The Eurovision Song Contest 2007
Thoughts after the contest

Where were the comments?

I think the BBC news had it just right. There was a news programme following the contest and they didn't mention it once.

From what I can gather from interactive reports, various newspapers have been baying for the blood of Scooch. In the teletext viewer comments pages, we have the usual "it's time to scrap the contest", "I've been watching for a billion years, but no longer", and "it's all a fix - we didn't stand a chance".


That damned political voting again!

Having watched, again, the final on video and listened to Terry's juvenile comments, and then read a lot of the material on teletext letters; it does rather strike me as "Terry has an idea and everybody has that idea too".
The results certainly point towards a bias in the voting. Serbia received high marks from the other ex-Yugoslavia countries. Guess what - practically the same language and the same culture. Likewise for Greece and Cyprus always giving each other 12s. What's to say that the Greek girl isn't known in Cyprus? And vice versa? I knew a Norwegian girl who used to help me translate Eurovision stuff in Swedish (I didn't tell her it was Eurovision, she'd have probably laughed at me). Oh, look, a Norwegian that can understand some Swedish. So what's to say that Norwegian acts aren't known in Sweden, and vice versa?
Does everybody have it in for the UK, or is it simply that the UK is so damned insular and xenophobic that they don't really have European imports? I mentioned several times on other parts of my website Jeanette Biedermann. She's a cute German singer, sings in English. Pretty much unheard of in the UK. Sarah Connor is another, she's been on British TV but I don't think she's made it big in the UK. Certainly not like Germany when she'd be on Viva a couple of times a day. Yes, she sings in English.
So perhaps instead of it being a great big conspiracy to snarf the song contest into unheard of parts of Europe, maybe it's simply an issue of similar culture and similar language and perhaps even the acts are known outside of the country. Russia tried this a few years back by entering the Tatu girls. It didn't quite work out as they hoped...

Of course, now, there is always the possibility that Terry is right and it's all a fix and the UK gets nothing because, frankly, the rest of Europe loathes the Brits. Well, between you and me I'd be tempted to quietly ask around because if that is indeed true, there are much bigger problems lurking than whether or not the song contest voting is fair.
But that'll never happen. So many of the Brits living here in France don't understand why the French don't always speak to them in English (one braindead excuse-for-a-living-being went as far as to suggest that they ought to broadcast TV in English now as there are so many Brits around); so I don't think that my ex-countryfolk are necessarily emotionally equipped for a bombshell like "everybody hates you, even America who is just being nice 'cos they're using you"... so, yes, I think we ought to stick with the "shared culture or tactical voting" choice. ☺


Talking point...

ITV teletext has set aside space for comments about the song contest on its "talking point" page, where viewers can text messages which may then be shown on the page. At the moment, it is p199 on videotext of any ITV channel.

This is where the viewer commentary below comes from. I don't have internet at home so cannot refer to comments/sites on-line.

ITV teletext begin their brief résumé of the topic thus:

Eurovision: we know it's rubbish
but every year we still watch in our
millions instead of doing
something more useful with our
Mmm, are they jealous that, for one night, half the population watched the song contest, half watched movies on Sky, and nobody watched ITV? ☺


Those that know the UK's entry sucked

ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/14.

I'm surprised we got any votes at
all with that drivel. Jenny, London.
The UK has produced most of the best
groups, singers and songs in the world.
Why did the public vote for such a
pathetic song to represent them?
Ray, Grimsby.
As far as stereotypical cheesey Eurovision numbers go, the Scooch entry had plenty of appeal - however you'd have been somewhat less than sane if you actually thought it was going to be a winner. I think it came down to a decision - have fun or try to win? The UK voters chose, ultimately, to have some fun with it. Unfortunately the performance on the night was not as impressive as the national selection performance, so...


Disappointed Scooch got 19
points. I wanted nul points, they
were that bad! A R, St Helens.


ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/15.

Scooch! The song was rubbish and
they looked like Thunderbirds
without strings. Maureen, Cwmbran.


Those that may need therapy

ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/14.

The Scooch entry was a lot better
than most - including the winner.
Jim, West Lothian.
If you look at all 24 acts, UK did
best of them all, but still only
got points from two countries. I
love Eurovision (sad, I know) but I
believe that the UK should stop
being one of the Big 4 then the
BBC can save our licence fee
money. David, Newscastle.


ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/15.

Scooch was a great Eurovision
song but politically motivated
tactical voting makes a mockery of
the whole contest. No wonder
people have lost interest. Brian,
What can I say? To say that the UK's entry was "better than most" or "best of them all", I am tempted to suggest there is an awful lot of bias - perhaps also a touch of "it wasn't in a funny foreign language" as well. For, let's face it, there were better performances...


Those that say it is time to quit

ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/14.

The voting proves we aren't
accepted by Eastern Europeans.
Call it a day. Sorry, Terry, we know
you love it and nobody could do
better. Pat, Sheffield.
We are all fans of the actual
contest and the effort made by all.
It's the farcial voting blocs and
Balkan bias that is at fault.
Mammy, Conna.
What a farce! I've watched for 50
years but no more. Time BBC
stopped showing it. It's only Terry
Wogan who keeps it going, not the
singers! Jill, Bucks.
Scooch song fine. Because of bloc
voting, even if Elton John
represented the UK, we still
wouldn't do well. Farcical! Mark,


ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/15.

It's time we stopped entering.
Think of the money BBC would
save. Lynn, Liverpool.
Every year we have these same comments. However I think it might be useful to point out that the Big 4 position in Eurovision is because the UK is one of the main contributors to the EBU. The EBU exists for more than just the song contest - Austrialia is a passive member of the EBU, for example (if they were an active member, they could participate in the contest if they desired). Go look up EBU in Google or your favourite search engine if you want to know more.

Besides, donating some cash to show a three and a half hour programme produced by some other country may well be less expensive than producing programming material the show instead. I would imagine - but have no figures to back this up - that the production costs of the British broadcast of the song contest (which are likely to be more in the interactive side of things) is roughly on par with making an episode of Casualty; and no doubt a chunk of that could be recouped with the televote. If it is 25p a call and half of the 10m viewers vote... well, you do the maths to work out what sort of figures we are talking to be split between the phone service provider(s) and the BBC. Remember for the night of the contest the production is produced in another country, so the BBC isn't paying for studio technicians, facilities, etc. All they need do (to grossly simplify it) is install Terry Wogan and rent some satellite bandwidth, and have some techies in the UK to run the interactive content and the televote.

As for Terry Wogan's commentary, I actually got a lot more info and a lot less unwanted intrusion from Paddy and Sarah in the semi-final. Maybe it is time to retire Terry?
If the BBC cannot find a suitable host for the night, I would nominate myself. I may not have an award-winning style (erm, never hosted anything...) but I will promise you right now - NO TALKING OVER THE SONGS.
[mmm, as if that would ever happen! nice dream, but...]


ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/17.

We don't have to watch Eurovision
but as licence payers we have
every right to our opinions. Three
hours and 15 minutes of prime
time television wasted. Ray,
That's a fair comment. However how many times has something I've wanted to see, when I lived in the UK, been cancelled for some sporting event I have no interest in? More recently (as not a UK licence payer, I wish to add), there were schedule shifts and cancellations across the board for the stupid world cup - including an extremely boring long drawn out match that saw England lose by a bunch of men standing in a line kicking a ball into a net. If they did that in the first place, we'd have been saved the hour and a half that the no-points match took.
I happen to think EastEnders is one of the most dreary and depressing soaps on television. It is what, three or four hours a week? Plus repeats on other channels and an omnibus edit?
Okay, okay, so you're annoyed that one Saturday was ruined and you missed Casualty. Never mind, I missed Casualty too...



ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/15.

I enjoyed Russia's entry but that
was the beauty of the singers not
the song. Chris, Northampton.
It's as good enough reason, you may not be entirely convinced by the song but won over by the performer. Getting your vote is what it is all about, whether it be a great song or a lovely performance of a not-so-great song, or simply cute girls doing... whatever, they're cute so it doesn't matter. If you liked them, and voted for them, for that reason, they can say mission accomplished.
I can't believe there are that many people who would have enjoyed listening to the Ukrainian song. It was more likely the performance of it which pulled in the votes.


The fun of Eurovision is knowing
we're always near the bottom. If
we won everybody would be texting
saying we didn't deserve to. I
watch for Terry's one-liners. Eve,
Mmmm, a realist. There is no reason why the UK should linger at the bottom if the UK decides to maybe perhaps shock Europe by entering a good song. But I'm afraid you're right - if Katrina and the Waves walked it for the UK, there'd be plenty of texts saying "the song was horrible". Some people are just never satisfied unless they can bitch&moan.


Eastern Europeans don't accept
the UK until they want to come
and live here. Dave, Chesterfield.
Ouch! But don't hold the UK up as a paragon of virtue. If you have access to satellite equipment, watch the news for a while on Astra 2x/Eurobird (28.2°E) - see how many drive-bys, knifings, rapes, murders, corrupt politicians, and so on you see in the news. Are we talking about some ultraviolent massively overpopulated and socially deprived American city? Someplace in the Projects? No, we're talking about Nowhere, England. The news I see is not referring to the country I left in 2002. Something has gone wrong, and too many people are in denial so nothing will be done until nothing can be done...
There's going to come a time when the Eastern Europeans and the asylum seekers are leaving the UK, not trying to enter.
My final comment? On "South Today" (BBC regional news programme for the south) a few months back, a woman liked to employ her Estonian students to pick fruit and stuff at her farm. Why? Because they work harder and are more honest than the natives. Yeah, I know, that's a cheap dig. So was that text quoted above...


ITV Teletext, Eurovision comments (p199), 2007/05/20.

Jaz, viewing figures quoted by the
BBC are suspect. They include
non-licence payers as viewers and
use a tiny statistical sample to
make extravagant claims. 11m
may have seen Eurovision, but
Auntie won't say how many
regretted it. Pippa, Leicester.
All ratings are suspect. That's because a little gadget called a Nielsen recorder is installed in a number of premises. I don't know if the owners are chosen at random, or if they are selected to provide a fair balance of the various ethnic subgroups of the viewing public. However, if we assume (for argument's sake) that there are 1000 stats recorders, and 501 record the song contest was watched, then by extrapolation that will represent a tad-over-50% share of the viewers. It is necessarily inaccurate, but short of fitting a monitor to every single receiver (don't laugh, Labour's probably considered it...) it will never be possible to provide totally accurate statistics.
The second problem is that the recorders do not measure emotions. Perhaps there should be a couple of buttons on the recorder unit - 5 meaning "loved it, wanna make babies with the presenter" and 1 meaning "killing myself would be more pleasurable than watching that again"? There is one statistical piece of evidence that may suggest that only the whingers are appearing on teletext... the ratings grew as the night progressed. If it was really so apparently politically motivated voting, and it was really such an issue of disgust, you'd have thought people would have switched off their TVs by the million. Well, they didn't. More and more tuned in. After all, ITV's initial caption "Eurovision: we know it's rubbish" may dissuade people with positive things to say from wasting their money sending in an SMS...


Years ago the song that won went
straight into the charts and also
appeared on Top Of The Pops. Now
the winner and the song disappear
into oblivion. Cass, Horsham.
Years ago, Cass, we used to have Top Of The Pops. About the only regular live-performance show still around is Jools Holland's...
I think Marija would be quite impressed if Molitva made it into the UK charts. Of the top three, only the Russian girls (3rd place) sung in English and I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't some who'd call for the song to be censored before release...


How can people say they watch
Eurovision to have a laugh at the
bitchy garbage coming out of Terry
Wogan's mouth. He's a sad,
attention-seeking old man.
Whoever told him he was funny,
please stop. He just a bore and
sounds like a school bully. Sheila,
While some of his comments were bitchy, for me the absolute worst thing was his talking over the songs. Does he think he is more important than the performances now? That people tune in not so much to see the performers and hear the songs and pick a winner, but instead to simply listen to him?
While, in the past, Terry has passed some incredibly astute and amusing (not bitchy, more cleverly observed) comments, this year he just sounded kinda bored... fed up...


Angela, Great Yarmouth,
identifying songs by number is
what I thought should happen as
well. At least then it would be
judged purely on singing abilities
and the song. Hannah, Bridgwater.
Hey Hannah! How's Bridgwater? I used to live there, circe 1993...
Sorry to say, it won't work. You see, the only fair way to make a completely impartial song is to pick a language in common that all songs much be sung in. Now you might say "okay, we can all sing in English". Sadly, statistically, there are more countries of a Serbo-Croat dialect than English. Imagine what sort of messages would turn up on teletext's letters if the EBU specified all songs to be performed in that language!
The fairer alternative is to permit songs in a language of choice - be it English, the national language, a regional dialect, or something made up. Well, sadly, we're right back to the original problem. A song in Serbo-Croat will be understood across the ex-Yugoslavia, so political voting aside, would be likely to receive higher marks due to the natives of the region understanding it.
A good example this year is Bulgaria's "Water". I thought it was pretty naff. Turns out it is based upon some traditional style, and through time it may be a style that is recognised not only in Bulgaria but also in neighbouring countries. I thought she was warbling and chucking in "eee!" bits at the ends of her sentences. People from the east of Europe would have recognised it for what it was. Hence, it passed the semi-final and didn't do that badly in the final.
So, sadly, there is no way to refer to songs by a number without making the method equally arbitrarily unfair.

Here's a thought to ponder... As one of The Big Four, the United Kingdom (along with Frain, Spain, and Germany) do not need to enter the semi-final. We are always guaranteed a place in the grand final. Unfair? Let me ask you this - do you think Scooch would have passed the semi? We (Big4) have a distinct advantage over the rest of the competitors in that we can enter our song and know that it will be performed and judged on the night.
Perhaps our sorrowful showing in recent years isn't so much politics but more that we've become complacent and can enter any old thing that takes our fancy.


...and why the BBC won't cancel it

Ten million watch Eurovision
Despite a dismal result by the UK,
the Eurovision song contest pulled
in a massive 10m viewers.
The annual musical extravaganza
drew a massive 50.8% of the
viewing share (10.9m) at its peak,
as avid fans tuned in at 10.30pm
to watch the results.
The number of people tuning in
increased throughout the evening
- at 8.30pm the average audience
figure stood at 8.7m.

ITV teletext p142 (Entertainment news); 2007/05/14
In this day and age, with four BBC channels, four ITV channels, several dedicated film channels (Zone Horror, FilmFour, TrueMovies, etc) plus ancillary channels (Zone Reality, men&motors, numerous music video channels, foreign language (mainly Chinese and Indian), all available for viewing - it is something quite remarkable to pull a 50.8% share of the viewing.
That means one viewer in two was watching the song contest. Not bad considering so many people I speak to are like "oh no, not that crap!". I bet they watch it as well, from time to time...


And that consipracy theory again...

Malta slates Eurovision's

Malta has called for phone
votes in certain countries
to be scrapped at the
Eurovision Song Contest
until they can be
monitored more closely.
Robert Abela, who headed
Malta's contingent, said
many results were "not
based soley on the public
He added "five or six"
other countries during
Saturday's contest were
angered by block voting -
where neighbours back
each other regardless of
the song.
Serbia's Marija Serifovic
won the contest, watched
by 10.9m in the UK.

BBC interactive p501 (Entertainment news); 2007/05/14

And the very next day...

MP demands Eurovision's
vote change

The Eurovision Song
Contest voting system
needs to be changed
because it is "harmful to
the relationship between
the peoples of Europe", an
MP has said.
Countries voted for their
neighbours rather than the
best songs, Liberal
Democrat MP Richard
Younger-Ross said.
And the BBC should insist
on voting changes or
withdraw from the contest
altogether, he added.
Serbia won Saturday's
contest, while the UK was
second from bottom, only
receiving votes from
Ireland and Malta.

BBC interactive p1010 (UK news); 2007/05/15

Coo! The political voting conspiracy goes bigtime...
Surely it is the job of Digame, overseen by Svante Stockselius, to ensure that the voting system is not messed with.
That said - if all the Greeks wish to vote for Cyprus, and all the Cypriots wish to vote for Greece... as long as the telephone vote was conducted properly then it will be the psyche of the people of the countries concerned. That doesn't make it right, but I do wonder what can be done about it. And so what if countries vote for neighbours? The Scandanavian countries traditionally give high votes to each other. Greece and Cyprus likewise. Perhaps this is not so much a "voting for neighbours" as a shared culture.
A good example of this is the warbly "eeh!" song from Bulgaria. I thought it didn't sound very nice. Turns out it is a style of traditional folk called "Kehlkopfgesang". Perhaps a country bordering on Bulgaria, with a similar culture, would know and appreciate that more than I did. Thus they would give it marks where I would give it none. Not do much tactical voting and cosying up to neighbours as simply understanding the references... How many former-Yugoslavian countries perform in Yugoslavian (be it Kajkavian or Štokavian)? The language is very similar in spoken form (written, one uses Cyrillic and one Latin), roughly equivalent to British English versus Australian English. So it makes sense that countries which can understand the song may award it more points.

I feel that I must point out that Ireland is the UK's neighbour, and in the past two years has given points to the UK (refer to scorecards for info); and likewise there is a connection between the UK and Malta (it was a crown colony until number the middle of the last century - 1937? something like that - Wiki for specifics) and they two have given votes to the UK. While both of these countries are more likely to vote for the song they like instead of an automatic '12'; one could wonder if there isn't a little bit of the buddy-voting going on here as well.
I do wonder, had the UK top-fived it, if MP Richard Younger-Ross would be making his demands, or if it's just a case of sour grapes.

There is one interesting thought I'd like to present. In the past, we would have had Yugoslavia. Now we have Bosnia, Croatia, F.Y.R. Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia... where once was one country there are several. All in a land mass probably smaller than France. So while the people of France would offer one song and one set of votes, those of the countries of the former Yugoslavia offer several songs and several votes. Maybe the effect that this has on the contest, along with more Eastern countries joining - for example, we welcome Georgia and the Czech Republic this year (not Czechoslovakia - it is now two distinct countries); Albania last year; Estonia and other previously-part-of-Russia countries are recent additions to the contest... perhaps this is why it seems to have an Eastern bias?

Those who complain of voting irregularities - assuming it is the people of the country voting in that manner (remember, again, the shared-or-similar culture aspect), what sort of changes should be put in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Is there even such a thing that would be possible without artificially prejudicing the voting?

The solution? A little bit of instability in the west. The UK can fall apart - thus leading to separate entries from England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Cornwall wants to be autonymous too, doesn't it? Same for Brittany. Likewise Euskadi and all the other parts of countries that don't want to be ruled from some other place. There'll be maybe 60 countries, with a more even balance between west and east, and somewhere in the middle the song contest will blow up...
Then again, you can't seriously expect a political, social, and economic meltdown in order to balance the song contest. Look at what The Ukraine went through. Look at what Yugoslavia went through. There are always two sides to any stuggle for independence, and it quickly gets violently messy in the middle.
Perhaps instead of complaining about the Eastern bias, we ought to just submit a decent song...


We messed up big

A good classy performance was entered in the guise of Cyndi. She made it to the final of the national selection, but the country choose the cheesefest novelty act that was Scooch, who didn't exactly put on as good a performance as in the selections - not to mention getting rid of the Union flag which sorta makes you wonder what the point of the song is - remember it is "flying the flag", uh?
So these people that will no longer watch, don't watch then!
These people that reckon the contest should be scrapped, I'll gladly accept the end of the song contest if you can equally get rid of all the football.
These people that reckon the UK should pull out - did you really think Scooch would win?
And those deluded people that actually thought we stood a chance with Scooch. Well, actually I have nothing to say to you - you'd be better talking to a healthcare professional...

Apparently "Flying the flag" entered the UK charts in fifth position. Is this a vote of confidence in Scooch, or the audio equivalent of comfort eating?

I would suggest the latter as it quickly vanished from the charts, unlike that song Umburella-ella-ella-ella which seemed to hang around for most of the summer.

In any case, all of the "what people think" on teletext/interactive is much the same as last year, only more viscious. Those messages quoted above were a selection around 14th May 2007 (in case you couldn't figure out the date formatting) and, well, not only is it pretty much alike day-to-day, it's like a repeat of last year's messages. And probably the year before. And the year before that...

Okay, the UK didn't win. That's not a surprise. Get over it. Learn for next year, and try picking a decent song.


And finally...

Don't let that stop YOU though! Send in your comments and views and I'll gladly stick anything on this page as long (as it isn't likely to get me in trouble)!


Hey, guys. Look on the bright side of life. It could have been worse. Oh yes, it could have been worse than Scooch. It could have been Justin...


But wait, there's more!

For those hoping Sir Terry would quietly fade away into Radio 2 obscurity, this turned up on BBCi on the 1st of October 2007:
Sir Terry named 'ultimate

Broadcaster Sir Terry
Wogan has been voted the
"ultimate icon" of the last
40 years by listeners of
BBC Radio 2.
Sir Terry, who presents the
station's breakfast show,
beat The Beatles, who
came second, followed by
Nelson Mandela and
Princess Diana.
Speaking on his morning
show he said the title was
a "richly deserved
accolade" which made him
sound like an "old relic".
The poll was held as part
of BBC Radio's 40th
birthday celebrations.

BBC interactive p501 (Entertainment news); 2007/10/01

Wogan then the Beatles and then people who have made actual useful advances in human understanding and the fight against inequality and suffering? I guess now I know why I never listen to BBC Radio 2!


My more light-hearted comments

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Copyright © 2007 Rick Murray
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