Eurovision Again: Why fans of the song contest get together every Saturday

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Barei - Spain's 2016 entrantImage source, Getty Images

In the absence of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, fans are reliving old competitions every Saturday night.

Eurovision Again - watched in sync at 8pm British time on YouTube - connects fans across Europe online and has been the top UK trend on Twitter every time it's been on.

"It brings a sense of togetherness and let's me be with all of my friends every Saturday," 20-year-old Nana-Ama Ewusi-Emmim tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"It's something to look forward to."

Twitter says there have been 100,000 tweets about the fan organised watch-a-long, which trends higher than shows like Britain's Got Talent - broadcast at the same time on TV.

The most recent contest chosen was 1997, which was the last time the UK won with Katrina and The Waves - who also joined in with Eurovision Again online.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"I wasn't born in 1997," laughs Nana-Ama. "It was such a weird feeling to see what it's like for the UK to win."

The student social worker from London says "it's like a history lesson" each week and helps her stay connected with friends she's made through the song contest and distracts her from the news.

"I'm concentrated on something that makes me happy rather than something that makes me upset."

Around 200m viewers watch Eurovision each year and it's become a huge hit for younger audiences with nearly half of all under 24-year-olds in Europe - who were watching TV - seeing 2019's final.

Image source, Nana-Ama Ewusi-Emmim
Image caption,
Nana-Ama says it's a "lovely alternative" to the song contest - which was supposed to be held next month in The Netherlands after Dutch artist Duncan Laurence, pictured with Nana-Ama, won last year

The idea for Eurovision Again came from British fan Rob Holley, who just wanted to do something to celebrate the contest.

"It's heart warming that it's become this Saturday night institution in just five weeks," he says.

Rob - with three others - works on video clips, graphics and a voting mechanism for the show to see if the Twitter scoreboard is different to the original.

"There's a certain amount of justice we're able to dish out," he says.

"Fans have a lot to look forward to because we're going to keep this going as long as lockdown lasts."

Eurovision organisers support this fan initiative and are helping to get older contests on YouTube for it.

Rob asks viewers taking part to consider donating "the price of a pint or a good bottle of wine" - with more than £7,500 raised so far for charities including Stonewall, Mermaids and Terrence Higgins Trust.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter
Image source, Pim Steenbergen
Image caption,
Fans would normally attend pre-Eurovision parties across Europe around this time - like the one Pim went to last year in Amsterdam where he met UK entrant Michael Rice

The 65th Eurovision song contest was planned to take place in Rotterdam in May where 22-year-old Pim Steenbergen is from.

"I live for the contest," he tells Newsbeat. "This year would have been amazing as I was volunteering at the arena and had planned meet ups with international Eurovision fans."

The Rotterdam Ahoy arena has now been turned into a hospital to help The Netherlands cope with its Covid-19 outbreak.

"Eurovision Again is a distraction from all the bad stuff going on," Pim explains. "We can still have this moment with each other - even though it's not in real life."

Social restrictions mean Pim can't have friends over, so he's grateful for "some Eurovision experience" to tweet about with friends and he's understanding it more the second time around.

Contests re-watched by fans have so far included 2013, 2006, 2009, 2015 and 1997.

"I was eight in 2006 and now because I understand the English language so much more the lyrics have more meaning," Pim explains.

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