UK Eurovision Song Contest hopeful Sam Ryder has said that there is "a lot of fear around the leader board" at this year's show but that he is trying to keep his mind on doing his best at the big night in Turin this May.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

The 32-year-old from Essex is representing the UK with his song Space Man and speaking to RTÉ Entertainment, he says, "It can be scary to watch the results come in and it can hurt. It’s something I considered so much before saying yes to this opportunity.

"But my enthusiasm is way beyond that fear. It’s out of my control where I come on the leader board but what I can do is sing with good energy. Life’s short and you might as well enjoy it."

The UK is one of the five countries along with Germany, France, Spain, and Italy who automatically qualify or the final and the upbeat and enthusiastic Sam may be the perfect poster boy for the Eurovision’s message of hope and harmony.

"I measure my life in encounters and conversations with people and I've had a nice time. I refuse to look at life in too negative a way."

Sam, whose favourite band is Iron Maiden, first tasted success with his music through social media site TikTok when he began uploading cover versions of songs by Justin Bieber, Sia and Alicia Keys and reaped millions of followers and new fans during lockdown.

He was already a bit of a veteran of the UK music scene having playing session guitar for various acts and releasing his own singles and EPs. He’s also appeared on the Ellen Show in the US, but he has been plotting his Eurovision plans for years.

"For me, Space Man is the UK's holy trinity of music - Elton, Bowie and Queen. Those three artists are heroes. Absolute goliaths of music to me so it is a way of paying homage- 100%."

"I’ve watched Eurovision with friends and family since I was a kid and I have such amazing memories - for example when Lorde won for Finland in 2006, what a moment!" he says.

"I love a lot of TV shows, but I don’t have parties when they come out with a new season, but I do for Eurovision. There is something amazing about this force of a show and I get to stand beside these amazing singers and get to be a part of it this year and represent the UK."

Speaking about Space Man, which he co-wrote with friends Matt and Amy, he said, "I wrote the song a year ago with two people I’ve never met before and they’re now dear friends of mine and we went into that studio with no ideas or preconceptions of what we were going to make.

"The energy was just good. The song to me speaks of realising that you already have so much in your life to celebrate and love before you step off on these journeys to find it, you most likely already have it."

The song has more than a touch of Elton John and James Blunt. "For me, Space Man is the UK’s holy trinity of music - Elton, Bowie and Queen. That’s what we channelled in studio. When we were writing it, me and Matt and Amy started hearing those influences.

"I love a lot of TV shows, but I don't have parties when they come out with a new season, but I do for Eurovision."

"Those three artists are heroes. Absolute goliaths of music to me so it is a way of paying homage- 100%."

Sam has checked out some of his Euro competition. "I have a little bit. I don’t want it to psyche me out. I know for a fact that all these countries have put forward amazing artists and singers.

"I know I’m not the only one taking that approach because of you start putting too much energy into listening to every other song you have to ask yourself if you’re treating this too much like a competition.

"I think that would be bad energy. I’m drip-feeding it to myself and really enjoying it."

And yes, he’s heard the Irish entry, Brooke Scullion’s That’s Rich. "I have! It’s wicked!"

"It's in the air and there is such so much love going out to Ukraine and so much feeling and empathy and while a lot of us don’t have the answers, what else can you do apart from send love?"

Space Man is a solid ballad with a planet-sized hook that ticks a lot of fashionable singer songwriter boxes, and it may be in with a chance but the UK, like Ireland, has had a rough old time of it at Eurovision of late.

They scored the dreaded nul point last year with James Newman and the last time they made the top ten in a final at Eurovision was in 2009 with Jade Ewen.

The fallout from Brexit can’t help have helped. The UK’s departure from the EU may not be talk of the coffee houses of Berlin and Paris, despite what some Brexit Spartans may think, but the score card for the UK has made for sad reading at Eurovision for well over a decade.

Naturally, Sam remains buoyant. "People may call me a bit naïve here and that’s totally fine," he says. "But I’ve done a lot of travelling around Europe since Brexit and every place I’ve been, I’ve met beautiful, kind people and there has been no indication that there has been any sort of ill-feeling.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

"I know it exists on a political level but that’s not the level I’m operating at. I measure my life in encounters and conversations with people and I’ve had a nice time. I refuse to look at life in too negative a way."

This year’s contest will be taking part as Ukraine feels from Russia’s invasion, and Eurovision 2022 is likely to an emotionally charged affair. The competition’s producers recently announced that Russia is barred from taking part this year.

Asked if there was much talk about the war among his fellow contestants, Sam says, "I think it’s definitely palpable. It’s in the air and there is such so much love going out to Ukraine and so much feeling and empathy and while a lot of us don’t have the answers, what else can you do apart from send love?

"And not just to the innocent people in Ukraine but those in Russia who have no interest in war of any kind and are being misled."

But fight now Sam’s eyes are the prize at PalaOlimpico in Turin, Italy on May 14. He will be bringing his partner with him, but his family are staying home for their own Eurovision party. "The only thing I’m gutted about doing Eurovision is that I’m missing that!" he laughs.

Alan Corr @CorrAlan2