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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
When Eurovision becomes a career
By Michael Osborn
BBC News entertainment reporter

ESC Today's Sietse Bakker
Dutchman Sietse Bakker is dedicated to Eurovision 24/7
To many people, the Eurovision Song Contest is an annual event which comes and goes in the space of a Saturday night.

But for Dutchman Sietse Bakker, this year's 50th contest in Kiev is just the culmination of his everyday job which occupies him all the year round.

The 20-year-old has a passion for Eurovision and is chief editor of the ESC Today website, which is constantly updated throughout the year and a fully-fledged business.

Mr Bakker, who is based in Amsterdam, says that since 2003, the Eurovision season has spread throughout the year and made it a full-time occupation.

Hectic period

"Since Junior Eurovision started, there's nothing like an off-season - countries begin selecting representatives the week after the main contest has finished," he says.

"You don't really have time to rest after the hectic period in May during the run-up to Eurovision," adds Mr Bakker.

But he says that it is important to keep the contest ticking over long after the winner has been picked, and give it a constant shelf-life.

The day that I'll leave it behind is either the day that I die or the day the Eurovision Song Contest ceases to exist
ESC Today editor Sietse Bakker

"We don't want Eurovision to end up in the fridge in June - we want to keep it hot throughout the year. It would be difficult to get it out again," he says.

His team of eight full-time web editors will be in the Ukrainian capital providing a service for fans of the contest around the world.

"We like to give them the feeling that they're on the scene and in Kiev when they can't be," he says.

Burn-out

Mr Bakker says doing a full-time job which involves one of his keen interests can sometimes cause a conflict.

"Sometimes I think it's just a day job and it's my duty to do it and I'm responsible for my staff.

"But I love the organisation of Eurovision which inspires me to continue to develop the website," he adds.

He admits to suffering from burn-out after the contest, but it does not take long to rekindle his enthusiasm.

Croatian Junior Eurovision contestant
The junior contest has expanded the Eurovision calendar

"I don't want to hear any more contest songs, but I get excited when the first news about next year's event comes through," he says.

Mr Bakker says continuing in his Eurovision career is a strong possibility.

"I'd really love to get more involved with the organisation of the contest and what goes on behind the scenes - that fascinates me," says the Dutchman.

"The day that I'll leave it behind is either the day that I die or the day the Eurovision Song Contest ceases to exist.

"And I think it's more likely that I'll die!" he adds.

The semi-final of the Eurovision Contest takes place on Thursday and will be screened on BBC Three at 2000 BST.

The grand final takes place on Saturday and will be shown on BBC One from 2000 BST.


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