What you need to know about UK Eurovision star Sam Ryder

Sam Ryder
Sam Ryder is in Space Man. (Image credit: BBC/Parlophone Music)

Even allowing for the hot favouritism of Ukraine entry Kalush Orchestra, Essex boy Sam Ryder is predicted to produce the UK’s best performance at Eurovision since Jade Ewen finished fifth in 2009.

His song, Space Man, feels like a dream Eurovision 2022 song – it is epic, dramatic, uplifting and just a little bit cheesy. And the man himself has thrown himself into the heavy work required to win the competition, singing the song everywhere from street corners to chat shows.

Sam ‘Hair Wolf’ Ryder seems destined for stardom, but how much do you know about him?

Full name: Sam Ryder Robinson

Age: 32 (born 25 June 1989)

Birthplace: Maldon, Essex

Family matters: Sam says his parents are not musical but he grew up in a house filled with music. “Earth Wind and Fire, Beautiful South, Queen. Even now they listen to the same records full blast. And I mean full blast,” he says.

Career: Despite seeming to burst onto the scene from nowhere, Sam has had a solid career in music, playing guitar and fronting a variety of predominantly rock bands and even recording a solo album, which was never released. He most recently worked in construction and performed part-time in a wedding band.

Big Break: Sam became a TikTok sensation during the pandemic by filming himself applying his unique falsetto to a range of pop classics, starting with Britney’s (Hit Me) Baby… One More Time. His effervescent performances were a sensation and he now has 12.4 million followers on the platform. His viral videos caught the eye of TAP management.

How did his Eurovision song, Space Man, come about? Sam co-wrote the cosmic pop ballad with its hints of Queen and David Bowie with Amy Wadge, best known for co-writing Ed Sheeran songs like Thinking Out Loud and Save Myself, a year and a half ago. But that was long before he was chosen.

Sam told Eurovision: “I wrote the song in 15 minutes. It was an amazing process. The dream is, when you go into a studio to write a song with other people, that it will feel effortless. And in a way, a good song will feel like it’s nothing to do with you at all, because you don’t feel tired after it. It just comes and you’re just lucky enough to be there at the right time to catch it. And all you really have to do is, if it’s a good song, just get out of the way of it. You’re there as a little conduit for it to go down. And that’s what happened that day.”

How he was selected for Eurovision: Sam got a call from the BBC in January saying they had heard Space Man. “God knows how, but they said: ‘How do you fancy singing it at Eurovision?’ and obviously I’m a big fan so I said yes!” 

The Eurovision Song Contest Final will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer plus via BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds on Saturday, May 14 from 8pm.

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.