Smitten-Downes gets Eurovision nod
Unknown Molly Smitten-Downes was tonight unveiled as the hopeful who BBC chiefs believe could help to raise the UK's flagging fortunes after recent flops at Eurovision.
The 26-year-old has been chosen to perform her self-written song Children Of The Universe at the contest to be staged on May 10 in Copenhagen with a potential TV audience of 120 million.
The BBC has ditched its recent strategy of enlisting veteran acts after Bonnie Tyler managed a lowly 19th place last year and Engelbert Humperdinck was 25th out of 26 acts in 2012.
Smitten-Downes - who was chosen through BBC Introducing, which champions up-and-coming artists - was announced this evening.
Her name had already been circulating online throughout the day and her Wikipedia entry had been amended to say she had been picked to take part.
The singer, from Leicestershire, has been writing songs for a decade and has supported acts such as Jake Bugg, Tinie Tempah and Labrinth. Her efforts have also been highlighted at events for unsigned music acts.
She said: "I'm so excited for everyone to hear Children of The Universe. I'm so happy with it.
"To represent the United Kingdom in such a huge competition, not only as a singer and performer but as a songwriter is an unbelievable honour. I hope I can do us proud."
Smitten-Downes has previously been involved with dance act Stunt who briefly made the top ten in 2008 after their single Raindrops - which previously peaked at number 51 - featured in a mash-up with Sash's Encore Une Fois.
She studied music at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford, Surrey, and is an accomplished pianist.
Katie Taylor, the BBC's head of entertainment, said: "She has the chance to make her mark by flying the flag for the UK and be appreciated by millions of people throughout Europe."
Executive producer of the BBC's Eurovision coverage Guy Freeman said: "BBC Introducing provided us with an extraordinary range of talent to explore and in Molly we found the perfect combination of contemporary song writing and real vocal quality.
"Her enthusiasm for the project is infectious and I'm sure that she'll gain huge support on the journey to Copenhagen."
Denmark landed this year's Eurovision Song Contest after triumphing in 2013 with Emmelie de Forest's Only Teardrops. It will be broadcast on BBC1 and Radio 2.