British Engelbert Humperdinck fans reacted with delight yesterday to the news their hero is to represent the UK at this year's Eurovision Song contest, expressing their hope that the assignment might finally earn the 75-year-old King of Romance his rightful recognition in his home country.
The BBC announced on Thursday the veteran singer, pictured, who has sold 150 million records worldwide, would represent the UK at the event in Azerbaijan in May. A source close to the corporation said he "is an international music legend who has appeal across the UK and Europe".
Scott Dee, one of the Engelbert Humperdinck tribute acts in the UK, said he was "surprised but delighted" by the news. "This is great news for Engelbert and his fans, and if he wins, it will be great news for the country," he said. "In the UK, his profile is fairly calm compared to places like the US, Canada and Australia. He's still selling out concerts around the world."
Beryl Garlick, president of Engelbert's Union Jacks Fan Club, said: "I couldn't believe it . He is definitely the right person for it. He'll feel very honoured to represent the UK." She first saw him perform in 1967 at the New Theatre in Oxford, but despite huge record sales, Grammy nominations and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she said he "doesn't get enough publicity in this country".
Humperdinck will be 76 at the time of the contest – the oldest act in its history – and 60 years older than 16-year old Eva Boto from Slovenia.
He said when the offer came, "without hesitation I happily accepted. It gives me the opportunity to represent the country in something I'm relatively good at... Otherwise it would have to be at darts".