The United Kingdom held a national preselection to choose the song that would go to the Eurovision Song Contest 1976.
Following the lowest published figure known for the public vote in the UK finals that used either voting by mail or telephone in 1975 and the BBC’s choice of The Shadows singing all the shortlisted songs, calls from the Music Publishers Association for the songwriters and composers to be allowed to select the artist of their choice to perform the songs in future UK selections for Eurovision led to an ‘all-comers’ final being reinstated in 1976. It was a reversion to the format used for UK finals from 1961-1963. Twelve songs were chosen by the Music Publisher’s Association, with the songwriters choosing their own artist.
“Save Your Kisses for Me” won the national final, performed on stage with dance moves and four brightly dressed singers, it ultimately went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest itself and become a UK No.1 single, the group had a 2 further UK No.1 singles over the next 18 months. The track was the biggest selling single of 1976 in the UK and the sixth biggest selling for the 1970s in Britain, with sales well in excess of 1 million copies. Globally, the track attained sales of over 6 million, making it the biggest selling winning single in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest.
A Song for Europe 1976 took place on 25 February 1976 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Michael Aspel (who had hosted the 1969 UK final) acted as presenter for the event. Fourteen regional juries voted on the songs: Bristol, Bangor, Leeds, Norwich, Newcastle, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast, Cardiff, Plymouth, Glasgow, Southampton and London. Each jury ranked the songs 1-12, awarding 12 points for their favourite down to 1 point for their least preferred.
The songs were backed by the Alyn Ainsworth Orchestra. A Song for Europe was watched in 6.3 million homes (giving it a general viewing figure of 12.6 million viewers), and finishing as the 18th-most watched programme of the week. “Save Your Kisses for Me” won the national final and ultimately went on to win the Eurovision Song Contest itself.
Frank Ifield had taken part in the 1962 A Song for Europe contest in the UK, where he’d placed second. Polly Brown became the only artist to perform two songs in a multi-artist UK national final. Apart from her solo entry, Brown was also one half of the duo ‘Sweet Dreams’. With a change in line-up, ‘Co-Co’ would return in the A Song for Europe 1978 contest, which they would win and go on to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. The band featured Cheryl Baker who ultimately won Eurovision for the UK in 1981 with Bucks Fizz. ‘Sunshine’ also returned two years later, also with a different line-up. Hazell Dean would return in the 1984 A Song for Europe contest. International singing stars Dionne Warwick and Jean Terrell (former lead singer of The Supremes) both recorded and released versions of the song Do You Believe In Love At First Sight? despite the song’s poor placing in the contest.