UK IN EUROVISION. The UK arrived fashionably late to the Eurovision Song Contest, skipping the first year, and joining the party for its second outing, in Frankfurt in 1957.
For the first 20 years, the UK’s entry finished comfortably inside the top ten, helped by the fact that the songs were performed by the big stars of the day – such as Matt Monroe, Kathy Kirby and Cliff Richard (who had two attempts at glory, finishing in second and third place).
It wasn’t until 1967 that the UK celebrated its first victory, with Sandie Shaw’s legendary barefooted performance of Puppet on a String in Vienna. The UK won again in 1969, but Lulu had to share her Boom Bang a Bang triumph with three other joint winners from Spain, The Netherlands and France. Cue reboot of the voting system for the following year’s contest.
In the early ‘70s, the UK persevered with its formula of sending chart-topping acts, with the likes of Mary Hopkin, The New Seekers, Olivia Newton-John and The Shadows (minus Cliff) racking up top five places. It wasn’t until 1976 that we secured our biggest-ever victory. The Brotherhood of Man’s Save Your Kisses For Me went on to top the charts in 33 countries, and remains one of the contest’s biggest-selling records of all time. And, it has to be said, one of its most iconic dance moves too.
The skirt-ripping antics of Bucks Fizz sent velcro sales flying, and brought home trophy number four, from Dublin, in 1981 with Making Your Mind Up. And, yes, we wanted to see some more – but despite Liverpool’s-own Sonia narrowly missing out on victory in 1993, and Gina G’s Grammy-nominated Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit becoming one of the biggest worldwide hits of 1996, we had to wait until 1997 before Katrina and the Waves’ anthemic Love Shine a Light set the scoreboard alight, in Dublin again.
Last year’s Space Man, performed by Sam Ryder, ended a spell of less than enthusiastically-received 21st century entries – including two ‘nul points’ outings. The UK’s highest-scoring entry of all time, Space Man took the runner’s up position, cementing the UK’s record as the country with the most second-place finishes: a rather impressive 16 times.
The United Kingdom has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 64 times. It first took part in the second contest in 1957 and has entered every year since 1959. Along with Sweden and the Netherlands, the UK is one of only three countries with Eurovision victories in four different decades. It is one of the “Big Five” countries, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, that are automatically prequalified for the final each year as they are the biggest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The British national broadcaster, the BBC, broadcasts the event and has, on multiple occasions, organised different national selection processes to choose the British entry. The United Kingdom has won the Eurovision Song Contest five times, and has finished as runner-up on a record sixteen occasions. The UK has hosted the contest a record eight times, four times in London (1960, 1963, 1968 and 1977) and once each in Edinburgh (1972), Brighton (1974), Harrogate (1982) and Birmingham (1998), and will host the contest for a ninth time in 2023 in Liverpool.
The United Kingdom’s five winners are Sandie Shaw with the song “Puppet on a String” (1967), Lulu with “Boom Bang-a-Bang” (1969 in a four-way tie), Brotherhood of Man with “Save Your Kisses for Me” (1976), Bucks Fizz with “Making Your Mind Up” (1981) and Katrina and the Waves with “Love Shine a Light” (1997). The UK has also achieved a record sixteen second-place finishes, the first in 1959 and the most recent in 2022.
The United Kingdom finished outside the top ten on only three occasions prior to 2000 (1978, 1987 and 1999). In the 21st century, the United Kingdom has had a considerably poorer record in the competition, only reaching the top ten three times, with Jessica Garlick third (2002), Jade Ewen fifth (2009), and Sam Ryder second (2022), compounded by eleven non-top 20 finishes, including Jemini’s infamous 2003 nul points result, which was the first time that the country had come last in the contest. The UK has since finished in last place in 2008 with Andy Abraham (14 points), in 2010 with Josh Dubovie (10 points), in 2019 with Michael Rice (11 points), and in 2021 with James Newman (0 points).
1950s to 1970s. It was alleged that the United Kingdom were expected to take part in the first contest in 1956, and that they missed the submission deadline and therefore could not take part. This was later revealed by the EBU in January 2017 to be a myth created by fans of the contest. The EBU further went on to explain that the Festival of British Popular Song, a contest created by the BBC for the United Kingdom, was the inspiration that brought in format changes to the contest elements from 1957 onwards. Patricia Bredin was the first performer to represent the UK at Eurovision, finishing seventh in 1957. The UK was the first choice to stage the third contest in 1958, however following a failure to get an agreement from various artistic unions, the BBC withdrew their bid in the summer of 1957 and the UK did not enter for the second and last time to date.
At their second attempt in the contest in 1959, the UK achieved the first of their record sixteen runner-up positions, when Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson sang “Sing, Little Birdie”. The UK would achieve four more second-place finishes with Bryan Johnson in 1960, The Allisons in 1961, Matt Monro in 1964 and Kathy Kirby in 1965, before eventually winning for the first time in 1967. Sandie Shaw was already a successful performer, having twice topped the UK Singles Chart, and she comfortably won in Vienna with “Puppet on a String”, which became her third UK number one and topped the charts all around Europe. In 1968, another successful performer was selected to represent the UK with the song “Congratulations”. In London, Cliff Richard gave the UK their sixth second-place finish, losing to Spain’s Massiel. “Congratulations” remains one of only two non-winning UK Eurovision entries to top the UK charts. The UK’s second victory was provided by the Scottish singer Lulu, who won with the song “Boom Bang-a-Bang” in 1969, in a four-way tie with France, Spain and the Netherlands. Another established performer, she had topped the US Billboard Hot 100 with “To Sir with Love” in 1967.
Having finished second on three further occasions in the 1970s, with Mary Hopkin in 1970, The New Seekers in 1972 and The Shadows in 1975. The UK achieved their third victory in 1976 with Brotherhood of Man and “Save Your Kisses for Me”, who won with 164 points, which would remain the highest points total for ten years. In 1977, the UK finished second for the tenth time represented by singer-songwriters Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran.
1980s and 1990s. The UK’s fourth victory came in 1981, with Bucks Fizz and “Making Your Mind Up”. The group was created especially for the UK televised selection contest, “A Song for Europe” (a programme which in later years would be renamed to “Making Your Mind Up”). At Eurovision in Dublin, they defeated Germany’s Lena Valaitis by four points. The group went on to continued success, with 13 UK top 40 hits over the next five years. This would be the last UK win for 16 years, although the country continued to be competitive at the contest with four more second-place results during this time. In 1988, Scott Fitzgerald lost to Celine Dion, who was representing Switzerland, by just one point. In 1989, Live Report lost out to Yugoslavia by seven points. Michael Ball in 1992, also finished second, behind Linda Martin of Ireland. The 1993 entry, Sonia, had already had 10 UK top 30 hits, including a 1989 number one with “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You”, when she was selected to represent the UK in Millstreet. With one country (Malta) left to vote, Ireland’s Niamh Kavanagh led Sonia by 11 points. By the time it got to the announcement of the 12 points, neither the UK or Ireland had been mentioned. If the UK had received the 12, they would have won by one point. In the end Ireland received the top marks and won by 23 points. Despite only finishing eighth in the 1996 contest, Gina G went on to huge success with her entry “Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit”, which became only the second non-winning UK entry to top the UK Singles Chart. It also reached the top 20 of the US Billboard Hot 100 and received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording. The UK’s fifth victory came in 1997, when Katrina and the Waves, famous for their 1980s hit “Walking on Sunshine”, comfortably won the contest with the song “Love Shine a Light”. They scored 227 points, which would remain the highest points total of the pre semi-final era. At the 1998 contest in Birmingham, Imaani achieved the UK’s 15th second-place finish and 20th top two result, with the song “Where Are You?”, losing to Israel’s Dana International. The UK would not finish in the top two again for 24 years.
21st century. The UK has fared less well in the contest in the 21st century. After girl-group Precious finished 12th in 1999, the UK regularly placed in the bottom half of the scoreboard, with a few exceptions. In the 2000s, those exceptions were Jessica Garlick in 2002, who finished joint third with the song “Come Back”, and Jade Ewen in 2009, who was praised for ending the country’s poor run of results for much of the decade, by finishing fifth with the song “It’s My Time”. In 2003, the UK finished last in the final for the first time with the duo Jemini, who received the infamous nul points. The country then finished last on two further occasions over the next 7 years, with Andy Abraham, who received 14 points in 2008, and Josh Dubovie, who received 10 points in 2010.
In 2011, the BBC announced that they would forgo the national selection and instead internally select the next representative, eventually selecting the boy band Blue to represent the UK. They finished 11th with 100 points. In 2012, the UK were facing calls to quit the contest when the UK entry, Engelbert Humperdinck, finished 25th (out of 26) with only 12 points. However, the UK confirmed their participation in the 2013 contest, with the Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, most famous for her 1983 US and UK number one hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, who would perform the song “Believe in Me”. In Malmö, she finished 19th with 23 points. She went on to win two internationally voted Eurovision Song Contest radio awards for Best Female Singer and Best Song.
In 2014, the BBC internally selected unknown singer Molly Smitten-Downes, through BBC Introducing, which supports new and unsigned acts. She represented the UK in Copenhagen under her artist name Molly. In the final, she performed the song “Children of the Universe”, which she co-wrote with Anders Hansson and finished in 17th place with 40 points, having been regarded as one of the favourites to win the contest. In October 2014, Guy Freeman stated that the BBC are still engaging with record companies and the BBC Introducing platform in order to find an entry for the 2015 contest via the internal selection process, but announced that in addition, for the first time since 2008, they are giving the general public the option to submit an entry for consideration. Ultimately, the entry for 2015 came through open submission, with the song “Still in Love with You” performed by the duo Electro Velvet, which finished in 24th place with five points.
On 30 September 2015, the BBC confirmed the national selection show would return in 2016. Six acts competed in the national final on 26 February and the winner was selected entirely through a public vote, consisting of televoting and online voting. “You’re Not Alone” performed by Joe and Jake won the national final broadcast live on BBC Four. At the final they came 24th with 62 points in total. Of these only 8 were from the public vote, the second lowest public score, following 0 to the Czech Republic. In spite of the latest disappointing result, the BBC announced that the national final format would be retained for 2017. Six acts again participated in the final, which was held on 27 January 2017. It was broadcast on BBC Two as opposed to BBC Four the previous year, and the winner was determined by a combination of scores from a professional jury and televoting (including votes cast online). Former X Factor contestant Lucie Jones won the show and earned the right to represent the UK at the 2017 contest in Kyiv, with the song “Never Give Up on You”, becoming the 60th UK Eurovision entry. The song was praised for its impressive staging, and finished 15th in the final with a combined score of 111 points, finishing 10th in the jury vote with 99 points and 20th in the televote with 12 points. In 2018, “Storm” by SuRie was selected by the public to represent the UK. Her performance during the final was marred by an invader who ran onstage halfway through the song and grabbed her microphone, interrupting her performance; however, she was able to complete her performance. She finished in 24th with a combined score of 48. Michael Rice’s song “Bigger than Us” was selected by the public to represent the UK in 2019. It finished in 26th place in the final after amassing 11 points, marking the fourth time since the turn of the century that the UK had finished last.
Ahead of the 2020 contest, the BBC stated that they would return to internally selecting the representative (in collaboration with record label BMG). James Newman was chosen as the entrant with his song “My Last Breath”; however, the 2020 contest was cancelled due to restrictions connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BBC subsequently announced that BBC Studios would produce Eurovision: Come Together, a replacement show for BBC One featuring classic Eurovision performances, interviews and a look at the entries that would have taken part in 2020. The show was part of the BBC’s plan to “entertain the nation in time of need”. The contest returned in 2021, with Newman being selected again with a new song, “Embers”. However, the song finished in last place and became the second UK entry to receive nul points (also the first full nul points since the 2016 voting system was first implemented).
For the 2022 contest, the BBC retained the internal selection format, this time working in partnership with TaP Music. Sam Ryder and his song “Space Man” were selected for the contest and went on to place second with 466 points, the best result achieved by the UK since 1998, earning the most points in the jury vote, and the most points ever received for a UK entry. Ryder also won the Marcel Bezençon Award in the Press category, becoming the first ever UK act to receive the award since its inception in 2002. He was praised by the media for his positive attitude and desire to change the UK public and press’ perception of the contest.
United Kingdom and the “Big Five”. In 1999, a rule change allowed the United Kingdom, along with France, Germany and Spain, to automatically qualify for the final (irrespective of their recent scores and without entering a semi-final), due to being the biggest financial contributors to the EBU. Due to their untouchable status in the contest, these countries became known as the “Big Four” (which became the “Big Five” in 2011 following the return of Italy to the contest).
In 2008, it was reported that the “Big Four” could lose their status and be forced to compete in the semi-finals; however, this never materialised, and the rule remained in place. In the same year, the BBC defended using money from TV licence fee payers for the contest when Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross had tabled a Commons motion which called on the corporation to withdraw its £173,000 funding for the annual contest. Former Eurovision commentator Sir Terry Wogan, that same year, also claimed that the show is “no longer a music contest” after the final of that year’s edition ended.
Since the introduction of the Big Four/Five, the United Kingdom has finished last in the contest five times, with Germany finishing last four times. The United Kingdom also has the fewest top ten results of the Big Five in the 21st century, but has achieved more top five results than Spain, having reached the top five in 2002, 2009 and 2022.
National selection process (“You Decide”). As well as broadcasting the contest each year, the BBC also organises the selection process for the entry, often with a televised national final (historically titled A Song For Europe). The process has varied between selecting both performer and song, or just the song, with the artist being selected internally.
For most years the public has been able to vote for the winner, in the past with postcard voting, where the viewers sent postcards with their vote to the BBC, but more recently televoting and online. In 2009 and 2010, the singer was chosen by a public vote and the song internally selected. From 2011 to 2015, there was no televised selection, and both the artist and song were selected internally by the BBC. This resulted in the national selection process being suspended; however, this returned in 2016, re-titled Eurovision: You Decide, with viewers once again choosing which song to enter into the contest. Since 2017, the votes from a professional jury panel have been combined with the public vote to select the winner. The televised selection process was suspended again in September 2019, with the BBC returning to internally selecting its entry (in partnership with BMG in 2020 and 2021, and with TaP Music in 2022 and 2023).
Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest. Although the United Kingdom was entered twice into Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest, with Cliff Richard’s 1968 runner-up entry “Congratulations” and Brotherhood of Man’s 1976 winning song “Save Your Kisses for Me”, the BBC decided not to air the event or participate in the voting, but instead aired an hour-long special programme entitled Boom Bang-a-Bang: 50 Years of Eurovision hosted by Terry Wogan.
Eurovision: Come Together. Following the cancellation of the 2020 contest due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the BBC decided to host Eurovision: Come Together, an all-stars contest on the night of what would have been the 2020 grand final. The show was broadcast just before the EBU’s main replacement show Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light. An expert panel selected the 19 competing entries, four of which were UK entries.
Eurovision Song Contest’s Greatest Hits. In 2015, London hosted Eurovision Song Contest’s Greatest Hits, an event to commemorate the 60th anniversary, which was recorded for television on 31 March 2015 and was shown in 26 countries, starting with the UK and Ireland on 3 April 2015.
Hostings. The United Kingdom has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest a record eight times. The United Kingdom stepped in and hosted the contest for the Netherlands in 1960, France in 1963, Monaco in 1972 and Luxembourg in 1974 due to the winning countries’ financial and capacity issues. On four occasions (1968, 1977, 1982 and 1998) the UK was given the right to host as a result of a victory. The BBC offered to joint host the 1995 contest in Belfast, Northern Ireland with Irish broadcaster RTÉ, but ultimately RTÉ decided to stage the event solo. The UK will host the contest for a ninth time in 2023, after the 2022 winner Ukraine was unable to meet the demands of hosting the event due to security concerns caused by the Russian invasion of the country.
|1960||London||Royal Festival Hall||Katie Boyle|
|1963||BBC Television Centre|
|1968||Royal Albert Hall|
|1972||Edinburgh||Usher Hall||Moira Shearer|
|1974||Brighton||Brighton Dome||Katie Boyle|
|1977||London||Wembley Conference Centre||Angela Rippon|
|1982||Harrogate||Harrogate International Centre||Jan Leeming|
|1998||Birmingham||National Indoor Arena||Terry Wogan and Ulrika Jonsson|
United Kingdom: Shortlisted Host Cities. The United Kingdom will host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023 on behalf of Ukraine, the winners of the 2022 Contest. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU, and will be picked from a shortlist of 7:
• Birmingham is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Alright bab? Birmingham proudly proclaims to be the ‘youngest city in Europe’, owing to the fact that nearly 40% of its population are under the age of 25 – but Brum, as it’s affectionately known, has a rich history stretching back hundreds of years. Just as its nickname at the height of the Industrial Revolution, ‘a city of thousand trades’, speaks of diversity and specialisms, Birmingham today echoes the past with the diverse nature of its tourism offer; museums, art galleries and historic houses proudly display internationally important collections. Birmingham has a strong and diverse cultural sector and is home to world class performance venues and institutions such as the Birmingham Royal Ballet, Symphony Hall, The Hippodrome and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to name but a few. The city’s vibrant events calendar is underpinned by an eclectic range of festivals including the Sandwell and Birmingham Mela (the largest South Asian music festival in Europe), Birmingham International Dance Festival, B-Side Hip Hop, Pride and the Birmingham Weekender. Often cited as the home of heavy metal, Brum has given the world both Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, and the city’s rich musical heritage also boasts soulful synths from MOBO (Music of Black Origin) award-winning Laura Mvula, ska and reggae thanks to Musical Youth, The Beat and UB40, and plenty of pop from the likes of Duran Duran, Jamelia and the ELO. Ilona Mandyradzhy, Gallery Assistant at Centrala Space, the only community-based organisation in the UK dedicated to promoting Central and Eastern European arts and culture, had this to say: ‘Having arrived in Birmingham at the beginning of the year to study, I am proud to live in a city that has been so supportive of me and my fellow Ukrainians. This is why I am supporting Birmingham’s bid to host this iconic event on our behalf.’ You can find out more about Birmingham and their bid on Facebook and the Birmingham City Council website.
• Glasgow is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Gaun yersel! Glasgow, the biggest city in Scotland, has an epic history and architectural heritage that spans from the medieval to the modern. In 2008, Glasgow was named the United Kingdom’s first UNESCO City of Music, thanks to its heritage and contemporary vibrant and varied music scene that hosts nearly over 130 music events every week, more than any other Scottish city. And let’s not forget the city’s OVO Hydro arena appears in the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The Eurovision connections don’t end there either! Glasgow girl Lulu won the 1969 Contest with Boom Bang-a-Bang. Over the years, the city has produced an enviable list of popular bands, covering everything from the new wave and post-punk vibes of Altered Images and Simple Minds, through to the indie and electronica of Franz Ferdinand, Belle & Sebastian, Travis, Primal Scream, and Bis – known for their aptly titled hit Eurodisco. This huge musical offering is equalled by venues of varying sizes and styles. The iconic Barrowland Ballroom, famous amongst fans and musicians, emits an atmosphere like no other, whilst smaller venues such as King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and Nice N Sleazy ooze coolness and offer a great place just to hang out. The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and Old Fruitmarket provide a more traditional setting for all types of music, whilst outdoor spaces such as the Kelvingrove Bandstand present a scenic backdrop to accompany live performances. Each venue comes with its own instantly recognisable personality. While Glasgow is known as the gateway to Scotland’s great outdoors, it is also the ultimate destination for an urban Scottish experience. Distillery tours, ceilidhs, Highland cows and playing the pipes are just some of the nation’s delightful experiences to discover in the city. Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, had this to say: ‘Glasgow has an unrivalled track-record for successfully hosting major global events and we’re confident we can present a Eurovision that reflects a true celebration of Ukrainian culture. As the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music – a title we share with Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv – Glasgow offers one of the most immersive live music experiences in the world and international visitors regularly cite our enviable music credentials as a reason for coming here. Add to that our OVO Hydro, which is consistently ranked in the world’s top five entertainment arenas, and our famously warm Glaswegian welcome, and we tick all the boxes for hosting a show that the Eurovision community, and the world, will long remember.’ You can find out more about Glasgow and their bid on the People Make Glasgow Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and website.
• Leeds is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Ey up! Leeds is a city bursting with life and cultural energy, which boasts a vibrant creative community, with award-winning national theatre and dance companies, a world-class arena, and a thriving independent food scene. In Leeds, brilliant Victorian architecture stands alongside buildings rich in industrial history, and yet, just a short bus or train ride away are quaint villages and inspiring landscapes just waiting to be discovered. The city has hosted major events such as the Tour de France Grand Depart, the MOBO Awards and BBC Sports Personality of the Year, all of which were delivered from the proposed Eurovision venue, the First Direct Arena. Attracting crowds of up to 100,000 people, the Leeds Festival is one of the most anticipated music events in the United Kingdom and has hosted some of the biggest names in alternative rock, metal and hip-hop. New music flows through Leeds with young talent engaged in courses across four universities. Students come from across Europe, including Italian rapper Blackson and Czech-Norwegian electropop Eurovision finalists, We Are Domi, who formed while studying at the Leeds Conservatoire. Other acts from the city include Goth rockers The Sisters of Mercy, Spice Girl Mel B and The Kaiser Chiefs, and let’s not forget that Live at Leeds by The Who is possibly the most famous live album in the world. Also, many Ukrainian artists call Leeds home, including The Ukrainians, the Leeds band that’s been wowing audiences for 32 years with their fusion of western rock music and Ukrainian folk. Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council and Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy and culture, had this to say: ‘It goes without saying that Leeds will be bidding to host Eurovision in 2023. Leeds has already proved that it has the capability and capacity to host major international events and ASM Global, the operators of the first direct arena, successfully hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in the Avicii Arena in Stockholm in 2016. Given that we will be mid-way through the Leeds 2023 Year of Culture, it could not come at a better time. We are extremely disappointed that Ukraine will be unable to host in 2023, but it would be an honour to host on behalf of them, especially given that West Yorkshire is home to a large number of Ukrainians. If we are successful with our bid, we will be looking to get the local Ukrainian community involved with our plans as much as possible.’ You can find out more about Leeds and their bid on the Visit Leeds Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and website.
• Liverpool is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Boss! Liverpool is a city that dances to its own beat – and 50 years after The Beatles exploded onto the world stage, it’s still making all the right noises. Thoughts immediately jump to the ‘Fab Four’, but Liverpool’s diverse musical heritage goes back hundreds of years thanks to the city’s development as one of the world’s most important ports. A UNESCO Music City for good reason, Merseyside’s contribution to the world of pop has been extensive, with notable acts including: Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark, The Mighty WAH!, Echo & The Bunnymen, Dead or Alive, The Lightning Seeds, Space, Mel C, Atomic Kitten, and, of course, Eurovision Song Contest 1993 runner-up… Sonia! The M&S Bank Arena on the world-famous waterfront attracts some of the biggest acts on the planet today! Beyonce, Paul McCartney, Elton John and the MTV Europe Music Awards are just some of the unforgettable live experiences hosted since its launch to mark Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. On top of the pop heritage, Liverpool is also home to one of the finest orchestras in Europe. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, whose home is at the beautiful art deco Philharmonic Hall, is a critically acclaimed orchestra led by Chief Conductor Domingo Hindoyan. And regular shows by world-class jazz, pop, rock and folk performers prove ‘The Phil’ is more than capable of going beyond orchestral manoeuvres. The sounds of Liverpool are as varied as its clubs and venues. Any night of the week, you’ll find a thrilling mix of venues hosting live shows for house, rock, jazz, rock, or something laid-back and acoustic. Wherever you go in this city, you’re never too far away from music. Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, had this to say: ‘The Liverpool City Region is the UK’s cultural capital – home to a flourishing music scene that has been entertaining and inspiring the world for decades. It is a massive part of our identity, and we are a proud UNESCO City of Music. It’s safe to say that Liverpool wouldn’t be Liverpool without music – and music wouldn’t be music without Liverpool. No region in the UK has had more number one hits – and nowhere can throw a party quite like us. I can think of nowhere more qualified, more experienced or more fitting to host the Eurovision than the Liverpool City Region.’ You can find out more about Liverpool and their bid on the Culture Liverpool website and the Visit Liverpool website, blog and Instragram.
• Liverpool is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Boss! Liverpool is a city that dances to its own beat – and 50 years after The Beatles exploded onto the world stage, it’s still making all the right noises. Thoughts immediately jump to the ‘Fab Four’, but Liverpool’s diverse musical heritage goes back hundreds of years thanks to the city’s development as one of the world’s most important ports. A UNESCO Music City for good reason, Merseyside’s contribution to the world of pop has been extensive, with notable acts including: Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark, The Mighty WAH!, Echo & The Bunnymen, Dead or Alive, The Lightning Seeds, Space, Mel C, Atomic Kitten, and, of course, Eurovision Song Contest 1993 runner-up… Sonia! The M&S Bank Arena on the world-famous waterfront attracts some of the biggest acts on the planet today! Beyonce, Paul McCartney, Elton John and the MTV Europe Music Awards are just some of the unforgettable live experiences hosted since its launch to mark Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. On top of the pop heritage, Liverpool is also home to one of the finest orchestras in Europe. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, whose home is at the beautiful art deco Philharmonic Hall, is a critically acclaimed orchestra led by Chief Conductor Domingo Hindoyan. And regular shows by world-class jazz, pop, rock and folk performers prove ‘The Phil’ is more than capable of going beyond orchestral manoeuvres. The sounds of Liverpool are as varied as its clubs and venues. Any night of the week, you’ll find a thrilling mix of venues hosting live shows for house, rock, jazz, rock, or something laid-back and acoustic.Wherever you go in this city, you’re never too far away from music. Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, had this to say: ‘The Liverpool City Region is the UK’s cultural capital – home to a flourishing music scene that has been entertaining and inspiring the world for decades. It is a massive part of our identity, and we are a proud UNESCO City of Music. It’s safe to say that Liverpool wouldn’t be Liverpool without music – and music wouldn’t be music without Liverpool. No region in the UK has had more number one hits – and nowhere can throw a party quite like us. I can think of nowhere more qualified, more experienced or more fitting to host the Eurovision than the Liverpool City Region.’ You can find out more about Liverpool and their bid on the Culture Liverpool website and the Visit Liverpool website, blog and Instragram.
• Manchester is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Y’all right our kid? Finding global fame as the heart of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester has a proud history in science, politics, music, arts, and sport. If you explore Manchester’s city centre you’ll find it packed not only with remnants of this history but also with unique and independent restaurants, bars, shops, museums, galleries and hotels, all gathered in districts with their own distinct personalities. Mancunians are known for their friendliness, and are a pretty diverse bunch. 200 languages are spoken in the city which is also home to one of the UK’s largest LGBTQ+ populations, whose community heart lies in the famous Canal Street area, affectionately known as ‘The Village’. There you can expect to find a flourishing queer scene with entertainment on any night of the week. Further out from the city, the surrounding boroughs of Greater Manchester offer some entirely different experiences including charming market towns, traditional country pubs and beautiful green spaces and waterways. Birthplace of the world famous Haçienda night club and the ‘baggy’ genre, Mancunian musical heritage glitters with some of the biggest names in dance, rock and pop, including: New Order, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Blossoms, Chemical Brothers, Oasis, M People, The Hollies, 10cc, Take That, Autechre, Hurts, The Smiths, and Lisa Stansfield. Lyn Paul, from the UK’s second placed act in the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest, the New Seekers, also originally comes from Manchester. And where do the biggest names in pop perform in the city? At the AO Arena, one of the busiest venues in the world, attracting over one million visitors each year. Salford, part of Greater Manchester, was made the official home of the United Kingdom’s BBC Eurovision HQ last year, with results from the UK jury vote being delivered by AJ Odudu from MediaCity. Leader of Manchester City Council, Bev Craig, had this to say: ‘We are thrilled to have made it through and be named a shortlisted host city. Manchester stands ready to put on the biggest party in the UK at the city’s AO Arena, taking our place in Eurovision’s unique history. We have a large and proud Ukrainian community in Manchester. It would be our privilege to host this iconic celebration on their behalf and we will do everything we can to honour them throughout.’ You can find out more about Manchester and their bid on the Visit Manchester Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and website.
• Newcastle is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Howay man! Newcastle, in the North East of England, is well known for the 7 iconic bridges that cross the famous River Tyne and its Quayside – a diverse and vibrant part of the city. Newcastle natives are known as ‘Geordies’ and visitors will be charmed by their warm spirit in a city bursting with cultural offerings, an award-winning restaurant scene, excellent museums, and fabulous places to stay. Newcastle, and the wider region, is steeped in heritage, with glorious coastline and plenty of iconic landmarks and attractions to explore, including the Angel of the North, Earl Grey atop his Grade II listed city centre Monument, and Newcastle Castle from which the city got its name. And, of course, who can deny the pull of a ‘night on the Toon’? The city is renowned for its nightlife: from show-stopping theatre, comedy and live music, to clubs, cocktail bars and independent breweries. Newcastle has an emerging, vibrant music scene with independent venues like The Cluny, Little Buildings and The Globe providing dedicated spaces for local artists to grow and develop. The neighbourhood of Ouseburn is a hub of culture and music with a plethora of venues, restaurants, breweries and art spaces which have reinvigorated this once industrial area of the city, without losing its gritty heritage. Newcastle, and the surrounding area, can boast an impressive wealth of musical heritage, with many well known acts born locally including: Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys), Sting, Sam Fender, ex-Girls Aloud singer Cheryl, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Nail, Maximo Park, The Animals and, of course, Lindisfarne. Ian Thomas, Destination Director at NGI (NewcastleGateshead Initiative), had this to say: ‘As a region with collaborative and passionate people at its heart, we are already working with partners across all sectors to ensure we are able to deliver an exceptional event that celebrates Ukraine and its culture to its absolute best. Newcastle is a gateway to the rest of the UK, with an international airport, sea port, national rail links and excellent local transport. Along with our vast range of hotels, accommodation and hospitality offer, not to mention the famous Geordie welcome, the city is the perfect host destination. We’re ready to make Eurovision 2023 part of our collective, cultural history and create even stronger ties with our friends in Ukraine.’ You can find out more about Newcastle and their bid on the NewcastleGateshead Initiative Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and website.
• Sheffield is one of seven cities in the United Kingdom shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The successful Host City will be revealed in the Autumn by the BBC and the EBU. Nah then. Sheffield is one of England’s greenest cities, being located on the doorstep of the Peak District National Park and having more trees per person than any other city in Europe. The city powers two world-leading universities, a thriving music scene, and has some of the most enviable outdoor activities in the United Kingdom; from unparalleled downhill mountain biking, to being the spiritual home of climbing. There are more craft breweries per person in this city than in any other city in the United Kingdom, making Sheffield one of the brewing capitals of the world, which perfectly accompanies the casual but critically acclaimed foodie scene. The ‘Steel City’ recently enjoyed hosting their European neighbours, as the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland played their UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 matches at Bramall Lane, home to Sheffield United and the oldest professional stadium still in use today. Sheffield boasts half a century of producing distinctive, influential and iconic music. Famous figures range from Dave Berry and Joe Cocker in the ‘60s through to Paul Carrack, Cabaret Voltaire, Human League, Heaven 17, ABC, Def Leppard, Pulp, Richard Hawley, Roisin Murphy and Moloko, The Long Blondes, Warp Records, Arctic Monkeys, Reverend and the Makers, Self Esteem, 65daysofstatic, Bring Me the Horizon and Drenge …to mention only a few! And, of course, Sheffield’s Lindsay Dracass was still at school when she finished 15th for the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2001 with No Dream Impossible. The city has an enviable wealth of live performance venues, known for its much-loved live destinations such as the iconic Backroom in the Greystones pub (which gets national attention for it’s quality programming). In fact, Sheffield has recently launched a new initiative to repurpose redundant retail space for music and other cultural production, particularly in the Castlegate Quarter. South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard had this to say: ‘Crack open the Bucks Fizz, Eurovision are making their minds up – and the only correct choice is Sheffield and South Yorkshire! I’ve previously said that Sheffield seemed the obvious choice to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, you’d have to be a spaceman not to. But I will say it again – we have the venues, the heritage, the track record and the passion that Eurovision deserves in such an important year for the contest, that would be held in solidarity with our friends and partners in Ukraine.’ You can find out more about Sheffield and their bid on the Welcome To Sheffield Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and website.
Time is now being given to cities to develop their bids for assessment, with tickets for the Live Shows expected to go on sale in the months after the Host City is confirmed.
The BBC and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have announced that Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have all been accepted as Shortlisted Host Cities for the Eurovision Song Contest set to take place in the United Kingdom in May 2023.
The shortlist was revealed on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2, with a guest appearance from Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor Martin Österdahl, declaring the Host City race ‘good to go’!
The BBC had expressions of interest from 20 cities, across all four nations of the United Kingdom: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. All applicants demonstrated how they would reflect Ukrainian culture, music and communities to mark the fact that Ukraine are the winners of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
The 7 cities were shortlisted based on their ability to meet a set of minimum requirements that demonstrate they have the capacity, capability and experience to host an event of this scale and complexity. Given the short period of time available until the event will be staged, the selection process was heavily weighted towards demonstrating past experience in hosting major international events, as well as being able to demonstrate credentials in hosting a celebration of contemporary music.
The 7 cities will now go through to the second and final stage, where they will be asked to develop their bids in more detail. The selection of the Host City for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 will be decided by the BBC in conjunction with the EBU, and the successful city will be announced in the Autumn.
The final decision on the winning Host City will be determined by which city or region scores highest against an agreed evaluation criteria, assessed by the BBC.
These criteria include:
- Having a suitable venue and sufficient space to deliver the requirements of the Eurovision Song Contest
- The commitment that can be made by a city or region to hosting the event, including the financial contribution
- The strength of the cultural offer which includes off screen local and regional activity as well as showcasing Ukrainian culture and music
- Alignment with the BBC’s strategic priorities as a public service broadcaster, such as providing value to all audiences and supporting the creative economy in the UK
Kate Phillips, BBC’s Director Unscripted Content says: ‘We would like to thank all of the cities and regions that submitted bids to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We have seven fantastic cities who we are taking through to the next round. Congratulations to Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield – it’s exciting to see such a breadth of bids going through from across the UK. We are committed to delivering a truly unique Song Contest that celebrates wonderful Ukraine and champions British music and creativity in all its diversity.’