Eurovision 2016: how will new song search work?

Public given the opportunity to choose Britain's next Eurovision entry after years of disappointing results

(Image credit: Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images)

In a desperate bid to end Britain's losing streak in the Eurovision Song Contest, the public will once again be asked to decide who represents the country at the annual festival of kitsch.

The UK has been represented by artists including Blue, Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler in recent years, but to no avail. This year's entry - I'm Still in Love with You by Electro Velvet – scored a paltry five points, once again leaving an entire nation disappointed and embarrassed.

But now, the BBC has ditched its controversial internal selection process and given control back to the public.

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With just 227 days to go until performers take to the stage in Stockholm, the UK has launched what Eurovision itself calls its "biggest ever" hunt for an entry, involving an X-Factor style talent search to unearth a new star.

How will it work?

Anyone over the age of 18 is invited to submit a video of themselves singing an original song. The video doesn't need to be professionally shot, but it must adhere to competition rules. It can't be longer than three minutes and the song cannot have been released previously. The final decision will be made by a professional panel and the public.

Details of how to enter can be found at the BBC Eurovision website and entries close on 20 November.

What has the reaction been?

"United Kingdom, this is your big chance," says The Guardian's Stuart Heritage. "All those dark years of washed-up boybands, wrinkled-up crooners and ferociously anonymous nobodies are now in the rearview mirror."

Heritage has plenty of advice for the voting public: do not picking a song because it sounds Eurovision-y; choose a performer with some semblance of star quality; don't be a music snob.

But he does not hold out much hope of the great British public picking a winner. "I've seen the way you've voted on these Saturday night singing shows. You're bad at this. You've got terrible taste," he writes. "Oh God, we're going to come last again, aren't we?"

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