Winners, nul pointers, animals and a song called Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley. Rupert Hawksley presents the essential Eurovision facts
1) The Eurovision Song Contest was first staged in Switzerland on May 24 1956. This year is the 60th contest, and the anniversary will be celebrated by throwing 'the world's biggest party'.
2) More than 195 million people across the world watched the 2014 contest, which was held in Copenhagen.
3) The rules state that the country which won the preceding year's contest must host the event 12 months later; this year’s contest will therefore be held in Vienna, thanks to an historic victory for Conchita Wurst, with 290 points. This is Austria’s first Eurovision win since 1966. In case your memory needs refreshing, here’s her winning song, Rise Like a Phoenix:
4) Conchita is the female alter-ego of Thomas Neuwirth. While he hails from rural Austria, Conchita has an entirely separate fictional back-story; she is from the mountains of Colombia, and is married to burlesque star Jacques Patriarque (a real life friend of Neuwirth).
5) Songs cannot be longer than three minutes and a maximum of six people are permitted on the stage at any one time for each country. Animals are strictly banned, as are purely instrumental numbers.
6) The UK has won five times and come second 15 times. Ireland is the country with the highest number of wins (seven), although, alas, none for Jedward who finished 8th in 2011 and 19th in 2012. Ireland has fared worse since, with Ryan Dolan winning only 5 points in 2013, and Can-Lin failing even to qualify for the final last year.
7) While Ireland and the UK have hardly covered themselves in glory in recent years, spare a thought for poor old Norway, the Eddie the Eagle of Euro pop. They have scored "nul points" more times (four) than any other country in Eurovision history and have come last a record breaking ten times. They have however won more recently than the UK, with Alexander Rybak. If the song title ‘Fairytale’ doesn’t ring any bells, perhaps describing him as the one with the violin will.
8) Germany’s selection is perhaps the most fraught, with the winner of the national talent contest (rock singer Andreas Kummert) turning down his place on live TV to shocked presenter and booing audience. Runner up Ann Sophie will now represent Germany in May.
9) Johnny Logan won the Eurovision Song Contest twice (1980 and 1987) and wrote the winning song for Linda Martin in 1992.
10) The UK has hosted the competition five times – in London, Edinburgh, Brighton, Harrogate and Birmingham.
11) There was a four-way tie in 1969 when France, the Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom simply could not be split.
12) Australia will take part in Eurovision for the first time this year. It's inclusion is intended to be a one-off, to celebrate the 60th contest and linking with this year's theme of Building Bridges. Eurovision has had a dedicated cult following in Australia for many years, which has been alluded to in previous broadcasts. They will be represented by former Australian idol winner, Guy Sebastian. Guy also supported Boyzone in 2011.
13) This may be Australia's first year competing, but Australians have taken part in previous years representing other countries: Olivia Newton John represented the UK in 1974, Ireland's two-time winner Johnny Logan, and Gina G (UK, 1996) and Jane Comerford as lead singer of German entry Texas Lightning (2006).
14) Although Australian participation is a one-off, in the event that Austria wins again, they could return in 2016 and co-host with another European city ... How the time difference would factor in that arrangement remains to be seen.
15) A singer named Ruslana won for Ukraine in 2004 and was later rewarded with a seat in parliament.
16) Spain's cleverly titled, La La La (1968) contained no fewer than 138 'las'... and won.
17) Among the contestants who have gone on to have successful careers are ABBA (1974), Celine Dion (1988), Cliff Richard (1968 and 1973) and Julio Iglesias (1970). Here's Cliff crooning away.
18) Italy boycotted the 1981 Eurovision Song contest, saying that it was too old fashioned.
19) Britain's Patricia Bredin's had the right idea. Her song, All (1957), is the shortest song to have been performed in Eurovision history. All in all it lasted one minute and 52 seconds.
20) What's in a name right? Titles of songs that have won include Boom Bang-a-Bang (UK, 1969), A-Ba-Ni-Bi (Israel, 1978) and Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley (1984). An odd name isn't, however, a passport to success as Sweden discovered in 1986 with E De Det Har Du Kallar Karlek. Last year’s oddest title (and song), probably goes to France, who didn’t even attempt sincerity with the song ‘Moustache’ by TWIN TWIN. It’s about a guy who wants a moustache.
21) During the 1962 performance of Dutch duo, De Spelbrekers, the lights dramatically went out, leaving the amusing spectacle of two white shirts singing merrily away. Blessing in disguise? You decide.
22) Norway's 1980 song was about the construction of a hydro-electric power station.
23) The youngest winner was 13-year-old Sandra Kim from Belgium in 1986.
24) The first Eurovision Contest broadcast in colour was held at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, in 1968.
25) Domenico Modugno's song for Italy, Nel blu Dipinto di blu (1958), went on to win two Grammy Awards. Jemini's Cry Baby, Britain's 2003 nul pointer, didn't.
26) Danish singers Birthe Wilke and Gustav Winckler hold the record for the longest kiss during a Eurovision performance, lasting an impressive 32 seconds. A member of the production team forgot to give them the arranged signal to stop. That old chestnut.
27) More Eurovision winners have worn white (seven) than any other colour.
28) Aspiring male solo artists take note... 28 female solo artists have won in comparison to just seven men.
29) Watch out if your country performs second – no one has ever gone on to win from here.
The first Eurovision semi-final takes place on May 19, the second on May 21 and the final on May 23.