The United Kingom’s Junior Eurovision journey

August 27, 2022

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Just two days after the annoucement that the United Kingdom will be returning to Junior Eurovision in 2022, let's take a look at their history in the contest.

The United Kingdom’s Junior Eurovision history is a very short one, due to the fact the country has only participated three times so far. Their participation in the upcoming contest in Yerevan will be the United Kingdom’s fourth Junior Eurovision participation, and their first in 17 years. 

This makes the United Kingdom the country with the longest absence from the contest, beating off France with an absence of 14 years; Spain with an absence of 13 years; Poland with an absence of 12 years and Portugal with an absence of 10 years.

Their return to the contest also continues on with a trend of Eurovision host countries of the following year returning to Junior Eurovision. They join Portugal in 2017; Israel in 2018 and Italy in 2021.

Let's start at the very beginning

The United Kingdom was one of 16 countries to confirm their participation in the very first edition of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2003, with ITV as the broadcaster in charge.

ITV decided to hold a national final, Junior Eurovision Song Contest: The British Final, to find their song and singer for all of the United Kingdom’s Junior Eurovision participations in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

10 year old Tom Morley was the very first Junior Eurovision representative for the United Kingdom. He went on to sing “My Song For The World” at Forum Copenhagen in Denmark. With three sets of 12 points behind him, Tom finished the night in 3rd place with 118 points overall.

Continued success amid hosting fiasco

After the success of the inaugral contest in 2003, Junior Eurovision returned for a second year, this time coming to Denmark’s neighbour to the north, Norway, and more specifically to Lillehammer, a city in the south of the country. But it wasn’t always meant to be this way…

In May 2003, the United Kingdom confirmed they would be participating in the debut contest later that year, and then go on to host the next years contest. The 2004 contest was expected to be held in Manchester, and organised by Carlton Television for ITV Manchester.

However, due to financial and scheduling reasons, this did not happen. It is reported that in August 2004, Granada Telvision revealed they were due to co-produce the contest with Carlton Television, but pulled out due to claims the allocated 1.5 million pounds budget was not enough.

Even after the EBU offered funding to the tune of 900,000 pounds to help produce the contest, ITV said they would need at least 2.5 million euros. As they couldn’t get the funding, they asked the EBU to find a new host, which they did, in Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The United Kingdom was present at the second Junior Eurovision Song Contest with 14 year old Cory Spedding as their representative. After an impressive performance of “The Best Is Yet To Come”, she finished in second place with 140 points, being pipped to the post by none other than María Isabel of Spain.

The United Kingdom’s last Junior Eurovision participation (until now) sadly wasn’t able to match the success of Tom and Cory in 2003 and 2004. Joni Fuller finished in 14th place at the 2005 contest in Hasselt, Belgium, with her entry “How Does It Feel”.

The end of an era

The United Kingdom didn’t return to the contest in 2006, having made the decision to withdraw from the contest all together. One of the main reasons for this was the low viewing figures the contest received.

The 2003 national final and Junior Eurovision final were broadcaster on ITV’s main channel, ITV1. In 2004 and 2005, they moved both of these shows to their secondary channel, ITV2.

The 2003 contest, broadcast live on ITV1, saw an average of 5 million viewers; However, it only went downhill from there as the 2004 and 2005 live broadcasts only managed to pull in 221,000 and 171,000 viewers respectively, with the delayed broadcasts on ITV1 pulling in 1.9 million and 700,000 respectively.

At the present time, the BBC haven’t mentioned how our act or song for Junior Eurovision 2022 will be chosen. Will be have another national final? Or will the BBC go for an internal selection? This remains to be seen…

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