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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Fox flies UK's Eurovision flag
By Michael Osborn
BBC News Online entertainment staff

James Fox

Singer James Fox will have to turn the tide of Eurovision history if he wants to win this year's contest in Istanbul on Saturday.

The United Kingdom may have claimed five memorable wins, but never with a male solo artist.

And since 1990, a parade of groups, female soloists and duos have walked off with the coveted Eurovision prize.

But 28-year-old Welshman Fox appears relaxed and optimistic about his chances against 23 other hopefuls in the grand final on 15 May.

"Well, it's about time we changed history," says Fox, aware that five UK male soloists have finished second in the contest's history.

'Quietly confident'

His ballad Hold On To Our Love was the runaway winner in the competition to select the UK's Eurovision entry earlier this year, and Fox says that a repeat performance in Turkey is not an impossible feat.

UK's MALE RUNNERS-UP
Michael Ball, runner-up for the UK in 1992
1992 - Michael Ball
1988 - Scott Fitzgerald
1968 - Cliff Richard
1964 - Matt Monro
1961 - Bryan Johnson
Source: ESC Today

"I'm definitely not ruling out a win and will give it my best shot. I'm quietly confident," he says.

"It's a song contest at the end of the day, and my song has a simplicity with lyrics people can relate to - it has the feel of those Irish entries that did very well."

Ireland has the most impressive Eurovision record with seven wins - two of them from male soloist Johnny Logan back in the 1980s.

Competition

But this year's contest is a different beast, with more countries than ever chasing the musical spoils - and an unusually heavy presence of male artists.

Fox says he has eyed up the competition and considered other potential winners, but is concentrating on his own performance on the big night.

"I believe I'll be able to deliver the song well and think it will stand up on its own merits - it's got what it takes," he says.

James Fox
James Fox regularly performed live on the BBC's Fame Academy

Eurovision is well known for colourful stage shows which have produced winners, such as the famous skirt routine by the UK's Bucks Fizz in 1981.

And a mesmerising ribbon dance helped Turkey's Sertab Erener to the title last year.

Former Fame Academy student James Fox is a stand-alone performer with nothing more lavish than an acoustic guitar for company - and says little will change in Istanbul.

"The gimmick is that there will be no gimmick.

"I've got backing singers, but there won't be any performing monkeys or trapeze artists on stage!" he says.

But with millions of people watching him, Fox's trademark casual attire will be replaced for the big night.

"I've smartened up the old image and have a polished new outfit - but I can't reveal what it is. You have to take part in the glitz and the glamour of Eurovision."

BBC News Online will be in Istanbul for the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 15, which is on BBC One from 2000BST. The UK's James Fox will be the 20th performer on stage.


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