Year after year, Britain enters Eurovision – flying their annual act half way across Europe only to return empty handed. Not do they come within a slither of winning either, but regularly rank near last, if not last place in the full Eurovision ranking list. Britain’s failings on the Eurovision have gone on for over ten years now, but it wasn’t always like this.
Since the dawn of Eurovision in 1956, the United Kingdom has won with their entry five different times – these being in 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981 and 1997 and come second 15 other times. Britain first won the Eurovision with Sandie Shaw, an English singer from Dagenham, Essex who brought home gold with her smash hit “Puppet on a String” which went on to chart as the number one single in eight countries, including the UK itself.
The second win for the UK in 1969 came in the form of a Scottish singer and actress Lulu who has been successful through her TV appearances early on in the 1960’s. Lulu, who sang “Boom Bang-a-Bang” won the competition as a joint winner with Spain, Netherlands and France of whom all achieved the same amount of points as Britain, her success propelled her into becoming a household name both in Britain and across Europe.
UK’s third winner, pop group Brotherhood of Man won 1976’s Eurovision competition with "Save Your Kisses for Me", the single of which went on to reach number 1 in many countries, including in the UK, where it became the biggest-selling song of the whole year.
A few years later, in 1981, the UK won again for the fourth time in the competition’s existence. This time with Bucks Fizz, who sang the single “Making Your Mind Up”. Charting as number 1 in nine countries, including the UK and America, the song became one of the biggest-selling Eurovision winners ever.
Again, in 1997, two days after the UK General Election, the UK won for the fifth time with Katrina and the Waves, a British rock band who won with their song “Love Shine a Light”. Although this did not chart as well as previously UK Eurovision winners’ singles, it did win by a margin of 70 points.
Since the dawn of the millennium, however, they’ve yet to win once, with no second and only one third place. Over the years, Britain has even been snubbed with 0 points once in 2003 with the singer Jemini – undoubtedly the worse possible result to ever achieve. The UK also (unfortunately) managed to come last place on three different occasions, all of which happened after the year 2000.
It has been questioned many times that the country of superior world renowned stars like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie to Adele, One Direction and Sam Smith has so little to offer when it comes to us entering into the Eurovision competition, with our best acts being those well past their twilight days – Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Who’s to blame for Britain’s poor showing? Again in 2016, the country came third from last, another unfortunate result for the Welsh duo Joe & Jake, of whom came out of the BBC 1: The Voice singing competition. With the potential we as a country have got, in our musical success worldwide and a thriving British music industry – what’s holding us back? Many complain that the BBC does not have the skill to pick a winning musical act, of which the BBC is tasked with doing year upon year, a theory of which Kevin Bishop – the man who used to run Eurovision for the BBC also agrees with. At a symposium in Sweden’s Embassy, Kevin Bishop said:
“The problem is that the BBC is not run by entertainment people anymore, in fact, there is nobody there. In Jim Moir’s days, those people who ran entertainment knew about entertainment, and we haven’t had anybody like that for ten years. Nobody has got that passion and that’s what you need, somebody who’s got a passion for entertainment.”
Kevin had a point, the BBC is no longer a musical expert. It no longer hosts previous music programs it once did such as the Top of the Pops. The rapidly changing musical landscape moved away from the BBC, other musical outlets both online and on niche channels have taken that market share, leaving the BBC with nothing but The Voice - of which has now recently changed hands to ITV.
Would ITV be better handed in choosing our Eurovision entry?
With the long-running The X Factor under their wings, amongst other programs such as Britain’s Got Talent, as well as the most recent purchase of The Voice, ITV most definitely has the credentials to find a successful act. The channel that created One Direction, Little Mix, Olly Murs and Ella Henderson might just have the vigour required to find us a winner.