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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 07:20 GMT 08:20 UK
Making a habit of Eurovision
By Michael Osborn
BBC News entertainment reporter

Cypriot singer Constandinos Kristoforou
Constandinos Kristoforou is hoping it will be third time lucky

History will be repeating itself at the 50th Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, with the return of a clutch of former contestants.

Leading the pack are two hopefuls who came perilously close to victory with their first attempts.

Icelandic singer Selma Bjornsdottir was pipped at the post by Sweden's Charlotte Nilsson in 1999.

The singer says she "never planned" to make a Eurovision comeback, but decided she really "wanted to go through the adventure again".

'Unique experience'

"Eurovision is a bit of a lottery and I don't expect anything," adds Selma.

Her pragmatism is well placed - Selma made a shock exit at the semi final stage of the competition and will not perform on Saturday night.

The singers from Malta and Greece have already had recent experiences of the song contest, and both came close to winning.

Maltese singer Chiara in 1998
Malteste singer Chiara first tried her luck in 1998

Maltese star Chiara was eclipsed by Israel's transsexual singer Dana International in 1998, and is bringing to Kiev another strong ballad which was a success seven years ago.

Swedish-born Helena Paparizou will flying the flag for Greece again, after taking the group Antique to third place in 2001.

The singer calls Eurovision "a unique experience" and "a great challenge".

One musician who can claim to be a more seasoned Eurovision performer is Constantinos Christoforou, with a third bid for victory.

He finished ninth in 1996, improving to sixth in 2002 as part of the group One - and will be hoping that his song Ela Ela can take him all the way.

This latest batch of serial Eurovision contestants follows a long tradition of singers who choose to have more than one stab at it.

Unsuccessful

Cliff Richard competed twice for the United Kingdom in 1968 and 1973, failing to win on both occasions.

Homegrown predecessor Ronnie Carroll performed at the contest two years on the trot in the early 1960s, and was also unsuccessful.

Cheryl Baker tasted victory with Bucks Fizz in 1981, but three years earlier she finished 11th with Coco.

UK's 1978 Eurovision entrants Coco
Cheryl Baker (top right) was in Coco before tasting victory in 1981

The Eurovision performer with the track record to beat is Ireland's Johnny Logan, who wrapped up two victories in 1980 and 1987.

He went on to be the songwriter behind one of Ireland's subsequent triumphs in 1992.

For this year's landmark 50th contest, former participants were lining up to have another crack at Eurovision - but were less successful.

The UK's 1996 entrant Gina G finished in a distant last place in the country's competition to choose this year's song.

'Nul points'

And 1997 winners Katrina and The Waves made a bid to represent Sweden, but failed to secure their berth to the Ukraine.

Norwegian singer Jahn Teigen made an unsuccessful bid to represent his country for a fourth time.

He became notorious for coming last with "nul points" in 1978, but performed better in 1982 and 1983 - and will have to make another bid for a Eurovision comeback.

The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Kiev on Saturday. It will be screened on BBC One from 2000 BST and on BBC News website.


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