A Song for Europe
Wilfred Thomas (1956)
David Jacobs (1957, 60, 62-66)
Pete Murray (1959)
Katie Boyle (1961)
Rolf Harris (1967)
Cilla Black (1968, 73)
Michael Aspel (1969, 76)
Cliff Richard (1970-2)
Jimmy Savile (1974)
Terry Wogan (1977-96, 98, 2003-8)
Dale Winton (1997)
Ulrika Jonsson (1998-9)
Katy Hill (2000-1)
Claire Sweeney and Christopher Price (2002)
Gaby Roslin (2004)
Natasha Kaplinsky (2005-6)
Fearne Cotton (2007)
Claudia Winkleman (2008)
Graham Norton (2009-10)
Mel Giedroyc (2016)
Carrie Grant (2004, 08)
Lorraine Kelly (2004)
Harry Hill (2004)
Bruno Toniolo (2005-6, 10)
Jonathan Ross (2005-6)
Natalie Cassidy (2005)
Patrick O'Connell (2005)
Kelly Osbourne (2006)
Fearne Cotton (2006)
John Barrowman (2007-8)
Mel Giedroyc (2007)
Andrew Lloyd Webber (2009)
Alesha Dixon (2009)
Duncan James (2009)
Arlene Phillips (2009)
Emma Bunton (2009)
Dima Bilan (2009)
Pete Waterman (2010)
Jade Ewen (2010)
BBC Television Service, 7 May 1956 to 12 March 2010
BBC Four, 26 February 2016
(1956-7 as Festival of British Popular Songs, 1996-9 as The Great British Song Contest, 2004-7 as Making Your Mind Up, 2008 as Your Decision, 2009-10 as Your Country Needs You, 2016 as You Decide)
The UK qualifying competition for the Eurovision Song Contest.
This has followed various formats over the years. In the nineties having one singer sing six to eight songs for the public to choose from via phone vote was all the rage, then having different acts sing different songs was "in". The conclusion has been reached via different ways over the years, veering between a straight phone in popularity contest, Eurovision-esque regional points scoring and back to straight phone voting again.
After the triumphant 0 points scored by Jemini in 2003, it changed its name to Making Your Mind Up in 2004 in an attempt to look like it was making more of an effort, although it's hardly Melodifest.
In 2008, the format was monickered Your Decision, and made more use of Wogan who was given various casting votes and a wildcard to ensure that the judges didn't step out too far of line with the popular vote.
At the start of 2009, the format was again renamed to Your Country Needs You with Andrew Lloyd Webber seeking a performer or performers to sing a song - which he would write the music and Diane Warren would write the lyrics for - to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest. It started with a reality show style talent hunt and six finalists were chosen. The Emperors of Soul, The Twins, Mark, Jade, Charlotte and Damien were the six acts. For the first and second weeks they would perform a song and then the panel gave their critical view. The phone lines were then opened for you, the great British public, to vote. The votes were then totalled up and the bottom two were then left on stage for Andrew to decide who he wished to keep in the contest. The semi-final saw each contestant having to sing twice with the phone lines opening after each act had sung once. In the final, Dima Bilan (last year's Eurovision winner) was invited into the studio to sing his winning entry and the final three sung a song of their choice, their best song of the series and their version of Andrew and Diane's song It's My Time. The lines were opened after the first song and the winner was announced who then reprised their version of the song they would be singing in Moscow.
A much curtailed format of Your Country Needs You was introduced in March 2010. Rather than taking place over four weeks, the selection process took place in just one show. In the programme, six acts performed live, after which the judges, led by Pete Waterman, whittled the field down to three. The chosen acts then each performed the UK's entry for Eurovision, That Sounds Good To Me, which Pete Waterman, together with his old partner Mike Stock had written for the contest. Once each act had performed the song, the phone lines opened, and the public voted on who they wanted to perform the song, representing the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo.
The BBC decided to drop the format in 2011, and instead opted to make a decision internally as to who would represent the UK at that year's contest. They chose reformed boyband Blue, comprised of Lee Ryan, Simon Webbe, Antony Costa, and Duncan James. There was a token nod to the format in the title of a documentary aired a few weeks before the contest - Eurovision: Your Country Needs Blue. Blue would eventually finish in 11th place in Dusseldorf, three places behind X Factor irritants Jedward, representing Ireland.
El Tel had a scary few minutes in 1980 when Happy Everything by Maggie Moone and Love Enough for Two by Prima Donna both ended up on a tie at 131 points, and there was no procedure to sort this out on any form of countback system. Eventually the tie was split by a show of hands from the regional presenters.
In 2007, the contest was decided by a phone vote knocking four of the six acts out, the remaining two going into a "sing-off" (how very X-Factor). Following the sing-off between French singer Cyndi and cheesy-pop-from-1999-group Scooch, the winner was announced by hosts Terry Wogan and Fearne Cotton. Unfortunately, Wogan and Cotton both announced different winners, leading to much justified confusion among the singers, the audience, and... well, everyone. Scooch, as announced by Fearne Cotton, were in fact the winners.
Esma Akkilic unfortunately forgetting the lyrics part way through her performance of Pete Waterman's 2010 song.
|Year||Artist / Group||Song||Eurovision Final Rank||Eurovision Final Points|
|2004||James Fox||Hold On to Our Love||16||29|
|2005||Javine||Touch My Fire||22||18|
|2006||Daz Simpson||Teenage Life||19||25|
|2007||Scooch||Flying the Flag (for You)||23||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|
The first competition, in 1956, was intended to produce an entrant for that year's Eurovision Song Contest but didn't, because the BBC missed the registration deadline! The Festival of British Popular Songs became a monthly series instead, until January 1957 when it ran as a series of three heats and a final to decide (in plenty of time) which song would go to Eurovision.
Under the name 'Making Your Mind Up', the show has mainly been broadcast from BBC Television Centre, but did vacate to The Maidstone Studios for the 2007 final.