Lloyd Webber to compose UK 2009 Eurovision entry

Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:24am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Musical impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber is to compose Britain's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest next year in a bid to improve the country's recent miserable record in the competition.

After British entrant Andy Abraham finished joint last in the 2008 contest, Lloyd Webber will create a song for the winner of a BBC television program "Your Country Needs You" for the 2009 competition.

"In my life I've never shied away from the impossible and this looks like the biggest mission impossible of all time," said Lloyd Webber in a statement on Saturday.

The BBC program will involve six finalists chosen by Lloyd Webber and music industry professionals from both amateur and professional entries sent to the BBC website.

The final say on who Lloyd Webber will compose the song for will be made by a television viewer vote.

"I am thrilled Andrew will be championing the country's search for a star to storm this year's Eurovision," said BBC One Controller Jay Hunt.

Following the 2008 contest veteran presenter Terry Wogan blamed racism as well as politicized voting for Britain's poor showing after not one of the 22 east European countries voted for Abraham as Russia won for the first time.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Wogan said: "East of the Danube, they won't be voting for a black singer any day soon."

Russian singer Dima Bilan beat 24 contestants with the rock ballad "Believe" to win in May, with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offering their congratulations after the show, which was watched by 100 million viewers.

For entry details visit www.bbc.co.uk/eurovision.

(Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Christina Fincher and Paul Casciato)

<p>Composer and Kennedy Center Honoree Andrew Lloyd Webber speaks to reporters as he arrives at the White House for the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, December 3, 2006. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts</p>