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Sunday, May 30, 1999 Published at 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK


Sweden in Eurovision heaven

Charlotte Nilsson celebrates with band members

For BBC Online's Eurovision site, click here.

Damien Grammaticas reports: "One of the closest competitions"
It sounds like Abba all over again.

There's no mistaking similarities between Swede Charlotte Nilsson's winning Eurovision Song Contest entry, Take Me To Your Heaven, and the 70s smash hit Waterloo.

[ image: Charlotte rejoices during an encore]
Charlotte rejoices during an encore
But the formula clearly works as Charlotte wooed an estimated television audience of 200 million and phone voters across the continent during Saturday night's extravaganza in Jerusalem.

As expected, the night was full of glamour, glitzy costumes and eccentric voting.

The BBC's veteran Eurovision pundit Terry Wogan was left exasperated by partisanship.

The BBC's Terry Wogan: "The contest has shown less credibility than ever"
Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia generously dished out top scores to each other. Germany and Turkey liked each other's songs the best and the Scandinavians were also very pally.

Then at the end of the night there was the spectacle of last year's Israeli winner, the transsexual Dana International, taking a tumble on the stage. Maybe it had become all too much.

Nilsson, one of the pre-contest favourites, gained 163 points, edging out Iceland's Selma, who sang All Out Of Luck, in one of the competition's tightest fights.

[ image: Doomed: Precious little]
Doomed: Precious little
But there was no joy for the UK, with girl group Precious coming 12th with Say It Again.

Bottom of the pops was Spain, with just one point.

Although the show looked slick, packed with enthusiastic presenters, dancers and performers, it has been dogged by controversy.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews were angered by the appearance of Dana International, and the fact that final preparations were scheduled for the Sabbath. Security on the night was tight.

[ image: Dana International: Tumble]
Dana International: Tumble
Dana appeared in a pink and grey dress, resplendent with feather fans, to present the award.

But as she picked up the trophy and feigned a fall under its weight, she lost her balance and toppled over. The singer left the stage looking somewhat embarrassed.

The night ended with a tribute by the presenters to all the people in the Balkans who could not watch.

The contestants joined to sing Hallelujah in a prayer for "peace, love and a prompt end to the suffering".

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Internet Links

Eurovision Song Contest - BBC Online

Official Eurovision 1999 Website



The Eurovision Database

Selma - Iceland's entry

The Mullans - RTE Online Eurovision site

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