As winners of the 2002 event, with the song I Wanna sung by Marie N, Latvian broadcaster LTV had the task of organising the 2003 contest. They selected the Skonto Olympic Hall in the nation's capital city Riga as the venue.
A new record of 26 countries participated in the final, including for the first time Ukraine. With so many countries now wishing to participate in the contest, 2003 would mark the last time the contest would take place on one evening, and that from the following year a semi-final would be introduced.
The draw for the running order took place on 29 November, 2002 in a Latvian television studio, and at the same time the two presenters were announced, both former Latvian entrants, Renars Kaupers lead singer of the group Brainstorm that had finished in third place in the 2000 contest, and reigning champion Marie N.
Rehearsals commenced on Monday 19 May at 09.30. Each country had 25 minutes on stage for their first rehearsal, with 20 minutes for their second rehearsal later in the week.
Iceland: Open Your Heart sung by Brigitta
Austria: Weil Der Mensch Zählt sung by Alf Poier
Ireland: We've Got The World sung by Mickey Harte
Turkey: Everyway That I Can sung by Sertab Erener
Malta: To Dream Again sung by Lynn Chirchop
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Ne Brini sung by Mija Martina
Portugal: Deixa-me Sonhar sung by Rita Guerra
Croatia: Vie Nisam Tvoja sung by Claudia Beni
Cyprus: Feeling Alive sung by Stelios Constantas
Germany: Let's Get Happy sung by Lou
Russia: Ne Ver, Ne Boisia sung by t.A.T.u
Spain: Dime sung by Beth
Israel: Words For Love sung by Lior Narkis
Netherlands: One More Night sung by Esther Hart
United Kingdom: Cry Baby sung by Jemini
Ukraine: Hast la Vista sung by Olexandr
Greece: Never Let You Go sung by Mando
Norway: I'm Not Afraid To Move On sung by Jostein Hasselgård
France: Monts Et Merveilles sung by Louisa Baileche
Poland: Keine Grenzen - Zadnych Granic sung by Ich Troje
Latvia: Hello from Mars sung by F.L.Y
Belgium: Sanomi sung by Urban Trad
Estonia: Eighties Coming Back sung by Ruffus
Romania: Don't Break My Heart sung by Nicola
Sweden: Give Me Your Love sung by Fame
Slovenia: Nanana sung by Karmen
The traditional top ten method of 12, 10, 8 points etc was used, with televoting or SMS being used by most countries, though juries were used in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Russia. Ireland ultimately used their back up jury.
This contest was the first to introduce a computer-generated scoreboard which rearranged itself in order as the points were awarded.
In the early rounds of voting, Norway took an early lead, before it settled down to a dramatic contest between three nations, Belgium, Turkey and Russia. The last two rounds brought the voting to a thrilling climax, as mathematically all three countries could still win.
As Slovenia, the final country, announced their votes, Belgium received just three points, which was enough to put Russia out of contention, leaving just two possible winners, (Belgium or Turkey) though Turkey had to agonisingly wait until they were awarded the 10 points, thus giving them victory by just two points over Belgium, in second place, with Russia a further point behind in third place. A full breakdown of the voting can be found on our 2003 page.
It was the first ever victory in the Grand Prix for Turkey at their 25th attempt. Meanwhile at the other end of the scoreboard, one of the most successful nations in the contest, the United Kingdom achieved no points at all, and last place with the song Cry Baby sung by Jemini.
Watch Sertab Erener perform Everyway That I Can
Russia had sent two of their biggest stars with t.A.T.u. They had a big international hit with the song All The Things She Said which was released in late 2002. Around the time of the contest they had released another single Not Gonna Get Us which was also another big hit for the duo, however a Eurovision win narrowly eluded them and they had to be content with third place.
Watch t.A.T.u perform Ne Ver, Ne Boisia
About the Winner
Sertab Erener succeeded in representing her country at the third opportunity, having competed unsuccessfully in 1989 and 1990. In 2003 though she was selected internally as Turkey's entrant, with Everyway That I Can, whichwas the nation's first ever entry sung entirely in English.
Everyway That I Can was a number one hit in Turkey, Sweden and Greece, as well as being a top ten hit in Spain, Belgium, Netherlands and Austria, and charted in Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and Hungary, and even made the lower reaches of the UK charts. A follow up single Here I Am also managed to chart in several countries.
She has continued to release albums, both in Turkish and English, and formed a band, along with Demir Demirkan, called Painted On Water, and they released an album in the USA.