A Eurovision television spectacular

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On Saturday night from 8pm on BBC-1 there will be the annual Eurovision Song Contest – a television event which was first screened in 1956.

As a result of the large numbers of countries who want to compete these days, there will already have been two semi-final competitions held on Tuesday and Thursday (and shown on BBC3) so that the total number of entrants on Saturday will be a manageable number.

However, the United Kingdom is one of six countries which gains an automatic entry into the grand final, so you can guarantee that Bonnie Tyler will be singing her song on Saturday night in Malmo in Sweden.

In recent years, unfortunately, the UK has had little success – often finishing near last place. This is a huge change from the 1960s when the UK was regularly in the top three. Back then, though, in the UK much more was made of the competition.

After a performer had been ‘chosen’, there was often an opportunity for British viewers to vote for the song they would sing out of several possibilities. Then, for a time, there was a competition for viewers to choose a song which came along with a particular singer.

However, latterly, there has been a return to choosing someone well-known to represent the UK.

It is now a rare opportunity for the whole family to gather around the television together. Graham Norton nowadays capably fills the role of commentator – a job done so wonderfully by Terry Wogan for so many years. But will the great success of Britain’s Got Talent harm this year’s ratings? IAN K