BRING on the fun! Eurovision fan Ed Acteson (@EdActeson) shares his best bets for this year's contest.
Eurovision | Saturday 20:00 | BBC One
It won’t do my reputation any good to admit but since I first heard Sir Terry Wogan’s gloriously sarcastic and progressively drunken commentary, Eurovision has been an annual fixture in my household.
There are certain recurring themes of the contest; political voting, the UK doing awfully and the favourite winning every year. Each has factored into my thinking on this year’s competition and the last of them seems certain to continue.
At the time of writing, Russia are 8/13, having opened at 4/1 in November and it wouldn’t surprise me if they went off even shorter. The song, ‘You Are The Only One’ by Sergey Lazarov, is a catchy dance number which will benefit from having already charted well around Europe.
In addition, they have been dealt a kind hand in the running order, having been allocated the 18th position of a possible 26. This is significant as, since 2009, nobody has won from a lower starting position than 10th or higher than 22nd. The average starting position of the winner is 16.7 and the average of the top 3 was 16.5.
Theoretically performing too early is a hindrance as the song will be forgotten whereas the viewing public’s attention will have started to wane later on. Anywhere from about 14th to 19th is ideal.
I will be amazed if Russia doesn’t win but having been 5/4 as recently as Thursday, the value is gone. Though it’s among the safest 8/13 shots you’ll see, I’d rather try and snatch some each way value elsewhere whilst crossing my fingers for a Russian wardrobe malfunction.
At 80/1 (Skybet), the Netherlands entry ‘Slow Down’ by Douwe Bob looks to be quite underrated. Bob’s perfectly sculpted quiff might make him look as though he belongs in a boyband but this guitar-heavy song is closer to Nashville than N-Sync.
It may not seem a natural fit for Eurovision but in 2014 the Netherlands came from nowhere to finish second with a similarly country sounding song and I fancy them to repeat that here. Going against them is unfortunate positioning (3rd) in the running order but there are far worse songs at shorter odds and I’ll take a chance at the price.
Defending champions Sweden have a superb recent record, notching two victories and two 3rd places in the last five years. This year, ‘If I Were Sorry’ by Frans is probably my favourite song in the entire competition and the fact that the singer resembles Joseph Gordon-Levitt from his 3rd Rock From The Sun heyday only strengthens my support.
Nostalgia aside, 16/1 is an excellent price on a catchy song that should definitely place. At ninth in the running order it isn’t far off the best positions and combined with the recent goodwill towards the Swedes in Eurovision I feel good about this one.
Finally I would like to address the elephant in the room, the UK. It’s like an annual tradition for us to do terribly before trying to justify it by saying that the rest of Europe hates us. Well, yes they probably do. However, that isn’t why our recent record is so poor.
The reality is that since 2003, entries such as Jemini, Scooch, Andy Abraham and Electro Velvet have failed because they were abysmal. For arguably the greatest songwriting country in the world, our lack of imagination is embarrassing. Never was this more evident than in 2012 and 2013 where we decided to wheel out the botoxed corpses of Engelbert Humperdinck and Bonnie Tyler in consecutive years.
However, our last decent entry (Jade Ewen, ‘It’s My Time’, 2009) actually placed 5th, demonstrating that if we put the effort in, we are still able to succeed.
This year we have Joe and Jake singing ‘You’re Not Alone’ which I think is our strongest entry in years. It’s catchy, upbeat and has apparently gone down well in the auditions.
We are currently 80/1 in the outright market but I prefer the very generous 15/2 (Marathon Bet) on a Top Ten finish. I think Joe and Jake will make us some patriotic money and if I’m wrong I’ll be straight to the booths in June for a revenge-fuelled Brexit vote.
Eurovision 2016 – Sweden each way (20/1 Betfred)
Eurovision 2016 – Netherlands each way (80/1 Skybet)
Eurovision 2016 – UK to finish in the top 10 (15/2 Marathon Bet)