Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds are among the seven cities shortlisted to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in place of Ukraine.
They will compete 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 could not take place in the war-torn country after the invasion of Russia.
The UK was lucky enough to host Eurovision for the ninth time, more than any other country, after Sam Ryder finished second in the competition.
London was one of 20 cities that submitted an “expression of interest” to host, with candidates from the four regions demonstrating how they would reflect Ukrainian culture, music and communities.
Of the seven shortlisted cities, six are from England and one from Scotland, with Belfast failing to qualify for Northern Ireland.
Cardiff withdrew its bid to host, citing staging complexity which meant a significant number of events scheduled at the Principality’s stadium in 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 we’re very excited.”
After the announcement, Mills said, “It’s huge, it’s a beast and it’s a complicated event to organize.
“But it’s also the cities that have the passion to hold a competition like this, because of the weather, past experience with huge international events and the ability to host a celebration of modern music. .
“The next thing that happens, these cities go to the second and final stage, they have to give a little more detail on their plans.
“The final decision is made based on which city and region scores highest against the BBC criteria.”
Reacting to the news that Glasgow was on the shortlist, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “It must be Glasgow!
Meanwhile, Eurovision 1969 winner Lulu said she was also encouraging Glasgow to host the singing competition in 2023.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said: ‘When I was a kid I lived in Glasgow I remember Sing Little Birdy Sing and it was very exciting but it was a very small event, now it’s is world class. It is one of the most important shows on television.
“I mean, if you think about it, it’s almost an institution because it’s been going on for so long and it’s kind of a James Bond parallel with it starting in the 60s and it’s becoming more and more big and getting better.
“I’m excited about this especially because of Ukraine, my heart and everyone’s heart goes out to Ukraine and it’s a chance to represent them and do the right thing with them, it’s so touching that I think it’s going to be an amazing year.”
Cheryl Baker, who won Eurovision in 1981 with Bucks Fizz and originally backed Cardiff to host, said it would be great for Liverpool to win because of their “magnificent heritage”, and also for Birmingham because “it’s is in the middle of the country”. .
She said of the song contest: “He has grown year by year, the affection for him, especially because of this year with Sam Ryder which makes him absolutely so massive and so kind to Ukraine, in saying ‘It’s your party but we have it in our house’, I think it’s going to be the best year.
“It gave me my life, it completely changed my life,” she added.
The BBC, which broadcasts the competition in the UK, and the EBU selected the shortlist based on “cities’ capacity, suitability and experience in hosting an event of this scale and complexity”.
The winner will need ample event space, suitable accommodation and international transport links for competing countries and their delegations.
Kate Phillips, director of unscripted content at the BBC, said: “We would like to thank all the cities and regions that have submitted bids to host the Eurovision Song Contest next year. We have seven fantastic cities that we are taking to the next round. »
“Congratulations to Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield – it’s exciting to see such a wide range of offers from across the UK.
“We are committed to delivering a truly unique song contest that celebrates the 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 will each get a bye. go free because of their financial contributions to the event.
On Friday, British think tank and charity British Future called on Ukrainian refugees and their British host families to receive “priority tickets” for Eurovision 2023.
The host city should be announced in the fall.