The Scoop

Scotland proposes “Belgium-style” rotational system to decide UK Eurovision entries

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom will select its entry for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. For the third year in a row, Eurovision: You Decide will see the public and a professional jury choose the best entry amongst six contenders. However, as the Sunday Herald reveals this morning, a Scottish member of parliament is leading the way for Scotland to be able to have its very own Eurovision entry… without being an independent nation.

BBC’s outdated views of the competition?

Alyn Smith, a Scottish National Party Member of European Parliament, explains that he is “fed up” of how the BBC treats Eurovision. As he tells the Sunday Herald, he believes that the BBC still treat Eurovision as “camp nonsense” rather than a celebration of European music as is the case in the rest of Europe.

“It’s a little bit snide and grudging the way the BBC does it. This is a shop window and a stage on which we could shine whereas the way that the BBC does it still is ‘this is a bit of camp nonsense and it’s rubbish, and it’s great because it’s rubbish, and it’s great because it’s camp’.”

Therefore, Smith is proposing an idea that will stop the BBC’s “stranglehold” on the UK entry. Instead, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will all receive their year to shine. He has already suggested the idea to the European Broadcasting Union, the organisers of the contest.

Following the Belgian example

To achieve this, he proposes following the example of Belgium and using a rotational system between different UK broadcasters, such as BBC Scotland, UTV and S4C. This would mean that each of the UK’s four nations would get their own year, every four years, to select an entry to represent the United Kingdom. In Belgium, Walloon broadcaster RTBF and Flemish broadcaster VRT currently take turns at selecting the Belgian entry.

“This is a shop window that Scotland could have once every four years presently, or indeed in an independent Scotland every year, to an audience of the entire European continent and wider. It’s an opportunity to showcase the vibrant Scottish music scene that we have in spades.”
“We already punch above our weight musically and here’s a platform where instead of trotting out some world-class talent we’re trotting out some tired, third-rate re-hashes which wouldn’t look out of place in a Butlins theme camp. The way the BBC is doing it is actually celebrating camp, kitsch mediocrity rather than talent. That’s a harsh judgement on the entries we’ve had recently, but I think it’s a good one.”

“Across the rest of the EU, Eurovision’s a big gig”

Smith also believes that the current reluctance of well-known artists representing the United Kingdom is a result of how the contest is viewed within the UK, which is a result of how the BBC has handled the contest in previous years.

“There’s a reticence on behalf of serious artists to say they’d go for Eurovision because of the way it’s done in the UK whereas across the rest of the EU it’s a big gig, a big showcase. I think there’s ample Scottish talent that could be doing it and I think if the broadcaster that was doing it had an enthusiasm for the showcase and for the contest rather than the UK’s slightly snidey attitude to it, I think we could have a completely different approach.”

The BBC brush off the proposal

However, a BBC spokesperson gave the following statement The Sunday Herald regarding these proposals:

“The BBC is a member of the EBU and as such, we submit a song for the competition as the United Kingdom entry.”

What do you think of Alyn Smith’s comments? Would you like to see the UK take on a rotational system? Let us know in the comments below!

Ryan Cobb

My first memory of watching the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2001 and, over the years, my passion and enthusiasm for the contest has very much turned into an obsession. I adore music and I love geography, so this contest is a natural fit for me. If la la loving Eurovision was a crime, I'd certainly be a criminal!

Comments on Scotland proposes “Belgium-style” rotational system to decide UK Eurovision entries

  • Alan Bishop

    I think you need to find another image instead of using one from ‘Scotland In Union’….seeing as it’s a political group.
    Typical response from the BBC. They are not the only members of the EBU in the UK. They treat the contest with contempt. It needs fresh blood.

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