Why does the UK automatically qualify for the Eurovision grand final?

Eurovision: Pat Sharp predicts UK will score poorly

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Eurovision 2021 is already proving to be one of the closest competitions yet, with many countries battling it out, not just to win, but to make it into the final. The UK doesn’t have to worry about making it to the final, however, as it once again automatically qualifies for the final show. But why does the UK have a guaranteed spot in the final?

How does the UK qualify for the Eurovision grand final?

The UK is a member of the Big Five, which includes original members of the European Broadcasting Union or EBU.

All five of these countries are the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

As part of the Big Five, the UK gets certain privileges, one is that the country goes straight through to the final of Eurovision each year.

Only six countries can have this automatic qualification each year, the Big Five and the host nation which is determined by the previous year’s winner.

On the Eurovision’s official website, eurovision.tv, it states: “Traditionally, 6 countries are automatically pre-qualified for the Grand Final. The so-called ‘Big 5’ — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom — and the host country.

“The remaining countries will take part in one of the two Semi-Finals. From each Semi-Final, the best 10 will proceed to the Grand Final. This brings the total number of Grand Final participants to 26.”

This rule was brought in back in 1999 to give special privileges to the, then, four countries that financially contributed the most to the EBU.

In 2011, Italy joined the ranks of the Big Four, finally creating what is known as the Big Five today.

Back in 2008, there were rumours the Big Four could be scrapped, meaning the UK would have to qualify through the semi-finals like all other countries.

However, this turned out not to be the case, with the UK remaining an automatic qualifier as of the 2021 contest, with no signs this will change.

Since the Big Four/Five was created in 1999, the UK has come last in the song contest four times, with Germany just behind, coming last three times.

The UK also has the least top 10 spots from all of the Big Five nations since the group was founded, but it has managed to achieve more top five spots than Spain.

During the last Eurovision, the UK was represented by Michael Rice with the song Bigger Than Us.

However, the UK received the dismal result of 26th place, the last in the competition for qualifying nations.

Michael Rice received a total of 11 points, with eight coming from the jury and just three from televoting.

The UK is hoping for a better result this year with James Newman performing the song Embers.

As usual, James Newman is automatically in the final, avoiding potential elimination during the semi-finals.

On the music video posted to the official Eurovision YouTube channel, fans shared their hopes for Newman’s performance this year.

One fan said: “Another great case of an artist trying something different from last year and working well. Besides the pop tempo, James has arguably one of the strongest vocals this year.”

Another added: “Finally the UK send something modern, catchy and representative of what you would hear on the UK Radio! It’s a real ‘feel good’ track- i really hope the staging compliments this effort! X”

Eurovision is available to watch on May 20 and May 22 on BBC Four and BBC One.

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