Eurovision Song Contest all set for Saturday's showdown

Engelbert Humperdinck rehearsing for the final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest
Engelbert Humperdinck rehearsing for the final of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest Photo: AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev

Despite last having a top 10 hit more than 40 years ago, the UK's representative at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, Engelbert Humperdinck, is head- to-head at the bookies with rivals, Jedward.

And the singer who famously held The Beatles off number one in 1967, has certainly proved to be a triumph as a talking point in the lead up to the final tomorrow night.

As the veteran makes his final preparations at Azerbaijan's Baku Crystal Hall, bookmakers William Hill now put both Humperdinck and Jedward at 14-1 to win the competition. Sweden are being tipped as favourites, with odds of 6-4.

Ireland hopefuls, Jedward, in rehearsals ahead of tomorrow's final
Ireland hopefuls, Jedward, in rehearsals ahead of tomorrow's final Credit: AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev

To bring him luck in tomorrow's final, the 76-year-old UK entrant is carrying a prized gift from Elvis Presley. The crooner is one of a handful of people from the King's circle of friends who were given one of his TCB necklaces - which stands for "taking care of business".

Engelbert Humperdinck will open tomorrow's Eurovision Song Contest with a rousing power ballad called 'Love Will Set You Free.'

The show will be watched by more than 150 million people in more than 55 countries.

UK Eurovision entrant Engelbert Humperdinck with Azerbaijani contestant, Sabrina
UK Eurovision entrant Engelbert Humperdinck with Azerbaijani contestant, Sabrina Credit: Sergey Illin/BBC/PA Wire

The Azerbaijani contestant, Sabrina has told Humperdinck he is 'one of her favourites.' But the contest hasn't been without its controversy and the host of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, has faced criticism for its human rights record.

Human Rights Watch said dozens of families were forcibly evicted in four areas of the capital Baku to clear the way for extensive urban development. Many of those evictions took place without warning or at night, according to the organisation.

Spain's Eurovision contestant Pastora Soler
Spain's Eurovision contestant Pastora Soler Credit: Reuters

Spain's Eurovision contestant was forced to defend her country's enthusiasm to win tomorrow's final following a controversial interview with a journalist. Singer, Pastora Soler, was reported as saying that she would not be popular in Spain if she won the contest and that Spain were not in a financial position host the contest next year, should they win.

In a press conference she came back fighting, and said:

The public Spanish television is with me, is supporting for me... it would be wonderful news for Spain, for the people in Spain.

OBF, formerly known as Bucks Fizz say the contest should be about the music
OBF, formerly known as Bucks Fizz say the contest should be about the music Credit: ITV News

Eurovision veterans, Bucks Fizz - now know as OBF - told ITV Reporter Paul Brand that Eurovision should just be about the music and not about the politics. Despite admitting they knew little about what's going on in Azerbaijan, they said:

Eurovision unites people by all voting together for their favourite act.

Bucks Fizz produced one of the UK's best-known Eurovision performances in 1981 with the skirt-ripping, Making Your Mind Up. But the UK has endured a chequered Eurovision history.

  • After five second-place finishes, the UK won its first Eurovision song contest in 1967 with Sandie Shaw's Puppet On A String.
  • Cliff Richard narrowly missed out on the 1968 Eurovision crown after his song Congratulations came second to Spain's entry, La, La, La by Massiel.
  • Despite the best efforts of Michael Ball (1992) and Sonia (1993), who both came second, the UK's next winner was in 1997. Katrina and The Waves' song Love Shine A Light won in Dublin. The UK has not won since.
  • Nil points were the buzzwords from the 2003 contest. The United Kingdom's dismal entry Cry Baby by Jemini was the first UK song in Eurovision history that failed to score.
  • Blue's entry last year was called I Can, but when it came to the crunch, it turned out they could not. The reformed boyband finished in 11th place, thwarting the UK's hopes for its first victory since 1997.

See a list of the UK's five previous victories here. Can 'the Hump' become the sixth?