Eurovision 2016

UK: Six duos that have represented the BBC in Eurovision

Union Flag of buses

Unless you were living in a cave in Mars with your fingers in your ears, you will know that the UK has picked a duo to represent it in Stockholm. If you missed it all, you can read the blog here and the winner article here. Here’s the performance from Joe & Jake.

Over the 58 previous entries by the UK, six duos have been sent, to varying degrees of success. We look at how they fared.

First, back in 1959 in glorious black & white, husband and wife Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson went off to Cannes with a jaunty little song and a prop to help them along to second place. Admittedly, they were in a field of eleven and it was in the days when juries had 10 points to award however they liked. The Netherlands awarded ‘Sing little birdie’ a massive five points (of the 16 Pearl & Teddy received). It’s still a bit of a standard and, by finishing second (to the Netherlands), set a precedent that’s been repeated many times.

Two years after Pearl & Teddy, The UK’s only other male duo – The Allisons – trekked off to Cannes again. A massive 16 countries took part this time. The scoring system was the same, as was the UK’s result. Among the scores they bagged seven from Switzerland and eight from Luxembourg – unprecedented in those smaller days. ‘Are you sure’ is another jaunty song and in the stylee of the Everly Brothers. And possibly remembered more than the winning song from Luxembourg.

It was 16 years before the UK’s next duo graced the stage. This time, Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran travelled all the way to London (well, the Wembley Conference Centre) with not one, but two pianos. And Ronnie Hazlehurst in a bowler hat and umbrella. Rock bottom was the song, which may sum up the UK’s track record in the 21st Century. But in 1977 they finished – you’ve guessed it – second again. And yet again to a [better] song in French. Duos and second places seemed to go hand in hand. Or so we thought…

The next time the contest was in the UK, another duo tried for success. This was, of course, Bardo in Harrogate in 1982. Bardo were Stephen Fischer and Sally Ann Triplett. She’d made her name as a member of Prima Donna in 1980, and then in children’s TV (most famously on Crackerjack). Stephen was almost in Buck’s Fizz, but theatrical commitments prevented him from making the final foursome. Did this song finish second, to another French-language song? Not this time. Germany’s Nicole had a song head and shoulders above the rest and Bardo managed a semi-respectable seventh place.

It would a massive 21 years before the UK’s next duo did their thing. Eurovision had become bigger, the free-language rule was in effect, and competition was much much tougher. In 2003 we were in Riga and the BBC sent Jemini, a game old pair from Liverpool consisting of Jemma Ashby and Chris Cromby. They were almost a trio performing as Tricity, but the other member left. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad move. History was made by the hapless Jemini, as they scored not a single point. And in a record field of 26, they became unique for 12 years as the only ever act to finish 26th in a Eurovision Song Contest final. They split up soon afterwards and were last heard of working in retail.

The last duo (before J&J) was only last year in Vienna. Through an internal selection, the BBC selected retro-duo Electro Velvet – Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas. It was the fifth time in a row the BBC had gone internal and their selection divided opinion (to say the least). The pessimists saw them as lambs to the slaughter in some sort of power struggle within the BBC. They were also seen as different enough to maybe spring a surprise. As it happened, the pessimists perhaps won the argument. The Big 5 scored 316 points between them, and 292 went to Italy. So finishing 24th overall was seen as a bit of a failure, but 3rd of the Big 5 was seen as a success. However, EV endeared themselves to the press in Vienna and most now realise the result in Vienna wasn’t just down to them.


So what can we glean for J&J’s chances? Well, the last time the UK sent a male duo they finished second, but that was in a different age. Recent duo success has been a little lacking. So maybe it’ll be time for fortunes to change.


But what so you think? Do you have any favourites amongst these duos? And how do you rate J&J’s chances in Stockholm?



Author: John Stanton


Source: Eurovision Ireland

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