Justin's bid for Eurovision glory

SUFFOLK singer Justin Hawkins is today preparing for his bid to represent us in the Eurovision Song Contest. But after his spell in rehab what are the chances of him making a successful comeback?

SUFFOLK singer Justin Hawkins is today preparing for his bid to represent us in the Eurovision Song Contest. After his spell in rehab, entertainment reporter HELEN JOHNS asks what are the chances of him making a successful comeback?

IT'S a long way from the hard nosed world of rock, to the poptastic sounds of the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

Or is it? With voters crowning Finnish rockers Lordi as the winners of the contest last year, who knows what the musical spectacle could have in store for us this year?

And the people of Suffolk may have more reason to be curious than most, when one of our homegrown stars Justin Hawkins launches his bid to represent his country at Eurovision. Just a few years ago, the Lowestoft-based singer and guitarist burst onto the music scene with his glam rock bandmates in The Darkness. A series of hit singles followed as Hawkins and co introduced a new generation of rock fans to the sight of a band clad in shiny Lycra.

The Darkness scored two platinum albums in the UK as well as three Brit Awards in 2004. But the fickle world of music didn't let The Darkness stay at the top of their game for long and Hawkins has since endured a fall from grace both musically and personally. After leaving the band late last year, he was admitted to the celebrities' favourite rehab clinic, The Priory, for a nine-week treatment to tackle his cocaine addiction.

But now, Hawkins is hoping to re-launch his music career by competing on Making Your Mind Up - the show that lets viewers decide who will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest this year.

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He said: "It's every boy's dream to represent their country at the highest level.

“But if we don't make it through to the final I won't be too disheartened, there's always next year."

For his entry, Hawkins has joined forces with Beverlei Brown and the pair will sing a duet.

Hailing from the Midlands, Beverlei has worked as a professional singer alongside many top names - including Chaka Khan, Blur, Jamiroquai, Lemar, Joe Cocker and Razorlight, but like Justin, is without a record deal.

Going by the name Hawkins & Brown, the pair will sing They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To - a song Justin has written.

When the BBC screens the Making Your Mind Up show, Hawkins and Brown will be up against stiff competition. They will include chart-topping R&B hip hop group Big Brovaz, former East 17 member Brian Harvey, former Atomic Kitten member Liz McClarnon, recently reformed pop quartet Scooch and music newcomer Cyndi.

Lordi are also set to perform their winning song, Hard Rock Hallelujah on the Making Your Mind Up show, which will be hosted by Eurovision veteran Sir Terry Wogan and Fearne Cotton.

The date of the BBC1 programme has still to be decided.

The winner will go on to represent the UK at the 52nd annual Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. There will be 42 countries competing in Eurovision this year.

Viewers will be able to vote for their favourite act by phone or text, with all the profits from the votes going to BBC Children In Need.

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The Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final will be on BBC Three on Thursday May 10.

The Eurovision Song Contest Final will be on BBC One on Saturday May 12.

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Do you think Eurovision is outdated, or do you enjoy the show? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

IF Justin Hawkins is hoping his foray into the world of Eurovision will relaunch his flagging music career, he might be wise to take note of what has happened to previous entrants.

Cliff Richard, Buck's Fizz, The New Seekers and Lulu may all have gone on to bigger and better things after their Eurovision performances, but whatever happened to last year's entrant Daz Sampson who finished in 19th place? or the entrants from the previous few years - Javine, James Foz or Jessica Garlick?

Worse still, Hawkins could become see his fame become infamy if he follows in the footsteps of 2003's entrants Jemini, who became the first UK entry to fail to score a single point.

Then again cynics might say 2007 is our turn to win, because the UK last won Eurovision in 1997, when Katrina and the Waves sang Love Shine A Light.

Despite not winning for ten years, the UK's Eurovision history isn't all bad and entrants have managed to notch up a few winning places - here's a few of the best and worst:

Winners:

Sandie Shaw was the UK's first Eurovision winner, when she sang Puppet On A String in 1967.

Cliff Richard narrowly missed another win the following year when he came second with Congratulations.

Brotherhood of Man were the next to bring home the winner's trophy in 1976, with Save All Your Kisses For Me.

Buck's Fizz went down in Eurovision history with their 1981 winning entry Making Your Mind Up - which also included that famous dance routine with the disappearing skirts.

In 1997, Katrina and the Waves broke our Eurovision drought by winning with Love Shine A Light.

And the losers:

2003's entrants Jemini are without doubt the UK's biggest Eurovision losers after the pair's song Cry Baby failed to score any points at all.

Javine didn't do much better in 2005, when Touch My Fire limped in number 22.

Daz Sampson courted controversy with last year's entry, Teenage Life, as he appeared on stage accompanied by a raunchy dance routine with the dancers dressed as schoolgirls.

The group Bad Old Days lived up to their name in 1978 when Co-Co reached number 11 - which was then the UK's least successful entry.

Lindsay Dracass discovered the lyrics to her song No Dream Impossible wouldn't ring true when she came fifteenth in 2001.

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