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THE SAMARITANS SAVED MY CAREER; Katrina's charity lifeline.

Eighties sensations Katrina and the Waves reckon The Samaritans have put them back on the fast track to fame.

The band - who topped the charts in 1985 with their smash hit Walking on Sunshine - had faded into obscurity.

But now, after being coaxed by the counselling organisation to represent Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest, they're set to blast back into the big time.

Drummer Kimberley Rew had just finished writing the band's new song, Love Shine a Light, when he showed the lyrics to his brother, a volunteer with the Swindon branch of The Samaritans.

He loved it and his bosses wanted to use it to promote the 30th anniversary of their service.

Singer Katrina Lesanich explained: "The Samaritans said it was the type of song which would win the Eurovision Song Contest and at the last minute, we submitted the song with our pounds 250.

"But we didn't think we would get anywhere.

"I mean, have you heard from us in 10 years? We needed luck, which came in the Eurovision entry. Our careers were already in the toilet.

"One more flush and we would have been history."

Now the song is set to revive the band's career and win them a whole new generation of fans.

Tomorrow, they'll perform live to a TV and radio audience of 600 million.

And their entry has been tipped as a favourite to win.

Music pundit Jonathan King believes their song has the best chance of any British entry since Bucks Fizz scooped the prize in 1981 with Making Your Mind Up.

Katrina added: "The song is our secret weapon. It's a great song.

"Mickey Mouse could sing this song and win. It's got the right formula."

If they win, they'll become the fifth Eurovision success story from Britain. Sandie Shaw was the first Brit to scoop the award with Puppet On A String in 1967 before Lulu was a joint winner in 1969 with Boom Bang-a-bang.

Brotherhood of Man scooped the award next with Save All Your Kisses For Me in 1976 and the last time Britain won was in 1981 with Bucks Fizz.

Eurovision veteran Terry Wogan has also tipped the song to win.

He'll commentate on the contest for the seventeenth time tomorrow, live on BBC1 at 8.00pm.

And he predicted: "They will score better than anybody in the UK since Michael Ball came second five years ago."

Ronan Keating of Irish chart-toppers Boyzone will present the show in a bid to bring it into the 90s.

And guests at The Point theatre in Dublin will be in for a treat when he takes to the stage with the other members of the boy band to perform live at the bash.

Ronan said : "It's nerve-racking stuff, but I'm really looking forward to it."

Although the contests has had an uncool image, US singer Katrina, who's part Irish, isn't worried if people think the contest is naff.

She added: "Anybody who thinks that, it's their problem. I've got a career now and I didn't have one before Eurovision. We've got a record deal and this will put us in the fast track.

"This country is making great music and it's a crime that Great Britain isn't winning every year.

"I'll enjoy the moment on Saturday - but I'll be happier when it's all over."
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Dingwall, John
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 2, 1997
Words:555
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