Lots of comments on the live chat about how "bad quality" the 2003 contest is - it's fairly standard 4:3 SD for the time but to those who've grown up with HD it must look pretty bad, especially as many were saying it was the year they were born which made me feel rather ancient. Some saying it looked worse than the 1974 contest, but that was a brighter and much less energetic production that tube cameras and 2" quad tape wouldn't have struggled with!
I've got really fond memories of this one, the Eurovision website's chatroom at the time would invite a different contestant on every few days to answer questions which to a 14 year old me in the pre-Twitter world felt incredible. I printed out a 'scorecard' from the BBC's website then and made my first phone vote, to eventual winners Turkey.
It's nice to see that the general consensus now is that the UK's infamous last place is because of a mildly ok song getting an extremely bad performance, not helped by sound issues that affected a fair few of the acts that year - a much more rational answer than "IT'S BECAUSE OF IRAQ!!!" at the time that would go on to be an excuse for years. It's often forgotten that Cry Baby was a top 15 hit in the UK - not a luxury that later last-place UK results would have, and especially an achievement given that the charts were still physicals only then so all of those would have been CD/cassette purchases. Jessica Garlick the previous year only charted two places higher and she came third in the contest!
The 1999-2001 contests are often glossed over from a UK perspective as well, which showed a signficant decline long before Jemini and before the brief Garlick revival in '02. Precious in 1999 did brilliantly in the UK charts but disappointed in the contest by "only" coming 12th, which at the time was seen as a disaster but today they'd be hailed as heroes. The UK entry didn't appear on the official compilation CD at the time for some reason either, along with a couple of others.
Both 2000 and 2001 suffered a big drop in ratings which then recovered from 2002 onwards, which may have been due to the UK selection process being heavily scaled down and appearing mid-afternoon on a weekend, meaning the UK entry had barely any hype attached to it at all and neither Nicki French or Lindsay Dracass are seen as some of the best entries today. Both performed poorly in the contest, and I think it was Nicki French who blamed it on the fact that the UK wouldn't be adopting the Euro or something - the excuse that 'Iraq' in the 2000s, 'Brexit' in the 2010s and 'their bad response to Covid-19' in the 2020s (we'll see...) would replace.
Member since 26 May 2001