Entertainment & Arts

Eurovision: Facts and figures

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A total of 37 countries have taken part in this year's contest

The 59th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark on Saturday.

Whether you love it or loathe it or secretly enjoy it from behind your copy of the Daily Telegraph, it is always a fascinating insight into what our European neighbours class as entertainment.

Here are some of the facts and figures from the annual music jamboree.

Eurovision in numbers


Eurovision born

  • 50 countries have taken part

  • 1,000+ songs composed

  • 125m annual TV audience

  • 43 the most countries to compete in a single year


A mere seven countries took part in the first Eurovision in 1956, each performing two songs, with Switzerland's Lys Assia the first victor.

It was another nine years before Ireland joined the line-up but they came to dominate the contest.

Their 2006 entry, Every Song Is A Cry For Love by Brian Kennedy, was the 1000th song to compete at Eurovision.

Winners and losers

Ireland has the most victories ( but not Jedward)


  • 5 wins for the UK, Luxembourg, France and Sweden

  • 4 victories for Netherlands

  • 47years Portugal has competed without winning

  • 20+ countries are yet to win


Even now, the show is one of the most-watched non-sports events on television - with fans tuning in from Australia and the US, in addition to the European nations who take part.

Bizarrely, the audience peaks during the interminable voting process, which lasts over an hour.

In the UK, the viewing figures fluctuate from year to year, often depending on the weather.

In recent years, the UK's entries haven't fared too well. Bonnie Tyler came 19th last year, only a slight improvement on Englebert Humperdinck, who limped home with a meagre 12 points in 2012.

Blue, Javine, Scooch and Daz Sampson have all failed to grasp the trophy, with the UK locked out of the top three since 2002.

But things haven't always been that bad...

UK's record in Eurovision


The last year the UK won

  • 5 wins; Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Brotherhood of Man, Bucks Fizz and Katrina and the Waves

  • 15 times runner-up

  • 0 in 2003 the UK scored 'nul points'


Accusations of political voting plague the contest - with neighbouring countries backing each other (or not, depending on the prevailing regional tensions).

Academic studies confirm that some countries benefit from the practice - but it rarely, if ever, influences the winner, who tends to clear the rest of the field by dozens of points.

The voting mechanism has been tweaked several times - but this is the current format.

Voting: Each country awards...

12 points for 1st place
10 points for 2nd place
1-8 points for runners up

    Public vote - 50% of total

  • 39 countries

  • 10 million votes

  • 200 phone companies

    Jury vote - 50% of total

  • 5 music industry professionals per jury

  • 79 female voters

  • 106 male voters


This year's Eurovision final takes place on Saturday, 10 May. You can watch live on BBC One from 20:00 BST.

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