Like so many other big events, last year’s Eurovision Song Contest had to be cancelled.
It was sad news for fans everywhere, although Icelanders perhaps had the biggest reason to feel disappointed – they were represented by Daði Frey, whose track Think About Things was the favourite to win. If the bookies had been proved right, it would have been the country’s first ever Eurovision victory.
But the good news is that this year the contest is returning, and the BBC is certainly excited. Director of Entertainment, Kate Phillips, says “Eurovision is coming back with a boom bang a bang to the BBC this year! After a year without the live contest, we can’t wait for it to return bigger and better. We’ll be celebrating Eurovision across the BBC on all our platforms, from TV, radio and online.
She’s not exaggerating. We’ve already had the semi-finals on BBC4 last week, and today Radio 2 is going Eurovision crazy. But the main event is Eurovision Song Contest 2021 on BBC1.
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It’s coming to us live from Rotterdam, following the Netherlands 2019 victory with Arcade by Duncan Laurence.
The UK’s hopes are resting on James Newman who was due to represent us in 2020 with the ballad My Last Year. However, for 2021, he’s going with the new track Embers, which he describes as a “banger” and which he hopes will capture some of the mood of the contest. He told Radio 1’s Newsbeat: “Embers is about those sparks that don’t die out. When we were writing this, it felt like I wanted to show everyone that we were coming back together.
“It’s about having that connection and something reigniting. It’s about us emerging from this rubbish time we’ve been having. It fits with the idea that Eurovision is coming back.”
Let’s hope that the rest of Europe agrees. The UK doesn’t have the best track record in recent years. We haven’t won since 1997, when Katrina & the Waves’ Love Shine a Light took victory, and in 2019, we finished bottom.
James will face tough competition though from, among others, the hotly tipped France, who like the UK, are part of the ‘big five’ and guaranteed a place in the final. If they made it through the semis, Malta has also emerged as an early favourite, as well as Iceland, who are once again represented by Freyr. Apparently, the bookies didn’t initially think his new track 10 Years was as much of a sure-fire hit as Think About Things, but his odds have been slashed as the contest grows nearer.
What we do know is that the show will be hosted by Chantal Janzen, Jan Smit, Edsilia Rombley and Nikkie de Jager, with commentary by our own Graham Norton.
We’re also promised performances by reigning champion Laurence, as well as a collaboration featuring six former Eurovision winners – Lenny Kuhr (1969), Teach-In (1975), Sandra Kim (1986), Helena Paparizou (2005), Lordi (2006) and Måns Zelmerlöw (2015).
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