The U.K. will again participate in and fund the Eurovision Song Contest next year despite not scoring a single point in the 2021 competition.
The country finished with “nil points” in 2021, and just 11 points in 2019, when it came in last. Eurovision 2020 did not take place due to the pandemic.
The U.K. is one of the ‘big five’ group of countries that make the largest contributions to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) along with France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Due to the BBC’s membership in the EBU, which runs the contest, the U.K. is automatically granted entry into the finals.
The EBU on Wednesday revealed that 41 public broadcasters from across Europe (and beyond) are taking part, including all 39 who took part last year, which includes the BBC, and the addition of two new broadcasters: RTCG from Montenegro and Armenia’s national broadcaster ARMTV.
The BBC doesn’t disclose how much it pays for the contest but following a 2012 Freedom of Information request, the corporation revealed in 2010 that it had paid £283,190 ($390,000) for membership to the EBU. It’s likely this figure has only risen in the decade since. However, it’s believed the investment is ultimately seen as worthwhile for the corporation, which receives eight hours of programming during Eurovision week, including the two live semi-finals and live final.
The U.K. hasn’t won since 1997, when Katrina and the Waves performed “Love Shine a Light.” In recent years, however, the U.K. has rarely scraped out of the worst five performing countries. The race is now on to find a British musical act willing to risk their reputations by performing in the competition.
The 2021 winners, metal group Måneskin, hail from Italy. As such, next year’s contest will be held in Turin, Italy, organized by the EBU together with Italian broadcaster RAI.
Despite the country’s consistently abysmal performance, British audiences still go crazy for Eurovision, with 2021’s broadcast of the final being the most popular since 2014 with an average audience of 7.8 million. It is also popular in the coveted 16-34 demographic, with 1.5 million tuning in this year.
“We are so excited that we once again have over 40 broadcasters competing to win the iconic Eurovision trophy in Turin next May,” said Martin Österdahl, executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, in a statement.
”The team from Rai are working hard on preparations to welcome all the delegations to a new host city and ensuring the Eurovision Song Contest will provide the excitement and state-of-the-art spectacle expected by nearly 200 million viewers.”
Simona Martorelli and Claudio Fasulo from RAI added: “After 31 years, Italy is proud to host the Eurovision Song Contest again! As executive producers, we are incredibly excited to set up this amazing event and welcome delegations from 41 nations to Turin next year.
“Above all, we strongly believe the Eurovision Song Contest will allow us to showcase and share the beauty of Italy with a global audience via the elements that unite us all: music and harmony.”
The following EBU member broadcasters will participate in next year’s contest:
Azerbaijan (Ictimai TV)
Czech Republic (CT)
North Macedonia (MKRTV)
San Marino (RTV)
Switzerland (SRG SSR)
United Kingdom (BBC)