Eurovision: How many times has the UK won the contest?

·SEO Editor, Yahoo UK
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Watch: UK's Eurovision entry Sam Ryder discusses his TikTok fame

The UK will be hoping for its first Eurovision win in 25 years when Sam Ryder takes to the stage in Italy on 14 May.

Five British acts have claimed the Eurovision trophy since the contest began in 1956.

But victory for has proved elusive since Katrina and the Waves triumphed in 1997 – and the UK has become more used to the humiliation of nil points than topping the leaderboard.

Here are all five of the UK's winners to date.

1. Sandie Shaw – Puppet on a String (1967)

British Eurovision winner Sandie Shaw lies on the ground amongst autumn leaves.  Original Publication: People Disc - HL0167   (Photo by John Pratt/Getty Images)
Sandie Shaw won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1967. (Getty Images)

After five second-placed finishes, the UK scored its first Eurovision win in 1967 thanks to Sandie Shaw.

Puppet on a String became her third UK number-one single – a first for a female artist at the time – and also topped the charts across Europe.

But the London-born singer later admitted she "hated" the track. "I was instinctively repelled by its sexist drivel and cuckoo-clock tune," she wrote in her 1991 autobiography.

Its co-writer Phil Coulter hit back at her comments in a 2015 interview, saying: "Sandie Shaw is not one of the greatest brains in the world."

He added: "She is very dismissive of a song that, by any standard, she should feel a debt to."

She re-recorded the song in 2007 before retiring from the music industry in 2013.

2. Lulu – Boom Bang-a-Bang (1967)

Scottish singer, actress an TV presenter Lulu Frieda “Lulu”, winner of the Eurovision contest in 1969, Madrid, Spain, 1969. (Photo by Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images)
Lulu is the only Scottish artist to have won Eurovision. (Getty Images)

Scottish singer Lulu secured another victory for the UK two years later, with her performance of Boom Bang-a-Bang.

She shared the top spot with France, Netherlands and Spain, with 18 points apiece.

The song was a major hit across Europe and reached number two on the UK charts, behind Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

Read more: Who is Sam Ryder and could the UK win Eurovision?

The BBC banned it from airplay during the Gulf War in 1991, as its lyrics were deemed inappropriate – despite them having nothing to do with war.

A total of 66 other songs were on the banned list, including John Lennon's Imagine and Abba's 1974 Eurovision-winning hit Waterloo.

3. Brotherhood of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me, 1976

Brotherhood of Man chosen to represent Britain in the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest, L-R: Nicky Stevens, Martin Lee, Lee Sheridan and Sandra Stevens   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Brotherhood of Man's Save Your Kisses For Me is the biggest-selling Eurovision song ever. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Nine years after Lulu's victory, Brotherhood of Man made history with their winning song.

Save Your Kisses For Me reached number one in 33 countries and shifted six million copies, becoming the biggest-selling Eurovision song ever, according to PRS.

The band's manager Tony Hiller put the song's success down to their TV appearances in France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland the year before the contest.

Speaking to the BBC in 2015, singer Nicky Stevens said: "We're still in the Guinness Book of Records as getting the highest number of votes and it's still the biggest-selling Eurovision song in Britain.

"We really felt like the whole of the UK was right behind us. Very magical, wonderful feeling."

4. Bucks Fizz – Making Your Mind Up, 1981

1981 Eurovision Song Contest winners Bucks Fizz. Clockwise, from the top left, the members of the group are Bobby G, Mike Nolan (both sporting Union Jack t-shirts), Cheryl Baker, and Jay Aston who won the competition with the song 'Making Your Mind Up'.   (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Bucks Fizz won the contest in 1981. (Getty Images)

Pop quartet Bucks Fizz won Eurovision after being formed specifically to enter the 1981 contest.

Making Your Mind Up went on to sell four million copies and BBC Radio 2 listeners voted it their all-time favourite UK Eurovision song in a 2013 poll.

But the group are perhaps best remembered for their stage act, where the two male members ripped off the skirts of Cheryl Baker and Jay Aston.

Reflecting on the track in a 2021 interview with The Independent, Aston said: "The song is quite magical. It cuts across, it's a silly song that's just got something.

"I think it broke some boundaries and people couldn't help but kinda like it… It's amazing how many complete strangers come up to me when I'm shopping, choosing some cereal of something, and they say, are you making your mind up?"

5. Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine a Light, 1997

Katrina And The Waves, comprising (l to r) Alex Cooper, Katrina Leskanich, Kimberley Rew and Vince de la Cruz, who were tonight (Sat) announced as the UK entry for the Eurovision Contest. 'Love Shine A Light', written by Kimberley, received nearly 70,000 votes and now joins the 24 other entries battling for the title at Dublin's Point Theatre, on May 3rd. See PA story SHOWBIZ Song. Photo by Rebecca Naden/PA   (Photo by Rebecca Naden - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Katrina and the Waves won Eurovision in 1997 with Love Shine a Light. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Katrina and the Waves were the last UK act to take the title, with their gentle ballad Love Shine a Light.

But the band's former singer, Katrina Leskanich, believes it was overlooked in the UK at the time due to the popularity of "druggy and upbeat" Britpop music.

Speaking last year, she said: "People talk about the UK and Eurovision and they will always think of Making Your Mind Up and Bucks Fizz.

Read more: Who will win Eurovision 2022?

"I remember winning with Love Shine a Light and feeling a little bit as it... I know Tony Blair and the Labour Party had just come into power and it was a great time – it was a really up time.

"It was very 90s and the music was very… druggy and upbeat. I don't feel as if Love Shine a Light got quite the look-in that other winners got because of the circumstances."

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