• Dale Roberts

Australians of Eurovision: Lee Lin Chin



2015 was a big year for Australia in Eurovision, well actually the biggest year in our short history!


In February it was announced that Australia would be taking part in Eurovision for the very first time as a... *cough*.... "one-off guest competitor" (still here!).


A month later Guy Sebastian was announced as our debut competitor, but there was still one important position to be filled... who would read out our votes?


In early May a long segment dragged out the announcement with names like Kamahl, Christine Anu and Marcia Hines thrown around until it was revealed Lee Lin Chin from the Eurovision broadcaster SBS would take part.


But why was she chosen and what led her to that special moment in front of almost 200 million people across the globe?


Lee Lin Chin was born in Jakarta, Indonesia to Chinese parents. She was raised and educated in Singapore where she then started her career in television and radio in 1968.


In 1980 she emigrated to Australia and shortly after began translating Chinese movies for Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) which had just begun in 1978 to serve multicultural Australia.


She then had stints on ABC Radio in Darwin and Newcastle before joining SBS as a newsreader in 1988.


After a couple of decades of being a serious but well-known news anchor with a small cult like following, the 2010s would see her star rise through.... comedy!


SBS youth focused news and comedy show 'The Feed' recruited Lee Lin Chin to play an exaggerated man-crazy, beer-loving fashionista version of herself (though to be fair most of that is true!) in comedy sketches for the show.


The Feed's Executive Producer Nick Hayden told Benjamin Law writing for 'The Monthly' "I thought she was going to say ‘No way’, ‘That sounds ridiculous’ and ‘Why would I ever want to be involved in that? But from the get-go, she was happy to play.”


She starred in Celebrity Chin-Wag and other satirical sketches taking off the Real Housewives or making fun on broadcast rivalries.



But it was her Twitter account that really helped her star power rise.


The account, run by The Feed's Chris Leben, tweeted as the exaggerated character, all with Lee Lin Chin's approval of course.


The combination of the public's serious respect of her journalism, her down-to-earth appeal for doing comedy and her awe-inspiring fashion, saw her gain huge popularity with the Australian public.


This would see her nominated for a Gold Logie (the highest prize in Australian television entertainment) in early 2016.


It was during The Feed itself that Lee Lin Chin was announce as Australia's very first spokesperson in the voting.



Her official statement was also in her comedic style.

“Since I’m announcing my candidacy for the 2016 Gold Logie, I’m very excited. 195 million people watch Eurovision every year and if even just 10 million of those buy TV Week I’ll have it in the bag. As SBS’s most recognisable personality I couldn’t say no to such an opportunity. I’m the obvious choice - not only have I been to Europe but I also listen to music from time to time.”

This would be the first of three years of votes read by Chin and her she turned on the 'fashinonista' with and eye catching dress. Her delivery in 2015 was respectful and very much of her newsreader personality saying "Good evening Europe, we're very excited! Australia thanks you for including us for the first time for your 60th anniversary year".



She turned it up a notch in 2016 with a playful delivery and an outfit that coordinated with the Opera House behind her.


But it was the iconic 2017 look that fans will long remember. A white coat and matching scarf stood out, but it was the blinged out sunglasses and "I'm a star" attitude that screamed Eurovision icon.



It wasn't until that iconic year of 2017that Lee Lin Chin's account tweeted throughout.





In 2018 Lee Lin Chin sadly didn't renew her contract with SBS saying in true character style: "Working two days a week didn't give me enough time to devote to the pub and re-reading the complete works of Shakespeare. So now that I work zero days that issue has been addressed."


In her final bulletin she wore a perspex Commes des Garçons outfit and handed over the reins of the weekend news bulletin to her friend Anton Enus.


Naturally Eurovision fans were devastated.



That year the reading the votes at Eurovision Lisbon gig went to her fellow SBS presenter, and Portuguese speaker, Ricardo Goncalvez.


Since she left SBS Lee Lin Chin has been quiet (including her Twitter account) though she has done Uber Eats ads with Nick Kyrgios and fans are calling for her to be a guest judge on the upcoming RuPaul's Drace Down Under.



We certainly hope to see more of her in the future but she has already gone down as an iconic Australian of Eurovision much loved by fans at home and abroad.