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  • Writer's pictureLiv Webster

The ultimate guide to Eurovision references in Doctor Who


December marks an exciting time of year for both Eurovision and Doctor Who fans alike.


The former enjoys the start of national final season, usually centring on the iconic Albanian selection Festivali i Këngës (otherwise known as "FiKmas"). The latter either rejoices in (or dreads) the upcoming Christmas special of Doctor Who aired on Christmas Day.


What do these two fandoms have in common?


Doctor Who loves a good pop culture reference, with Eurovision not escaping a few nods over the years! From audiobooks named after Eurovision entries to national final artists taking up acting gigs in Doctor Who, the meme sea is endless. It doesn't end there, either - Eurovision has returned the favour with some cheeky little nods to the sci-fi franchise too.


If Twitter has taught me anything, it's that there are MANY EuroWhoFans (I just made that up) such as myself floating around. It's a surprisingly common entertainment crossover!


With the recent Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials seeing the return of David Tennant in the titular role and Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor debuting in this year's Christmas Special, then, I thought it was the perfect time to trace the various links between two of favourite franchises!


Come with me on a deep dive into how our two beloved fandoms have honoured each other over the years.


You're good to go! Allons-y! Take it away! Geronimo! (I think you get the point).


1. Catherine Tate as spokesperson for the UK - and David Tennant promoting Eurovision 2023!


Let's kick off with the most recent one! At Eurovision this year, the iconic Catherine Tate - better known as beloved companion to the Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble - read the 12 points for the UK's jury live in Liverpool Arena to a roaring home crowd.


She even slipped in a nice reference to Doctor Who before giving her 12 points, by uttering "allons-y" - the Tenth Doctor's catch phrase!


Eagle-eyed fans will have also spotted Tenth (and now Fourteenth) Doctor David Tenant promoting Eurovision 2023 during the airing of Comic Relief earlier this year. Tennant dangled the carrot of Grand Final Tickets which left Eurofans clawing at their TV screens.


David Tennant promotes Eurovision 2023

2. Sharon D. Clarke competes in The UK's National Final


Decorated musical theatre actress Sharon D. Clarke is known in Doctor Who for portraying Grace O'Brien - the wife of Graham O'Brien and the grandmother of Ryan Sinclair, both companions to Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor.


Did you know, though, she tried her hand at Eurovision too? In 2000 as part of girl group Six Chix, Sharon participated in the UK's national selection with the song 'Only The Women Know'.


They narrowly missed out on Eurovision, placing second to Nicki French with 'Don't Play That Song Again'.


3. The Doctor's biggest fear? Jedward


For Comic Relief 2013 (a yearly charity show in the UK), Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor makes an appearance in a skit where he quite literally creates iconic Irish Eurovision duo Jedward!


Visiting a hospital, the Doctor tells a new mother of twins: "you will call them Jonathan and Edward, and individually, they'll be nothing - healthy children. But combined, they will form a being scarier than a Weeping Angel, a creation more terrifying than a Cyberman and a monstrosity more vocally annoying than a Dalek. It is imperative they be kept apart, because otherwise they will become... Jedward!".


Clearly the Doctor isn't a fan of 'Lipstick' and 'Waterline'.


4. Lucie Jones appears in spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures as a ghost!


For those unfamiliar (who are we kidding, if you've read this far you probably even own the Doctor Who Wii game), The Sarah Jane Adventures was a child-oriented spin-off show of Doctor Who starring Elisabeth Sladen as former companion Sarah Jane Smith.


Lucie Jones, who represented the UK at Eurovision 2017 with the entry 'Never Give Up On You' appears as side-character Gemma in the episode "Lost in Time" which aired in 2010. In this episode, Sarah Jane and her sidekicks Luke, Clyde and Rani end up strewn across time and investigating supernatural shenanigans in different periods of history.


Lucie's character is a ghost who haunts an old country mansion - not a ghost from the past, though, but a ghost from the future! Sarah Jane, assisted by paranormal investigator Emily, eventually solves the mystery and stops Lucie's character from experiencing a terrible tragedy.


5. Bang-Bang-a-Boom!


For those who can't get enough of Doctor Who on TV, Big Finish Productions' audio plays have long served as an extra glimpse into the Doctor Who universe - and way back in 2002, the play "Bang-Bang-a-Boom!" had a massive Eurovision tie-in.


The story sees Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy and his companion Mel, played by Bonnie Langford - who was herself briefly rumoured to be representing the UK at Eurovision 2013 in Malmo - investigate a murder mystery set at a outer-space parody of Eurovision, the "Intergalactic Song Contest".


Eurovision fans will recognise that the title is a pun on the UK's 1969 Eurovision entry 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' by Lulu - which was of course one of four winners of Eurovision that year!


6. Blue: Eurovision to Doctor Who pipeline


The band Blue represented The UK at Eurovision with the iconic entry 'I Can', placing a commendable 11th place in 2011.


But here's the weird part: if I had a nickel for every time a member of Blue showed up in Doctor Who I'd have two nickels. Which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice. Right?


Blue member Antony Costa voiced Hagan in the Big Finish audio play "Prisoner of the Sun" and Duncan James is featured in the stories "Dead London" and "Max Warp", both opposite Eighth Doctor Paul McGann and his mate Lucie Miller, voiced by British national treasure Sheridan Smith.


7. Eurovision tried to put Doctor Who back on air...?


In 1985 during an 18-month suspension of Doctor Who where it faced cancellation, a charity single 'Doctor in Distress' hit the radio waves. It was written to boost morale over the decline of the show with all proceeds to raise money for cancer research.


On the track featured none other than Bucks Fizz's Bobby G, winner of Eurovision 1981 with the hit 'Making Your Mind Up'.


Unfortunately, sales were so poor that it failed to recover expenses. No money went to the charity and Doctor Who, while it did end up being recommissioned for another few years, would subsequently be cancelled in 1989 before being resurrected again in 2005.


For anyone who has listened to this musical atrocity, you may have a sense of why the single didn't set the charts alight...


8. Doctor Who logo borrowed from Eurovision 1960?


The Eurovision Song Contest 1960 was hosted by the UK and directed by Innes Lloyd, a familiar name being Doctor Who taking on the mantle of show producer in 1966. With the aid of story editor Gerry Davis, Lloyd came up with the original idea of regeneration to allow the show to move onto different actors - keeping Doctor Who alive!


The graphics of the 1960 contest bear an eerie familiarity to those used during First Doctor William Hartnell's era, using a similar Grotesque typeface. Let's be real, though: the BBC most likely just had budget limitations. A concept that is familiar to Doctor Who fans...


9. A Dalek auditions for Eurovision


As part of the BBC's annual red nose day fundraiser for 2023, Eurovision alumni Lulu (Eurovision 1969), Graham Norton (UK Commentator and Host) and Sam Ryder (Eurovision 2022) participated in a sketch where they ran auditions to see who should represent the UK at Eurovision 2023, with a very unexpected visitor - a Dalek!


When Graham questions whether the Dalek can sing, it responds in its classic distorted vocals "How dare you! I have the voice of an angel!".


It then makes an attempt at vocalising Daft Punk's 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger' with the altered lyrics "Harder, better, destroy, humans". The skit fortunately didn't end with the panel being exterminated.


10. Graham Norton's accidental appearance in Doctor Who


Speaking of Graham Norton, the UK's beloved Eurovision commentator made an unplanned appearance during one of the most important moments of Doctor Who history.


The live airing of the very first episode of the revived series of Doctor Who in 2005, "Rose", was running concurrent with Norton's filming of Strictly Dance Fever. As a result, some unexpected feedback from the BBC studios resulted in Graham's voice projecting over the top of a critical scene where Rose finds the mannequin monsters, leading to uproar amongst Doctor Who fans excited to see their favourite show back onscreen after 15 years!


Blink (get it) and you'll miss it, but a fun bit of trivia!


11. Christopher Eccleston's "Nil points"


In the banger of an episode "Parting of the Ways", Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston has a fun little interaction with the Daleks, goading them by stating "Is that it? Useless. Nil points!" - a sentence that strikes fear into both Daleks and Eurofans awaiting their countries' televote scores alike.


12. Martha Jones and The Doctor went to Eurovision 2007!


A series of fictional blog posts released in 2007 to coincide with the third series airing revealed that the Tenth Doctor and his friend Martha went to Eurovision 2007 in Helsinki! These blogs, written by long-time Doctor Who scribe Joseph Lidster, served as tie-ins for fans and were posted as MySpace entries to whet appetites for the upcoming season.


According to these entries, the Doctor and Marta watched the UK's Scooch with 'Flying the Flag (for You)' and the Slovenian entry 'Cvet Z Juga' by Alenka Gotar. A few weeks later, they watched Lulu win Eurovision 1969 on TV. Iconic duo.


13. 'Children of the Universe' - The UK (Eurovision 2014)


Bear with me here - this one is not an "official" fact but more EuroWhoFans connecting dots that might be unrelated but are fun to ponder nonetheless.


The lyrics for Molly's entry have many Who-ish references such as "With the taste of something sweet that some doctor gave me now", "We're shining like diamonds" (Episode: Utopia), "Dancing on the edge of time and it's ours to own" (generally something The Doctor would say) and "Something's stirring in the silence" (Alien: The Silence).


Not to mention "Children of the Universe" is mighty close to the name of Doctor Who spin-off show Torchwood's third series "Children of Earth". I dare you to listen to the song and think of Doctor Who, the vibe is perfect!


14. John Barrowman nearly competed at Eurovision

John Barrowman appears as jury panellist alongside Mel Giedroyc for The UK's National Final in 2007

It's no secret John Barrowman who portrays the much-adored Captain Jack Harkness is a massive fan of Eurovision and a well-seasoned singer.


He appeared as a jury panellist for The UK's National Final "Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up 2007" alongside Mel Giedroyc and Terry Wogan. John loved winning entry Scootch with 'Flying the Flag (for You)', deeming it sufficiently Eurovision-y.


John returned to his local National Final the next year with "Eurovision: Your Decision 2008" alongside Carrie Grant and Terry Wogan as jury panellists. Eventual winning entry was 'Even If' with Andy Abraham.


During an interview with The Telegraph in 2010, John revealed he was offered the opportunity to represent The UK at Eurovision 2008, and turned it down, stating "...the reason I didn't do it [Eurovision] was because of all the politics. No matter how good the song was, you'd be nil points".


It seems that Barrowman had a similar bleak interpretation of The UK's participation at the time, as many Brits did. If only he knew Sam Ryder would fully slay in 2022.


During his UK and Ireland tour in 2011, John performed a fabulous medley of Eurovision hits alongside group The J4s. Tunes included 'Save Your Kisses for Me' (Eurovision 1976), 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' (Eurovision 1969), 'Making Your Mind Up' (Eurovision 1981) and 'Waterloo' (Eurovision 1974) with a live band.


He also appeared in "Eurovision Song Contest: Your Country Needs Blue", a TV special documentary following the journey of Blue to Eurovision 2011. I feel like I could make an entire book on John Barrowman's links to Eurovision alone...


15. The Thirteeth Doctor: a Eurovision fan


In tie-in novel "The Good Doctor", written by known Eurovision fan and trans icon Juno Dawson, Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor makes reference to Eurovision 1967 winner - the UK's Sandie Shaw with the entry 'Puppet on a String'.


While listing off her plan to save the day, the Doctor says that she needs to "find the TARDIS [...] and get to Vienna in 1967 in time for Eurovision". Her companion Graham seems a little sceptical, replying: "Hundred per cent. Except the Eurovision bit, I'll give that a miss". The Doctor, though, holds strong, protesting: "Really? It was the year Sandie Shaw won, but whatever".


We all know a Graham in our lives that needs a little convincing to give Eurovision a go, eh?


16. Mozart wrote Eurovision entries


To finish us off, we're going for a deep cut which concerns the Big Finish audio play "My Own Private Wolfgang" featuring Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor - classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is immortal in it (just roll with it).


The Doctor and companion Evelyn Smythe talk to a 20th-century Mozart who explains he used to be the greatest composer that ever lived. Evelyn makes a remark that she doesn't believe he could have been as she has heard some of his Eurovision entries and didn't think much of them. Savage. Turns out even Mozart couldn't write a Eurovision hit!



There you have it - Eurovision and Doctor Who have some wonderful and quirky links. I don't know about you but I love the amazing weirdness of both entities and how there is a crossover in fan bases. The appeal to innovation, being unique and being different runs deep in both shows.


Thank you to fellow Aussievision contributor, friend and Doctor Who fan Craig for your help in researching this article! This is quite possibly one of my favourite articles I've ever written, I love it when we can be passionate about things we love and what better way to celebrate the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas Special than honouring these iconic moments. For anyone still reading - I wrote this article listening to ''This Is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home' on repeat for 4 hours. It felt appropriate.


For continued updates on all the Eurovision Song Contest and Sanremo Music Festival news follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. All links at: https://linktr.ee/aussievisionnet


1 Comment


Rebecca Woolf
Rebecca Woolf
Mar 18

Well, Doctor Who is going to drop its first episodes on the same night as the Eurovision grand final. May 11th will be Whovision night!

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