BBC Junior Eurovision participation not a one-off

The BBC’s debut as a broadcaster in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest next month is part of a long-term plan, not a one-off. 

The broadcaster announced in August that it would bring the UK back to the contest this year after a 17 year absence, but its further ambitions were unknown at the time. 

Lee Smithurst, Executive Producer of the BBC’s Junior Eurovision coverage and Head of Delegation, gave an exclusive update to The Euro Trip. 

“Absolutely it’s a long-term plan,” he said. 

“Everyone is keen. Obviously this year the time frame was quite short but I hope in the future that we can build on this and do a [televised] final where there’s audition shows and lots of kids can enter because they have a lot of shows on CBBC like that. 

“So it’s utilising a new show to try to find talent and really engage that CBBC audience. I definitely think there’s a platform for that.” 

Freya Skye was unveiled as the country’s 2022 Junior Eurovision representative yesterday, having been chosen through an internal selection. She will sing Lose My Head at the contest in Yerevan on December 11. 

Skye is the country’s first Junior Eurovision representative since 2005 when Joni Fuller performed her song How Does It Feel?

Freya Skye’s Junior Eurovision entry Lose My Head

During his conversation with The Euro Trip, Smithurst also detailed the reasons behind the BBC’s debut at the contest this year. 

“I was asked by Rachel Ashdown (Lead Commissioner for the BBC’s Eurovision output) and Susie Lamb (Managing Director of BBC Studios) about it a couple of weeks after we came back from Turin,” he said. 

“The EBU have asked the BBC if they’d consider coming back, but our results in the adult Eurovision hadn’t been that good until we got to Sam Ryder. 

“So the priority was to start changing that narrative and getting better results before it [Junior Eurovision] could even be considered.” 

Smithurst said the BBC debuting in Junior Eurovision owed a lot to Sam Ryder’s runner-up result at Eurovision this year, saying “the time was just right” with national interest being so high. 

With Junior Eurovision taking place in just over a month’s time, Smithrst has his expectations set. 

“I would love to win. I’m competitive. But I don’t want to put that pressure on Freya. 

“It’s the same with Sam. All you can do is go and do your best. It would be amazing to win. I just hope we can keep that momentum of Sam and get another good result; whether that be fifth place or first place, it just has to feel that it’s a good result.

“I do believe that Freya’s performing skills will mean that we can hopefully get a good result in Armenia.”

Image – BBC / Justin Downing

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