The ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ is fast approaching and this year is it up to former 'X Factor' star Lucie Jones to fly the flag for Great Britain. It's fair to say the UK has not had the greatest of times in the competition in recent years but Lucie has a secret weapon in her arsenal to stop us from hearing those dreaded words 'nul points' - 'Midsomer Murders'.
Lucie, 26, appeared in the ITV detective drama back in 2015 opposite Neil Dudgeon as DCI Barnaby, and the show is one of the most popular British television exports across Europe but especially in Norway and host nation Ukraine and Lucie is going to use her 'Midsomer' fame to earn her some votes, but she's sure that it will be her song ‘Never Give Up On You’ that wins over the voting nations.
Talking up her connection to the drama, she said: "Maybe that's going to get me votes. I think I'm going to have to talk about that a lot more when I'm on Ukrainian television! I want maximum points from those countries!"
If her ‘Midsomer Murders’ role is a good omen that she can do well, another good sign is that her track has been co-written by Swedish 2013 'Eurovision' winner Emmelie de Forest, and Lucie - who is now in the middle of preparations for the final - gets the vibe that the other entrants are taking the UK's challenge very seriously this year.
"The fact that Emmelie wrote this song, I think, is a good omen for me. Emily is great and has been really supportive and wonderful. I'm going to see her in Kiev," she shared. "The best advice I've had from Emmelie and anyone about 'Eurovision' is to just go out there and have fun. Do what you've got to do for your performance but make sure you enjoy the experience of being around all of these like-minded people.”
Revealing the mood surrounding our entry, she added: "There has been an element of us not taking it seriously over the years but I think this year the Europeans are really taking us seriously and that's so refreshing.”
The doom-mongers have been predicting that the UK will be punished in the ‘Eurovision’ voting following our decision to quit the EU, but Lucie isn't worried about a Brexit backlash. In fact, Lucie believes the fun night is just what Europe needs to bring everyone together after a turbulent past 18 months.
She said: "Well there's a political aspect every year and this year there are different motives for political voting but I'm really not trying to think about it at all. That thing is completely out of my hands, I'm going anyway so I've just got to go and give it absolute hell on stage … I just think ‘Eurovision’ is a wonderful thing to be a part especially when the world is as it is right now, which is not great."
Although best known to the wider public for her effort on the 2009 series of ‘The X Factor’, Lucie is now a veteran of musical theatre starring as the beloved character Elle Wood in ‘Legally Blonde’, appearing as Meat in ‘We Will Rock You’ and taking on the iconic role of Molly in ‘Ghost the Musical’.
The pretty brunette insists her years of experience in the theatre are great preparation for her 'Eurovision' final performance and Lucie has a pre-show preparation routine which is honed from her years competing at a high level of athletics.
"I have a ritual before I go on stage which has an athletic kind of vibe," she says. "I used to be a sprinter and when I was around 17 I had to decide whether I was going to do athletics or music and I chose music in the end. Because of my athletics I've always had that prep thing, so before I go on stage there are certain things that I do that I used to do when I used to sprint. So I do a physical warm-up and a vocal warm-up, it's all about getting in the zone which is what athletes do. I do cardio, stretching, a bit of yoga, just making sure that every part of my body is ready to go and I don't have any tension anywhere.”
So Lucie has got her nerves in check, but if she has at any point felt tentative about singing for a television audience of 200 million, she has been reassured by the huge support she has received from the British public and her many famous friends, including Joe McElderry - the winner of her year on 'X Factor'.
Even One Direction superstar Liam Payne has wished her luck, but all she could do is ask how his new baby boy Bear with girlfriend Cheryl is.
Lucie - who was judged by Cheryl on Simon Cowell's ITV talent show - spilled: "I actually bumped into Liam Payne the other day when we were doing some radio stuff, he wasn't on my 'X Factor' year but we all kind of know each other because we're from that world. We had a really great chat about it, he wished me luck. Although, I was really just really saying congratulations to him about little Bear. I didn't get the honour of seeing any baby photos; we were in the lobby of a radio station so that wasn't going to happen! He seems so happy."
But before she heads back to the UK, Lucie has got 10 days in Kiev, and although she’s going to be busy she and ‘Eurovision Semi-Final’ commentator Scott Mills have made plans to explore the Ukrainian city, and top of their list is to go for a ride on the world famous Kiev Children's Railway, which is manned solely by youngsters aged between nine and 15.
“There's this railway which is completely run by children. The kids work as train conductors, ticket sellers and they even drive the train, apparently it's quite an experience because it sounds really kooky and like nothing I've heard about before, it's crazy, right? I want to give that a go,” she revealed.
No matter what happens Lucie has a lot to look forward to after 'Eurovision' wraps up; she’s is going to be reprising her roles as Elle in a touring production of ‘Legally Blonde’ and she hopes her European adventure will lead to her releasing more music and having a crack at the charts.
But there is a date in her diary which is more important to her than any other - her wedding day. Lucie is going to be tying the knot with her fiancé Ethan Boroian - whom she got engaged to in November 2015 - this August and after having such a hectic 2017 so far she can't wait to walk down the aisle in front of all her loved ones. Just as she's fully prepared for 'Eurovision', Lucy has already got everything in place for her nuptials.
She announced: "I'll let you into a secret; I'm getting married in late August this year! We've been engaged for quite a while and when we first got engaged I was quite free time wise so I decided to start planning the wedding right away so if I did get busy then I didn't have to panic about things. It was definitely the right thing to do because now I’m crazy busy everything is done - it's all planned and booked. I just can't wait for it … I know it sound cheesy but it will be amazing for me to have all my friends and family in one place together, especially having such a crazy year … it will just be so nice to have everyone in one room all together. We've got friends and family coming from all over the world. We're not going on a honeymoon until next January though.”
"Bits and bobs are traditional. Some things are very traditional and some things aren't, we've really tailor-made our wedding to what we wanted and what we fancied doing. That's really important to us because we didn't want a cookie-cutter wedding, like this is what people do so we'll do that. We have made some out there decisions. We've had to call our venue and ask, 'Can we do this?' And they'll say, 'No one has ever asked this before.' And we're just like, 'Yes, that's what we want!”