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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 18:08 GMT
Euro hopefuls rate their chances
By Fiona Pryor
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The Eurovision contenders
Six acts will compete to perform in the Eurovision Song Contest
The countdown to the Eurovision Song Contest has begun, with former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins and ex-East 17 singer Brian Harvey in the line-up of hopefuls eager to represent the UK.

R&B act Big Brovaz, former Atomic Kitten singer Liz McClarnon, pop act Scooch and French singer Cyndi will also compete in the BBC One show, Making Your Mind Up.

The programme airs on 17 March, with the winner travelling to the Eurovision final in Helsinki, Finland, on 12 May.

Some were more keen than others to take part. Hawkins admits he only said yes to the opportunity after dreaming about the contest.

I think it's the biggest, most glamorous and possibly the most important music event there is
Justin Hawkins

"I woke up feeling really positive about it," he says.

The flamboyant singer, who has teamed up with Beverlei Brown to perform They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To, says he is hoping to complete a life-long ambition.

"I think it's every boy's dream to represent their country at the highest level. I think it's the biggest, most glamorous and possibly the most important music event there is," he adds, vowing he will not give up if he is unsuccessful this time around.

Serious approach

"Every year I'm going to go in for Eurovision, it's going to be like Cliff Richard and his Christmas songs," he jokes.

Big Brovaz are taking a more serious approach to the whole event - and hope they will set a precedent for R&B acts to follow in their footsteps.

Justin Hawkins, The Darkness
Justin Hawkins used to sing in the band the Darkness

"I must make that very clear, we came here to win," says singer J-Rock.

"This is an opportunity for us to showcase UK hip-hop and R&B on a world scale," adds bandmate Randy. "We're the first urban group to ever be asked to do this competition, so we consider that a privilege as well."

Freak accident

But for Brian Harvey, his biggest achievement was to walk to the contest's launch. Following a freak accident in May 2005, doctors told him it was likely he would lose the use of his legs.

It's the best song I've ever recorded ever - or could ever hope to record

Brian Harvey

"Words can't really describe what goes through your head when someone tells you you're never going to walk again," he recalls.

He admits that before the accident he was on a "downward spiral" - as well as the accident, he has spent time in prison and was attacked with a machete in 2001. But he hopes the contest marks "a fresh beginning".

"This means a hell of a lot," he says. "I cannot stress enough that I'm not supposed to be walking, let alone be here."

His song, I Can, was recorded a few years ago, but he never got around to releasing it.

Brian Harvey of East 17
Brian Harvey was told by doctors he might never walk again

"It's the best song I've ever recorded ever - or could ever hope to record. It really is that good - I feel that confident about the record," he says.

Liz McClarnon - who says her track (Don't It Make You) Happy is "upbeat" with "lots of brass" - is too busy focusing on her nerves to think about anything else.

"It's really really scary. I've watched Eurovision for years," she says.

Although excited by the contest, she thinks Hawkins and Brown are likely to go through to the Helsinki finals as they have the "coolest" song.

Pop act Scooch, who reformed especially for the contest, are huge Eurovision fans. Singer David Ducasse instantly reels off a list of performers and what year they appeared in the competition.

It's about time Eurovision had a pop act to go through for the UK

David Ducasse, Scooch

He describes their song, Flying the Flag (For You), as an "out and out pop song".

"It's about time Eurovision had a pop act to go through for the UK," he says.

Finally, Cyndi hopes that despite being French, her song, I'll Leave My Heart, will be enough for her to go through to the contest.

She does not think being a French citizen will be a problem for the voting public.

"As a performer and singer, I've got to do my best. I would sing the same way if I was singing for France," she says. "Whatever my nationality my job is to perform.

"I really have faith in people, they will choose whatever song touches them the most."

Eurovision hopefuls talk about their chances

Meet the UK's Eurovision hopefuls
28 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Eurovision hope for Darkness star
28 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
No Morrissey entry in Eurovision
23 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Morrissey in talks for Eurovision
09 Jan 07 |  Entertainment


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