If we fancy our chances of being Eurovision champions again (come on, Electro Velvet!), the UK needs to drop its dismissive attitude towards the contest, says semi-final co-host Scott Mills.
“I think the European countries look up to us,” he tells RadioTimes.com. “But I think that when they look up to us they see us being a bit like ‘Meh, Eurovision,’ and that’s a bit disappointing for them. They don’t feel that way and I think that maybe translates into votes.”
The number of viewers tuning in to the Grand Final certainly seems to suggest there’s a taste for the show. But do we just love to hate it?
“Here’s what I don’t understand: on the Saturday night, the Eurovision Song Contest on BBC1 still gets a lot of viewers – like, more than The X Factor final gets these days. So we love to watch the final still, but there’s something a bit sneery about it, which means that we don’t do very well in it.”
The Radio 1 DJ says that many of the other countries taking part use Eurovision as an advert for their country, often putting their biggest stars into the competition. This year the UK is being represented by unknown duo Electro Velvet, an electro-swing group who will perform their debut track Still In Love With You. Does Mills think that in order to return to our 1997 success (yes, we did actually win that year), we should be putting forward a better-known act?
“To be honest, we’ve tried that and it didn’t particularly work. I don’t actually think that’s the key to it either. A lot of the contestants from countries are the winner of The Voice or The X Factor, so they’re known in their own country but not others, so I actually don’t think that really matters at all.
“Also I don’t think you can call it. I get to hear the songs every year, quite a long time before we go to the country. I get them on CD or MP3 and there’s songs that I’ve skipped past before thinking, ‘Oh that’s not any good’, and they’ve won. You cannot predict this competition, which I like about it.”
Mills is also pretty chuffed with his co-host this year, Bake Off’s Mel Giedroyc. “I think it’s quite hard to find a presenter as geeky as me about Eurovision, but we’ve found one,” he laughs. “She has the same kind of humour and enthusiasm about it.
“As soon as I met her, I thought, right, this is going to be brilliant. She was asking me questions about last year’s acts, she knew their names and what country they were from. I was like, ‘Oh wow, you know a lot!’”
So is Mills under pressure to out-Eurovision Mel? “I’m going to have to up my game! She knows a lot!”
However, he won’t be reaching for the sparkles to outshine his co-host. “After doing Strictly Come Dancing, nothing will be tighter or more sparkly than that. I think I’m laying off the sequins just now.”
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