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Saturday, 25 May, 2002, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
A vision of Europe in harmony
Bucks Fizz
Bucks Fizz capitalised on their Eurovision victory

The Eurovision Song Contest elicits much sneering about the quality of the music but also attracts millions of fans across the continent.

The contest started out in 1956 in Switzerland and was named after the communications system which still links the TV networks from each country, allowing the judges to cast their sometimes bizarre votes.

And that is what keep Eurovision so watchable - the unpredictability of it.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan has commentated on the broadcast every year since 1971 but it still never ceases to amaze him how the judges vote.

Cliff Richard
Cliff Richard was a vision in ruffles

There is more often than not a regional bias, with Cyprus taking an early lead because Greece are guaranteed to give them the maximum "douze points".

The Scandinavians, Baltic and former Yugoslavian countries all feel obliged to give their nearest neighbours a helping hand.

The UK does not generally have a friendly ally in the voting system.

Barren spell

In fact it is quite the opposite as France, Germany and Ireland often give the UK entry low scores even in years when the song has proved popular with other countries.

But that has not stopped the UK winning on five occasions; Sandie Shaw (1967), Lulu (1969), Brotherhood of Man (1976), Bucks Fizz (1981) and Katrina and the Waves (1997).

The UK has also come second 15 times, and two entries from Cliff Richard just failed to take the Euro crown.

But the UK has been experiencing a barren spell since Imaani's unmemorable song Where Are You? reached number two in 1997.

Mike Moran and Lynsey de Paul
Mike Moran and Lynsey de Paul were not quite Rock Bottom in second place
The following years saw Precious hit 12th place, Nicki French with Don't Play That Song Again at 15 and going one worse was Lindsay Dracass in 2001.

Nil points

She has the unenviable achievement of the worst placing by a UK artist ever, at number 16.

But the UK has not had to face the ignominious memory of scoring nil points.

This was achieved by Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain in 1962.

Norway's Jahn Teigen most notoriously managed it in 1978 with his song Mil etter Mil. He has gone onto become a successful singer.

But Norway have continued in a similar vein, having the most zero scores in Eurovision history with four.

Not that the UK has to worry about being thrown out of the competition.

Most countries which enter fear the indignity of being relegated out of the contest if they do not place high enough.

Not so for France, Germany, Spain and the UK. No matter where they finish will live to sing another year because they are massive benefactors to the contest.

Lindsay Dracass
It was hardly best of British for Lindsay Dracass
Ireland has been victorious a record seven times, with Johnny Logan playing no small part in the glory.

He won two Eurovisions with What's Another Year and Hold Me Now and also penned Linda Martin's Why Me, which won in 1992.

The luck of the Irish stayed with them for three years in a row until they were beaten by Norway of all countries in 1995, only to bring it back to Dublin in 1996.

But despite bringing verve and enthusiasm to the contest, Ireland's dismal 2001 showing has relegated them out of the contest for this year at least.

See also:

24 May 02 | N Ireland
15 May 02 | Entertainment
15 May 02 | Wales
15 Apr 02 | Entertainment
05 Mar 02 | Media reports
03 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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