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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
50 years of Eurovision memories
Kiev is playing host to the 50th Eurovision Song Contest. This year's event is the biggest yet, with 39 countries taking part. Some famous faces who have taken part in Eurovision talk about their memories from the big night - and why it has lasted so long.

Cliff Richard

Bucks Fizz

David Jacobs
Brotherhood of Man

Sonia

Nicki French

SIR CLIFF RICHARD

Sir Cliff Richard represented the UK at the Eurovision twice. In 1968, he finished second with Congratulations - missing out to Spain's Massiel and her song La La La La. In 1973, he came third with Power To All Our Friends.

Cliff Richard and Massiel
Cliff Richard congratulating Spain's 1968 winner Massiel

What are your most enduring memories of taking part in Eurovision?

The first time I lost the contest with Congratulations, my most abiding memory was locking the door of the green room's toilet to escape the cameras during voting. There was no way I was going to weep on live TV!

My manager broke the dreaded news by tapping on the door and loudly announcing: "Cliff, you lost".

Spain's Massiel won with La La La La and seemed to sink without trace. Congratulations sold more than 1m copies and has earned more royalties than anything I've done. It was even played at Charles and Camilla's wedding!

What has been the most memorable moment of the contest's 50-year history?

Nothing to do with any contestant, but Michael Flatley's brilliant Riverdance during the intermission in 1994. What an opportunity and how he seized it!

Why do you think the contest has lasted so long and shows no signs of stopping?

Originally I thought it might become a showcase for Europe's best singers, but it did not turn out like that.

But audiences love anything with winners and losers, while the sheer farce of political voting and Wogan's scathing put-downs make it unmissable TV.

JAY ASTON, BUCKS FIZZ

Jay Aston
Long live Eurovision and all who sail in her
Former Bucks Fizz star Jay Aston

Jay Aston was part of quartet Bucks Fizz who won a memorable victory in 1981 with the catchy Makin' Your Mind Up and a dance routine which saw the girls' overskirts ripped off. Aston left the group in 1985 and embarked on a solo career.

What are your most enduring memories of taking part in Eurovision?

Winning in 1981. It was nail-biting right up to the result. I couldn't really believe we had won.

What has been the most memorable moment of the contest's 50-year history?

Watching Abba win in 1974. That was the moment I decided I wanted to win the contest - and then going on to do just that.

Why do you think the contest has lasted so long and shows no signs of stopping?

Eurovision is still great entertainment. It is also one of the only chances for Europe to compete in this way, and I think anything that brings that many people together is a great thing.

What countries are into and the way they cast their votes is very interesting often predictable, often unbelievable! Long live Eurovision and all who sail in her.

DAVID JACOBS

Veteran broadcaster David Jacobs provided the television commentary for Eurovision on the BBC several times in the 1950s and 60s. Terry Wogan has been a fixture in the UK's commentary box every year since 1980.

What are your most enduring memories of taking part in Eurovision?

In Naples I managed to take the whole British contingent over to the island of Capri for lunch - that was a time of great joy.

In Luxembourg we couldn't get served in the hotel, and much to the surprise of everyone, I said: 'I'm going to pick up this glass and throw it at that mirror.'

It smashed into a thousand pieces and we got served.

Why do you think the contest has lasted so long and shows no signs of stopping?

The reason it's gone on for so long is that people like to gamble, they like to see who's going to vote for who.

It's a bit of fun - the music is secondary to the fun.

BROTHERHOOD OF MAN'S LEE SHERIDEN

Lee Sheriden is a member of Brotherhood of Man, who claimed the UK's third Eurovision victory in 1976 by an impressive margin. Save All Your Kisses For Me was an international chart-topper and was followed up with Angelo. The group are still together and performing live dates.

Brotherhood of Man
The Brotherhood Of Man's Eurovision winner topped the charts

What are your most enduring memories of taking part in Eurovision?

Representing your country. It's great to win something, but when you win for your country it's 10 times better and something we will always remember.

We were also honoured to be presented with the award for being the biggest Eurovision winner of all time to date, judged by the percentage of the vote gained.

What has been the most memorable moment of the contest's 50-year history?

Seeing Ireland's Johnny Logan win twice with two great songs. He is a great ambassador for Eurovision and a really nice guy.

Why do you think the contest has lasted so long and shows no signs of stopping?

Because other countries really love it. We are the only country who knocks it. Even if the UK decided at some time not to support it, the rest of Europe would carry on. They are queuing up to get in!

SONIA

Liverpudlian singer Sonia Evans scored a string of hits courtesy of record producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman, including her chart-topping debut You'll Never Stop Me From Loving You in 1989. She represented the UK at the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest, and was pipped to the post by Ireland's Niamh Kavanagh.

What are your most enduring memories of taking part in Eurovision?

It was being backstage during the votes and feeling proud to be representing my country.

What has been the most memorable moment of the contest's 50-year history?

The winning performance by Bucks Fizz in 1981 when the girls had their skirts ripped off.

Why do you think the contest has lasted so long and shows no signs of stopping?

People love to back their own country - after all, it was the first show to have a public vote. They are always amused by some of the more bizarre entries.

NICKI FRENCH

Singer Nicki French shot to fame in 1995 when her cover of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart became a worldwide hit. She represented the UK at the 2000 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing 16th with Don't Play That Song Again. She is releasing a new single, Calling Out My Name, on 30 May.

What are your most enduring memories of taking part in Eurovision?

It was the amazing support I received from fans who went out to Stockholm to support me. I suddenly realised that the Union Jacks were being flown for me! That was an incredibly special feeling.

The support at the after-show party was something special too. I really didn't want to go after we came 16th, but my manager forced me - and he was right. People said they couldn't understand why we didn't get many points and that our performance was fine.

What has been the most memorable moment of the contest's 50-year history?

Nicki French
Nicki French has good memories of Eurovision five years on

Bucks Fizz's win - I spent the evening with a schoolfriend and we watched the contest at my house.

Then in 1997 I saw Katrina And The Waves deservedly win for the UK - the song was head and shoulders above the rest.

One year the Spanish singers came on stage to start their song, couldn't hear the music so had to go off and start again!

And Ulrika Jonsson's amazing faux pas in 1998 when the Dutch lady presented their votes and mentioned she'd once been a Eurovision contestant. Ulrika said: "A long time ago, was it?"

Why do you think the contest has lasted so long and shows no signs of stopping?

We treat Eurovision as a bit of fun, while other countries are very serious about it. In Sweden, there are five shows, each featuring eight acts as well as the final to choose their song, which draw huge audiences.

Support elsewhere is growing rather than abating - some entries spend their whole career going from one country to another performing their song - there is huge demand

The UK still sees Eurovision as a "special" event. We love the glamour, the glitz, the costumes - that is the main point - we still love it!

The grand final of the 50th Eurovision Song Contest is on Saturday and is screened on BBC One from 2000 BST.


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