Children’s favourite Dustin The Turkey has been plucked as one of six finalists destined to take the stage in Belgrade this May.
And it will be up to television viewers to decide if the cult figure’s performance of Irelande Douze Pointe — a parody of Eurovision — will ruffle some feathers at the song contest.
Dustin, one of Ireland’s leading stars since he joined The Den with fellow puppets Zig and Zag in the 1990s, will perform live in the Irish final later this month.
The bird is no stranger to the limelight, having recorded six albums and performed a host of comic duets with artists such as Bob Geldof, Chris de Burgh, Ronnie Drew, Dervla Kirwan and the late Joe Dolan.
But after a number of years in the wilderness, Dustin The Turkey said he has decided to return to the recording studio in an effort to restore his nation’s position as the High Kings Of Eurovision.
He says it’s a selfless act based on his desire to help his country as he believes there is a direct link between the recent downturn in the economy, his lack of musical output and our poor showing in the Eurovision over the past number of years.
Darren Smith and Simon Fine — who have composed the track with Dustin — previously collaborated on Crazy Turkey from Dustin’s bestselling album, Bling When Your Minging.
Ireland’s glory in the song contest has taken a battering in recent years.
Despite winning the Eurovision a record seven times — in 1970, 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 — it was third last in 2004, failed to qualify in 2005, Brian Kennedy was placed in the top 10 in 2006, and the trad group Dervish came last last year.
This year, RTÉ changed the rules and almost 200 entries from songwriters in and outside of Ireland were received by judging panel, chaired by television producer Bill Hughes.
The final six songs were chosen by the team that featured singer/songwriter Eleanor McEvoy, former Eurovision winning singer/songwriter Charlie McGettigan, showbiz agent/choreographer Julian Benson and RTÉ’s Julian Vignoles.
Mr Hughes said that this year RTÉ decided to take a different approach to the Eurovision, putting emphasis on performance and stage appeal as well as finding a cracking song.
“The judging panel was delighted with the standard of the entries and each and every one of these six acts would do us proud on the Eurovision stage,” he said. “Best of luck to all the finalists. It’s now up to the public to decide who will represent us in Belgrade in May.”
Eurosong 2008 will be presented by Ray D’Arcy and broadcast live from University Concert Hall Limerick on Saturday, February 23. The live show will be broadcast from 7-8pm and voting lines will open (phone and text) only after all six acts have performed. The public will then decide which song will represent Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest on May 20.
The winner will be announced in a live results show at 9.30pm.
The final will be staged on Saturday, May 24.
* Double Cross My Heart, performed by part-time television presenter Donal Skehan and composed by Joel Humlen, Oscar Gorres and Charlie Mason.
* Irelande Douze Pointe, performed by Dustin The Turkey. Composed by Darren Smith, Simon Fine and Dustin The Turkey.
* Time to Rise, performed by Slovenian singer Maya and composed by MajaSlatinsek and Ziga Pirnat.
* Not Crazy After All, performed by Dubliner Leona Daly and composed by Leona and Steve Booker.
* Sometimes, performed by 17-year-old Liam Geddes written by Susan Hewitt.
* Chances, written and performed Marc Roberts, who was awarded second place in the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland with Mysterious Girl.