More than 180 million people watched the final of the Eurovision Song Contest last month, as the competition continued to dominate viewing figures in the UK.

Some 183 million people in 36 countries watched Maneskin take the trophy for Italy, increasing its audience share by 4% on the previous contest in 2019, according to Eurovision organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

In the UK, 7.4 million people tuned into BBC One to watch the show – the highest British audience since 2014 – an audience share of 48.5%.

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Moment UK scored zero points in Eurovision

Despite the rise in viewing figures, British hopeful James Newman scored the dreaded nil points with his self-proclaimed “banger”, Embers.

Young people also tuned in to the contest in their droves, with 52.8% of 15 to 24-year-olds watching in the countries where it is shown, the EBU said.

The BBC has faced calls to stop broadcasting the show in the future, with continued accusations that its “political” nature means the UK fails to top the leader board.

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Responding to the nay-sayers, the BBC said: “The accusation that the contest’s voting is ‘political’ is nothing new. The EBU is strongly committed to secure the fairness of the Eurovision Song Contest and has implemented a wide range of measures to ensure this.

“Ever since the Eurovision Song Contest first burst on to our television screens in 1956, the competition has continued to be staple springtime viewing for BBC audiences.

“Eurovision is the most watched, live non-sporting event in the world and the 2021 Contest provided BBC viewers with over eight hours of content in three shows.

“The Grand Final on BBC One attracted an average of 7.4 million viewers. It is extremely cost effective for a popular prime time entertainment programme.”

The UK is one of the most successful countries in the contest’s history, winning five times, and last topping the vote in 1997 with Katrina And The Wave and Love Shine A Light.

Elsewhere, around 150,000 Icelanders watched the show – equating to an amazing 99.9% of the country’s TV viewership.

Iceland’s Dadi Freyr, who was a hot favourite for the contest, came fourth with his track 10 Years, with his rehearsal performance being shown after one of the Icelandic delegation tested positive for COVID-19.

Curiosity in Iceland’s participation in the competition piqued last year, when it was the focus of Will Ferrell’s Netflix film Eurovision: The Story Of Fire Saga.

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