The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the BBC confirmed earlier this month that the United Kingdom will host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) on behalf of Ukraine.
Ukraine, with its entry Stefania by Kalush Orchestra, won the 2022 ESC that was hosted in Turin, Italy. According to Eurovision tradition, the next annual competition will be held in Ukraine. However, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the beginning of this year, the likelihood of ESC 2023 being hosted in Ukraine has been doubted since Kalush Orchestra’s victory. There have also been questions surrounding which country and broadcaster would act as a surrogate venue for the contest.
In a recent press release, the EBU finally announced they had decided that hosting the ESC in Ukraine would be an unsafe and significant security concern. As a result of these discussions, The BBC, as the runner-up of the 2022 contest, was asked to act as the host for next year’s context.
As the winning country in 2022 and despite not being able to hold the event in their country physically, Ukraine will automatically go through to the Grand Final of the 2023 ESC. This will be alongside the ‘Big 5’ countries that financially contribute the most towards the competition (Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and the UK).
The ESC’s Executive Supervisor, Martin Österdahl, stated ‘We’re exceptionally grateful that the BBC has accepted to stage the Eurovision Song Contest in the UK in 2023…The BBC has taken on hosting duties for other winning countries on four previous occasions. Continuing in this tradition of solidarity, we know that next year’s Contest will showcase the creativity and skill of one of Europe’s most experienced public broadcasters while ensuring this year’s winners, Ukraine, are celebrated and represented throughout the event.’
Mykola Chernotytskyi, the head of the Managing Board of UA: PBC, added: ‘The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will not be in Ukraine but support Ukraine. We are grateful to our BBC partners for showing solidarity with us. I am confident that together we will be able to add Ukrainian spirit to this event and once again unite the whole of Europe around our common values of peace, support, celebrating diversity and talent.’
The Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie, said: ‘It is a matter of great regret that our colleagues and friends in Ukraine cannot host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. Being asked to host the largest and most complex music competition in the world is a great privilege. The BBC is committed to making the event a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity. The BBC will now begin finding a Host City to partner with us on delivering one of the most exciting events to come to the UK in 2023.’
Several UK cities have begun preparing to bid in hopes of becoming the Venue for the 2023 ESC. These cities include:
- London. Mayor Sadiq Khan said the city was ‘ready and willing to step in’ with a contest that ‘celebrates the people of Ukraine and shows off the very best of Britain.’
- Manchester. Council leader Bev Craig tweeted: ‘A world-class music city, brilliant venues, experience in hosting major events, and of course one of the UK’s largest Ukrainian populations – we are confident we will make it a #eurovision to remember.’
- Sheffield. Sheffield City Council said on Twitter: ‘We’ve told Eurovision we’d love to host… watch this space.’
- Glasgow. The city’s OVO Hydro arena said it would be ‘delighted’ to be involved in discussions.
The BBC has staged the ESC on eight occasions in the contest’s history. The 2023 event will be the ninth time which means the BBC has done so more times than any other broadcaster. London has hosted four times (in 1960, 1963, 1968, and 1977. The Usher Hall in Edinburgh held the ESC in 1972. Brighton had their turn in 1974, which was the year ABBA won. Harrogate’s International Centre was the setting in 1982, and Birmingham in 1998 was the last time the competition was based in the UK.
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