In 2003, the British duo Jemini took to the Eurovision stage in Latvia and suffered the ignominy of accumulating nul points and finishing in dead last position. It was our lowest ebb in the competition, an embarrassment to a country with a long tradition of pop glory and a string of winning entries.
But this year, if the bookmakers and critics are to be believed, Le Royaume-Uni could plumb new depths. Andy Abraham, a former binman who took part - without success - in the reality television show The X-Factor, is believed to be the UK's worst ever entrant.
William Hill said yesterday that, after starting at 20-1 to win the competition, Mr Abraham's odds have now drifted to 66-1, making him the longest-priced entrant the country has ever had.
Another abysmal performance on Saturday night could spell disaster for the future of the UK in Eurovision. Stalwart presenter Terry Wogan has admitted that if "Even If", Mr Abraham's song chosen by the public back in March, fails to please, it could be the last time the country takes part.
"If we finish nowhere again, I worry that disenchantment might take hold," Mr Wogan, who has hosted the show for 37 years, told the Radio Times. Despite praising the song, he said waning public support was making him consider whether this year's Eurovision could be his last.
"Eurovision is such silly fun, and I love doing it, but if the enthusiasm isn't there ... this year is pretty crucial for me. Eurovision without Le Royaume-Uni would be unfortunate."
Mr Abraham's chances at this year's event, which is being held in Belgrade, are rated as almost non-existent by the bookies. At 66-1, he is 21st in a list of 43 entrants, although that number will be cut to 25 tomorrow.
Rupert Adams, a spokesman for William Hill, said that this year's odds did not reflect the quality of Abraham's song so much as the degree of ill-feeling towards Britain in the contest. "Andy Abraham is 66-1 because we don't think he has a chance of winning. That's not to say his song is bad, it's mainly because Britain never wins this competition any more," he said. "Even if we had The Beatles singing our song we wouldn't win it and that's because we are not very popular in the European community, so the other countries don't like giving us points."
The previous longest odds for a UK entrant was Javine, in 2005, who was priced at 25-1 leading up to the event before her odds were cut to 12-1 on the day of the contest. She finished 22nd.
She was not the worst. In 2003, Jemini, aka Chris Cromby and Gemma Abbey, finished last after scoring nul points in Latvia. The absence of points was blamed as much on the Europe's displeasure with Britain's role in the Iraq war as it was on the pair's cringe-worthy performance.Reuse content