Eurovision loses almost a quarter of UK viewers compared with 2023

Eurovision lost almost a quarter of its UK viewers compared with last year’s Liverpool extravaganza, amid a row over Israel’s participation.

Saturday night’s grand final on the BBC was watched by an average of 7.64 million people, peaking at 8.46 million viewers, according to official figures provided by the agency Digital i. Britain’s entry, Olly Alexander, finished in 18th place with 46 points after he was awarded zero in the public vote.

Last year’s contest in Liverpool was the most watched final by British viewers since modern records began. Broadcast from the UK for the first time in 25 years, there was a five-minute peak of 11 million people watching and an average viewing figure of 9.98 million, equating to a 63% TV audience share, the BBC said at the time.

Switzerland won Saturday’s 68th contest, which was overshadowed by the disqualification of the Dutch contestant Joost Klein hours before the start of the grand final and a row over the participation of Israel’s Eden Golan.

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Several hundred protesters gathered outside the Malmö Arena before the final, including the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who was among those escorted away by police.

In the run-up to Eurovision there had been calls for a boycott over Israel’s inclusion amid the war in Gaza.

In March, Olly Alexander and several other entrants rejected the demands, stating their belief in “the unifying power of music, enabling people to transcend differences and foster meaningful conversations and connections”.

The actor Maxine Peake and the author Sarah Schulman were among a list of more than 450 queer artists, individuals and organisations who signed an open letter as Queers for Palestine calling on Alexander – the former Years and Years singer and star of Channel 4’s It’s a Sin – to pull out of the contest in solidarity with Palestine.

Alexander posted his own response on Instagram, writing: “I wholeheartedly support action being taken to demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the return of all hostages and the safety and security of all civilians in Palestine and Israel.

“I know some people will choose to boycott this year’s Eurovision and I understand and respect their decision. As a participant I’ve taken a lot of time to deliberate over what to do and the options available to me. It is my current belief that removing myself from the contest wouldn’t bring us any closer to our shared goal.”

Alexander did not finish last with his dance pop track Dizzy on Saturday but did receive the dreaded “nul points” from the audience vote.

He and his team reacted jovially as the UK was the only country to not score from the audience tally. However, his 46 points from other countries’ judges put him above seven other nations.

Israel’s Golan finished fifth with her song Hurricane and performed strongly in the public vote, coming second only to Croatia. The 20-year-old received the maximum points from the British public vote, but nothing from the UK jury.

The UK last won the contest in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves. Britain’s James Newman received nil points with his entry Embers in 2021 and came last. Jemini’s 2003 offering, Cry Baby, also received nil points.

The Guardian

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