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Sunday, May 23, 1999 Published at 08:26 GMT 09:26 UK


Precious prepare for Eurovision

Last year's winner: Dana International

For an interview with Louise Rose from Precious, click here.

For BBC Online's Eurovision Website, click here.

Girl group Precious are flying out to Jerusalem to join 22 other acts for Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest.

Serious music fans may cringe at the thought of the show, but this year's contest is set to attract 100 million television viewers worldwide.

The contestants will be hoping to beat last year's winner Dana International, a transsexual who caused outrage among sections of Israeli society with her song Diva.

Precious will be hoping top the success of last year's UK entry, Imaani's Where Are You Now, which came second.

The fivesome's song was written by Paul Varney, who nine years ago found pop fame as part of boy band Yell!

[ image: Wogan has a Precious time]
Wogan has a Precious time
They are confident about their chances. Singer Sophie McDonnell, 22, said: "People have shown great faith in us and we're going out to Israel to win.

"Some top artists come out of Eurovision such as Celine Dion. We want to make Eurovision young and trendy. It can open so many doors, and you can't knock it."

Tough competition

But the competition is tough - and despite the UK having a strong record of five wins and 15 runners-up positions, some pundits feel voters are biased against the UK.

Iceland's entry All Out Of Luck, by Selma, is heavily-tipped, and is already number one in her home country. Sweden's entry, Take Me To Your Heaven by local soap star Charlotte Nilsson, is also hotly tipped.

Irish hopes are with the Mullans - Belfast sisters Bronagh and Karen Mullen - and their song When You Need Me.

Ireland holds the record for the most Eurovision wins - seven, including four in the 1990s, famously draining the budget of state broadcaster RTE, which then had to organise the following years' contests.

[ image: Imaani: Runner-up last year]
Imaani: Runner-up last year
The contest, first held in 1956, is organised by the European Broadcasting Union. It is named after the Eurovision network which allows news and sports material to be shared by broadcasters across the continent and beyond.

Voting is by viewers' phone vote - or by jury - in each of the 23 countries taking part in the contest.

This year's contest is hosted by Israeli celebrities Yigal Ravid, Sigal Shachmon and Dafna Dekel, with BBC commentary coming from Terry Wogan.

Wogan has been covering Eurovision since 1971, and hopes he can continue to reflect what British viewers at home are thinking about the contest.

He said: "It's a wonderful opportunity to have a bit of fun for three hours. I'm there with the viewer and if I see some eccentric dancing, or some peculiarity of dress, usually the viewer sees it too and when it really works we make the same comment together."

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Internet Links

Eurovision Song Contest - BBC Online

Official Eurovision 1999 Website

European Broadcasting Union: Eurovision

Selma: Iceland's entry

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