Welsh pop legend Bonnie Tyler, who had a massive hit with Total Eclipse of the Heart, will represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest (BBC1, Saturday) in Malmo, Sweden. She’ll be hoping her army of European fans can help her bring the title back to Britain for the first time since 1997, but she explains that her career was nearly cut tragically short..
Are you looking forward to performing in Malmo?
“It’s been very hectic doing all the interviews – I hope I still have a voice when I get there!”
Are you confident with the song?
“The song Believe In Me is really good, so tell all your friends across Europe that they need to vote for Bonnie Tyler, because you’re not allowed to vote in your own country. That’s probably one of the reasons the Beeb asked me to do it – because they know I’ve got a big fanbase in Europe!
“I know we don’t have a very good track record, but the song is good – although I know it’s not always about the song! Of course it’s a bit political, but sometimes a good song does win. I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t win though, I just want to give a good performance.”
The song comes from your new album – your first in eight years. How did the BBC hear it?
“When you do a new album, it’s normal to send a tape to the radio stations so you can get a feel for what they think of it. I sent a tape to the BBC and someone played it to the Eurovision guy and he liked it, so he asked if I’d sing it in the competition. The album was due out in December, but we’ve held it until now because of Eurovision. I’m just pleased that my fans will finally get to hear it!”
You’ve been asked to do Eurovision before haven’t you?
“This is the second time they’ve asked me. The first time was 30 years ago when I was No 1 with Total Eclipse of the Heart in America. I was very busy and it didn’t seem like the time was right.”
Did you watch the Eurovision Song Contest as a child?
“My mother and father used to love Eurovision, so it was a big event in our house. We used to write down points and stuff like that you know. I saw it last year when I was in Portugal. When they pulled out Englebert first I was so gutted for him! It’s very hard to perform first. They used to draw the running order out of a hat, but this year the producers are deciding it. I hope I’m not too early, but then I don’t want to be on last because I can’t have a drink until after I’ve performed!”
Has he been in touch to give you any advice?
“He sent an open letter to a newspaper, which was very nice of him. He said to pace myself because it’s mad over there!”
You’ve been singing for decades now, do you still get nervous before going on stage?
“I am a bit nervous because I’ve never performed with microphones in my ears, but in the Eurovision it’s the rule that you have to. I’m old school so I’ve never used them before. In rehearsals yesterday I accidentally pulled them out! I hope that doesn’t happen on the night! I’ll have a little word upstairs before I go on stage!”
Will your family be in the audience to support you?
“They’ll all be cheering me on from home I’m sure, but it’ll just be my husband Robert in the audience. Funnily enough he represented Britain at judo in the Moscow Olympics of 1972. So we’ve both represented our country now – how many married couples can say that!”
You have a very distinctive voice – there’s a story behind it isn’t there?
“Yes, I had the operation on my throat in the 70s. I feared I’d never sing again! I’d had one hit record with Lost In France and the next thing I’m in hospital having my throat scraped!
“Afterwards they told me I couldn’t speak for six weeks and that I had to write everything down. They told me not to sing, speak or even whisper – but I couldn’t, so I ended up being more husky than before the operation! But it wasn’t a bad thing, because I ended up having my first hit record in America with It’s a Heartache!”