UK at Eurovision: Who has won the Song Contest for the UK and when have they finished last?

8 May 2024, 11:25

The UK representing the UK, from Cliff Richard, Bucks Fizz and Katrina and the Waves
The UK representing the UK, from Cliff Richard, Bucks Fizz and Katrina and the Waves. Picture: BBC/Getty

By Tom Eames

The UK has taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest for six decades, and while we never stand more of a chance of getting nil points than winning these days, this wasn't always the case.

It's been over 20 years since the UK last won Eurovision (though Sam Ryder came very close!), but which acts have taken home the trophy before?

  1. Sandie Shaw - 'Puppet on a String' (1967)

    Eurovision Song Contest 1967 - Sandie Shaw - Puppet on a String (WINNER)

    After finishing in second place five times between 1957 and 1966, pop star Sandie Shaw finally won it for the UK.

    However, she wasn't a fan. She later admitted: "I hated it from the very first oompah to the final bang on the big bass drum. I was instinctively repelled by its sexist drivel and cuckoo-clock tune."

  2. Lulu - 'Boom Bang a Bang' (1969)

    Lulu - Boom Bang A Bang (Eurovision - 1969)

    Cliff Richard had to settle for a very close second place in 1968 with his tune 'Congratulations', but the UK reclaimed their crown a year later.

    Lulu's song was actually the joint winner with three other entries that year: Salomé's 'Vivo cantando' for Spain, Lenny Kuhr's 'De troubadour' for the Netherlands, and Frida Boccara's 'Un jour, un enfant' for France. How very quaint of everyone.

  3. Brotherhood of Man - 'Save Your Kisses for Me' (1976)

    Eurovision 1976 - United Kingdom

    At the start of the 1970s, the UK finished second three times, and Cliff was back and finished third in 1973. His mates The Shadows came second two years later.

    But it was this new ABBA rival group which took it home with this incredibly catchy tune.

    It was so popular, that it was number one in the UK two weeks before Eurovision began (a rarity at the time), and remains one of the best-selling singles of all time.

  4. Bucks Fizz - 'Making Your Mind Up' (1981)

    Bucks Fizz - Making your mind up - song for europe 1981

    If you wonder why a Eurovision winner usually needs some kind of gimmick, then you can probably blame Bucks Fizz and their skirt-ripping routine for that.

    The four-piece repeated the success of Brotherhood of Man by coming out on top in '81, despite criticisms that they were out of key during the performance.

    Cheryl Baker later said their poor performance was because she sang in a higher key to the rest of the group due to nerves. Mike Nolan also said that on the night the microphones got mixed up, with Baker and Jay Aston singing on the lead microphones, which had a higher volume.

  5. Katrina and the Waves - 'Love Shine a Light' (1997)

    Love Shine a Light - Katrina and The Waves

    After a barren run in the '80s and '90s (we finished second four times including efforts by Michael Ball and Sonia), this British-American band finally brought the trophy home.

    It was a resounding success for the UK that year, with Katrina later saying:"It was such a feel-good, lighters-in-the-air, cheesy number. It would have been embarrassing for it not to win. It had 'I am a winner' written all over it"

  6. When has the UK finished last?

    Eurovision 2003 15 United Kingdom *Jemini* *Cry Baby* 16:9 HQ

    Before 2003, the lowest the UK reached was 16th (out of 24) in 2000 (Nicki French - 'Don't Play that Song Again').

    That all changed in 2003, when duo Jemini notoriously finished rock bottom with nil points with 'Cry Baby', after a poor performance that was incredibly out of tune due to technical errors on the night.

    X Factor star Andy Abraham also came last in 2008 with 'Even If', as did Josh Dubovie's utterly forgettable 'That Sounds Good to Me' in 2010.

    And of course, in 2021, poor James Newman also finished rock bottom with nil points for his underrated song 'Embers'.

    In fact, since 2003, the UK has finished lower than 20th 10 times.

    The UK has only reached the top 10 four times since we last won it in 1997 (Imaani's 'Where Are You' in 1998, Jessica Garlick's 'Come Back' in 2002, Jade Ewen's 'It's My Time' in 2009, and Sam Ryder's 'Space Man' in 2022).