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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 May 2007, 21:04 GMT 22:04 UK
Vote-count begins at Eurovision
Koldun of Belarus
Belarus group Koldun were among the first acts on stage

The 24 acts taking part in this year's Eurovision Song Contest have completed their performances in Helsinki, with the hour-long voting process under way.

Ukrainian drag queen Verka Serdyuchka has been the bookies' favourite so far.

The estimated 100 million TV viewers saw a wide mix of music - folk from Ireland, rock from Finland and Sweden, and old-fashioned pop by UK act Scooch.

The Finnish capital has embraced the competition, with thousands of fans watching on big screens in the city.

More than 350 supporting events were planned as part of the Eurovision "fever".

Jaana Pelkonen and Mikko Leppilampi
Jaana Pelkonen and Mikko Leppilampi were the show's hosts
Before the show, Scooch - singing Flying the Flag - said it would be "really difficult" to follow the Ukrainian favourite.

"We're not really sure what the crowd's reaction is like because we've got earpieces in, but it seemed to be quite good during this afternoon's rehearsal," group member Russ Spencer told the BBC News website.

The winner will be announced at about 2300 BST (2200 GMT) on Saturday.

Last year the contest was won by Finnish monster rock group Lordi with their song Hard Rock Hallelujah, which they performed at the start of the show.

Eurovision fans in Helsinki city centre
Fans gathered in the centre of Helsinki to watch on big screens
Their victory ensured that the 2007 event would be staged in Helsinki, with Finland's largest ice hockey stadium selected as the venue.

Lead singer Tomi Putaansuu said last year that his band had "changed the face of Eurovision forever".

Some early favourites among Eurovision fans dropped out in the qualifying rounds, however.

These included a Latin-beat dance track from Norway, Swiss DJ Bobo's neo-Gothic vampire song and Denmark's drag artist Drama Queen.


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