Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds are among the seven cities shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in place of Ukraine.
They will battle it out alongside Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield in the next stage of the bidding process to host the 67th Eurovision Song Contest.
Ukrainian entry Kalush Orchestra triumphed at this year’s competition in Turin, Italy, but the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces the annual event, decided the event cannot be held in the war-torn country following Russia’s invasion.
Introducing the Sensational Seven! 🤩
One of these cities will host #Eurovision 2023!
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) August 12, 2022
The UK was given the chance to host Eurovision for the ninth time, more than any other country, after Sam Ryder came second in the competition.
London was one of the 20 cities who submitted an “expression of interest” to host, with applicants across all four regions demonstrating how they would reflect Ukrainian culture, music and communities.
Of the seven cities shortlisted, six are from England and one is from Scotland, with Belfast failing to make the cut for Northern Ireland.
Cardiff withdrew its bid to host, citing the complexity of staging which meant a significant number of scheduled events in the Principality Stadium during spring 2023 would have had to be cancelled.
Scott Mills joined Zoe Ball on her BBC Two Breakfast show to announce the shortlist of host cities, alongside Eurovision executive supervisor Martin Osterdahl on Friday.
Mr Osterdahl said: “We’ve waited 25 years for Eurovision to be hosted in the UK, so very excited.”
After the announcement, Mills said: “It’s huge, it’s a beast and it’s complicated as an event to put on.
Eurovision 2023 will be hosted in __________ pic.twitter.com/SaW8iUlWaR
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) August 12, 2022
“But also it’s cities who have the passion to put on a contest like this, because of time, past experience with huge international events and also being able to host a celebration of modern music.
“The next thing that happens, these cities go through to the second and final stage, they have to give a bit more detail about their plans.
“The final, final decision gets made based on what city and region scores highest against the BBC’s criteria.”
Reacting to news that Glasgow made the shortlist, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “It’s got to be Glasgow!”
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 12, 2022
Meanwhile, 1969 Eurovision winner Lulu said she is also rooting for Glasgow to host the singing competition in 2023.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said: “When I was a child living in Glasgow I remember Sing Little Birdy Sing and it was very exciting but it was a very small event, now it is world class. It is one of the biggest shows on television.
“I mean if you think about it, it is almost an institution because it has lasted so long and it is kind of on a parallel with James Bond with it starting in the 60s and has got bigger and bigger and better and better.
Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield have all been shortlisted to host the next Eurovision Song Contest.@lulushouts reveals her hopes for Glasgow before explaining how this will be a chance for us to 'represent and do right by Ukraine.' pic.twitter.com/p9qLWogEiA
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) August 12, 2022
“I am excited about it especially because of Ukraine, my heart and everyone’s heart goes out to Ukraine and this is a chance to represent them and do right by them, it is so touching I think it is going to be an amazing year.”
Cheryl Baker, who won Eurovision in 1981 with Bucks Fizz and who had originally backed Cardiff to host, said it would be great for Liverpool to win because of its “beautiful heritage”, and equally Birmingham because “it’s in the middle of the country”.
She said of the song contest: “It has grown year on year, the affection for it, especially because of this year with Sam Ryder absolutely making it so massive and being so kind about Ukraine, saying ‘It’s your party but we are having it in our house’, I think it is going to be the best year.”
“It has given me my life, it changed my life completely,” she added.
The BBC, which broadcasts the contest in the UK, and the EBU made the shortlist selection based on the cities’ “capacity, capability and experience to host an event of this scale and complexity”.
The winner will need a large events space, suitable accommodation and international transport links for the competing countries and their delegations.
Kate Phillips, the BBC’s director of unscripted content, said: “We would like to thank all of the cities and regions that submitted bids to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest. We have seven fantastic cities who we are taking through to the next round.”
“Congratulations to Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield – it’s exciting to see such a breadth of bids going through from across the UK.
“We are committed to delivering a truly unique Song Contest that celebrates wonderful Ukraine and champions British music and creativity in all its diversity.”
Ukraine will automatically qualify for the Eurovision grand final alongside the so-called big five nations – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.
On Friday, UK-based think tank and charity British Future called for Ukrainian refugees and their UK host families to be given “priority tickets” to Eurovision 2023.
The host city is expected to be announced by the autumn.