United Kingdom: The Reality Behind Those Eurovision Excuses

As the BBC finally get their act together and Molly jets off to Copenhagen (literally as I’m typing this), the usual negativity of the British public has already started to spiral out of control.

The chances are, they’ll most likely to associate it as a cheesy, camp contest filled with politically rigged voting. As hardcore Eurovision fans, we all know it’s complete nonsense. Sadly, regardless of the act chosen, they’ll simply continue to churn out the same excuses year after year. Especially when the United Kingdom fails miserably.

So to set the record straight once and for all, here I have listed the most common excuses used by the British public, as well as a dose of reality on those excuses.


Excuse: It’s a farce and the UK won’t win. Just pull out.

Reality:  If every other country that finished near the bottom of the table had the same negative defeatist attitude as the UK, then there wouldn’t be any countries left at the Eurovision Song Contest. The England football team haven’t won anything since 1966, shouldn’t the team just pull out of this year’s World Cup? It even took the United Kingdom 77 years to finally achieve male Wimbledon glory, so why didn’t the UK quit much sooner than later?

So while it’s true the UK is currently on their longest Eurovision winless streak (17 years and counting), demanding to quit for being sore losers simply makes the UK a bunch of sour grapes.


Excuse: No one votes for the UK!

Reality: If that was the case, the United Kingdom would end up bottom of the scoreboard with the dreaded nul-points every year. Next!

Excuse: It’s a waste of time and money.

Reality: Saying the Eurovision Song Contest is a waste of time, is probably the lamest excuse the Brits have come up with. Here’s an obvious hint: It is an annual once a year event, just like Christmas. Both semi-finals only last for 2 hours each and the grand final itself only takes up around 3 hours of Saturday night TV.

As for the money issues, it actually costs peanuts to broadcast Eurovision. Even with both semi-finals alongside the final itself, it’s still one of the cheapest forms of entertainment the BBC has to provide.

Excuse: Why does the UK even bother?

Reality: Around 9 million viewers in the UK tuned in to last year’s contest. With ratings like these for an event that only occurs once a year, the BBC clearly has no intention of quitting the Eurovision Song Contest.

Excuse: Eastern Europe’s hogging the entire contest.

Reality: Anyone claiming Eastern Europe is getting an unfair advantage clearly should’ve done their homework. Norway, Germany, Sweden and Denmark have all won it recently. Even Finland managed to win on 100% televoting alone in 2006. If the Eurovision Song Contest was all about Eastern Europe, then why have the likes of Albania, Cyprus and Georgia have yet to win it?

To have a serious chance of winning, the entry must be good enough to rack up points from both Western and Eastern Europe. Norway, Germany, Sweden and Denmark have done just that and won the Eurovision Song Contest recently.

Excuse: They just vote for their neighbours, so it’s all political.

Reality: The excuse Europe has heard countless times, particularly when the UK does badly. Yes, there’s no denying that we still see certain countries give points to each other, but the real reason behind all this, is that neighbouring countries tend to share similar music tastes and culture. So it’s a cultural issue, not a political one.

Overall, relying on your next door neighbours simply isn’t enough. Otherwise we’d all end up seeing the same country win the Eurovision Song Contest over and over again.

Excuse: Europe hates the UK.

Reality: Since the moment Terry Wogan stuck the blame on the war In Iraq for the UK’s nul-points in 2003, the whole of Europe “hates” the UK, right? If that was the case, then they would never buy music from British artists, watch any imported British TV programmes or have any interest in the British Monarchy.

So no, Europe does not hate the UK. They expect them to take Eurovision seriously and put some serious effort in to producing better quality entries. And the BBC along with Guy Freeman is doing just that this year.


Excuse: No Terry Wogan, it ain’t worth watching.

Reality: Since 2009, the commentator for the UK is Graham Norton. He took over the commentating duties from his predecessor, Sir Terry Wogan, who retired after the 2008 contest. However, when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest, Wogan’s style of commentary usually involves mocking other countries, which is mainly responsible for the UK’s perception of Eurovision as a cheesy, camp joke of a contest.

Overall, Wogan has ended up doing more harm than good to the UK’s Eurovision reputation. Given that this year’s contest is in Copenhagen, does this infamous blunder from Wogan in 2001 spring to mind?

Excuse: Who needs Eurovision! The UK produces the best music in the world.

Reality: The UK send songs to the Eurovision Song Contest which couldn’t even make a number 1 hit in their own country! Does the British public seriously believe the likes of Andy Abraham and Scooch to be in the same league as Adele and One Direction?

If the UK were supposed to produce the best music in the world, then why do Eurovision fans find that nearly every single country competing at the Eurovision Song Contest have used Swedish composers and not British?

Excuse: Even if the UK sent (Insert artist here), we’ll never win.

Reality: Did it actually happen? No! Again, this is another excuse of the UK’s negative defeatist attitude towards the Eurovision Song Contest.

And as Germany found out with Cascada last year, getting a big name chart act doesn’t always guarantee Eurovision success. If the UK has a song that will please both televoters and juries, along with an act who can actually sing live, then they’re in with a chance of success. In the end, it’s all about the song.

Can Molly Smitten-Downes restore the UK’s Eurovision hopes and possibly a sixth Eurovision title?

Anthony Ko contributed this report from the U.K. Follow him on Twitter at @bjorneo. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest Eurovision news and gossip by liking our Facebook page.