Eurovision Song Contest: Graham Norton to lead celebration

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Graham Norton

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Graham Norton will front BBC One’s celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest

The BBC will broadcast a series of programmes celebrating Eurovision on Saturday – the night this year’s song contest was due to take place.

The 2020 contest was cancelled in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Graham Norton and Rylan Clark-Neal will instead host programmes which celebrate Eurovision’s 64-year history.

The BBC will also join other European broadcasters to honour all the 41 songs which would have competed this year.

Some of this year’s songs would have been eliminated at the semi-finals, where the entrants are normally whittled down to 26.

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James Newman was due to represent the UK at this year’s contest

None of the 2020 songs will be carried over to next year. Instead, countries will select new entrants for the 2021 contest.

Several countries – including Greece, Spain and Bulgaria – have confirmed they will send the same acts next year to give the artists a second chance, but they will have to perform different songs.

Currently, there’s no word on whether the UK’s 2020 entrant James Newman will be chosen for the 2021 contest, although he has said he “absolutely” wants to represent his country again.

What’s happening this year?

  • Eurovision: Come Together will see Graham Norton host a 90-minute programme which looks back at some classic Eurovision performances and encourages viewers to vote for their favourite. Norton will also speak to James Newman, who would have represented the UK at this year’s contest. It is broadcast at 18:30 BST on BBC One.
  • Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light will honour all the 41 songs which would have made up this year’s contest, in a non-competitive format. The live show will be broadcast across Europe and hosted from the Netherlands by the Dutch presenters who were due to front this year’s contest, but Graham Norton will provide commentary for UK viewers. It’s being screened at 20:00 BST on BBC One.
  • The A-Z of Eurovision will see Rylan Clark-Neal go into the archives to relive “the disasters, the costume changes and memorable musical moments” from Eurovision’s 64-year history. It airs at 22:00 BST on BBC Two.
  • TOTP2 Goes Eurovision is a repeat of a programme first shown in 2007. Hosted by Steve Wright, the Eurovision-themed edition of the Top of the Pops spin-off will feature archive performances by Cliff Richard, Lulu, Bucks Fizz and Abba. It goes out at 23:00 BST on BBC Two.

On Friday, the BBC announced the shortlist for the Come Together programme would include Eurovision classics from Verka Serduchka, Loreen, Alexander Rybak, Netta, Abba, Bucks Fizz, Conchita and Gina G.

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest was originally due to take place on Saturday at Rotterdam’s 16,000 capacity Ahoy Arena.

In March, the organisers said in a statement: “We, like the millions of you around the world, are extremely saddened that it can not take place in May.

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Media captionEurovision 2020: The Cancelled Coronavirus Year

“The health of artists, staff, fans and visitors, as well as the situation in the Netherlands, Europe and the world, is at the heart of this decision.”

Ahead of the weekend’s festivities, Netflix released a song from their own film about Eurovision, which stars Will Ferrell.

Volcano Man, taken from the soundtrack of Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga, appeared on streaming services on Friday, despite Netflix originally suggesting the film had been delayed.

The song’s sudden appearance prompted fans to speculate that the movie may still be released this weekend.

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