Trinity student launches Cambrovision

The Eurovision song contest is an annual event loved by many. When this year’s contest was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Modern & Medieval Languages student at Trinity, Tom McGachie, launched his own event – Cambrovision. We caught up with Tom on the eve of the Final.

Tom, please tell us a bit about yourself …

Tom (right) at CUSU Freshers’ Fair

I’m a 2nd year MMLer (French and Russian with Modern Greek) in the midst of trying to plan my Year Abroad in St Petersburg despite the hurdles thrown up by the pandemic. Eurovision is actually what first really sparked my interest in languages, which is perhaps why I value it so much. Outside my studies, I’m on CUSU’s LGBT+ Campaign as the Class Act Officer, and I play for Trinity’s rugby team.

How did you come up with the idea for Cambrovision?

The Eurovision Song Contest was, understandably, cancelled. However, I love watching it every year and know that most Junior Common Rooms in Cambridge Colleges screen it every year as a student event just before the main exam session hits. It’s also a huge event for many LGBT+ students, as Eurovision often showcases talent that celebrates diversity. So, I felt that Cambrovision would kill two birds with one stone: students could still celebrate Eurovision, which was watched by 182 million viewers last year, as well as engage with the College community despite being dispersed across the globe due to the current crisis.

How does Cambrovision work? How will the winner be selected?

For the last month and a half on the Cambrovision Facebook event I have been posting one song a day of the 41 songs that were selected by the participating countries to compete at Eurovision. Each College acts as a voting bloc. In other words, rather than countries awarding points to songs, it is the Colleges awarding points instead.

Cambrovision grew so much that I established a 32nd college, the United External College, so that people from outside of Cambridge could join in as well. Many people have joined from Oxford and from other universities across the country, as well as Cambridge alumni and even some non-students. Participants vote via a Google Form that I post on the event page, and I publish the results via a video afterwards. As this is a one-man operation, it is not a live event like the usual Eurovision contest.

Tom presenting Cambrovision

How many people are involved?

There are over 2,800 people signed up on the Facebook event. Over 1500 votes were cast in Tuesday’s Semifinal, and I imagine this will grow for the final on Saturday. The post about Cambrovision on Cambridge University’s Instagram has over 4,000 likes and was seen over 30,000 times. I thought I’d have less than 100 people involved, so to have thousands is incredible!

What are you hoping to achieve?

I am hoping to bring a bit of happiness and escapism to a) those who are struggling with the pandemic and need something light-hearted to get involved in and b) students with looming exams to also have a bit of escapism.

Most importantly however, it is a way for people, students especially, to enjoy something together and feel like we are not so far away from each other. Most of us will not be returning to Cambridge for a long time, some of us for even longer, and some never again as students. Cambrovision aims to keep the Cambridge community alive in such trying circumstances.

As an unexpected bonus, it has really helped me realise that a career in television or media is something I’d love to pursue!

Is there a future for Cambrovision?

I created Cambrovision with no expectation that it would grow as much as it has. However, due to its popularity, in future years I aim to make Cambrovision into a charitable event that showcases the musical talents of Cambridge students (if there is enough interest of course!)

Following yesterday’s second semi-final, the 26 finalists have now been announced. You can vote in Cambrovision’s final on Saturday 16 May 2020.


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