Scotland in the Eurovision Song Contest

For the United Kingdom's most recent participation, see United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. For the United Kingdom's upcoming participation, see United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Member station BBC
National selection events Eurovision: Your Country Needs You (1957, 1959–2010)
Internal Selection (2011–Present)
Appearances 56
First appearance 1957
Best result 1st: 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981, 1997
Worst result Last: 2003, 2008, 2010
External links
BBC page
United Kingdom's page at

The United Kingdom is one of the most successful countries to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. They first participated in the second contest in 1957. The BBC had wanted to take part in the first contest in 1956, but had submitted their entry to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) after the deadline had passed. The UK has entered every year since 1959, and has won the contest a total of five times. Along with Sweden, the UK is one of only two countries with Eurovision victories in four different decades. Furthermore, the UK has finished as runner-up on a record fifteen occasions.

Up to and including 1998, the UK had only twice finished outside the top 10 (in 1978 and 1987). Since 1999, the year in which the rule was abandoned that songs must be performed in one of the official languages of the country participating, the UK has had less success, only finishing within the top ten twice. Jessica Garlick in 2002 and Jade Ewen in 2009 have been the only two entrants to have succeeded in earning a top five finish since 1998, and Ewen in particular was praised after her performance of "It's My Time" for ending the run of poor results it had suffered for much of the decade. For the 2011 contest, BBC chose boy band Blue to perform for the United Kingdom; they finished in 11th place with 100 points. For the 2012 contest the United Kingdom selected veteran singer Engelbert Humperdinck as its entrant. He finished in 25th place with only 12 points. For the 2013 contest, Bonnie Tyler was chosen to represent the country but fared little better than the previous year, finishing 19th with just 23 points.

The United Kingdom has finished last in three contests. The infamous 2003 "nul points" result was the first time that the country had come last in the contest, something that was then repeated in 2008 and 2010.


The UK ranks joint second in its number of Eurovision victories and has the highest cumulative points total of any country in the contest. The UK has won five times (joint second with France, Luxembourg and Sweden to Ireland's seven wins), and has come second fifteen times.

Until 2004, the UK also had the record for the largest number of points scored in a single contest, in 1997 with the runaway winner 'Love Shine A Light' which scored 227 points. However, in 1997, only 25 countries voted, whilst in 2004, when the points record was broken, 36 countries voted. Until the 2009 contest the UK held the record for winning by the largest margin, 70 points, which was also in the 1997 contest held in Dublin's Point Theatre in Ireland. This record was broken by Norway on 16 May 2009, though, only 25 countries voted in 1997, whereas 42 voted in 2009.

The United Kingdom was the first country to win with the help of Televoting after winning the 1997 Contest. The United Kingdom was one of five countries that introduced Televoting that year along with Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden.

In 1976 the UK received 164 points from 17 countries, which gave them an average of 9.64 points per country; this remains the record and is unlikely to be broken due to the vastly increased number of countries now eligible to vote in the final, though Norway's 2009 entry fell just 0.20 points short, attaining 387 points from 41 countries for an average of 9.44.

The UK has hosted the contest eight times, more than any other country. Even though the UK has only won the contest five times, it has also stepped in when other countries have turned down the chance to host it.

For eight years the UK held the record for receiving the most set of 12 points in one show. They received ten sets of twelve points in 1997 in Dublin, however they then shared this record for four years with Greece who also received ten sets of twelve points in 2005. This was later beaten by Norway in 2009 with 16 sets, but since Eurovision Song Contest 2012, Sweden now holds the record with their 18 sets of 12 points. 25 countries voted in the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest, compared to 42 countries in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, meaning Sweden now also holds the record for having the highest percentage of 12 points (44% compared to 42%).

The United Kingdom has also made 54 appearances in the contest since its début in 1957, missing only 2 (1956 and 1958). This record is bettered only by Germany which has a record number of appearances, 55 in total, missing only one contest in 1996. The United Kingdom also holds the record for the most consecutive entries by entering every contest since 1959 making 52 consecutive entries to date.

Every UK entry from 1959-1977 was placed first by at least one jury in every contest. Under the 'douze points' voting system introduced in 1975, every UK entry from 1975-1999, 2002, 2004-2009 and most recently 2011 have received either a top score of 12, 10 or 8 points from one or more countries. The UK's 1978 entry "The Bad Old Days" by Co-Co was the first UK entry not to receive at least one set of 12 or 10 points from another country. The UK's 2000 entry "Don't Play That Song Again" by Nicki French is the first UK entry not to receive a top three score from any country or televoting nations. The UK's 1999 entry "Say It Again" by Precious was the first UK entry not to receive a single set of 12 or 10 points from televoting nations.

United Kingdom and the "Big Four/Five"

In 1999 a rule change allowed the United Kingdom, along with France, Germany and Spain to automatically qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest final (irrespective of their recent scores and without entering a semi-final), due to being the biggest financial contributors to the EBU.[1] Due to their untouchable status in the Contest, these countries became known as the "Big Four" (which became the "Big Five" in 2011 following the return of Italy to the Contest).[2]

In 2008 it was rumoured that the "Big Four" would lose their automatic qualification, and would have to compete in the semi-finals for the first time.[3] However it was announced by the EBU that this would not be the case and the four countries would still automatically qualify for the final of the 2009 contest without having to enter a semi-final,[4] and this has remained as of 2013.

In 2008, the BBC defended using spending money from licence fee payers for the contest when Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross had tabled a Commons motion which called on the corporation to withdraw its £173,000 funding for the annual contest. That same year former Eurovision commentator Sir Terry Wogan claimed that the show is "no longer a music contest" after the result was announced.[5]

In 2012, the BBC were facing calls to quit the Eurovision Song Contest after Engelbert Humperdinck, the UK's entry, came 25th with only 12 points.[6] However the United Kingdom confirmed their participation in the 2013 contest with Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler and her new single, "Believe In Me". On 18 May 2013 in Malmö, Sweden, Bonnie Tyler finished 19th with 23 points.[7]


Year Performer(s) Song Final Points Semi Points
1957 Patricia Bredin "All" 7 6 N/A N/A
1959 Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson "Sing, Little Birdie" 2 16
1960 Bryan Johnson "Looking High, High, High" 2 25
1961 The Allisons "Are You Sure?" 2 24
1962 Ronnie Carroll "Ring-A-Ding Girl" 4 10
1963 Ronnie Carroll "Say Wonderful Things" 4 28
1964 Matt Monro "I Love the Little Things" 2 17
1965 Kathy Kirby "I Belong" 2 26
1966 Kenneth McKellar "A Man Without Love" 9 8
1967 Sandie Shaw "Puppet on a String" 1 47
1968 Cliff Richard "Congratulations" 2 28
1969 Lulu "Boom Bang-a-Bang" 1 18
1970 Mary Hopkin "Knock, Knock Who's There?" 2 26
1971 Clodagh Rodgers "Jack in the Box" 4 98
1972 The New Seekers "Beg, Steal or Borrow" 2 114
1973 Cliff Richard "Power to All Our Friends" 3 123
1974 Olivia Newton-John "Long Live Love" 4 14
1975 The Shadows "Let Me Be the One" 2 138
1976 Brotherhood of Man "Save Your Kisses for Me" 1 164
1977 Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran "Rock Bottom" 2 121
1978 Co-Co "The Bad Old Days" 11 61
1979 Black Lace "Mary Ann" 7 73
1980 Prima Donna "Love Enough for Two" 3 106
1981 Bucks Fizz "Making Your Mind Up" 1 136
1982 Bardo "One Step Further" 7 76
1983 Sweet Dreams "I'm Never Giving Up" 6 79
1984 Belle and the Devotions "Love Games" 7 63
1985 Vikki Watson "Love Is" 4 100
1986 Ryder "Runner in the Night" 7 72
1987 Rikki "Only the Light" 13 47
1988 Scott Fitzgerald "Go" 2 136
1989 Live Report "Why Do I Always Get it Wrong?" 2 130
1990 Emma "Give a Little Love Back to the World" 6 87
1991 Samantha Janus "A Message to Your Heart" 10 47
1992 Michael Ball "One Step Out of Time" 2 139
1993 Sonia "Better the Devil You Know" 2 164
1994 Frances Ruffelle "Lonely Symphony (We Will Be Free)" 10 63
1995 Love City Groove "Love City Groove" 10 76
1996 Gina G "Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit" 8 77 3 153
1997 Katrina and the Waves "Love Shine a Light" 1 227 N/A N/A
1998 Imaani "Where Are You?" 2 166
1999 Precious "Say It Again" 12 38
2000 Nicki French "Don't Play That Song Again" 16 28
2001 Lindsay "No Dream Impossible" 15 28
2002 Jessica Garlick "Come Back" 3 111
2003 Jemini "Cry Baby" 26 0
2004 James Fox "Hold On to Our Love" 16 29
2005 Javine Hylton "Touch My Fire" 22 18
2006 Daz Sampson "Teenage Life" 19 25
2007 Scooch "Flying the Flag (for You)" 22 19
2008 Andy Abraham "Even If" 25 14
2009 Jade Ewen "It's My Time" 5 173
2010 Josh Dubovie "That Sounds Good To Me" 25 10
2011 Blue "I Can" 11 100
2012 Engelbert Humperdinck "Love Will Set You Free" 25 12
2013 Bonnie Tyler "Believe in Me" 19 23

Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest

Even though the United Kingdom was entered twice into Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest with Cliff Richard's 1968 runner up entry "Congratulations" and Brotherhood of Man's 1976 winning song "Save Your Kisses for Me", the BBC decided not to participate in airing the event or taking part in the voting for the greatest Eurovision Song of the past fifty years, but instead aired an hour long special program entitled Boom Bang-a-Bang: 50 Years of Eurovision hosted by Terry Wogan looking back at the best and the worst; songs, fashions, contests, hosts and hostesses that have occurred at the Eurovision over the past fifty years.

Year Artist Title 1st Round Place 2nd Round Place
1968 Cliff Richard "Congratulations" 105 8 X X
1976 Brotherhood of Man "Save Your Kisses for Me" 154 5 230 5
  • XX on 2nd Round denotes that Cliff Richard's "Congratulations" did not receive enough points to place in the top 5 and make it through to the 2nd Round.

Voting history

As of 2013, United Kingdom's voting history is as follows:


Year Location Venue Presenters
1960 United Kingdom London Royal Festival Hall Katie Boyle
1963 BBC Television Centre
1968 Royal Albert Hall
1972 United Kingdom Edinburgh Usher Hall Moira Shearer
1974 United Kingdom Brighton Brighton Dome Katie Boyle
1977 United Kingdom London Wembley Conference Centre Angela Rippon
1982 United Kingdom Harrogate Harrogate International Centre Jan Leeming
1998 United Kingdom Birmingham National Indoor Arena Ulrika Jonsson and Terry Wogan

Commentators and spokespersons

Over the years BBC commentary has been provided by several experienced radio and television presenters, including Tom Fleming, David Vine, David Jacobs, Dave Lee Travis, Pete Murray, John Dunn and Michael Aspel. However Terry Wogan provided BBC TV commentary every year from 1980 - 2008.[8] It was confirmed on 12 August 2008 that Terry Wogan would no longer present the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK. The BBC Radio 2 DJ, who had fronted the BBC's coverage for 37 years, said it was "time for someone else to take over".[9] He was replaced in 2009 by Graham Norton for the final. Norton has continued in the role ever since.

The final of the contest has been has been broadcast BBC One (previously BBC Television Service and BBC TV) since the first contest in 1956, the first live colour transmission of the contest in the United Kingdom was the Eurovision Song Contest 1970, the first high definition broadcast of the contest began in 2007 when the contest was simulcast on BBC HD. The final is also broadcast on radio, initially on BBC Light Programme until the 1967 contest. From 1968 it was broadcast on BBC Radio 1, moving to BBC Radio 2 from the 1974 contest where it has remained ever since. Both semi-finals are broadcast on BBC Three.

In the 1998 Contest, hosted in Birmingham, Terry Wogan acted as both commentator and on-stage presenter (together with Ulrika Jonsson). In the 1980 Contest, each song was introduced by a presenter from the national country, the United Kingdom entry being introduced by Noel Edmonds.

For most contests, a spokesperson has delivered the results of the national jury, or in recent years the results of the televoting, awarding points to the entries on behalf of his or her country. The exceptions were the contests held in 1971-1973 when votes were cast by two jury members present at the contest venue, appearing at the end of the contest to confirm their scores.

No British-born broadcaster has either presented or commentated on the live television final for over thirty years, the last being Jan Leeming in 1982.

Year(s) Final television commentator Radio commentator Spokesperson Semi-final television commentator Semi-final second television commentator
1956 Wilfrid Thomas Unknown UK did not participate No semi-finals No semi-finals
1957 Berkeley Smith Tom Sloan David Jacobs
1958 Peter Haigh UK did not participate
1959 Tom Sloan Pete Murray Pete Murray
1960 David Jacobs Nick Burrell-Davis
1961 Tom Sloan Michael Aspel
1962 David Jacobs Peter Haigh Alex Macintosh
1963 Michael Aspel Nicholas Parsons
1964 Tom Sloan Michael Aspel
1965 David Gell
1966 John Dunn
1967 Rolf Harris Richard Baker
1968 No commentator Pete Murray
1969 Michael Aspel Tony Brandon Colin-Ward Lewis
1970 David Gell
1971 Dave Lee Travis Terry Wogan No spokesperson
1972 Tom Fleming Pete Murray
1973 Terry Wogan
1974 David Vine Terry Wogan Colin-Ward Lewis
1975 Pete Murray Ray Moore
1976 Michael Aspel
1977 Pete Murray Colin Berry
1978 Terry Wogan Ray Moore
1979 John Dunn Terry Wogan
1980 Terry Wogan Steve Jones Ray Moore
1981 Ray Moore Colin Berry
1988 Ken Bruce
1998 Ken Bruce
1999 Colin Berry
2003 Lorraine Kelly
2004 Paddy O'Connell No dual commentator
2005 Cheryl Baker
2006 Fearne Cotton
2007 Sarah Cawood
2008 Carrie Grant Caroline Flack
2009 Graham Norton Duncan James Sarah Cawood
2010 Scott Mills
2011 Alex Jones Scott Mills Sara Cox
2012 Scott Mills
2013 Ana Matronic

Additionally, from 2004-2010, Paddy O'Connell commentated on the semi-final shows. In 2007, 2009 and 2010 he was also joined by Sarah Cawood. In 2008 he was joined by Caroline Flack. In recent years, the dual-commentator format during the semi-finals has allowed for the broadcaster to incorporate additional segments, interviews and live viewer interaction, during the programmes live airing.[10] In 2011, O'Connell was replaced by Scott Mills who provided the commentary from London, while Sara Cox provided interaction from the venue. Cox and Mills provided commentary again in 2012. In 2013, Cox was replaced by Ana Matronic.[11]

Separate entrants

For several years the Scottish National Party (SNP) has campaigned for a place in Eurovision for Scotland but had been rejected numerous times because Scotland is represented as a part of the British entry and is represented by the BBC.[12]

On 11 February 2008 the EBU stated that a Scottish broadcaster could apply for EBU membership, but under the current rules could not enter the Eurovision Song Contest as the BBC currently has exclusive rights to represent the entire United Kingdom.[12] It was announced in late May 2008 that the UK would be participating in the 2009 Contest and, therefore, Scotland was not represented in 2009 as a separate entrant.[13]

Scotland could be represented by STV, ITV Border or BBC Scotland. MEP Alyn Smith has said in the European Parliament: "Other small countries have done it [entered the competition] and I will be happy to help any of the broadcasting companies through the progress."[14][15][16][17]

In 2011 the European Broadcasting Union stated that there was nothing to prevent Scotland from submitting its own entry, although STV stated that there were no current plans for a separate entry.[18]

If Scotland were to participate it is unknown whether or not England, Wales and Northern Ireland would show any interest in entering the Eurovision Song Contest independently as well, although S4C (the Welsh language media channel) has expressed an interest and, in addition, already holds a yearly national song contest called "Cân i Gymru" (Song for Wales).[19] S4C also considered a bid for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2008 but decided not to go ahead.[20] In 2009 MEP for Wales Jillian Evans stated her interest in securing Wales a place in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010, Wales could be represented by either BBC Cymru Wales, ITV Wales & West or S4C. There is a small campaign in Northern Ireland for a separate entrant and it could be represented by UTV or BBC Northern Ireland.[21] There are no plans currently for England to enter separately.

However, to date, these proposed changes have not occurred, and the United Kingdom still participates in the Eurovision Song Contest as a single entrant. It is unknown what would happen if Scotland were to become an independent country.


See also


External links

  • BBC Eurovision site
  • BBC Eurovision Facebook
  • BBC Eurovision Twitter
  • UK Eurovision Myspace
  • Points to and from the United Kingdom
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