It is a stipulation of the contest that the entries should be chosen from a national competition. In the UK in the early 70s all the entries were performed by the same artist over a number of shows usually presented by a well-known entertainer. The New Seekers were chosen as the artists in 1972, the first time a group had represented the UK and they performed the songs on the 'It's Cliff Richard Show'. Cliff Richard had already sung in the Eurovision Contest in 1968 and was to represent the UK again in 1973.
In addition to singing the six songs the group took a larger part in the show, singing other numbers and joining in comedy sketches. Following on from the roaring success of I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing, this gave the group some regular national TV coverage and triggered their massive fan-following, dubbed by the press as "Seeker Fever".
On the final show, broadcast on 12th February, 1972 the New Seekers sang all of the short-listed entries and the country voted by post for their favourite.
Beg, Steal or Borrow was an easy winner, scoring more than twice as many votes as the song which came second:
- Beg, Steal or Borrow (62584 votes)
- One By One (27314 votes)
- Out on the Edge of Beyond (14645 votes)
- Why Can't We All Get Together? (11337 votes)
- Sing Out (7412 votes)
- Songs of Praise (3842 votes)
It was released as a single with the runner up, One By One on the other side. The group also released a German version: Ich Will Betteln, Ich Will Stehlen, on a single, backed by one of Peter Doyle's compositions, Move Me Lord.
All six entries were released on to albums in the UK. Beg, Steal or Borrow, One By One and Songs of Praise were released on We'd Like To Teach the World To Sing and the remaining three: Out on the Edge of Beyond, Why Can't We All Get Together? and Sing Out all appeared on the Look What They've Done to My Song Ma, album.
Traditionally the Eurovision Song Contest has been hosted by the country with the winning entry in the previous year but the 1971 winner, Monaco, did not have a suitable venue. It was decided instead to hold the contest in the UK at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh. Eighteen countries took part in front of an estimated world-wide audience of forty three million on 25th March.
The New Seekers were the fifth act to sing and their musical director, David Mackay conducted the orchestra for the performance. In an interview sometime later, Peter was asked how he felt on the night: "A little bit detached if anything, because at the best of times I'm edgy and I made up my mind that whatever happens will happen and it worked out. I was a little nervous in front of fifty million people." Hardly surprising, but in spite of the nerves, Peter gave a very credible performance as he lead the group into their song in which he shared the lead with Lyn.
On this occasion, the judges were all gathered in Edinburgh. There were two judges from each country, one over and one under the age of twenty five. Each judge awarded points on a rising scale of merit from 1 - 5 for every country except their own.
Whilst the votes were counted the radio audience were treated to a short interview with the New Seekers. They commented on the general high standard of the entries and Peter picked out the eventual winner, Luxembourg when asked who was likely to be particularly strong competition.
Introduced by: Moira Shearer. Commentary by: Tom Fleming.
1. Apres Toi - Vicky Leandros (Luxembourg) 128 pts 2. Beg, Steal or Borrow - The New Seekers (United Kingdom) 114 pts 3. Nur Die Liebe Lasst Uns Leben - Mary Roos (Germany) 107 pts 4. Als Het Om De Liefde Gaat - Sandra & Andras (Netherlands) 106 pts 5. Falter Im Wind - Milestones (Austria) 100 pts 6. I Giorni Dell' Arcobaleno - Nicola Di Bari (Italy) 92 pts 7. A Festa Da Vida - Carlos Mendes (Portugal) 90 pts 8. C'est La Chanson De Mon Amour - Veronique Muller (Switzerland) 88 pts 9. Muzika I Ti - Tereza (Yugoslavia) 87 pts 10. Amanece - Jaime Morey (Spain) 83 pts 11. Come-Comedie - Betty Mars (France) 81 pts 12. Muistathan - Paivi Paunu & Kim Floor (Finland) 78 pts 13. Harliga Sommardag - Family Four (Sweden) 75 pts 14. Smating - Grethe Kausland & Benny Borg (Norway) 73 pts 15. Ceol an Ghra - Sandie Jones (Ireland) 72 pts 16. Comme On S'Aime - Anne-Marie Godart & Peter McLane (Monaco) 65 pts 17. A La Folie Ou Pas Du Tout - Serge & Christine Ghisoland (Belgium) 55 pts 18. L-Imhabba - Helen & Joseph (Malta) 48 pts
Winning isn't everything at Eurovision and the New Seekers' song proved to be another hit for them in various countries and strengthened their international standing.
In concerts afterwards Eve Graham would regularly introduce Beg, Steal or Borrow, as a song: “which did quite well for us, even though it didn't win a certain contest!”