During yesterday's successful UK OGAE convention in Birmingham, attendees at the event were questioned by a BBC researcher on changes they would like to see in the UK selection process for 2009. The researcher spend most of the day and evening asking for the opinions of fan club members on what was needed to bring about a change in fortune for the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. It was promised that all suggestions will be considered for the development of next year's UK Eurovision selection show.
Recent stories in the UK media had reported that the UK selection show for 2009 would involve Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber using the same format employed successfully to select leading stars in West End shows. How do you solve a problem like Maria?, Any dream will do and I'd do anything, proved to be ratings hits for the BBC in the prestigious prime time Saturday evening television schedules. The BBC researcher stated that no decision yet been made on a format for the selection of the UK's song for the 2009 contest and that the Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber story was to be seen as pure speculation on the part of the press. The researcher also confirmed that a decision had not been made on Sir Terry Wogan's future involvement in the Eurovision Song Contest for the BBC.
Since last winning the contest in 1997 the UK have only managed to finish in the top 10 on two occasions, the last time in 2002. The UK regularly finishes in the bottom half of the final scoreboard and the public perception is that the song contest has become so political that the UK had little chance of doing well, regardless of which song was selected. This is why the new BBC production team in charge of the UK selection for 2009 has commissioned the issue to be researched in advance with this fan consultation being one part of that process.
Amongst the comments given by the fans were to get support of the British record industry to obtain an internationally recognised singer with an established team of song writers and producers, using regional heats over a number weeks and a grand final in a Melodifestivalen type format and even importing singers and songwriters from Sweden were suggested. Using reality and talent shows to select the UK entry were also suggested. The UK fans also emphasised the importance for the tickets for the televised final being made available to the true fans of the show as well as finding a TV commentator who could cover the contest in a positive manner.
The fans felt encouraged that they were being consulted by the BBC on the best way to find a successful entry for the UK in Eurovision for the first time in a number of years. They certainly kept the BBC researcher busy with their ideas during the whole Euro Bash event.