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The weird and wacky rules of Eurovision

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 May 2019

A gathering of Eurovision Song Contest UK winners - Lulu, Brotherhood of Man & Bucks Fizz. Picture: Archant Library

A gathering of Eurovision Song Contest UK winners - Lulu, Brotherhood of Man & Bucks Fizz. Picture: Archant Library

What happens in the event of a tie at Europe's biggest music competition? And what can entrants never...never take up on stage? Our reporter finds out more.

Jemini (Gemma Abbey and Chris Cromby) with Cry Baby scored no points at all in 2003.  Picture: AP/Alastair Grant)Jemini (Gemma Abbey and Chris Cromby) with Cry Baby scored no points at all in 2003. Picture: AP/Alastair Grant)

Eurovision. It's a cheesefest. There's glitter. There's sequins. Dodgy lyrics. Questionable dance routines. But underneath all that there's an (ahem) very serious set of rules to follow.

The official, very much abbreviated, ones you need to know (my own comments are in parentheses) are:

1 A maximum of 44 members shall be allowed to participate and a maximum total of 26 countries shall compete in the final. There shall be six guaranteed places… one for the host broadcaster plus France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Conchita Wurst won in 2014 with Rise Like A Phoenix. Picture: Yui Mok/PA WireConchita Wurst won in 2014 with Rise Like A Phoenix. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

2 The song contest is composed of three live shows, two semi-finals and one grand final taking place in the country of the member which has won the preceding edition − the "host broadcaster".

3 Each song which competes... shall be selected through a national selection to be organised by each participating broadcaster. (The UK has tried just about everything with little success).

4 The winner is decided by the votes cast by the National Audiences and by National Juries appointed in the countries of the participating broadcasters... during the voting window there shall be so-called "interval acts" produced by the host broadcaster.

5 Contestants and artists shall perform the songs live on stage, accompanied by a recorded backing-track only (without live instruments). The backing track shall contain no vocals of any kind or any vocal imitations aiming at replacing or assisting the live/original voice of the contestant(s).

Sandie Shaw was the UK's first winner with Puppet on a String in 1967. Picture: Archant LibrarySandie Shaw was the UK's first winner with Puppet on a String in 1967. Picture: Archant Library

6 The maximum duration of each song is three minutes. Any song/performance which is longer may be disqualified.

7 Each participating broadcaster is free to decide the language in which its contestant(s) will sing. (That'll be mostly English, then)

8 Each performance may consist of a maximum of six people on stage. No live animals shall be allowed on stage.

9 All contestants and artists competing in a semi-final must be aged at least 16 on the day of the final.

Abba won with Abba won with "Waterloo" in 1974. Picture: PA

10 No contestant and/or artist may compete for more than one country in Eurovision in a given year.

11 The voting window for tele-voting opens after the last contestant's performance and closes 15-30 minutes later depending on the running order of the shows.

12 No voting for one's own country (can we add "no voting for countries with which you share a border"?).

13 Voters must be excluded from voting for the entry of their own country of residence, and this must be made known to them.

Picture shows: Bucks Fizz  won Eurovision with Making Your Mind Up in 1981. Picture: BBCPicture shows: Bucks Fizz won Eurovision with Making Your Mind Up in 1981. Picture: BBC

14 All participating broadcasters shall appoint a national jury to vote in the final even if their song is not selected for the final.

15 The national juries shall not be allowed to vote for the song of their own country.

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16 Each national jury shall be composed of five members, including a chairperson. In addition, there will be a back-up member in case a jury member cannot fulfil his duty.

17 Jury members must not be employees of participating broadcasters... and must pursue one of the following professions within the music industry: radio DJ, artist, composer, author of lyrics or music.

18 Jury members shall be citizens of the country they represent... and shall use all their professional skill and experience without favouring any contestant on the account of their nationality, gender or likeliness (I think that means not taking account of how they look but I might be wrong).

19 The Eurovision is a non-political event. (Okay... we'll try to bear that in mind when we're getting really ticked off).

20 No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted during Eurovision. No swearing or other unacceptable language shall be allowed in the lyrics or in the performances of the songs. (only from viewers in the watching of the results).

21 Should there be a for the first place in the final, the winner shall be the song which has obtained the highest rank from all the national audiences. If there is still a tie, the winner shall be the song which has obtained points from the highest number of national audiences. If it's still a tie, the highest number of 12-point scores shall be decisive. If there's still a tie, the number of times ten points have been awarded shall be the deciding factor... this continues down through the points scores. In the very unlikely case that after applying the above procedure there is still a tie, the tie shall be resolved by giving precedence to the country which was earlier in the running order for the show concerned. (So that's all clear then).

I would recommend that viewers commit the rules to memory before they start drinking... or, maybe not.

The unofficial (and unproven) UK rules of Eurovision, according to most Brits:

- Every other country hates the UK on principle.

- Every country - especially in eastern Europe will vote for its "dear" neighbours.

- The UK, being an island has no "dear" neighbours

- The UK song will be rubbish because we already have the best music on the continent.

- In our desperation to win/lose we choose a song so unmemorable that it is forgotten immediately.

- Every British citizen knows how long it is since the UK last won (22 years) just as he or she knows how long it was since England won the world cup (53 years).

- The UK has replaced hope with irony - helped on by the commentary of Graham Norton and, previously, Sir Terry Wogan.

- Many Brits will still hold a Eurovision party, hoping to be well plastered by the time the results reveal we're near the bottom… again.

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