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Exit Stage Left?

Posted by Caroline on May 25, 2008

Over the past few years on Eurovision Blog, we have made much of the fact that countries who don’t seem to do very well have a habit of flouncing off from the contest in a huff, blaming political voting and the like – and normally we tell them not to be so childish and get back here immediately.

However, after seeing what happened to the UK last night, we have completely changed our minds about this for once. Yet again, le Royaume-Uni – a country who you could once rely upon to be in the top ten year after year (if we came so much as 12th it was regarded as a disaster, yet now that appears to be a placing we can only dream of) finished bottom of the heap – and although we officially tied with Germany and Poland we technically came last since those two countries received higher scores from the countries who gave us points. Had it not been for Ireland and San Marino we wouldn’t have received any points at all. And had the unqualified semi-finalists not been allowed to vote we would also have gone home empty-handed.

Which would have been fine and dandy if our song had been a load of old rubbish like Scooch or Jemini, or even Daz Sampson’s shouty schoolgirl rap – but if truth be told, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the UK’s performance in Belgrade. OK, so Andy Abraham appeared to have borrowed his suit from the Thunderbirds costume department but apart from that what was the problem exactly? The song was decent, the performance was fine. The poor bloke looked a little tense but then wouldn’t you if the massed ranks of the media had spent the week saying you were rubbish and weren’t going to do very well?

There were plenty of worse songs than this in the contest. Germany’s No Angels for example were blimmin’ awful. Poland’s toothy lady (hey, perhaps Ukraine could write a song about her!) weren’t much better. Romania were flat and dull on the night, Finland looked oddly out of place and Georgia were just odd. Yet all of them did better. And we can’t even blame the UK’s failure on the Big Four being shunned by the rest of Europe this time since France and Spain, while not exactly setting the scoreboard alight, both scored their best results in years.

So this year we’re not going to tell the UK to stop complaining, to send a decent song or to do any of the things we normally tell them to do – because we did all those things, and yet it still didn’t work in our favour. In fact we’re going to do what all those other countries have been doing – throw our toys out of the pram, make a huge fuss and suggest that it’s high time the UK followed in the footsteps of Austria, Monaco, Italy, Luxembourg etc and pulled out of the contest. Seriously. Not for ever, you understand – but for long enough for us to rethink our strategy about what we should be presenting on the Eurovision stage. While we don’t think Andy deserved to come last we can see the flaw in sending somebody like him – Russia, for example, send Dima Bilan, who is a huge star across the whole of the region and who had audience members swooning in the aisles with the merest glimpse of his foxiness. The UK sends a binman made good. It’s hard not to notice the contrast (perhaps if we do return next year we should send a song by the man who sweeps up the leaves in Team Eurovision’s car park), and it is possibly an issue we should be addressing. But until we can come up with a way to regain our credibility on the Eurovision stage we don’t see a lot of point in us taking part.

The other reason we should take a break, as far as we’re concerned, is because to be honest we don’t think anybody would miss us. The UK’s absence certainly wouldn’t spoil Team Eurovision’s enjoyment of the contest (yes we love seeing the UK do well but there were many many other countries who entertained us throughout the semis and the final) because let’s face it, it’s the contest as a whole which is enjoyable – the songs, the costumes, the silly dance routines, the gimmicks, the voting – and while there’s a certain sense of national pride to be had from supporting one’s country it certainly isn’t the be all and end all.

So there we have it. As of today we are officially launching our Campaign To Get The UK Out Of Eurovision (And Take Our Money With Us – ha ha! That’ll teach all your East European and Scandinavian nations to ignore us when there’s no more contest because we’re not giving you a penny. Bet you’ll wish you’d been a bit nicer to us then when there’s a gaping void in the middle of May and you have to stay home that Saturday night and watch re-runs of the Danish version of Dancing On Ice instead. So there.)

But anyway…. who’s with us?

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15 Responses to “Exit Stage Left?”

  1. newplanet said

    I don’t think we should pull out of the contest, but it’s suddenly become a nonsense for the BBC to fund the show to the extent it does at the moment. I say we lose our “big four” status and take our chances in a semi-final with the rest of the nations next year.

  2. Phil Williams said

    Caroline, could not agree more we should get out. We should also stop buying products from the Contests sponsors like Wella hair products.

    Phil

  3. I favour Charles Worthington shampoo anyway so no problem there, Phil…..:-)

  4. Yug said

    I didn’t like the UK song much, but I agree with you, it did not deserve last place. He did get a tough draw, though (I think he could have pulled in about fifty points with a prime, meaning last three, spot).

    I have no idea about a solution. At least pulling out for a year or two would stop some of the ridicule that you get (and make people actually have to think about who will end up in last place).

    I do think that western countries need to think about what will appeal to the east when selection their songs (easier to do in an internal selection than a public national final). Obviously, that doesn’t describe Scooch. 🙂

  5. Bill said

    A few thoughts after last nights fiasco:

    Given the BBC reportedly contributes far more money to the competition than most other countries, and given that bloc voting is no longer a bit of a joke (e.g. the traditional norway / sweden back-slapping), but is now fundamentally influencing / ruining (imo) the competition e.g. USSR former countries and friends voting for each other, isn’t it time for the bbc to review to review why it spends so much license money here?

    Also worth considering whether automatic qualification is actually a disadvantage as all the other songs get heard twice (checkout very poor results for automatic qualifiers france, germany and uk this year).

    Also worth considering why the votes from tiny countries like Andorra count the same as ours (we have potentially 60 million voters in the UK).

    Also worth considering if the massive influx of european nationals into the UK in the last decade (and other western EU countries) has a significant effect on the flavour of UK voters compared to other countries.

    Would also be interesting to know where the phone vote money goes. If to eurovision then that’s even more of a mockery as far as UK voting goes.

    I assume the bbc makes a an overall profit from the phone voting. If not the beeb really should just pay the same as any other country given our votes count the same, surely Eurovision can put a decent show on from contributions from 43 countries now?

    Even if the bbc does make an overall profit, like Wogan, I’m not sure we should be participating in what has become a one-sided annual public humiliation for the UK.

    Mind you, having a decent entry might help (our song wasn’t that bad but it didn’t exactly set me on fire, Michelle Gales song wasn’t brilliant either but it was a Eurovision song…)

  6. Bill said

    Footnote to the above;

    Not trying to come accross as anti-eastern Europe, it’s worth noting that Russia got very few votes from western european countries, so we’re all as bad as each other. It just seems that the (presumably lucrative) non-proportionate phone voting system doesn’t mean anything anymore in terms of the result. To me it just proves that a collection of smaller “friendly” countries can significantly boost each other’s chances.

    Right now Eurovision is just a show, and not a competition, because the results are as meaningless as the ridiculous trophy.

    By the way I thought the winning song was pretty average and the performance cliched, still that’s Eurovision for you.

  7. Sophie Adnell said

    Given that the BBC pay for an awful lot of Eurovision and that comes out of our pockets and each year we go in there to be humiliated even when our act is far from the worst (I though Andy was brilliant for trying to hard and not showing us up.) Previous years we may have deserved naff points because our acts truly were terrible (So terrible even we wouldn’t vote for them if we could) but this year some truly terrible acts who didn’t even deserve to be there did better than us.

    The audience only watch Eurovision to laugh along with Terry Wogan but this year we put in a reasonably good act and failed terribly. He even got less than Scooch did last year! What to Europe want from us? Apart from our money, that is? We really tried this year and finally have proof that Europe gangs up against the countries with “fewer” allies than they do. I say fewer because all of us are guilty of voting for our allies. Even we in Britain will normally give points to Ireland. We owe more of our points to Ireland, and for that we thank them, along with San Moreno, for saving us from (undeserved) humiliation.

    The bottom line is what’s the point anymore? We obviously don’t enjoy it any more because even when we really try it doesn’t make a difference. I seriously think we should consider leaving Eurovision (And take our money with us.) My friend in France said that it was childish of me to say that. I said that her country didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard like it used to either. She agrees that the Western countries have little chance any more and agrees that we should all consider leaving Eurovision or at the very least boycot it.

  8. emalyse said

    If we hadn’t guaranteed ourselves a place in the final due to our EBU contributions (the cost of which is a proportion of each broadcasters total budget therefore the Beeb gets to be a major contributor)then we probably would not have got through the semis even though our song was the most credible in years.
    I don’t think we should pull out forever(or stop paying into the EBU- there are other benefits-though it could be argued that the Beeb could reduce their overall contributions whilst the newer EBU members pay a bit more) but I’m sure we’d perhaps be happier taking a rest, not putting a contender forward next year and just enjoying the contest for what it is (we’ve always loved to mock it anyway hence Wogan and that hardly endears us to Europe). So we either push for jury only voting again or split the UK into individual countries (Wales, Scotland etc) and play the same regional games as everyone else (which would seem a bit hypocritical of us).

  9. John H said

    I think we should continue entering, because never has the phrase ‘it’s not about winning, but about taking part’ been more appropriate.

    I did like Andy Abraham’s song and performance, but when compared with the other stuff up there, ‘solid’ pretty much sums it up, and it’s not enough to be workmanlike on the Eurovision stage. Sure, some poorer songs got more votes, and that can be put down to ‘neighbourly’ voting. But if you imagine someone completely unbiased voting on song and performance alone, can you really imagine them making a phone call for the UK, over (say) Greece, Ukraine or Bosnia?

    To get a respectable placing, you need friends *or* a better-than-solid song (the Russian entry wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m willing to believe lots of people liked it). To win you need both. We had neither.

    I frankly couldn’t give a toss how well the UK does, but I’d be disappointed if we didn’t even show up. I think less of Austria, Monaco, Italy etc. for staying away.

  10. Ana said

    The Russian song sucked. I was wondering throughout the whole performance whether it wasn’t dangerous having a poncy ice skater swanning around, and hoping the singer got his toes sliced off, it would have made the song more interesting and there was the over enthusiastic violin player who risked poking the singer’s eye. What a shame. But the song sucked, sucked. No comments on the angel and devil song. But there was NO great song at the Eurovision and the UK’s entry was better than lots of the songs which got high points. Armenia for instance, and Serbia, snore. I actually thought the Greek lady would win, she was shaking it with such enthusiasm and she was almost naked. It was actually kind of funky.
    So either the UK was being attacked or they didn’t like the singer. Hmm, I will say nothing, but the Eastern Europeans are quite racist. I’m not saying they would think ooh a black man, let’s not vote for him, but they will ignore him. And I’m not jumping on the racist bandwagon here. I have a sneaking feeling that was part of the reason not necessarily all of it. And there was all the politics side. Seriously, although the UK doesn’t like France, they should vote for their neighbours. France should vote for the UK. The Greeks and Turks often vote for each other, if even they can do it, so can the Brits and French, cause for the next 20 years, it’s going to be Balkans and Eastern Europe winning Eurovision unless there’s a really wonderful song. From now on, no throwing away of votes on songs that you like, you support your own, in spite of the suckiness. The Western Bloc.

  11. Ana said

    I think the reason Russia got few votes from the Western country is not because they didn’t like Russia but because the song sucked.

  12. John H said

    Well, *I* didn’t like the Russian song, but obviously lots of people in other parts of the world liked it. ‘Sucked’ is subjective. There’s also the possibility it’s a grower. I’ve only heard it three times (semi, final, victory lap) plus clips during voting time. If I’d lived in any Russian speaking country, I’d have heard it over and over again on the radio, long before the semi final.

  13. newplanet said

    Is it just me or was this only a real problem when we started having semi-finals and *all* countries were allowed to give points, regardless of whether they competed in the final or not?

    I’m with Bill and I think the points system is completely flawed, especially when there are so many competing countries and there is a disproportionate amount of voters in each country. On Saturday, 41 countries failed to give the UK a single point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the UK performed so poorly in terms of actual number of votes. It’d be really interesting to see how the scoreboard would have changed if they’d simply totted up all the votes Europe-wide and announced the winner that way.

    Besides, I’m all for them announcing a winner without all this “who voted for who” business which only draws attention to our differences, which isn’t what Eurovision is supposed to be about.

    On another note, I thought this year’s songs were by far the best… probably ever. I loved loads of songs, but I thought the Russian entry was simply dull. Sorry.

  14. Petetentacles said

    Maybe the best thing would be to have weighted voting; the large countries and ones who bankroll Eurovision (so UK, France, Germany, Spain, Russia)would have the usual 12 – 1 points to use, The next tier (Sweden, Portugal,Netherlands,Greece etc) 8 – 1, then Places the size of Croatia, Slovakia and so on 6 – 1 with little nowheres such as Malta, Bosnia, Macedonia,Sam Marino and Cyprus (c’mon, it’s only half the country voting there anyway) only allowed to vote 3,2,1.

  15. Sammy said

    I don’t think the BBC fund the Eurovision song contest, they fund EBU and they will have to continue funding EBU even if they don’t take part in the actual contest, same as Italy, Austria, Monaco etc. still do, otherwise there would be no UEFA matches, Cannes Film Festival, Skiing championships, Olympics etc. and we’d be watching reruns of Carry-On films while the rest of the world watched football matches and sports competitions. Plus I can’t imagine that the BBC lose money from participating in the song contest, otherwise they would have pulled out ages ago.

    Andy’s song was good, but a bit old-fashioned and nowhere near catchy enough. Considering the quality of the songs and the flamboyance of the performances at the final, I’d say if the voting were totally unbiased, Andy would have ended up with 0 points, and Greece would have won.

    That’s not to say that Andy didn’t do a good job, he gave it his all and we should be proud of him. But as someone else pointed out, it’s not enough to be workmanlike on the Eurovision stage, esp. if you have no neighbours who share your musical tastes and/or are prepared to vote for you…

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