Watch: UK's Eurovision entry Sam Ryder discusses TikTok fame
The Eurovision 2022 final is fast approaching, and the UK is pinning its hopes on Sam Ryder.
The singer-songwriter will aim to avoid the dreaded nil points when he performs his track Space Man in Turin, Italy on 14 May.
The UK has suffered crushing defeats at the previous two contests, finishing bottom in both 2019 and 2021.
Could Ryder be the man to end that painful run at Eurovision? Here's everything we know about him.
Who is Sam Ryder?
Sam Ryder is a 32-year-old musician from Essex who found fame in 2020 by covering songs on TikTok during the COVID lockdown.
His videos caught the attention of stars including Justin Bieber, Alicia Keys and Sia, and he has accumulated 12 million followers – more than any other UK artist on TikTok.
Last year he released his debut EP The Sun's Gonna Rise, which spawned singles including Whirlwind and Tiny Riot, after signing a record deal with Parlophone.
Read more: Who will win Eurovision 2022?
Ryder's Eurovision entry Space Man – an Elton John-style power ballad – was written with Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge and Max Wolfgang.
He was picked as the UK's competitor by the BBC and TaP Music, a company which manages artists including Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding.
He credits his love of Finnish rockers Lordi, who won Eurovision in 2006, for turning him into a fan of the song contest.
"Lordi winning was a huge moment in my life because I'd loved them before they competed on Eurovision," he told the BBC. "Seeing them at Eurovision didn't change the way I felt about them and I was just stoked for that band going to represent their country and smashing it."
Could the UK win Eurovision 2022?
It's unlikely. The UK hasn't won Eurovision since 1997, when Katrina and the Waves claimed victory with Love Shine a Light, and has only reached the top 10 twice this century.
Last year's entry, Sam Newman, finished bottom of the leaderboard with his track Embers, while Michael Rice also scored nil points in 2019 with his song Bigger Than Us. (The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, helping the UK to avoid a possible hat-trick of nil points).
Despite the UK's dire recent record, Ryder will be hoping that his large online fan base – combined with his uplifting track – will translate into votes.
The singer-songwriter has been getting advice from previous UK competitors ahead of the final.
He said: "They gave me some tips and pointers and the main thing that keeps coming back is to just enjoy every moment of it, because it's such a wonderful circus being a part of Eurovision and it's unlike anything else in the world that you can do.
"So I'm trying my best... to stay focused and present and not getting too overwhelmed by the nerves. So that I can breathe in every moment."
Read more: How many times has the UK won Eurovision?
Ukraine's entry – the folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra – are the standout favourites with bookmakers. The country has seen a huge outpouring of support and solidarity since Russia's invasion, which is likely to lead to political voting.
The latest Ladbrokes odds show that Ukraine are priced at 4/7 to win the contest, followed by Italy at 11/2, the UK at 6/1 and Sweden at 8/1.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: "Four nations are pulling away in the Eurovision betting, and it's great news for Sam Ryder and the UK, who are firmly among the frontrunners to go all the way in Turin."