bruno tonioli cece sammy sophie ellis bextor eurovision you decide

Next Friday — that’s January 27 — the United Kingdom will choose its act for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017.

As televoters aww and umm over who to vote for, they’ll be wise to pause, look up and listen to the sage advice of this year’s celebrity expert panel, which includes Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli, recording artist Sophie Ellis Bextor and vocal coach and talent scout CeCe Sammy — who served as the chairperson of the British jury for Eurovision 2016.

The BBC confirmed the panel on its Twitter account this morning. For those of you who don’t know who they are — or their potential relevance to Eurovision — here’s a breakdown.

Bruno Tonioli

He’s the flamboyant Italian choreographer and dancer who has won scores of fans as a judge on the UK’s Strictly Come Dancing and the American counterpart Dancing with the Stars. And now Bruno Tonioli will lend his strong opinions to the Eurovision fandom.

Bruno, who is still flaunting his body in a speedo at the age of 60, has also worked on films including What A Girl Wants, The Gathering Storm and Ella Enchanted. He’s also worked on TV programs including Absolutely Fabulous, Top of the Pops and the BRIT Awards.

Not everyone is feeling it though.

Sam, a Twitter user, points out that Bruno helped pick the UK’s disastrous 2010 act Josh Dubovie.

We should probably point out that the song “That Sounds Good To Me” was already pre-determined, and no artist could have saved that dismal tune!

Sophie Ellis Bextor

Eurovision fans in the United Kingdom have long dreamed of her singing at Eurovision — or at least writing a song. So Sophie Ellis Bextor’s appearance on the panel will surely give them something to cheer about.

Her solo debut album Read My Lips dropped in September 2001 and reached number two on the UK Albums Chart. Two tracks from the album reached number two on the UK charts as well: her take on Cher’s “Take Me Home” and “Murder on the Dancefloor”, which remains her biggest single of all time. It stayed on the charts for 23 weeks. It was also the most-played song in Europe in 2002.

CeCe Sammy

Last year, when the United Kingdom handed douze points to the Republic of Georgia, plenty of fans went, “WTF?!” And behind their confusion was CeCe Sammy, who served as the chairperson of the United Kingdom jury. She herself only ranked Georgia second, instead handing her top marks to Cyprus. Australia, Hungary and Israel rounded out her Top 5.

Curiously, she was also the head judge in the Georgian edition of Your Face Sounds Familiar, which may suggest an affinity for Georgian performers.

CeCe has worked in the industry for 21 years. She started as a backing vocalist for Diana Ross, Julio Iglesias and Sting. She has performed for the Queen and Royal Family before becoming a vocal coach, working with S Club 7 and Simon Fuller.

The expert panel is distinct from the professional jury. The panel will only offer their advice — they will not actually cast votes.

Surely the presence of well-known figures is further evidence of the BBC’s ambitions to expand the popularity of Eurovision domestically. This year they have moved the show from BBC Four to BBC Two.

What do YOU think of the expert panel? Will their mix of talent and skills help viewers make the right choice? Let us know in the comments box below.

Read more United Kingdom Eurovision news

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Cam
Guest
Cam

Sophie ESC 2018!

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

Sophie Ellis Bextor is not competing.

Lianne
Guest
Lianne

SOPHIE ELLIS BEXTOR HAS TO WIN OMG IM SHOOK

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

BBC needs to promote the participants.
Once the song is promoted enough to become a hit in the UK, it is going to reach the radio stations overseas and that’s how you get exposure.

mad-professor
Guest
mad-professor

@Archie
These are the panellists, not the jury. They’ll make comments about each performance.

Anthony Ko
Editor

Fixed, thanks to all those who pointed the mistake out. Since BBC Three went online, both Eurovision semi-finals were moved to BBC Four.

Laburnum
Guest
Laburnum

To be fair tho, josh dubovie was the right choice, it was just the song.

Archie
Guest
Archie

So are these the jury or not?

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

@William Lee Adams: Sorry to point out the small mistake in your article, but it’s BBC Three that went online only, not BBC Four. Keep up the good work though. 🙂
(It has been a long week, I know).

On another matter, it would be amazing to meet you and other “Wiwibloggers” at the UK event next Saturday, if you’re going? (I’ll get the ball rolling on that one.)

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

@Aaran: I think that they are being debuted on BBC Radio 2 next Monday morning.

Oh, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor is fantastic by the way. 🙂

Aaran
Guest
Aaran

The Vamps will perform too! Btw when are the songs for the UK selection going to be released? Will we get to hear them before the night?

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

I respect all the singers that had the courage to represent UK during hard time, like Blue and all others. Once UK will have a good result everybody will want to join, like it happens now in France, after Amir success now every man with a beard wants to go to Kiev. Keep being yourself, don’t think about what worked in the past, be original !

Jim H
Guest
Jim H

Jeez. Stop blaming Bruno for choosing the singer in 2010. He had no choice in the song (which was the issue). Thought you guys would have realised that.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Oh come on. In all seriousness….

sufle
Guest
sufle

This panel is so much better than last year. They’re much more contemporary and have a lot of experience. I’m slightly worried about Bruno because of 2010, but I hope his taste has changed since then! Cece is a good choice because she adds variety to the panel given that she likes rock music. But Sophie has me so excited – I love her music and feel like she’ll be honest with the contestants!

Calum Macleod
Guest
Calum Macleod

I’m surprised by the choices of members but pleased as well.

David
Guest

I was going to say something bitter about the UK and their national final, as I usually do

BUT IS REALLY SOPHIE ELLIS BEXTOR GOING TO BE THERE OMG 12 POINTS FROM MY HEART <3

Doorioo
Guest
Doorioo

Why this negative reaction about Georgia last year, as many of us loved it too! Some of us have taste 😉 UK did the right thing – handing it the 12. Best last year 🙂 nice that one of them takes place in this jury. Good sign! And no fans in the jury. Thank God!!

MarioMario
Guest

I personally love Sophie’s music.

James
Guest
James

I thought BBC Three was the one that went online?

Escphilippines
Guest

I have to correct you its bbc three that goes fully online not bbc four

Cambell Grace
Guest
Cambell Grace

@mad-professor

It was a predictable judging line-up last year I admit though.

Sal
Guest
Sal

Bruno Tonioli? Jesus, it’s as if the BBC just simply can’t resist throwing in a camp gimmick somewhere.

mad-professor
Guest
mad-professor

@Cambell Grace

To be fair, it’s the same as last year:
Jay – choreographer
Carrie – vocal coach
Katrina – singer

an esc fan
Guest
an esc fan

Sophie Ellis Bextor is so nice, I hope that it was not lack of courage that made her say no to ESC.
I agree with the way CeCe Sammy voted. Why so many people thought Georgia was bad ???

Cambell Grace
Guest
Cambell Grace

Dare I say the judging line-up is rather a smart move? Bruno has some expertise in dancing and choreography that’ll work for staging, Sophie-Ellis Bextor is pretty self explanatory and CeCe Sammy well I guess she has some Eurovision experience and a relatively okay taste in music I’ll give her that.

Overall the BBC are looking promising this year for now…