Belfast Telegraph

Everything you need to know about the Eurovision Song Contest 2017

All your questions answered in the lead-up to the big finale.

Eurovision fever is upon us, with acts from all over the world preparing to vie for the coveted glass microphone trophy.

This year’s contest is taking place in Ukraine, with Cardiff singer Lucie Jones hoping 2017 will mean glory for the UK.

With just hours to go until the Eurovision Song Contest gets under way, here is what you need to know.

When?

This year’s competition kicks off with the first semi-final on May 9 and the second on May 11.

The grand final is on May 13.

Where?

The contest will be held in the International Exhibition Centre in Kiev, Ukraine, as the country won last year’s competition with singer Jamala.

Who is hosting the show?

This year, Eurovision will be presented by a trio of male hosts – Oleksandr Skichko, Volodymyr Ostapchuk and Timur Miroshnychenko – who are well-known to TV viewers in Ukraine.

The contestants

More than 40 countries are competing for their shot at Eurovision glory.

Voting

The so-called “Big Five” – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – are traditionally guaranteed a spot in the final, along with the host nation.

The remaining countries will take part in one of the two semi-finals, with 10 acts from each making it to the grand final.

The final 26 perform and then each country gives two sets of points from one to eight, 10 and 12 – one set given by a jury of music industry professionals and one set given by viewers at home.

Viewers can vote by telephone, SMS and through the official app.

Controversy

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This year, Russian television station Channel One has announced it will not broadcast the contest or take part because its contestant has been barred from Ukraine.

There had been a dispute over whether Julia Samoylova would be allowed to attend because she had toured in Crimea in 2015 after it was annexed by Russia.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces the competition, had apparently told Channel One that it had been unable to resolve the dispute.

Possible solutions that had been suggested by the organisation were for Samaylova to perform via satellite from Russia or for the contestant to be changed to one who could legally travel to Ukraine, both of which Channel One had turned down.

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There was also a bump in the road in February after a number of top-level organisers quit.

A reported 21 members of the Ukraine Public Broadcaster (UA:PBC), including two executive producers, the event manager and head of security, resigned over “staffing matters”, the European Broadcasting Union said.

How long has it been going?

The Eurovision Song Contest started with just seven participating countries in 1956 and so far nearly 1,500 songs have taken part.

Which country has won most often?

Ireland has triumphed seven times, while Sweden is a close second with six wins.

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