat ahead of two others Scottish acts (see below), Rikki (aka Richard Peebles) fared poorly in the Contest final as “Mr Eurovision” Johnny Logan enjoyed his second win with Hold Me Now.
7. Gordon Campbell – Just Let Me (UK 1987) 9th in UK heat behind Rikki
Gordon had been UK 800m champion and also wrote for Shakin’ Stevens (did you know that nobody had more Top 20 in the 80s than Shaky? Scary!) Sadly the viewers ran a mile from this limp track as it trailed in a miserable 9th of 10.
8. Heavy Pettin’ – Romeo (UK 1987) 6th in UK heat behind Rikki
Their appearance has been described as “Bon Jovi-lite”. Vests, fingerless gloves, leather trousers and poodle perms just about sums up everything that was wrong about the 1980s. If he’s a Romeo, Juliet would be turning in her grave.
9. Scott Fitzgerald – Go (UK 1988) 2nd behind Celine Dion
Written by Bruce Forsyth’s daughter Julie, Go was pipped by a single point as final voters Yugoslavia gave Celine Dion six points to the UK’s none. Sadly the song – the UK’s first ballad since Kenneth McKellar in 1966 – peaked in the UK charts at 52. Scott (real name William McPhail) still performs today.
10. Les McKeown – Ball and Chain (UK 1990) 4th in UK heat behind Emma
A far cry from Shang-A-Lang and Bye Bye Baby, the limp middle of the road ballad by the former Bay City Rollers frontman finished 5th of 8 behind winner Emma.
11. Karen Matheson – Diwanit Bugale (May The Children be Born) (France 1996) 19th
Capercaillie’s chanteuse Karen Matheson was part of a Celtic ensemble called Dan Ar Braz and L’Heritage de Celtes, whose entry was sung, rather unusually for Eurovision, in Breton. Karen was awarded the OBE in 2006 for services to Scottish music. I wonder when I’ll get mine!
12. City Chix – All About You (UK 2006) 3rd in UK heat behind Daz Sampson
City Chix was the unimaginative name of Laura McMonagle and Jade Lezar, who starred in Scottish soap opera River City. Full marks from the Scottish jury weren’t enough to ensure a trip to Athens as the song finished third behind Daz Sampson and Blue’s Antony Costa and just ahead of Kym Marsh.
Other non-singing Scots who have made a Tartan-tinged contribution to the le monde de Eurovision have included Moira Shearer and Bill Martin.
While Moira Shearer didn’t sing in the contest, she did take centre stage as host of the 1972 event when the show was held at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Monaco had won the contest in 1971 but couldn’t find a suitable venue (or afford it, depending on which story you choose to believe) so the contest was moved to the Scottish capital by the BBC.
Songwriter Bill Martin has played a not insubstantial part in the Song Contest. While Johnny Logan may be the most successful Eurovison contributor ever, courtesy of his three wins as a songwriter, Bill Martin, with long-time collaborator Phil Coulter, isn’t far behind. He wrote the victorious Puppet On a String for Sandie Shaw in 1967, the following’ year’s runner-up Congratulations for Cliff Richard, Luxembourg’s 1975 entry Toi for Ohil Coulter’s future wife Geraldine Branagan as well as the aforementioned Shine It On for Christian.
It seems only appropriate that Puppet on a String was number 1 on the day I was born and may go some way to explain my somewhat unnatural love of all things Eurovision. I was lucky enough (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) to witness the spectacle live in Birmingham in 1998 when Dana International won for Israel and Ulrika Jonsson insulted the Dutch jury representative.
For what it’s worth my tip for success this year is Denmark with In A Moment Like This by Chanée and N’Evergreen. The bookies favour Azerbaijan and Germany – she must have learned her English from Kate Nash – with the UK very much outsiders. I should also point out I’ve never picked the winner yet so don’t go blowing all your holiday Euros on the Danes.