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It makes sense that so much of Britain’s TV comes from overseas; when we’re left to our own devices, we make things like Come Dine with Me (essentially a show where you watch people eat round each other’s houses) and that comedy programme – you know, the one where Jeremy Kyle makes fat people cry.
But luckily we live right next to Europe, the land of Versace, Ikea, and the Crazy Frog. The quality might be mixed, but those wacky mainland Europeans can be a lot of fun – and that’s why I like to think I’m not the only man in Britain who, once a year, prints out a scorecard, locks his testicles away in a desk drawer, and sits down to watch the Eurovision Song Contest.
I’m not ashamed (I’m a little ashamed) to tell you just how much I love it; for one night of the year, I discover countries I didn’t realise were actually in Europe (Israel, Azerbaijan, Spain), I marvel at how recently the 80’s seem to have arrived in Moldova, and I gasp at the size of the Armenian entrant’s breasts (really big).
It might all be cheesier than an episode of Glee, but that’s the reason it’s so much fun. We as a nation aren’t above it all either; every year we enter, and every year the rest of Europe puts us in our place. This year Serbia fielded an entry with a singer that looked like a cross between an Afghan hound and H from Steps that had melted under the hot studio lights – and they still finished twelve places above us.
Each year the host nation puts on an interval show, which takes place while the votes are counted so the audience doesn’t have time to realise how much of a pointless waste of life the whole thing is. Every year sees something bigger and weirder than the rest; last year, Russia confused everyone by lowering weird dancers-in-birthing-pools from the ceiling onto a fairly freaked out audience. This year it was Norway’s turn, and they decided on a flashmob, with thousands of people all around Europe doing the same dance at the same time.
I was blown away by how wonderful and unstaged it all looked, but then stumbled across some YouTube videos of the rehearsals where I could hear someone off-screen barking orders as hundreds of terrified Lithuanian performing arts students danced falteringly, their stitched smiles masking their terror. One girl at the side stumbled slightly and fell to the floor, but did anybody help her? Of course not. This is Eurovision.
Ignoring the slightly sinister facts behind the big European Flashmob Extravaganza (that I in no way made up), it was really well done. Eurovision is known for being tacky and tasteless, but Norway managed to find a way to make the event look vaguely classy, and the big dance was a nice way of bringing all the competing nations together.
So, to conclude, it was the most awesomest thing in the history of the world, and anyone who doesn’t like the Eurovision Song Contest is just wrong and clearly has no heart.
Finally, since I’m (hopefully) graduating in July, this is my last column. Thanks for having me, and to any Glee fans I offended, I apologise. And if you’re a fan of Twilight… I’m not sorry.