|Country United Kingdom|
Selected song "It's My Time"
|Selected entrant Jade Ewen|
|Selection process Eurovision: Your Country
Selection date(s) Introduction show 3 January 2009 Heats 10 January 2009 17 January 2009 24 January 2009 Final 31 January 2009
Selected songwriter(s) Andrew Lloyd Webber Diane Warren
The United Kingdom and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) confirmed their participation at the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in Moscow, despite their last place finish in 2008. Jade Ewen was selected on 31 January 2009, to represent the UK at Eurovision with "It's My Time", a song composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics written by Diane Warren. Coming fifth out of the forty-two countries participating, the United Kingdom achieved their highest placing since 2002, when they placed third.
The United Kingdom sent its fifty-second entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009. It automatically qualified to the final as one of the "Big Four" countries that pays the most money to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) for the organisation of the event.
The United Kingdom's result history has varied. The country is one of the most successful at the contest, having won on five occasions (in 1967, 1969, 1976, 1981 and 1997), however, it has only made the Top 10 on two occasions since the turn of the millennium, as well as coming last three times during that period (in 2003, 2008 and 2010). The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, had called for the UK to withdraw from the 2009 contest due to the 2008 South Ossetia war, but to no avail.
The British public broadcaster, the BBC broadcasts the event each year and organises the selection process for the entry. In all cases, a national final has selected the British Eurovision entry, varying between both a selection of performer and song, or just a song selection with an internal selection for the artist being held. For most years, the public had been able to vote for the winner, using in the past postcard voting, where the viewers sent postcards with their vote to the BBC, but more recently televoting.
Eurovision: Your Country Needs You
The BBC announced that a new, X Factor style national selection would be used to find the British representative for 2009. A call for singers was made on BBC One on 18 October 2008 before the dancing programme Strictly Come Dancing by Andrew Lloyd Webber in a 'Queen's Speech' style presentation. Entrants had to be 17 years old by 1 January 2009, live in the UK or in a country inside the European Economic Area. Entrants also had to send in a video of themselves performing a cover of a song, or a song they had written themselves. The entry deadline closed on 21 November 2008. Swedish singer Nina Söderquist had been approached by the BBC to compete in the competition, having been performing in the musical comedy Spamalot on the London West End, but she declined the offer, having been selected to compete in the Swedish Eurovision selection Melodifestivalen, and placed 5th in the first semi final, which was held on 7 February 2009.
Each live show was presented by Graham Norton and, like in other similar BBC shows (such as Any Dream Will Do), was fronted by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Each week the viewing British public voted a contestant out through televoting. There were three contestants remaining by the final on 31 January, with the winner competing for the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009. The song, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren, was first publicly performed by Mark Evans during the final of Eurovision: Your Country Needs You on 31 January 2009.
On 3 January 2009, an introduction show to Your Country Needs You was aired. The show involved Andrew Lloyd Webber's quest to find the six acts that would compete in the live shows, as well as 'fact-finding' for Eurovision, involving visiting the Olimpiysky arena in Moscow, the venue for the contest, where the duo remark how an amateur performer would have a hard time filling the 20,000 seat arena. In Moscow, Lloyd Webber met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as well as meeting some Russian Eurovision fans, who suggest that the UK should avoid amateur performers and focus on a more professional approach. Lloyd Webber and Norton also visited Poland and Hungary; in the latter, Lloyd Webber is "more famous than the Beatles". The programme also featured Graham Norton interviewing Dima Bilan, the winner of last year's Eurovision Song Contest.
Back in Britain, Lloyd Webber teamed up with record company executive Colin Barlow, who has worked with the likes of Take That and Girls Aloud, having had 15 number ones and sold over 40 million albums as a producer, to help select the lucky six performers who will progress to the live shows. After seeing a number of entries sent into the BBC by the people, getting a "fabulous look at people's living rooms" as Norton said, we got a sense of who may be the future qualifiers to the live shows. After a number of auditions and workshops, showing some potential qualifiers rehearsing at their homes and elsewhere, the final six qualifiers were finally introduced. They were five-piece "man band" the Emperors of Soul, twins Francine and Nicola Gleadall and soloists Damien Flood, Charlotte Finlay, Mark Evans and Jade Ewen.
Viewing figures for the first show were successful, with an average of 4.9 million viewers watching the show, peaking at 5.6 million, a 21% share of the television audience.
The first live show of Your Country Needs You was held on 10 January.
Lloyd Webber revealed that "what you see is what you get", in that there will be no camera trickery or hidden backing singers, and all artists performed live to a 17 piece band in the studio. Lulu and Arlene Phillips were also featured on the show, giving their opinions on each act.
At the start of the show, all six acts sang the 1974 Eurovision winner "Waterloo" by ABBA. The artists also gave two further performances on stage during the voting interval, with the girls performing "One Rock & Roll Too Many" from Lloyd Webber's musical Starlight Express, while the boys performed "No Matter What" by Boyzone. It was also revealed that famous songwriter Diane Warren will write the lyrics to the winning song.
A video clip was shown of the acts singing at the O2 Arena in London, so they could have an experience of performing within a big arena. As the voting ended, Lemar sang "Weight of the World" from his new album The Reason. During the results, Emperors of Soul, Mark, the Twins and Jade were all saved from the "danger zone", while Charlotte and Damien gained the least votes. Lloyd Webber saved Charlotte from elimination, saying that he believed that she would learn more from the experience. Damien was eliminated from the competition.
The first live show of Your Country Needs You averaged 5 million viewers, an increase from the introduction show. The viewing figures, seen as another success, made the show BBC One's third most watched programme of the day.
The second heat of Your Country Needs You was held on 17 January. Lloyd Webber was joined by Lulu and Duncan James, formerly of Blue, who gave their opinions of the acts during the show.
The remaining acts opened the show by singing Brotherhood of Man's winning Eurovision song from 1976 "Save Your Kisses for Me". Two more performances were made by the acts, each of which were written by Diane Warren. The boys performed "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", originally by Starship, while the girls performed "Rhythm of the Night" by DeBarge.
Diane Warren, who will write the lyrics to this year's British entry, joined Andrew during the voting. A video clip was also shown, showing the acts meeting with warren during the previous week in preparation for their performances. As the voting ended, British girl group The Saturdays performed "Up" from their new album. Band member Una Healy also talked about her own experiences of Eurovision, when she was a backing singer for Brian Kennedy, who represented Ireland at the 2006 contest. Previews of the songs from Albania, Greece and Turkey were also shown, while Lloyd Webber and Norton gave their opinion on them.
As the results were given in the studio, the Twins, Jade and Mark were saved from the "danger zone", while the Emperors of Soul and Charlotte, for the second time, received the least votes. Lloyd Webber saved the Emperors of Soul, saying that he thought that Charlotte would not be able to handle the grandness of the Eurovision stage in Moscow, but also saying that he thought she had a big career ahead of her.
The third heat and the semi-final, of Your Country Needs You was held on 24 January. Andrew and Lulu were joined by Alesha Dixon and Emma Bunton, giving their opinions. Each act sang two songs during the live show—one a slower ballad, the other a more up-tempo number.
The show was opened, as always by a group performance: Lulu performed their winning Eurovision entry from 1969, "Boom Bang-a-Bang" while two more group performances were made during the televoting period. The boys performed "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", originally by Elton John, while the girls performed "I'll Stand by You" by The Pretenders.
As the voting ended, a video clip was played showing the public's reaction to the show, Andrew's involvement and who they want to win and represent the UK at Eurovision. Also shown is Graham meeting with the remaining acts' families and friends. Alesha, who had been present during the show, performed "Breathe Slow" as the votes were counted. Nicola and Francine, and Mark were all saved from the "danger zone", while Jade and Emperors of Soul received the fewest votes. Andrew saved Jade from elimination, and so Emperors of Soul were forced to leave the competition.
The final of Your Country Needs You was held on 31 January, and decided who would represent the United Kingdom at Eurovision in Moscow. Three acts, Mark, Jade, and Francine and Nicola competed for the title. Last year's Eurovision winner, Dima Bilan, was present and performed his winning song "Believe" during the show. Each artist performed three songs during the show: a new song; a song previously performed by the artist in one of the heats; and their performance of the UK Eurovision entry, "It's My Time".
For the first time the United Kingdom entry participated in a promotional tour to promote "It's My Time" in countries participating in the Contest.
Ewen's promotional tour started with an appearance at the Maltese national selection on 7 February 2009, which was followed by a performance at the Greek national selection on 18 February 2009, and one at Bosnia and Herzegovina's song presentation show on 1 March 2009. On 7 March, she attended the Russian selection show, where it was rumoured that she may sing in Russian, but this failed to materialise and she subsequently sang in English. Following Russia, Ewen performed at the Ukrainian national final on 8 March.
The second UKEurovision Preview Party was held at the Scala Club in London on 17 April, where seven competing acts in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, coming from Poland, Ukraine, Iceland, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Ireland, performed along with three former Eurovision participants: Friðrik Ómar, one part of the 2008 Icelandic entry Euroband, 1998 UK runner-up Imaani and the 2002 UK entry Jessica Garlick who came third. The next day, 18 April, Ewen was one of 23 competing acts in the 2009 Contest to perform at a Eurovision concert in Amsterdam. She also appeared on RTL 4's "Life and Cooking" while in the Netherlands.
Ewen concluded her pre-contest promotion in the UK, where she appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 1 May, as well as Saturday Kitchen with James Martin on 2 May. On 3 May she appeared on Taniec z Gwiazdami, the Polish version of Strictly Come Dancing, and then on 4 May, she was a guest on BBC One's The One Show, appearing alongside Arlene Phillips.
In the week before the Contest, Ewen's Russian promotion included a free copy of her entry, It's My Time, being given away with copies of the Russian OK! Magazine. The magazine also included an interview with Jade, where she announced that she would be delighted to receive 12 points from Russia.
The United Kingdom and other "Big Four" countries automatically qualified for the final. On 16 March 2009, it was decided that the United Kingdom would perform in the final in the 23rd position. At the contest, Jade was accompanied on stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who played the piano during the performance. Jade wore a dress that was designed by the designer Amanda Wakeley. Arlene Philips was hired to choreograph the final performance.
Terry Wogan announced he would not be returning as commentator, a role he has performed continuously since 1980. He was succeeded in the role by Graham Norton, host of the Eurovision Dance Contest 2007 and 2008. Paddy O'Connell and Sarah Cawood commentated during the two semi finals. The results of the UK televoting were announced by former Blue singer, Duncan James. At the end of voting, the UK received 173 points, placing it fifth; however, the UK would have finished 3rd with 223 points if only the juries' votes had counted. The show received an average of 7.8 million viewers, which is a 35.3% share of the UK TV audience.