Nul points, anyone? Eurovision goes DIY

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For years, viewers have watched the Eurovision Song Contest and grumbled that they could come up with something better. Now, for the first time, they can put it the test.

Members of the public will be asked to put forward their own compositions. BBC Radio 2 will then draw up a shortlist of 10 songs, with a panel of music stars choosing the best one. That track will be entered into a televised vote against four professionally written tracks, with viewers picking the final Eurovision hopeful.

UK entries have performed woefully in the past three years. Javine's song "Touch My Fire" managed 22nd place earlier this year and James Fox ranked 16th the year before.

In 2003 fortunes hit an all time low when duo Jemini became the first UK act to score "nul points" with a song written by the head of Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. The UK's last win was in 1997 when Katrina and the Waves triumphed with the ballad "Love Shine a Light".

Organisers have already given some pointers to the types of song that will do best - R&B tunes and folk are out, they say. But rock, dance, big ballads and straightforward pop will work. Recent hits that the competition bosses think might offer inspiration include "Hard to Beat" by Hard-Fi, "Push the Button" by Sugababes and "Good Luck" by Basement Jaxx.

Colin Martin, Radio 2's music editor, said: "Every year, people sit there and think: 'we can do better than that. I'm sure I can come up with a song that is as good as that'. Now we are giving people the opportunity, so let's see what happens."