Eurovision Song Contest: How does voting work? Who's in the final? What is The Big Five?

·TV Reporter
·4 min read
Sam Ryder
Sam Ryder is hoping the votes role in at Eurovision. (Getty)

The Eurovision Song Contest is back, with Sam Ryder representing the UK in Turin - and hopefully coming away with plenty of points.

Fans of the event know that watching the votes roll in is one of the highlights of the evening, but how exactly does voting work?

Read more: Who is Sam Ryder?

Here's all you need to know about Eurovision's scoring, including how the UK keep getting into the grand final despite a trend of poor points totals.

Who is in the Eurovision grand final?

Members of the band
Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra are expected to do well this year. (Getty Images)

Not every country who enters a Eurovision act in the contest will get through to the grand final - in fact, for countries who aren't one of The Big Five (see below) it can be a stressful road to the final.

This year, the contest's semi-finals took place on Tuesday 10 and Thursday 12 May, with the 25 acts getting to the final round made up of semi-final successes, The Big Five, and the host nation which this year is Italy.

Sam Ryder will represent us in 22nd place in the running order and will be performing straight after Australia, an honorary and relatively new addition to Eurovision since their debut in 2015.

What is The Big Five?

Mahmood and Blanco attend the turquoise carpet of the 66th Eurovision Song Contest at Reggia di Venaria Reale on May 08, 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images)
Mahmood and Blanco represent Italy, this year's hosts and one of Eurovision's Big Five. (Getty Images)

If you're wondering how the UK always make it into the grand final despite regularly getting a small points total (including 2021's nil points for James Newman), the answer is that we're one of The Big Five.

Back in 1999, The Big Four was introduced as the UK, France, Germany and Spain were given the automatic right to compete as the largest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, who organise the event.

Read more: Who is presenting the Eurovision Song Contest?

From 2011, the group expanded to include Italy and became The Big Five who will never need to take part in the semi-finals to qualify.

How does Eurovision voting work?

The line-up for the UK's Eurovision 2022 coverage. (BBC)
The line-up for the UK's Eurovision 2022 coverage. (BBC)

By the late point in the evening that voting begins, it can be a little difficult to understand what is actually going on if you're not a committed Eurovision fan.

The current voting system has been in place since 2016 and includes two sets of votes from each country - one from a jury of five music industry professionals, and the other based on telephone votes from the general public.

AJ Odudu will announce the UK's votes. (BBC)
AJ Odudu will announce the UK's votes. (BBC)

Each set of votes can award a number of points to their top countries from one to eight, and then top scores of 10 points and 12 points for their favourites.

Read more: Russia excluded from Eurovision after invading Ukraine

Simply, the country with the largest number of votes at the end of the night is the winner, although there can be huge differences between the judges' and viewers' choices.

Countries are not allowed to vote for themselves, but the contest is notorious for seeing neighbouring countries or those who are allies politically always giving each other top scores.

Each country has a spokesperson who appears from their home nation to announce the results and ours this year will be TV presenter AJ Odudu.

How many times has the UK won the Eurovision Song Contest?

Bucks Fizz with their winners' medal
Bucks Fizz were proud Eurovision winners in 1981. (PA)

It's a good few years since we've championed at Eurovision, but we do have a few winners to our name.

The UK has taken part in the contest 63 times, but only won five times - with Sandie Shaw's Puppet On A String in 1967, Lulu's Boom Bang-a-Bang in 1969 (which was actually a four-way tie), Brotherhood of Man's Save Your Kisses For Me in 1976, the ever-popular Bucks Fizz's Making Your Mind Up in 1981, and most recently Katrina and the Waves with Love Shine A Light in 1997.

UK coverage host Graham Norton reckons Ryder is our best hope in years, but whether that translates into points remains to be seen.

The Eurovision Song Contest grand final 2022 airs on Saturday at 8pm on BBC One.

Watch: Ukraine aims for Eurovision win

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