Eurovision: Commentator jokes BBC is ‘nervous’ about hosting

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Ukraine pipped the UK to the top spot during this year’s Eurovision Song Contest as Sam Ryder narrowly missed out on glory to Kalush Orchestra. However, Eurovision’s governing body the EBU  [European Broadcasting Union] has decided that Ukraine shouldn’t host the next contest due to the ongoing war with Russia. With the UK now looking like the most likely candidate to host, the BBC has confirmed it’s in “discussions” to broadcast the event.

However, the news comes after the BBC has already faced cuts to its costs, including a licence fee freeze before its abolishment in 2027 and a cut to the budget of its programming.

And Scott claimed to Naga and Ben that the multi-million-pound costs it takes to host the event had left many at the BBC “nervous”.

“It is one of the most popular shows on earth,” Ben said as he introduced the news segment on Saturday. “161 million people tuned in to see Ukraine take the top spot this year… Eurovision is big business.”

Naga chipped in: “However, despite Ukraine’s victory, the show’s organisers have decided the event can’t take place in the country next year for obvious reasons, the war.”

Ben went on: “They’re now in talks with the BBC because the UK finished second and cities across the country have started to throw their hats into the ring to host next year’s contest.”

London, Cardiff, Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester are just five cities whose local authorities have made clear they’d happily host the star-studded contest.

TV critic Scott then joined Naga and Ben to discuss who he thought had the best chance – although it didn’t take long for him to suggest the BBC may be “nervous” to host the much-watched competition.

“The EBU, the European Broadcasting Union, calls the shots and decides what’s going to be happening next,” Scott began.

“It’s not just down to the concerns that they have in regards to it not being held in Ukraine, it’s down to the security but also just the sheer scale of putting on the Eurovision Song Contest. 

“It’s one of the largest live television events in the world and it’s also one of the most complicated.”

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Scott added that the UK city tasked with hosting would need a vast “infrastructure” and a big stadium to host thousands of fans and performers.

“The last time the UK hosted it was in Birmingham and that was in 1998 and, of course, that was a very big TV event hosted by Ulrika Jonnson and Terry Wogan – but that was just in one room,” he added.

“Now, we pretty much have to close off entire parts of the city – that would have to be taken into consideration.”

Naga then brought up the broadcaster’s duties, saying: “It’s not only really the battle of the cities, but also the broadcasters too. 

“The BBC obviously made a statement saying that it will be in discussions to think about how to broadcast it too, where does that go?”

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Scott explained: “This is a really interesting circumstance because putting on a Eurovision Song Contest is certainly not cheap, it roughly costs about €10-€20 million to put on each year.

“Although, of course, ticket sales can certainly help. The BBC’s unique circumstance is that it wasn’t the winner, they’re doing it on behalf of Ukraine so there may be some help from elsewhere in regards to this. 

“I guess the UK Government would want to show its solidarity with Ukraine so might be able to help too. 

“But at the time, at this moment, the BBC has just announced a two-year licencing freeze, they’ve announced that services such as BBC Four and CBBC are going to be moving online over the next few years. 

“I think having the world’s biggest live TV event with potentially up to 200 million people now thrust on them is probably a circumstance that they’re probably thinking, ‘Oh, no thank you!’ 

“Also, knowing that it will put them onto the world stage, the BBC of course is internationally and globally respected, they’ve got the crews who would be able to pull this off so I think it’s a bit of a balancing act. 

“What was actually quite funny was that during the commentary during the night, when Sam Ryder was initially going right ahead with the try vote, Graham Norton joked, ‘Someone at the BBC is getting nervous.’ 

“And now, somebody at the BBC is getting nervous just simply about whether they’d be able to pull this off!”

BBC Breakfast airs daily at 6am on BBC One.

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