Engelbert Humperdinck to tackle Eurovision

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Veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, whose last top 10 hit was 42 years ago has been chosen as the UK entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The 75-year-old star, who famously held The Beatles off number one in 1967, has been chosen by the BBC to take part in the contest.

He follows boy band Blue who finished 11th last year, behind Ireland's Jedward - who are due to take part again this year.

Will Engelbert join these Eurovision greats - or disasters?

Humperdinck said: "I'm excited and raring to go."

The perma-tanned heartthrob - whose hits include Release Me and The Last Waltz - will take part in Azerbaijan in May.

The unnamed song is being written by Sacha Skarbek - who teamed up with James Blunt to compose his global hit You're Beautiful - and Grammy-winning producer Martin Terefe.

The track will be recorded in London, Los Angeles and Nashville.

Humperdinck - famed for his bushy sideburns - has sold more than 150 million records around the world and continues to tour.

The BBC hopes that using an established name will help the UK's fortunes at the 57th contest, expected to be viewed by 120 million.

The last UK win was in 1997 when Katrina And The Waves - fronted by American singer Katrina Leskanich - took the honours with Love Shine A Light.

For many years, viewers and listeners were allowed to choose the act or song which would represent the UK, but the BBC dropped the public vote last year with Blue's entry.

Katie Taylor, the BBC's head of entertainment and events, said: "Not since the 70s have we had such an established international musical legend represent the nation. We couldn't be more delighted.

"Engelbert's experience leaves us in no doubt that he will be able to deliver a standout performance in front of 120 million viewers worldwide."

The singer used the name Gerry Dorsey during the early years of his career, before adopting the name of the German opera composer in the 1960s.

His hit Release Me denied The Beatles the number one single for three weeks, holding them at number two with double A-side single Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever.

Humperdinck - born in India and raised in Leicester - said: "It's an absolute honour to be representing my country for this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

"When the BBC approached me, it just felt right for me to be a part of an institution like Eurovision. I'm excited and raring to go and want the nation to get behind me."

Humperdinck has had a previous associaton with Eurovision. His hit Another Time, Another Place - which he took to number 13 in the charts - had previously been in the running as the UK's Eurovision entry but Jack In The Box was eventually chosen for Clodagh Rodgers.

One of his songs - Lesbian Seagull - featured in the movie Beavis and Butt-head Do America.

PA

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