Sam Ryder’s second place finish at the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest means it is now 25 years since the United Kingdom last won the annual competition.
While Ryder was beaten to the prize by Ukraine, he can look back with pride on his achievement. But does his song feature on the list of all-time UK Eurovision greats? Let’s take a look.
1. Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine a Light – 1997
Katrina and the Waves rose like a phoenix from the ashes to deliver one of the most memorable UK Eurovision victories in 1997.
The group’s 1980s hit Walking on Sunshine was just a distant memory when they returned in a blaze of glory in Dublin.
Love Shine a Light racked up a whopping 227 points – a record (at the time) 70 clear of hosts Ireland in second place.
Katrina’s stunning vocal performance struck a chord with the juries and cemented this song’s place as the greatest UK Eurovision entrant of all-time.
2. Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up – 1981
With punk rock hitting the UK music scene with a sledgehammer, it was feared that pop songs would soon become a thing of the past.
Step forward Bucks Fizz – a cheesy pop group initially put together to enter the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest.
What followed next became one of the most iconic Eurovision nights in history, with the skirt-ripping dance routine wowing the juries.
The UK received points from every other competing country – a feat that has become rather unheard of in recent years.
3. Brotherhood of Man – Save Your Kisses for Me – 1976
According to Betway, Save Your Kisses for Me is the biggest selling song from the Eurovision Song Contest ever in the UK.
Brotherhood of Man were arguably fortunate to represent the UK, with just two points separating them from Co-Co in the UK’s A Song for Europe competition.
However, having enjoyed success on mainland Europe prior to 1976, the group were confident of becoming the UK’s third Eurovision winners.
While the sickly-sweet nature of the lyrics makes this song a relic from simpler times, it is impossible to ignore its status as a UK Eurovision classic.
4. The New Seekers – Beg, Steal or Borrow – 1972
The 1972 Eurovision Song Contest produced two songs that became massive hits – Apres Toi by Vicky Leandros and Beg, Steal Or Borrow by The New Seekers.
Leandros won for Luxembourg on the back of an aggressive public relations campaign, leaving many Eurovision fans thinking the UK had been robbed.
The defeat did not stop The New Seekers becoming hugely successful, with the group going on to sell more than 35 million records worldwide.
Their hit single ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’, adapted from an advertising jingle for Coca-Cola, remains one of the most iconic songs of all-time.
5. Kathy Kirby – I Belong – 1965
Kirby’s self-empowerment anthem I Belong brought her cult fame as a gay icon long before it was fashionable to be a gay icon.
She was the favourite to win in 1965, but was beaten into second place by Luxembourg entrant France Gall with Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son.
Kirby did not take defeat too kindly, famously slapping Gall behind the scenes as she believed the voting had been rigged.
She enjoyed sporadic flirtations with showbusiness over the next couple of decades, but will be forever remembered for her brilliant Eurovision tune.
6. Sam Ryder – Space Man – 2023
Having recorded just three top ten finishes since Katrina and the Waves won in 1997, the UK was starting to question its relationship with Eurovision.
Ryder’s Space Man restored the country’s faith in the competition and ended the notion that the rest of Europe hated the UK because of Brexit.
The 32-year-old topped the jury vote, but finished as a runner-up as Ukraine were swept into top spot on a wave of public support.
The Essex-born singer can give himself a deserved pat on the back for highlighting that the UK can be competitive at Eurovision if they enter the right song.
7. The Shadows – Let Me Be the One – 1975
Better known as Cliff Richard’s backing band, The Shadows proved they were no mugs by claiming second place at the 1975 Eurovision Cong Contest.
They were the first proper rock group to represent the UK and could count themselves unlucky to run into an excellent entry from the Netherlands.
Singer Bruce Welch briefly mixing up his words on stage added to the charm of their performance and demonstrated that ‘real music’ could succeed at Eurovision.
The Shadows have since been cited as a major influence on many musicians, including Brian May, Andy Summers, Ritchie Blackmore and David Gilmour.
8. Mary Hopkin – Knock Knock Who’s There? – 1970
Hopkin rose to worldwide fame following her appearance at the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest, despite hating the song she performed.
She was beaten into second place by Dana’s ‘All Kinds of Everything’, one of the sickliest songs ever to win Eurovision.
Hopkin initially came to prominence on the television programme Opportunity Knocks, winning the competition for six weeks in a row.
She was recommended to Paul McCartney by model Twiggy, becoming one of the first artists to join The Beatles’ record label Apple.
9. Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran – Rock Bottom – 1977
Eurovision 1977 was almost cancelled due to budget restrictions, and the BBC did not want Rock Bottom to win as they would have to host the contest the following year.
The contest was delayed for five weeks due to the cameramen and technicians being on strike, but de Paul and Moran eventually got their moment in the sun.
Lionel Blair choreographed de Paul and Moran’s piano seated performance, adding a fun touch to a superb Eurovision song.
The duo were beaten into second place by France, much to the BBC’s relief. However, that does not stop Rock Bottom being one of the UK’s best ever Eurovision songs.