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How BBC TV and Radio are celebrating Eurovision

Philip Stevens learns how the BBC is handling the rearranged event

Although this year’s Eurovision Song Contest may not appear on screens on 16th May, the BBC is planning what it calls “a night of Eurovision fun” on BBC One.

In a one-off special from BBC Studios, regular Eurovision presenter Graham Norton will give UK viewers the opportunity to take part in a live vote to crown their favourite Eurovision performance from an eclectic short list compiled by experts and celebrity super fans. He will also chat with James Newman, the act who was due to fly the UK flag in the Netherlands this year. 

“Eurovision offers a real escapism for people, which is something we need more than ever throughout these times,” states Norton. “This year people at home can celebrate the amazing spirit of the event and hopefully get the chance to take their mind off the current situation for a few hours.”

BBC One will then show the Eurovison production Europe Shine a Light at 8pm.

Radio listeners will be treated to what Ken Bruce describes as a Virtual Eurovision. “During the day on Radio 2, I’ll be playing tracks from Eurovision 2020 featuring some of the best of this year’s entries which sadly won’t get to take part in the final. And I’ll also be hearing from previous years’ stars – past winners reminiscing about their memories of the greatest musicfest in the world!”

Back on BBC Television, Rylan Clark-Neal will narrate a guide to all things Eurovision in a new compilation of highlights from BBC Studios. Moving through the alphabet, he will be taking viewers from A, which is of course for Abba and Azerbaijan but also animals – featuring the Italian gorilla man and Azerbaijan’s artist dancing with a horse’s head, through Z is for Zelmerlöw. Måns Zelmerlöw is the only Eurovision performer to have won the contest, hosted the contest and taken part in an interval act.

The executive producers for BBC Studios are Mel Balac and Andrew Cartmell and the series producer is Lee Smithurst. The commissioning editor for the BBC is Rachel Ashdown.

Mel Balac, creative director entertainment for BBC Studios, says, “Eurovision may not be going ahead this year but we can still virtually celebrate the event. We hope these special programmes we’re producing will entertain Eurovision fans across the nation on the night the contest would have been held.”