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UK's Joe and Jake bold about Eurovision chances

Do Not UseDo Not Use 10/05/2016 By Helen Bushby
Joe and Jake: Joe [L] and Jake have said they © BBC Joe [L] and Jake have said they

Joe and Jake, the UK's Eurovision hope this year, are quietly confident their song could do well - despite the UK's recent track record.

UK's five Eurovision winners: Sandy Shaw 1967, Lulu 1969, Brotherhood of Man, Bucks Fizz 1981, Katrina and the Waves 1997 © BBC UK's five Eurovision winners: Sandy Shaw 1967, Lulu 1969, Brotherhood of Man, Bucks Fizz 1981, Katrina and the Waves 1997

Both are no stranger to competition, having battled it out on BBC singing show The Voice. Neither of them won, but they did well enough to consider joining forces backstage.

Jade Ewen is the most successful UK entrant of the last 10 years © BBC Jade Ewen is the most successful UK entrant of the last 10 years

Eurovision, however, will be much, much tougher than The Voice. The UK music industry may be in rude health but our ability to top the Eurovision leaderboard is not.

Joe and Jake: The duo think they stand as good a chance as everybody else in the competition © BBC The duo think they stand as good a chance as everybody else in the competition

On the plus side, Great Britain has won Eurovision five times since 1956, but it last won in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves singing Love Shine A Light.

Sir Terry Wogan enjoyed a chuckle about Eurovision © BBC Sir Terry Wogan enjoyed a chuckle about Eurovision

Since then, the UK's track record has been somewhat patchy, with the best result in the last 10 years coming from Jade Ewen, who came a respectable fifth in 2009 with It's My Time.

Here is how the UK has fared since 2006:

2015: Still in Love With You by Electro Velvet: 5 points - 24th out of 27 acts

2014: Children of the Universe by Molly: 40 points - 17th out of 26 acts

2013: Believe in Me by Bonnie Tyler: 23 points - 19th out of 26 acts

2012: Love Will Set You Free by Englebert Humperdinck: 12 points - 25th out of 26 acts

2011: I Can by Blue: 100 points - 11th out of 25 acts

2010: That Sounds Good to Me by Josh Dubovie: 10 points - 25th out of 25 acts

2009: It's My Time by Jade Ewen: 173 points - 5th out of 25 acts

2008: Even If by Andy Abraham: 14 points - joint last out of 25 acts

2007: Flying the Flag (For You) by Scooch: 19 points - 22nd out of 24 acts

2006: Teenage Life by Daz Sampson: 25 points - 19th out of 24 acts

Joe and Jake want to break the pattern. Eurovision is a fantastic launchpad for them, with its estimated 180m global viewers plus a new US audience, but they need to put in a performance if they're to capitalise on it.

Spending time with Joe Woolford, 21, and Jake Shakeshaft, 20, it's pretty clear this isn't an engineered partnership - they laugh a lot, are so well acquainted they can recount each other's snoring and burping habits and they love singing. Which is handy.

Their song, You're Not Alone, is described as "an anthemic pop song with a universal message" about love and friendship. It was chosen by the British public in a vote between six acts, on BBC Four's You Decide show.

Graham Norton, who will take his usual spot in the BBC TV commentary box, says "the public did a good job" choosing them, adding: "It is a really credible pop song and the boys deserve to do very well."

Eurovision veteran and BBC Radio 2 commentator Ken Bruce has seen his fair share of nul points. He echoes Norton's view, saying it's a "very good thing" the public chose the song, and "there's no reason why it shouldn't do well".

But how do Joe and Jake rate their chances?

Joe admits a UK triumph is "long overdue". He's also quick to point out their Unique Selling Point - they're the only duo in the competition.

Jake stresses how hard they've been working and says the song has had a "great response", adding: "I think we've got as good a chance as everybody else."

So they're thinking positive, and behind the scenes they have been putting in a lot of hours.

"We've done a lot of preparation, we've been rehearsing non-stop, we've been practising movement, we've been running in and out of the studio," says Joe.

"We want to get a good result for the UK."

They also have "a big team" helping, including "everyone at Sony" and choreographer Jay Revell, "a very talented guy" who has worked with Ellie Goulding and Ella Eyre.

The singers won't reveal anything about their set or routine, other than to say it will feature lots of selfies.

We already knew this, after their appearance on Graham Norton's chat show recently with Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and Keeley Hawes. The duo took a sofa selfie with the other stars for their set - it's not every day you get the chance, after all.

Jake explains: "The most important thing about the selfies is that we really wanted them, because our song is about togetherness and friendship.

"With so many selfies in our set, there are thousands of people on stage with us, metaphorically".

They are now dying to just get on with the show.

Jake admits it will be "nerve-racking" so is looking forward to "seeing that arena for the first time, just doing that first rehearsal and getting as much of a feel for the huge stage and massive crowd as we can".

They joke they have everything covered and can guarantee they won't "fall over or forget the words".

They also won't be led into saying anything controversial, neatly sidestepping any questions on whether the UK debate over Brexit could influence how other countries vote for them.

"A lot of people say the voting can be quite political at Eurovision but we are focusing on the song contest, we're leaving the politics at the door," says Joe.

They also bat back controversial comments made recently by the producer of this year's Eurovision show in Sweden, Christer Bjorkman, who criticised the late Sir Terry Wogan's gentle teasing of Eurovision in his BBC commentary.

Bjorkman told The Mirror: "He did this for 28 years and his ­commentary always forced the mockery side, and there is a grown-up generation in Britain that doesn't know anything better."

Joe is quick to defend Sir Terry as "an absolute national treasure" and adds: "At the end of the day we're not looking to buy into these things because we're just so focused on ourselves."

And if all else fails, viewers can look forward to the prospect of Belarus's entrant Ivan, who apparently wants to perform naked on stage with a wolf. This would go against plenty of Eurovision regulations, but would perhaps be in keeping with some of the show's more eclectic acts of years gone by.

"There's a debate about the wolf as you're not allowed animals on stage - or clothes it seems - but it's fun isn't it," says Jake.

"It's a celebration," he adds.

The first Eurovision semi-final is on BBC Four on Tuesday 10 May at 20:00 BST. The second semi-final is on BBC Four on Thursday 12 May at 20:00 BST.

The final is on BBC One on Saturday 14 May at 20:00 BST.

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