x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Help from the neighbours

It can count, among its participants, such luminaries as Abba and Céline Dion. And now, etching her name on to the well-travelled Eurovision Song Contest trophy is the 19-year-old singer Lena from Germany, who on Saturday night scored 246 points with Satellite.

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AD201010705309807AR

It can count, among its participants, such luminaries as Abba and Céline Dion. And now, etching her name on to the well-travelled Eurovision Song Contest trophy is the 19-year-old singer Lena from Germany, who on Saturday night scored 246 points with Satellite. Britain came last for the third time in 10 years, scoring just 10 points. Even the mighty pop credentials of Pete Waterman, who wrote hits for the likes of Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan in the 1980s, and who co-wrote Britain's entry, That Sounds Good to Me, with Mike Stock, couldn't save Britain.

Once the highlight of Europe's pop calendar, the contest, which started in 1956 and is one of the world's longest-running television shows, has come under increasing fire in recent years for its tendency towards political and national voting. Though this has proved unhelpful for the UK, several other countries have enjoyed their moment in the sun with help from their neighbours: in 2008, when Dima Bilan took the crown for Russia, it was after Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia all awarded them the 12-point maximum. Cyprus and Greece have exchanged top marks for years. And Serbia's winning score in 2007 was given a push in the right direction thanks to Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia and Slovenia, who all scored them generously.

Not that the UK are sour grapes. They'll always, don't forget, have Bucks Fizz.