by Graham Pierrepoint
The Eurovision Song Contest – an annual celebration of some of the wackiest and most stunning musical performances put together by countries across Europe – is here again, and with it a whole new host of political affairs providing a backdrop to what many have assumed to be ‘bloc voting’ and biased results in the show’s short history. Certainly, countries in Eastern Europe saw a bigger boost some nine, ten years ago ahead of a complete overhaul of the voting system, which now sees participants receiving points from the public as well as from a panel of independent judges. Last year saw Ukraine stride into first place on the back of the judges’ votes, meaning that it’s a system that has the potential to provide some genuinely surprising results. However, one country – the UK – has hardly seen a run of luck in the past decade or so, and with Brexit looming over this year’s contest, it’s perhaps not surprising for you to hear that there has been polling on whether or not the country should keep sending artists to Europe to sing for their praise.
Despite sending big home-grown stars in the form of Blue, Engelbert Humperdinck, Bonnie Tyler and even Andrew Lloyd-Webber supporting Jade Ewen over the years, the UK hasn’t had a glimpse at winning the contest outright since 1997, when Katrina and the Waves claimed victory for the British Isles with ‘Love Shine a Light’. With twenty years without a win, it’s safe to say that the British public have become largely disenchanted with Eurovision – but does this mean that the country should abstain from entering altogether? Polling seems to suggest that a majority believes this should be the case!
YouGov – who famously put together polling to find out how voters intend to pick their intended leaders, councillors and MPs – recently polled a cross-section of the country to discover that 56% of those polled wish for the UK to leave Eurovision. This, of course, runs parallel to the country’s decision to abstain from the European Union last year – and while it may seem silly on the face of it, will the UK departing the competition have a big cultural effect on both sides? Possibly – the UK is one of the ‘big five’ as one of the show’s major financial contributors, and has therefore been guaranteed a spot in the final every year since its inception – meaning that if this cross-section of the UK was to have its way, there could be a big chance that it would be missed. For UK viewers, too – where will the fun go?