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Scott Mills on Eurovision and why Sam Fox should represent Britain

Scott Mills on Eurovision and why Sam Fox should represent Britain

For the uninitiated, the Eurovision Song Contest is the continent’s most baffling contribution to culture. Some countries take it super-seriously, others (step forward the UK) treat it as a bit of a joke and, as a result, tend to lose. Embarrassingly. For Europe’s gays meanwhile, Eurovision – good or bad – is the perfect excuse for a party.

Watching it all this year will be gay BBC Radio One DJ Scott Mills. He will be helping with the results show on BBC1 on the day of the finals (18 May) and anchoring BBC3’s coverage for British TV of the semi-finals on 14 and 16 May.

We introduced Mills to the magic of Skype so we could catch up with him about all things Eurovision – and find out why he wants Sam Fox, a British pop singer best known for being a top-off glamor model for tabloid newspaper The Sun’s famous Page Three, to represent the UK in 2014.

How are you?

I’m very excited by doing my first Skype interview.

So you are going to be hosting the BBC3 coverage of Eurovision again this year, are you a massive fan of the contest?

They asked me a couple of years ago to present Eurovision, first in Dussledorf and last year Azerbaijan (not really in Europe). I was one of those people who had a Eurovision party but was not obsessive, like some people you meet when you’re out there, who know everything about it.

It’s taken really, really seriously and millions of Euros is spent on it and the show is quite spectacular. It’s a nice atmosphere and it’s turned into my favorite week of work for the year.

Your co-host is Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic, have you warned her about Eurovision and how devoted people are?

She knows about the contest and the level we are looking at from some of the countries.

I think she is perfect for it, as she is a lot of fun, super camp and loves her music. She knows when music is bad. But I haven’t been able to warn her about the obsessive fans who follow it. There are people that camp outside the arena for the semi-finials, that’s craziness. I will have to warn her as there are a specific bunch of people who take it very seriously.

Would you say Eurovision is the Olympics for gays?

It’s exactly that, I went just as a spectator to Serbia four years ago and I thought ‘this is brilliant’. Because it is literally a big gay World Cup. I’m also doing the results on the night, so I have to say, ‘Hello Sweden, this is London calling’. The annoying thing is I don’t get to say ‘nul point’.

A few years back I saw Lorraine Kelly (British morning TV personality) give the scores and I wasn’t sure if she was so excited or completely drunk?

It’s quite nerve racking doing the results, because whether you like it or not 120 million people will be watching the final on every national broadcaster in Europe. I’m on for 20 seconds, I have to get out three scores, so there’s hardly anything that I can get wrong. But honestly I get properly nervous about it.

The thing is I’m going to be in Sweden for the week, doing two shows for BBC3 but then I fly back on the Friday to do the results from London on the Saturday. So everyone asks, ‘what’s it like to be there on the final?’ and I’m never there for the final, I’m in a small studio in London with a camera man, watching it on TV like everyone else.

Have you had to geek up on every country that is entering and how to pronounce the entries’ names?

Just from doing this over the last couple of years I have learnt of countries I didn’t even know existed like San Marino. Also you get to know which countries are generally always bad like Macedonia.

They do give you pronunciations for everyone’s name but to be honest we never get it right.

I’ve been told we have to look out for Cezar from Romania, who sings most of the song in a falsetto.

He is amazing. He is the one to look out for in terms of comedy as he looks quite metrosexual, generally all in white, singing in falsetto and takes himself quite seriously.

The UK have Bonnie Tyler this year, but our sources say she is going to be in the bottom half of the score board, even though she is really popular in Europe. Does she have the potential to win?

I know that she really wants to win this year, which always helps. But recently we haven’t done that well, but I don’t know what that magic thing is that makes you win.

For a couple of years running the song I thought was going to win, didn’t come anyway near. But I hope we do better than last year, I would like us to be at least in the top 10 for a change.

There does seem to be a bit of a revival thing happening for the UK contestants, Bonnie Tyler, Engelbert Humperdinck and Blue. So who else would you like to see enter?

I’ve had two ideas about this because the revival thing is big at the moment, what with the Big Reunion. So I’m saying that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if we had someone like Steps do it or Atomic Kitten.

Or if you want to go way back, go with someone who has sold a ridiculous amount of records in Europe, who has only ever had two or three hits in the UK a long time ago… Samatha Fox. She sells out stadiums, still now, in Poland in all the eastern block, Scandinavia. I was looking this up the other day and she has sold 130 millions records. How?

Touch Me was in the mid 80s and she still tours Europe. And she has an interesting story as a former page three girl. She fits the bill totally.

I told this to the guy who makes the ultimate decision and you can see his mind ticking it over, especially when I told him how many records she has sold.

The BBC have taken away the public vote for the UK entrants and decide internally who is going to represent us. Do you think Simon Cowell should step in?

I was thinking about this the other day actually. It’s a shame we have so much stigma attached to it. What we could actually do, if we took it a bit more seriously like the rest of Europe, is to put our proper well known and current talent in. I think we are missing a trick on that.

Most of the other countries enter their biggest star, like whoever is the Rihanna of Romania, she does Eurovision.

That’s obviously not going to happen for us, but it would be nice if someone took the plunge.

In terms of the selection process, Your Country Needs You, that didn’t get us anywhere either. But there are pros and cons on each one, and for now I guess we are going to keep on the Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler route.

So where do you think Jemini (UK pop group who lost Eurovision in 2003 with zero points) are now?

Well, funny you should ask that. In the week of Eurovision there’s a two hour documentary on BBC3 about Eurovision and there is some brilliant stuff in it, that unless you are a mega super fan, you wouldn’t have known or seen. Like one woman singing a song about how she can’t find her boat. That was one of my favourites.

Jemini are on the documentary just apologizing, saying we honestly couldn’t hear what we were doing [they sang out of tune, see video below]. I think they may be working and doing music under a different name. But if you watch the documentary you will see them give a heart felt apology.

How was your first Skype interview?

It was great, thank you for introducing me to the world of Skype, it’s like you are in the room with me.

You can see Scott Mills on BBC3 on 14 and 16 May covering the semi-finals. And Gay Star News will have its own expert team covering Eurovision from Malmö, Sweden.