The Eurovision Song Contest was first staged by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in 1956 in Switzerland. The UK had its first entrant the following year, missed 1958, then from 1959 has participated every year. It is one of the ‘Big Five’ countries who are guaranteed a place in the final by dint of paying the highest application fees to the EBU.
At first, broadcasting Eurovision to multiple countries was a technical challenge, since there were no satellites in those days, but it has evolved along with the technology and today is viewed all across the world. The UK has won the contest five times, in 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981 and 1997 and been runners-up fifteen times.
However, coinciding with the inclusion of eastern European countries in the 21st century, the British public have begun to question our continued participation, since we now do very badly, finishing last on four occasions so far. No currently successful British pop star will take part, for fear of a low finishing place ruining their career. In 2018, the UK contestant’s performance was interrupted by a man who grabbed the microphone and shouted anti-establishment slogans.
(Image: Albin Olsson at Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)