I guess the whole nation was as surprised as I was back in the Autumn of 2008 when it was announced that Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, prolific songwriter and West End producer would be managing the United Kingdom's bid for the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow in May 2009.
For many years, the British public have scoffed at the recent results the UK has achieved and blamed anything from politics and the Iraq war to bloc and neighbourly voting for this. As a result of less informed readers and viewers believing this, and our own commentator Terry Wogan complaining about the same issues at the 2008 contest when Russia won, the contest had somewhat lost a little of it's popularity. What many don't realise of course is that countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Armenia to mention just a few have been for a number of years sending their top artists and top songwriting teams to the Eurovision Song Contest, just as the United Kingdom and Ireland did many times from the 1970's to 1990's, and I believe that we are just in a different cycle - the newer nations are hungrier and are trying harder to win just as we did back then.
Many people believe that the reason the UK has fallen by the wayside is the fact that as a nation we don't treat the contest as seriously as these other nations. One man is now changing that. I watched with interest the launch show of Eurovision - Your country needs you! on Saturday evening. One thing became apparent very early in to the show. Andrew Lloyd Webber is taking his job very seriously indeed!.
The show gave an insight in to how Andrew accepted the challenge, then set about making a number of advertisements asking for all budding artists to answer his call and send in DVD's. Of course, this encouraged a large number of ludicrous performances and singers, but eventually he whittled them down to a final six and the live shows to determine which act will represent the United Kingdom will culminate in a final on Saturday January 31st. The song has not been written yet as Andrew said that he wants to see who wins first and write a song accordingly.
What I was perhaps most impressed with was Andrew Lloyd Webber's sheer enthusiasm about his task ahead and his desire to find out more about the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, I mean he actually went to Moscow to visit the venue of Eurovision 2009, spent time to interview President Putin and ask for his vote, met Russian OGAE Eurovision fans asking their advice and even caught up with Dimal Bilan to try and rally further support. On top of that he threw a diplomatic reception where he was lobbying for votes from countries who have not traditionally voted for the United Kingdom before. The classic moment of the show for me was when Andrew asked the Maltese ambassador "How on earth did Malta come to give 12 points to Scooch"!!!.
As for what will be in May in Moscow, nobody knows, but one thing is for sure, the Eurovision Song Contest is firmly back on the map here and the tabloids and broadsheets alike are very interested with Andrew Lloyd Webber and his bid to bring back Eurovision glory to the United Kingdom. Something which i can't ever remember in my lifetime to date!