Eurovision 1981 – Bucks Fizz – Making your mind up
To celebrate the anniversary of Bucks Fizz’s momentous victory, Cheryl gave an interview today to the official Eurovision Song Contest Youtube channel. As well as revealing her first impressions of meeting one bandmate for the first time in a towel, she also spilled about how the band got their name and which band member became her “best friend for life.” It’s unlikely that the UK will ever triumph again, but the veteran champion also gave her tips on what it takes to succeed. WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW BELOW
Cheryl starts the interview with the rather surprising news that her original dream had been to win an Olympic medal.
She said: ‘At the time I wanted to be an Olympic runner. I wanted to win a gold medal for my country. But I also loved singing. I saw Sandy Shaw win the Eurovision Song Contest and I thought, ‘That’s it, I want to be a singer in a band and win the Eurovision Song Contest.”
Cheryl actually was part of a different band, Co-Co, that represented the United Kingdom in 1978 with the song Bad Old Days. They were “tipped to win.” WATCH THE CO-CO VIDEO BELOW.
Bucks Fizz Eurovision anniversary
Cheryl said: “The awful thing was, at that time the UK had been in the Top 5 every year. But we came eleventh which broke my heart and I felt like I’d let the Queen down.”
She stayed with the band until 1980 and then started work as a secretary at Mayfair Sound Studios in London.
While there, she bumped into musician and manager Nicola Martin who was putting together some songs and groups for the annual Song For Europe contest which would pick the UK Eurovision entry.
Nicola had lined up Mike Nolan for the track Making Your Mind Up and wanted three more singers who would complement him.
Cheryl said: ‘Mike was short and blonde, so that was the criteria! And the reason we were called Bucks Fizz is because she was drinking one while they were recording the demo… We could have been called Cup Of Tea.”
When Cheryl went to meet Linda about joining the band, she was not expecting the sight that greeted her.
She said: “(Linda) rang me and I went along and the first person I met was Mike, coming down the stairs. He’d just got out of the bath and had this white fluffy towel wrapped around him. He just looked like a dream. He was so handsome, He was so beautiful.
“Mike and I got on so well straight away. I was very lucky. He became my best friend on that day and he still is 40 years later.”
Although Bucks Fizz has been through many splits and line-up changes, Cheryl and Mike are still performing together, along with original member Jay Aston, in the group The Fizz. Fourth founding member Bobby G owns the rights to the Bucks Fizz name.
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Bucks Fizz; Cheryl and Mike remain best friends
Back in 1981, meanwhile, The BBC had such faith in Bucks Fizz they released the single ahead of the contest and it was already Top 5 in the UK and receiving airplay across Europe.
Cheryl said: “When we flew out to Dublin everybody wanted a piece of us.. I actually felt like, even before winning, we had succeeded. It was an extraordinary time.
“To be perfectly honest, before we went on I was thinking ‘I don’t remember any of the moves, I don’t remember the lyrics.’ Thankfully, it kicks in and you do the performance. We had applause from the other contestants. It was such a lovely experience.”
Bucks Fizz in 1981
Cheryl admits that when the first county’s votes came in and they only received three points, she was worried that might set the tone.
Instead, and unusually, they received votes from every single country. Although they only received the maximum ‘douze points’ from two countries, Isreal and The Netherlands, Bucks Fizz scored solidly and consistently throughout the night.
It came down to the nailbiting final vote from Sweden who gave the UK’s main rivals Germany 12 points and Bucks Fizz 8, but it was enough to clinch victory by a margin of 136 to 132 votes.
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Cheryl said: “It’s the most thrilling that ever happened to me in my entire life and still is, apart from having my children.
“Thanks to Making Your Mind Up I have a wall of singles, gold, silver and platinum. I married my husband, I live in this house, I have my children, I have all of that thanks to Making Your Mind Up – and velcro.”
Of course, she is referring to the skirts that were whipped off thanks to a velcro fastening. Cheryl reveals that she and Jay have both sold their originals skirts for charity, but Mike refuses to part with his blue velour sweater.
Bucks Fizz: Cheryl, Mike and Jay have formed The Fizz
Cheryl confesses she is still “addicted” to Eurovision and thinks it is better now than ever before.
She says: “It’s bigger and more for the fans. When we did it, the majority of the audience was stuffed shirts… Now it is an amazing atmosphere, electric. It is the happiest place.”
But it is still a competition of course, and Cheryl is convinced the idea behind their infamous skirts-off moment is as relevant today.
She says: “I think that songs, possibly more so now than then, need a gimmick. There are so many songs, you need to stand out. There are lots of really good songs but you need to stand out and for that you need a gimmick.”