Entertainment & Arts

UK's Joe and Jake bold about Eurovision chances

Joe and Jake
Image caption Joe [L] and Jake have said they have "as good a chance as everybody else"

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

Image caption Jade Ewen is the most successful UK entrant of the last 10 years

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."

Image caption The duo think they stand as good a chance as everybody else in the competition

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.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Joe and Jake, Meryl Streep, Graham Norton, Hugh Grant and Keeley Hawes in selfie mode

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".

Image copyright PA
Image caption They duo took another selfie when they performed their song at a Eurovision concert in Amsterdam

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.

Image caption Sir Terry Wogan enjoyed a chuckle about Eurovision

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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