Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It's now thirty years and counting since a Scot last represented the UK at Eurovision

I was half-thinking of foregoing the Eurovision posts altogether this year, because some people seem to get weirdly irate when I do them.  But as Bill Palmer of the US went out of his way the other night to ask for some Eurovision blogging, consider this a 'request post'.  To answer his specific question: no, Scotland does not take part in the contest and has always been nominally represented by the UK entry, which is selected by the BBC (or by a process devised and overseen by the BBC).  The corporation would probably argue that the rules make it impossible for there to be a Scottish entry for as long as Scotland is part of the UK, because each entry is put forward by a national broadcaster that is a paid-up member of the European Broadcasting Union.  However, a special exception is made for Australia, and given that the BBC are one of the contest's biggest financial backers, I'm not totally convinced that they would fail if they were to vigorously push the suggestion that the four Home Nations should be separately represented.  The obvious compromise would be for the UK to give up its automatic place in the grand final in return for four places in the semi-finals.  But it's the BBC we're talking about here, and with the upholding of British nationalism effectively written into the BBC Charter, it's highly unlikely they would ever make that case.  So the dream words "Écosse, douze points" will almost certainly have to wait until after independence.

What you'd think the BBC might do, though, is make sure individual Scots are at least given a fair crack of the whip at representing the UK in the contest.  But not a bit of it.  The last Scot to sing for the UK was Scott Fitzgerald exactly thirty years ago, when he famously lost to Celine Dion by just one point after the final national jury failed to award him any points at all.  As I always point out, and incredible though it may seem, both France and Cyprus have been represented by Scots more recently than the UK has.  (Karen Matheson of Capercaillie sang for France in the Breton language in 1996.)  What's truly shocking, though, is that in all of the UK national selection finals since 1988, there seem to have only been two Scottish acts - Do Re Mi featuring the late Kerry McGregor in 1997, and City Chix in 2006.  I don't know whether such an obscene under-representation says more about the southern-centricity of the BBC or of the British music industry, but it's certainly not happening by random chance.

To turn to tonight's national selection for 2018, I wasn't totally unhappy with it - I voted for the winning song for the second year in a row, and the overall standard seemed a little higher than in past years.  It's heartening to see the selection being given a prime-time slot on a mainstream channel (albeit BBC2 rather than BBC1) - gone are the dark days at the turn of the century when it had a graveyard slot early on Sunday afternoon.  What I couldn't understand is why the announcement of the winner was once again so truncated - with the use of a 50/50 jury/public vote system, there was obvious scope to crank up the tension with a gradual reveal of points.  (And given that the eventual winner started the night as a rank outsider, that might have worked particularly well.)  The voting segment is one of the things people love about the Eurovision itself, and with a full ninety minutes to play with, it's hard to see why it was excluded.

Overall verdict: the UK have ended up with a decent entry, but barring miraculously effective staging or a very weak field, it's unlikely to be an outright winner.  It's the sort of song you could maybe imagine finishing a creditable sixth or seventh on a good night.


  1. Bookies’ best prices:

    Eurovision Winner
    Sweden 7/1, Bulgaria 8/1, Estonia 10/1, Australia 12/1, Finland 12/1, (........UK 33/1)

    Next Scottish Parliament election - Most seats
    SNP 2/5, Labour 4/1, Conservatives 6/1

    Next Indyref
    No 5/6, Yes 11/10

    Next UK Parliament election - Most seats
    Labour 10/11, Conservatives 11/10

    Theresa May exit
    2018 10/11
    2019 13/8
    2020 11/1
    2021 16/1

  2. We need to tell the Brexiteers that if the UK leaves the EU, we won't be able to watch the Eurovision Song Contest at all.

    1. In case you have not noticed we are leaving. It never was the same after Lulu won.

  3. I remember reading your 'singy-thingy' blogs for the first time, thinking, och, I must have the wrong 'James Kelly Blog', (MY 'James Kelly' is far above thon 'singy-thingy' thing.

    Over the years, my surprise turned to resignation; to mildly interested against my will; thence to taking a reluctant interest; thence to last year sitting down with daughter and friends and score cards and pizzas ordered online.

    Of course, I could care less pour le Royaume Uni.

    What did you do to me?

  4. I remember the Andy Murray comment ' Anyone but England' became ABE among North East footie fans some time back. I would like to see an update of this for all Yookay sporting and jingoism events among the whole Scottish populace. ABGB has a nice ring to it.