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10 surprising facts you may not know about Eurovision

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It’s almost time for Eurovision, and it’s set to be held in the UK for the first time in 25 years. So, it’s the perfect time to brush up on your Eurovision trivia.

The song contest has been delighting fans since 1956 – the only year it wasn’t held was in 2020 when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Every participating broadcaster sends one original song of three minutes or less to compete.

The performances range from powerful ballads to catchy pop tunes, and plenty of acts will leave you wondering “what on Earth did I just watch?” – it’s all part of the fun of watching Eurovision. As points are awarded by judges and the public, make sure you vote for your favourite performance of the night.

Traditionally, the winning country will host the next Eurovision.

In 2022, Ukraine won with ‘Stefania’ by the Kalush Orchestra, and the UK came in second place with ‘Space Man’ by Sam Ryder. Due to the war in Ukraine, the UK will stage the contest in Liverpool on Ukraine’s behalf.

This year, 25-year-old Mae Muller will represent the UK, performing her track ‘I Wrote a Song’ to compete against the 36 other countries taking part.

If you’re eagerly awaiting 9 May, when the competition starts, here are 10 facts you may not know about Eurovision. 

1. It is the longest-running international televised music competition

In 2015, Guinness World Records recognised Eurovision as the longest-running international televised music competition. While other music competitions have been around for longer, they aren’t televised.

2. The UK hasn’t won Eurovision since 1997…

The UK came close to clinching the top spot in 2022, but we haven’t lifted the mini trophy since 1997. Coincidently, this year’s UK act was born the same year, so could she break the losing streak?

3. …but the UK has won 5 times

Despite a common belief that the UK always does badly at Eurovision, we’ve actually won five times and are among the most successful countries at the competition.

Ireland has the record for being the most successful, with seven wins, while Sweden has won six times. Luxembourg, France, and the Netherlands are tied with the UK with five wins.

On the other end of the scoreboard, Norway has featured at the bottom the most. The country has been at the back of the pack 11 times, but it has also won on three occasions.

4. Save Your Kisses for Me’ is one of the most successful Eurovision songs

The UK won in 1976 when the Brotherhood of Man received 164 points. ‘Save Your Kisses for Me’ went on to sell more than 6 million copies and remains one of the biggest-selling Eurovision songs.

Since 1976, Eurovision has introduced public voting and the sales of the single suggest Brotherhood of Man would have been just as successful with this model.

5. In 1969, there were 4 winners

Faced with a four-way tie, Eurovision judges in 1969 simply awarded all four countries – the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, and France – the title.

The rules have since been changed. If there’s a tie this year, the judges will need to look at which country received the most 12 points through televoting, then 10 points, all the way down to 1. If a tie cannot be broken this way, the country that performed earliest wins.

6. Italy holds the record for the most covered song

The most covered Eurovision song is Italy’s 1958 entry. Domenico Modugno’s ‘Nel blu, dipinto di blu’, also known as ‘Volare’, has been covered by the likes of Dean Martin and David Bowie.

7. The UK awarded ABBA nil points

Arguably the most successful act to come out of Eurovision, the UK didn’t think much of ABBA in 1974. In fact, the UK awarded the band’s performance of the now iconic ‘Waterloo’ zero points.

8. 161 million viewers watched Eurovision in 2022

Last year, 161 million people watched at least part of Eurovision – 7 million more than in 2021.

It’s estimated that more than 50% of TV viewers in Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK watched 2022’s final. The success of Sam Ryder meant the UK delivered its best TV audience of the decade.

9. The longest Eurovision song was more than 5 mins

Today, performers have just three minutes to impress, but that wasn’t always the case.

Italy’s entry from 1957 holds the record for the longest Eurovision song at 5:09. Now, it would be immediately disqualified but it secured fourth place in the competition.

10. It’s not only Europe that competes

Despite the name, countries outside of Europe have competed in Eurovision, including Israel, Armenia, and Morocco. Australia made its debut in 2015 and has placed in the top 10 four times.