Rotterdam 2021🇬🇧 United Kingdom

🇬🇧 BBC set to make an announcement regarding Eurovision 2021 “early next year”

Are national finals a thing of the past for the UK?

The BBC’s Eurovision Series Producer, Lee Smithurst, has confirmed in an interview with The Euro Trip podcast that he expects an announcement regarding the plans for the UK at Eurovision 2021 to be made “early next year”. James Newman, who was due to represent the UK in Rotterdam this year, has yet to be confirmed for next year despite sparking speculation of a return in August.

He also talked about the BBC’s move away from the “You Decide” national final format, following the UK’s last-place finish at Eurovision 2019 with Michael Rice’s “Bigger Than Us”. This year, the BBC teamed up with record label BMG to select James Newman as the UK’s representative.

“Tight-lipped” for now

Speaking on the podcast, Lee Smithurst revealed that he had to remain “tight-lipped” about whether or not James Newman would return to represent the UK in 2021. However, he did say that an announcement should be made at the start of the new year.

The BBC are currently working on plans of how to scale down their on-site team for Rotterdam which usually consists of the delegation as well as presenters and crew from BBC One, BBC Four, BBC Radio 2 and the BBC News channel. They are also in talks about how to record the “live-on-tape” performance required for the contest, which will be very “interesting to try and do in the midst of everything else”.

Despite teaming up with BMG this year, it’s currently unknown whether the BBC will work with the record label again in 2021, however Smithurst did mention how working with a record label attracts more interest than a broadcaster alone, saying that an artist can get more support after the contest from a record label.

We need someone actually engaged in the competition… [BBC Studios] can’t nurture them afterwards.

– Lee Smithurst, speaking to The Euro Trip

A catalyst for change

He also revealed that the BBC have been exploring new ways to “attract bigger artists”, similar to the Netherlands’ approach since Anouk’s success in 2013. This is partly due to the UK finishing last for the fourth time in Tel Aviv last year.

An internal selection, Smithurst revealed, allows the UK to “attract the best British songwriters, and the best British talent”, who want to make a name for themselves, unlike Blue and Bonnie Tyler who wanted to promote their album via Eurovision.

It’s more about the songs you can attract. It’s a bit like what happened with [Nobody But You] in 2018 – it was in the British selection but when Austria said that they would have it in an internal selection… of course you would put it in the Austrian selection.

– Lee Smithurst, speaking to The Euro Trip

With no long-term plan for the UK in Eurovision, he revealed there is an effort to get back on the left-hand side to “re-establish” that we can do well. In the event that the UK won the contest, no venue has yet been decided and no plan is in place.

When asked who his dream artist for the UK would be, Smithurst said that he would like to see “someone who is representing the current British music scene”, like Dua Lipa or MNEK.

James Newman at the Eurovision Song Contest

The BBC chose James Newman to represent the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 with the song “My Last Breath”. James has expressed hopes to represent the country in 2021, but the BBC has been quiet about the choice for 2021.

Do you hope that James Newman will return in 2021? Do you think the UK can return to the left-hand side of the leaderboard?

Let us know in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA.

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Tom Ryan

After joining the team in 2018, I've been lucky enough to cover four Eurovision seasons and I'm excited to see what 2023 has in store for us! I'm a music enthusiast, but also enjoy learning - so you'll likely find me in a classroom or listening to the best new music!

3 Comments

  1. No! I do not think James Newman should represent UK 2021.
    Like all other countries, songs should be submitted from anyone interested. Submissions should then be judged by professional composers/musicians, ie. Lloyd-Webber, then a televised show should be shown of the top 10. Country should then vote BUT..professional judges should also vote and add to final marks.
    Many other countries do this, as they recognise the public have a right to be involved so that they can feel a part of the Eurovision process.
    I am a British composer and have studied Eurovision for decades. I have composed a song for the UK and would like to submit it. It’s a good one! It’s catchy, fun and has clever lyrics. My song has a great hook and will provide a few minutes of escapism from our current and continuing crisis. It is entitled ‘You’re a Vision’.
    Go on! Take a punt! This could be the one to move us back to the right side of the board. This one, I think, is a winner.
    BBC – if you are reading this, what have you got to lose? I can send you the song, it’s ready and waiting on my computer.
    I sincerely hope the BBC will listen to my song and give me the chance to submit it along with many others. I agree, let the professionals play a major part in the decision process but please allow myself and other composers/public to have a ‘crack of the whip’ in order to make the contest fully inclusive.
    I am desperate to release my song as a UK contender or….will I be ignored? BBC – Please, please consider my request. This could be the moment you have been waiting for.

    I look forward to hearing from you via email.
    David Paul

  2. After Surie , performence which deserved to be at least in the top 5 if not win it , i think i have lost interest in the eurovishion . i like james song ?, but may be some body like Serah brightman . who is a class act known in europe ?

  3. I got very excited to hear that Iceland are returning with their same artist, Dadi Freyr, as it gives him the opportunity that Covid stole from everyone. I think it would be nice if everyone did the same as Eurovision could be a great chance for artists and writers to become known.
    If we want to start gaining points (I know that politically it could be hard, especially when we are seen to be giving the rest of Europe the middle finger at the minute. So sorry Europe), we need to start taking it more seriously, in return, over time, we may get great songs coming our way. Using old has beens (sorry Bonnie) isnt the way other nations win, nor does the dated cheese work either (some cheese is good, others not so). Modern artists or unusual artists I think is the way forward and not necessarily fully established. The days of looking to re create UKs former ‘winning formulas’ from far too far in the past are gone if we hope to claw our way back.
    For 2021 I think the same artist should be used, if James wants to return of course. Whatever the formula they decide on, I think it needs to be more open so that unknowns can find a way to put themselves in the running. I myself would love to compete but have NO idea where to start or who to contact as it seems almost like a closed cult, almost masonic like, pretty much like the record industry as a whole to be fair, which is why, love them or hate them, reality singing shows are so popular as they give every day artists an opportunity otherwise closed to them.
    So there we are, that’s my opinion… http://www.galesa.co.uk

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