Public given back power to choose UK Eurovision entry

BBC to return to a public vote to determine who’ll represent the UK in Stockholm next year

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The UK’s 2016 Eurovision entry will be decided by the public once again, the BBC announced today, which means we can’t all moan if it doesn’t exactly go to plan, right?

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Until 2011 the public was called upon to vote for their favourite act via an annual TV show, which broadcast under various names on the channel including A Song for Europe and Eurovision: Your Country Needs You. A bit like X Factor, just with national pride, rather than a Christmas Number One at stake. 

However, for the past four years the decision has been made internally by the BBC, with boy band Blue – who finished 11th with 100 points – their opening gambit in 2011. Electro Velvet were the most recent act chosen to wave the UK flag. 

Now, the decision is being handed back to the public, in what is being described as the BBC’s “biggest ever Eurovision song search”. It remains to be seen whether the TV show itself will be revived, or indeed if we’ll be any better this time around at choosing a winner. But hey, we can try, right?

There are to be multiple routes into the selection process, in order to attract entries from professionals and amateurs alike. This includes anyone over the age of 18 submitting a live vocal recording. The BBC will also be inviting the UK branch of the OGAE – the largest independent Eurovision fan club – to assist in the shortlisting of these open entries. In addition, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) is to revive its former partnership with the BBC and will run a song writing competition amongst its members. Hugh Goldsmith – former MD of RCA and founder of Innocent Records – will act as Music Consultant to the BBC, principally responsible for overseeing communication with established record labels, publishers, managers, writers and producers, in order to encourage high-level music industry involvement too.

Songs from all of these routes of entry will be included in a final shortlist, which will be presented to a professional panel and the public, who will have the final say on which song is taken forward to represent the UK at the 2016 contest.

“Eurovision is one of the highlights of my year and I love the fact that the BBC is launching its biggest song search ever,” BBC One’s Eurovision Commentator Graham Norton said. “I think it really shows that they take the competition seriously and the fact that the public will get the final say on who is sent to represent the UK in Stockholm next year is the icing on the cake!”

“This year really will be the biggest song search for Eurovision the BBC has ever undertaken, Guy Freeman, Editor Special Events for the BBC added. “With input from key industry figures and fan associations, plus with the public having the final say we are looking forward to seeing a true People’s Eurovision entry representing the UK at next year’s competition in Sweden.”

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The 61st Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Stockholm, Sweden on 10, 12 and 14 May 2016. Details regarding how to submit a song for consideration can be found at bbc.co.uk/eurovision The closing date for submissions is the 20th of November 2015.