United Kingdom : The Press Conference

by Richard West-Soley 79 views

Join esctoday.com live from the press conference hall as Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren join the UK delegation in Moscow for its press conference.

View our gallery of pictures from thepress conference at this link.

Anticipation is high in the hall as the seats fill up very quickly. The delegation is announced, and the whole team arrive amidst a flurry of camera flashes. Lord Andrew sits at Jade's side. Graham Norton, also at the table, introduces the team, including lyricist Diane Warren. As Jade is introduced, there is great applause from the assembled journalists.

Australia's SBS asked Graham for commentating tips following Terry Wogan's departure, since they, like the BBC, also have to fill the gap now. Graham explained that Terry had called him before his trip to Moscow to advise simply that he should not have a drink until at least the fifth song!

Jade admitted that she still gets excited when dwelling on the fact that she is now working with two of the world's greatest songwriters. It makes her feel like a winner already, not least for all the advice she has received from the pair.

Quizzed about the high profile support for the song, such as from Putin, Lord Andrew told the hall that Jade is one of the few great talents he has worked with – something he realises even more after the first dress rehearsal. He is therefore delighted and proud to be here representing the United Kingdom.

Asked about the stage this year, Lord Andrew compared what he had seen some months ago when the arena was just an empty shell. In his words, now, "it looks like it's going to absolutely do the job". Jade added that she prefers these bigger arenas as it is not as intimate, and less difficult than performing to a small crowd.

Talking about the great exposure that has surrounded her in Russia, Jade explained that the OK Magazine coup was arranged by Universal. She also paid great thanks to the members of the team for their promotional work.

Diane was asked whether the Eurovision format would work in the US, and quipped "I think you'd have to change the name…" and added that it would be a great concept to try. She admitted that she had not expected the event to be so big.

Lord Andrew talked about how he wanted to create a song that showcased Jade's voice, and to keep the gimmicks to an absolute minimum. He expressed his hope that the song would "stay around a bit" – Diane Warren elaborated by hoping it would become "a standard".

Lord Andrew spoke briefly about his musical "Love Never Dies" which is a continuation of The Phantom of the Opera, and playing in London next year.

Graham was asked whether or not he would continue Terry Wogan's irreverent style. He replied that the need for such attitudes was less this year due to the better quality of songs. "I'm lucky – I've arrived at a prime year, the standard is fantastic", he explained. "But yes, I will take the mickey" he added!

Jade explained how the song is a happy song – starting off in a sad place, but giving a very positive build to a happy ending.

Lord Andrew confessed that some personal friends had been inolved in writing the Icelandic and Danish songs (namely Ronan Keating for the latter), and he praised those entries but would not be drawn into giving his favourites from the contest as a whole. He also stressed that the contest was extremely important to his career, in particular helping and showcasing Jade – but his main job would remain writing musicals!

He admitted that it was a challenge to take on the contest in a continuation of his work with reality TV on the BBC. But he added that the UK could not do any worse than last year – so he took the challenge up gladly!

Jade was asked about her role in "Out There" on Australian television a few years ago, and how it would help her. She made the connection between acting and singing, and said that she applied an element of drama to the performance itself – it is not just about singing alone.

Diane stressed that it was a great honour to work with Lord Andrew – and he repaid the compliment, explaining that he was just waiting for an opportunity to work with the writer.

Jade was asked whether she finds it difficult to make her own voice heard amongst the big names in the UK delegation. She confessed that she hates the sound of her own voice, and is more than happy to let the other delegation members answer the questions fired at the panel!

The Susan Boyle phenomenon was brought up by one journalist, and Lord Andrew explained that one of the vocal coaches used in his talent show is the same one used on Britain's Got Talent. He also stressed that all five of the finalists in his last reality TV venture are now employed in shows on the West End. He praised these shows for giving people who are normally missed out a chance to perform on stage. He suggested that Russia should also look to create a similar talent show to look for performers for Russian musicals. And maybe Dima could be the next Phantom of the Opera, he joked!

But would bloc voting be a problem? Graham explained how bloc voting does exist, but admitted that blocs exist everywhere – between the UK and Ireland, for example. Some blocs are just bigger than others. But he added that Dima's winning song of 2008 was simply a good song, and deserved to win, bloc voting or not.

The delegation stressed that money is being spent very carefully, and the purse strings are being controlled very tightly since Moscow is so expensive! It was stressed that the BBC is financially prudent with any such venture, as it is spending the public's money. It was emphasised that the BBC have always taken the contest seriously, but have not been perceived as such. But this year, the calibre of the artists and creatives involved means that the team are giving it more than 100%.

After a brief photocall on the red carpet with Lord Andrew, Diane Warren, Jade and Graham Norton, the delegation left the conference hall.

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Richard West-Soley

Senior Editor

Richard's ESC history began way back in 1992, when he discovered the contest could fuel his passion for music and languages. Since then, it's been there at every corner for him in some way or another. He joined the esctoday.com team back in 2006, and quickly developed a love for writing about the contest. In his other life, he heads the development team at the learning resources company Linguascope, and writes about all aspects of language learning on the site Polyglossic.com.