This week’s guest publication – what we think about the “short” list

So now the internets has had their say on the seven short listed cities for Eurovision 2023 – but what is the *sensible* take? – Well we don’t care about that, that’s why we asked TV/Radio/The Internets Lisa-Jayne Lewis to cast her eye over the seven.

Some thoughts for you, based on this news, hopefully presented in a rational and non-emotional way!

There is no ‘perfect’ city in the mix for next year’s contest. Despite what city mayors may tweet or other fans may claim, each and every one of those cities presents a great opportunity for the contest and for the city itself but each one presents challenges too, and those challenges are different in each place. There simply isn’t a “well it has to be this one because it’s perfect”, that rhetoric doesn’t exist.

Addressing the number of cities on the shortlist and why some people are surprised that there are so many, well, just look at the UK compared to recent host countries. The UK simply has more viable options as we have a large number of cities with 10k+ capacity arenas, we are well connected by air to Europe and we are known for hosting any number of large-scale musical, cultural and sporting events. Compared to when the contest was in Austria in 2015, when there were only three viable options to begin with, or Portugal in 2018 when only Lisbon presented as viable, it’s easy to see why the shortlist is not as short as folks might have thought it would be. I thought there would be a cool half-dozen, we got 7 and I imagine there could have been more as some of those missed off could have also ticked the boxes.

Mentioning those who didn’t make the list this time round, that doesn’t mean that they were wrong to submit, nor that they didn’t understand what was needed. Having been shuffling round the edges of this contest for the past 600 years, I can say with absolute confidence that some of the places that missed out did so only narrowly. Sure, there were places like Darlington, Brighton and Wolverhampton who were never serious contenders, but there are other places who aren’t in the final seven who would and could have made a good go at it. None of them would have been kicked out lightly and the BBC/EBU would have taken every one of those stage 1 bids incredibly seriously.

I’ve also seen it said, more than once, that Ukraine should pick the final city, which whilst I understand where those comments are coming from, is not a consideration. UA:PBC will have input in the content, and ensuring that, in the words of St. Sam Ryder “this is Ukraine’s party, we’re just inviting them to have it at our house”, there is a good amount of Ukranian culture reflected through the show, but there is no reason for asking a broadcaster who do not know the cities of the UK to pick one, this absolutely has to be done by the BBC in collaboration with the EBU and not UA:PBC, according to the specific requirements for Eurovision 2023. Ukraine’s time to shine will come, this is just not the part where that happens… yet!

It’s also important to remember that most of us have only seen the broad criteria made public by the EBU, there will have been other requirements and more information in the documents that were given to each city that expressed an interest, this will also have been taken into account in coming down to the shortlist. Mostly the big stuff stays the same from year to year, but there are very often changes and adaptions made to the specs every year, depending on many other things that we simply don’t know about. Covid has added complications to the process, however it has also brought new developments to the hosting and production of Eurovision, this too will have been taken into account in the papers that we have not seen, and likely never will.

So while Twitter and Facebook are alive with people pissed off that their hometown didn’t make the cut and are making wild assumptions as to why that might be, pretty much all of which are wrong. Don’t get sucked into thinking there are conspiracy theories about Northern Ireland or the BBC hating London or any of that drivel. Remember that behind the scenes there are a bunch of dedicated, professional people whose entire goal is to bring a fantastic show to your TV three nights next May and create a great on-the-ground experience for the production personnel, the 40 (or so) visiting delegations and the thousands of fans who will visit wherever, with or without tickets to soak up Eurovision in the UK for the first time in 25 years.

Best of British to the mayors and councils of Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle & Sheffield – I hope they enjoy the journey of bidding and learning so much about Eurovision as it is today.
Love, peace, joiks, fuegos and spacemen to you all!!