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BBC swaps Eurovision Song Contest selection vote for record label deal

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Michael Rice gave it his all at Eurovision 2019, but finished 26th out of 26

The BBC is to drop the public vote to select the UK’s next Eurovision Song Contest entrant, instead teaming up with a record label for the first time.

It means there will be no Eurovision: You Decide, which has run since 2016.

Entrants were selected internally by the BBC for five years before that, but the broadcaster is seeking a new formula to boost the UK’s results after Michael Rice finished bottom last year.

For 2020, music company BMG will choose the entrant and song with BBC Studios.

BBC Studios, the corporation’s commercial arm, approached a number of record labels, and decided that BMG shared its “vision of selecting a song with broad international appeal and securing an artist who embodies the spirit and values of the Eurovision Song Contest”.

BMG has both a publishing arm, which handles songwriters, and a group of record labels. Artists signed to the firm for both recording and publishing include Kylie Minogue, Bring Me The Horizon, Peter Doherty, Boy George and Simple Minds.

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Duncan Laurence won the contest for the Netherlands in May

BBC Studios creative director Mel Balac said the deal with BMG, which will release and publish the chosen song, was a “turning point for the UK at Eurovision”.

“We very much hope this marks the start of an exciting new chapter,” Balac said.

Kate Phillips, BBC controller of entertainment commissioning, said: “Our commitment to finding the right song has never been higher and this collaboration with BMG, who have access to world class songwriters, is a genuinely exciting prospect and I am certain that together we can find the best song and artist possible for 2020.”

Alistair Norbury, BMG’s UK president of repertoire and marketing, said: “Eurovision plays to our strength as the only fully-integrated publishing company and record label. We can’t wait to get started working with the BBC to give it the best possible shot we can.”

The move was welcomed by some Eurovision pundits who had called for a shake-up of the selection process. Expert Paul Jordan, known as Dr Eurovision, told the BBC after this year’s contest: “Without the record companies’ involvement you’re not going to get the great songs and songwriters coming through.”

This move sees the end – for now – of the televised selection show, which has gone through various different versions over the years, including A Song For Europe, Making Your Mind Up and You Decide.

The UK has not won Eurovision since 1997, and has not finished in the top 10 since 2009. The next contest will take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in May 2020.

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Jimmy Tarbuck: Comedian reveals prostate cancer diagnosis

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Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck has revealed he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The veteran Liverpudlian comic told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he would “try and beat it”.

Tarbuck said he received the diagnosis the day after his 80th birthday earlier this month.

“Right now I feel great. I’m on the telly and I’m having a good time,” he said, adding that the cancer had not spread.

He was inspired to get checked by Sir Rod Stewart, who announced in September that he had received treatment for prostate cancer.

“All men out there watching, and all wives, get your husbands to go for the tests. I think after 50, just have a test, let them have a look at you,” Tarbuck said.

“You will be relieved and be with your families for extra years.”

He said men can be too “shy” to get tested, but urged them not to put it off. “Boys, go. It is embarrassing. Especially when the fella said to me ‘We’re going to give you the thumbs up’. I said ‘I hope not’. He roared laughing.”

Speaking about his treatment, he added: “I’m having injections and taking tablets and then I take a yearly cycle.”

Tarbuck, who rose to fame in the 1960s and was known for hosting variety shows including Sunday Night At The London Palladium and Live From Her Majesty’s, is now planning to go on tour.

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Brits 2020: Pop meets politics

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Highlights from this year’s ceremony included performances from Billie Eilish, Dave, Lizzo and Stormzy.



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Brits 2020: Dave wins album of the year and calls PM ‘racist’

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London rapper Dave won album of the year at the Brits, moments after calling the prime minister a “racist”.

The star took home the night’s main award for his provocative, personal album Psychodrama, which also won last year’s Mercury Prize.

But it was his fiery performance of the single Black which stole the show.

In a newly-written verse, he called out the government response to Grenfell and said: “The truth is our prime minister is a real racist”.

  • Brits 2020: Full winners list
  • Brit Awards: Red carpet in pictures

He also attacked tabloid coverage of the Duchess of Sussex, and made a reference to London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt.

Two years after Stormzy demanded “where’s the money for Grenfell?” on the Brits stage, Dave updated the lyric, saying: “Grenfell victims still need accommodation”.

“And we still need support for the Windrush generation / Reparations for the time our people spent on plantations,” he added.

The lyrics were added as a final verse to Black, which talks about perceptions and experiences of black people in the UK.

The 21-year-old is now only the second act to win best album at the Brits and the Mercury Prize for the same record. The first was the Arctic Monkeys for their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

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Billie Eilish won best international female and premiered her new Bond theme song

Aside from Dave’s show-stopping performance, the 2020 Brits also saw Billie Eilish give the live debut of her James Bond theme, No Time To Die, backed by a 22-piece orchestra, Smiths legend Johnny Marr and composer Hans Zimmer.

Lewis Capaldi was the main winner, taking home two prizes: best new artist and best single, for his breakout hit Someone You Loved.

“Contrary to popular belief, [a lot of] people think this song is about my ex girlfriend, who you can now see every night on Love Island,” said the star, “but it’s actually about my grandmother who sadly passed away a few years ago.

“I hope to God ITV don’t contact her to be on a reality TV show.”

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Lewis Capaldi won new artist and best single. and enjoyed a beer or two in the process

Mabel won best female artist, and was congratulated by her mother, Neneh Cherry, who took home two Brits exactly 30 years ago.

Billie Eilish choked back tears as she accepted the award for best international female, having been overwhelmed by the audience’s response to her performance minutes earlier.

“I felt very hated recently,” said the 18-year-old, who told the BBC she had recently stopped reading comments on social media.

“And when so was on the stage and I saw all you guys smiling at me… It genuinely made me want to cry. And I want to cry right now, so thank you.”

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Stormzy won best male artist and then closed the show with a medley

Best male artist went to Stormzy, who performed a stunning medley of songs from his second album, Heavy Is The Head, accompanied by more than 100 performers, including a gospel choir, a saxophonist, and Nigerian artist Burna Boy.

The night opened with a brief tribute to Love Island host Caroline Flack, formerly a backstage presenter at the Brits, after her death on Saturday.

“She was a kind and vibrant person with an infectious sense of fun,” said the show’s presenter Jack Whitehall.

“I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say our thoughts are with her friends and family.”

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Host Jack Whitehall paid tribute to Caroline Flack

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Harry Styles performed his ballad Falling

Earlier, Harry Styles, who briefly dated Flack while he was in One Direction, appeared to pay tribute by wearing a black ribbon on his jacket on the red carpet.

The star performed the delicate ballad Falling during the show, but made no further reference to Flack’s death.

Other performances on the night came from Lizzo, whose irrepressible energy lit up the O2 as she roamed through the crowd performing the hits Cuz I Love You, Truth Hurts, Good As Hell and Juice.

Mabel opened the show with an athletic version of Don’t Call Me Up, set in a call centre and featuring two dance breaks. And Rod Stewart brought proceedings to an end two hours later, reuniting with The Faces to play Stay With Me.

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Mabel answered the call to open the show and then won best British female

There were several references to the lack of female nominees at the ceremony; with Paloma Faith and Foals saying they hoped for better representation at next year’s awards.

Whitehall also acknowledged the imbalance as he introduced the award for best female, saying: “Environmental issues have been a big theme of awards show this year. And in the spirit of sustainability the Brits has been recycling all the same excuses for why so few women were nominated.”

Dave wasn’t the only artist to make a political statement; with Tyler, The Creator referencing the fact he’d been banned from entering the UK in 2015 over some of his lyrics.

“A special thank you to someone who made it impossible for me to come to this country five years ago,” said the rapper as he picked up best international male.

“I know she’s at home [peed] off – thank you Theresa May.”

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Dave is only the second artist to win album of the year at the Brits and the Mercury Prize with the same record

Dave capped the night off by winning best album – a prize many had expected to go to Lewis Capaldi, whose debut album was the UK’s best-selling record last year.

But voters responded instead to the rapper’s candid, soul-baring reflections on his upbringing in London and what it means to be a young black Briton.

He dedicated his trophy to anyone hoping to follow in his footsteps, saying: “All my young kings and queens that are chasing their dreams, I am no different from you. You can do anything you put your mind to.”


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