- UK viewers vote Abba's 'Waterloo' as their favourite performance in Eurovision history
- Simulcast special showcases all 41 entries for this year's cancelled contest
- Graham Norton steals show by hilariously helming three-and-a-half hours of festivities
- Britain’s Eurovision Song Contest entries: where are they now?
- Test your knowledge with our Eurovision quiz
With the Song Contest cancelled due to coronvirus, this was a Eurovision year like no other. In an evening of Eurovision-themed entertainment, Abba's Waterloo was crowned the best Eurovision song ever by the British public, while the 41 contestants that would have performed in 2020 were honoured and all performed a cover of Katrina and the Waves's winning 1998 entry Love Shine a Light. Here's what happened during that music and nostalgia-packed evening.
Verdict on tonight's two centrepiece shows
Something of a game of two halves tonight. The BBC's own show, Eurovision: Come Together, was huge fun - a sort of high-class clip show, sure, but highly entertaining, crammed full of memories and a reminder of more carefree times.
一本道理不卡一二三区Abba's 'Waterloo' was also a well-deserved winner of the viewer vote for the UK's favourite Eurovision performance.
The Dutch production, Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light, was far less successful. Two often excruciating hours of stilted interviews, drab acoustic performances and long.,. torturous... satellite... delays.
It was worthy and well-intentioned but stodgy and full of 'stay strong, we'll get through this together'-type platitudes. More like a traditional Eurovision show, in many regards, but without the full complement of kitsch and frisson of excitement.
Thank goodness, then, for host Graham Norton who added his trademark caustic commentary to both shows and popped up in person several times, too. He made the whole thing just about bearable and at times, seemed genuinely moved by the sincere outpourings of sentiment.
In many ways, Eurovision was made for times like these. It has brought viewers together since it first aired in 1956. Indeed, it was created for this very purpose in the aftermath of the Second World War.
一本道理不卡一二三区The coronavirus pandemic might have been the first thing to stop it in 64 years but against the odds, tonight's programming was a communal experience with moments of pure joy. Not bad for something produced in straitened circumstances and in a matter of weeks.
Well played, everyone - not least you, for keeping me company on this blog. Thanks for reading and goodnight.
Well, that was a long two hours
As the credits roll on Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, the action switches to BBC Two for Rylan Clark-Neal’s compilation The A-Z of Eurovision, followed by archive-raiding special TOTP2 Goes Eurovision!
If you’re still not sated after those, there’s a veritable smörgåsbord of Eurovision-flavoured programming on BBC iPlayer, Radio 2 and the Eurovision website.
Katrina & The Many Waves
'God, that was awkward,' says Graham when only we can hear him.
Last song now as all this year's entrants link up for a tag-team version of the UK's 1997 winner “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina & The Waves. A rather lovely way to end. Pleasing that it's one of our songs, too.
Björn again! It's the bloke from Abba
A video visit now from Björn Ulvaeus of 1974 winners - and victors in tonight's Come Together contest - the mighty Abba.
He seems to be in an enormous kitchen but he's earned those vast granite surfaces. 'Long live the Eurovision Song Contest,' grins Björn as he signs off. Well said, sir.
Last batch of lost Eurovision entries
Eight more numbers now. Namely Malta (Lizzo in training), Estonia (Levi's catalogue model), Australia (Mr Tumble meets Paloma Faith), Ukraine (frightful electro-trad racket), Denmark (folk-pop buskers), Italy (soaring ballad), Armenia (Charli XCX tribute act) and host nation, the Netherlands (sincere but rather good soul anthem).
Eight more entries whizz by
Another eight tunes which would have competed tonight if it weren't for so-called Covid-19.
Greece (Katy Perry tribute act), Czech Republic (rubbish rap), Poland (generic power-ballad with flame backdrop), Moldova (90s pop flop), Cyprus (queasy Europop), Romania (Ariana Grande with a penchant for puns), Croatia (singing waiter) and Germany一本道理不卡一二三区 (hormonal Jimi Somerville).
Snippets of more lost songs
一本道理不卡一二三区Now for swift looks at another eight entries that we would have seen tonight.
Namely Spain (anthemic X Factor quarter-finalist), Albania (Jessie J album track), Ireland (cracking power-pop song from Leslie Roy), Slovenia (socially distanced ballad), Austria (funky boyband type), Bulgaria (bargain basement Billie Eilish), San Marino (Black Eyed Peas in the reduced aisle) and, best of all, the hotly tipped Iceland - quirky, cheeky, anthemic art-pop. The winner that never was, perhaps? Even his little video was funny.
Second bite at the cherry
一本道理不卡一二三区Incidentally, several countries - including Greece, Spain and Bulgaria - have confirmed they will send the same acts next year to give their artists a second chance, although they will all have to perform different songs.
No word yet on whether we’ll be giving James Newman another shot but he’s said he “absolusltey wants to represent his country again”, bless him.
More songs of 2020 now
We now get sneak peeks at eight more tunes which would have competed tonight if it wasn't for this whole coronavirus nonsense.
Latvia (a rubbish Lady Gaga), Belgium (surprisingly tasteful trip-hop), the UK (unlucky, James Newman, but a sweet video message), Belarus (a rubbish Corrs), Finland (Voice auditionee who got no chair-turns), North Macedonia (salsa class soundtrack), Switzerland (choirboy perched at a piano) and Serbia (a Poundstretcher Pussycat Dolls or an Aldi All Saints).
A chat now with Antonio Diodato一本道理不卡一二三区, who was due to be the Italian entry with “Fai Rumore”. Instead people in lockdown have been singing it from balconies. Another well-meaning, sincere but slightly agonising interview.
Then he gets his guitar out, like an annoying bloke at a house party. He at least has the good taste to sing Italian Eurovision classic “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”, aka “Volare”.
Hallelujah, it's another choir thingy
Another of those 'Get a former winner and let random people sing along' numbers. This one is 'Hallelujah' by Milk & Honey, which won in 1979. Gali Atari from the group is singing it in a selection of strange empty locations, while the 'children of Eurovision' join in.
Azerbaijan would have been 'one for the dads'
一本道理不卡一二三区We've been denied a scantily-clad Cleopatra. Oh cruel world.
We also get a glimpse of Portugal (puffy sleeves and sincere facial expression), Sweden (an r'n'b hen do) and Lithuania一本道理不卡一二三区, which was another bookies' favourite. It's quirky folk-pop with a dance move which went viral.
The Eurovision entries that never were
This show will features brief snippets of all 41 entries - they'd normally be whittled down to 26 for the final but obviously the semi-finals were cancelled too - so the heartbroken acts still get their moment in the sun.
We kick off with Israel (kind of fun), Norway (rent-a-ballad), Georgia (stodgy pomp-rock), France (handsome but boring) and Russia, who were hotly tipped with this cartoonish rave-pop number.
An awkward satellite chat now with three-time Irish winner Johnny Logan一本道理不卡一二三区, who seems to have morphed into a cross between Kenny Rogers and Julian Assange. He's crooning his victorious 1980 entry, “What’s Another Year” (apt message, you see).
But it's not just Johnny singing - this is a virtual singalong一本道理不卡一二三区, with fans from around the world forming a huge fancy-dressed choir. The mind boggles, as it usually does on Eurovision night.
Frockwatch: Euro edition
Here comes our three-headed hosting monster. On our Strictly liveblog, we traditionally do a “Frockwatch” comparison of Tess and Claudia’s outfits, so let’s try something similar here.
Edsilia is in a full-length, strapless, midnight blue ballgown. Chantal is in a hot pink ballfown . Jan is in a dinner suit with tie, not dickie blue. Edsilia wins.
Three hosts are better than one... aren't they?
Our hosts are the Dutch presenting trio who would have helmed the contest had it gone ahead: Chantal Janzen, Edsilia Rombley and Jan Smit.
Thankfully, Graham Norton一本道理不卡一二三区 will chip in with his typically scathing live commentary for us British viewers
Fancy-dressed civilians take centre stage
Light-hearted VT now as hundreds of Eurovision fans around the UK - and some familiar former Eurovision faces - recreating classic performances from their homes. Think props. Think costumes. Think choreography. Think Cheryl Baker 一本道理不卡一二三区with her unimpressed Alsatian.
All dressed up with nowhere to go
Graham Norton now talks over video-link to Yorkshire-born troubadour James Newman, who was due to fly the UK flag in Rotterdam tonight.
As a bit of background on Newman: he’s more of a songwriter than a performer by trade, having co-written hits for Rudimental, Calvin Harris and Kesha. His Euro entry, “My Last Breath” was a tasteful ballad. Inoffensively bland but no winner either.
Katrina waves goodbye
Last song now and it’s the mighty “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina & The Waves. Its fusion of Hammond organ, tambourines, hand-claps and cod-spiritual lyrics gave this the feel of a Celtic hymn.
This was the last time the UK won the competition and it came the day after Labour’s landslide 1997 election victory. How things have changed.
It’s Conchita time
“Rise Like A Phoenix” now, which soared above the rest in 2014, courtesy of Austrian crooner and drag queen Conchita Wurst. Poise, passion, a timeless big band backing and the cinematic feel of a Bond theme. It was a powerful moment for LGBT+ visibility too, with the lyrical theme of triumph over adversity securing its status as an anthem for life’s survivors.
As Graham Norton一本道理不卡一二三区 himself said of Conchita’s win: “The people had spoken… and they were nicer and more tolerant people than their governments let us think.”
Big collars! Non-ironic moustaches! Different times
Another UK entrant now. It’s 1976 winner “Save Your Kisses for Me” by Brotherhood of Man.
Miraculously, it’s the biggest-selling Eurovision single of all time, shifting over 6m copies worldwide. A little dated, sure, but still a solid gold Eurovision classic. The jaunty melody of that chorus is hard to argue with. Unlike the 'tache and medallion combo.
It’s all gone black-and-white again as we rewind to the third ever contest in 1958. “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu” by Domenico Modugno一本道理不卡一二三区 came third in 1958.
Popularly known as “Volare”, this Chanson-style ballad has since become a standard and one of the most successful songs in Eurovision history. Millions of drunken dads on holiday can’t be wrong.
From Gina to Lena
Next up it’s “Satellite” by Lena, Germany’s winning entry from a decade ago in Oslo.
一本道理不卡一二三区She’s now a big star in her home country. This is perky, bubbly pop in a classic little black dress. Or 'LBD' as they call it in fashion circles. Oh yes, you get style punditry on this liveblog too.
More patriotism? Just a little bit
Another UK entrant now, with “Ooh…Aah…Just A Little Bit” by adopted Brit Gina G.
Perky, galloping electrobeat with a whiff of 80s synth-pop and a sparkly, hand-made Paco Rabanne frock. This disco floor-filler topped the charts but unjustly came in eighth place. Boo.
All aboard the ABBA train at Waterloo station
'We promise to love you forever more...' This will take some beating in tonight's vote: “Waterloo” by ABBA. This upbeat lovelorn classic by the Swedish foursome won in 1974, of course, and kickstarted the country’s international reputation as masters of pop.
From the opening piano build to the irresistible chorus, it’s a masterclass in hit-making. It went on to become one of the best-selling singles of all time and ABBA continue to influence Eurovision acts to this day. Couldn't escape if we wanted to.
A winner that never was?
On with the show and it’s contemporary r&b banger “Soldi” by Mahmood, which arguably should have won last year. It finished as runner-up but became the most-streamed Eurovision song ever on Spotify.
Still sharp, catchy and highly enjoyable, combining modern stylings with just enough Euro-cheese. You wuz robbed, Mahmood.
Raise a glass to Sir Terry
It’s become traditional in the last decade to raise a glass to Sir Michael Terence Wogan when we reach song - a reference to the sage advice Sir Tel gave successor Graham Norton about not drinking too early during Eurovision commentary duties.
So let’s all take a moment to toast the twinkly old legend.
The Tin Man’s having a midlife crisis
Are you getting flashbacks to 2007? Here’s Eurodance racket “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” by Verka Serduchka, which finished runner-up for Ukraine. Those silver foil outfits still look just as sweaty. And no, it's not Su Pollard.
一本道理不卡一二三区Drag queen Verka caused some controversy in her homeland with her saucy lyrics and the number '69' on her back but it’s textbook Eurovision fare - flamboyant, bonkers and ever so slightly disturbing. Pass the Bacofoil and nanna's sunglasses.
We’re going up, up, up (again)
A Eurodance doof-doofer now: “Euphoria” by Claudia Winkleman lookalike Loreen一本道理不卡一二三区, who won for Sweden in 2012. It's the kind of trancey dance hit that many contemporary pop stars would kill for. The chorus is anthemic enough already but when Loreen tacks on: “We’re going up, up, up…”, it lifts to another level of whooshiness.
一本道理不卡一二三区The Kate Bush-esque wafting about was an added bonus. This is the most downloaded Eurovision winner in the UK, apparently. Whodathunk?
It’s all gone black and white
Do not adjust your sets. This is “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” from way back in 1965. It’s performed by France Gall, who won for Luxembourg - the second of their five victories, surprisingly. In fact, they’re third in the all-time list behind Ireland and Sweden.
一本道理不卡一二三区This Serge Gainsbourg-written bumber about a rag doll is baby pop but with playful lyrics laden with double meaning. Ooh la la.
It’s the Cypriot Beyoncé
“One for the dads” now. It’s “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira, who came second two years ago - the best ever finish for plucky Cyprus.
一本道理不卡一二三区It takes its title is the Spanish word for “fire”, of course, and it’s a catchy female empowerment anthem with wind machines, sparkly outfits, big hair and choeography which owes more than a little to Beyoncé Knowles
Hooray, it’s the first UK entry on the shortlist - the mighty Bucks Fizz with 1981 winner “Making Your Mind Up”. An infectious, high-energy pop toe-tapper with colourful costumes and cheeky choreography.
That skirt-ripping gimmick remains one of the competition’s most famous moments. Gawd bless Velcro. Cheryl Baker on the left-hand side is sounding a tad pitchy but hey, who cares? We won!
Cue the “Why are Australia in it?” debate
The night's first song which didn’t win. This is “Sound of Silence” - not the Simon & Garfunkel classic, sadly but Dami Im一本道理不卡一二三区 with Australia’s second ever entry from 2016.
It came second, somehow. That giant glittery cube must have been a vote-winner.
Diva fever! It's Dana International
Next up is Israel’s Dana Internationa一本道理不卡一二三区l, with her 1998-winning track “Diva”, performed in the West Midlands' glamorous Birmingham. As the first transgender woman to compete, Dana caused a bit of a stir among Israeli conservatives at the time but was fully embraced by Eurovision audiences.
It’s a gay Euro-clubbing anthem, which hasn’t dated terribly well, to be honest. Lyrics paying homage to women like Cleopatra (coming atcha), Aphrodite and Victoria (presumably Beckham).
“Heroes” is first up
We launch straight into the 19-strong shortlist with “Heroes” by Måns Zelmerlöw, Sweden’s winning 2015 entry. It’s like a David Guetta, hands-in-the-air house production. Slightly underwhelming country-style verses but extra points for the high-tech staging. Points deducted for his leatherette slacks.
Here’s Lord Graham Of Norton
Graham “Mr Eurovision Now That Terry Wogan Is No Longer With Us” Norton now pivots into a typically dry-witted introduction to this replacement show. In the 90-minute celebration of the UK’s favourite (and least favourite) Eurovision performances, UK viewers get the opportunity to vote live online for their favourite.
The eclectic shortlist ha been "compiled by a panel of experts and celebrity Eurovision superfans”. There they are waving, look. Abba, Bucks Fizz and Conchita Wurst are among the artists to have made the cut.
Their selections are OK-ish but have lots of obvious omissions, if you ask me. Sandi Shaw, Celine Dion, Lulu, Lordi, Dana and Johnny Logan, to name just a few. Bobbysocks and Jedward一本道理不卡一二三区 too, perhaps, just for the lolz.
180 million people can't be wrong
一本道理不卡一二三区That's how many viewers tune into Eurovision on a yearly basis. Many of them host viewing parties, don fancy dress and set up sweepstakes.
Some of this might not be possible but tonight's programming should still be heaps of camp, kitschy, communal fun. It's a chance to pop some bubbly, forget our troubles and have a sofa singalong at home. Five minutes until showtime...
The show must go on
Europe’s 65th annual extravaganza of fancy-dressed novelty pop was cancelled back in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The showpiece final was scheduled to take place in Rotterdam tonight. Instead the BBC has an evening of Eurovision programming to fill the void and celebrate Eurovision’s 64-year history.
We kick off in 105 minutes, so there's still time to line up your themed snacks and international drinks selection.
No Eurovision 2020? No problem
We might have been cruelly denied Saturday night’s musical cheese-fest from the Netherlands - nul points for the pandemic - but the BBC is plugging the glitzy gap with an evening of programming devoted to all things Song Contest-shaped.
It promises to be equally entertaining in a knowingly naff fashion, so please watch along with our lockdown liveblog.
I’m Michael, your spangly-jacketed tour guide for tonight. I’ll be liveblogging from 6.15pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, social media reaction and sarky asides.
Please join me and join in too. You can email me on michael.hogan@ nuggetsbasketballteamshop.com, tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.
So what’s on the bill? Well, at 6.25pm on BBC One, Graham Norton kicks things off with Eurovision: Come Together, a one-off special giving UK viewers the chance to vote for their all-time favourite Eurovision performance from an eclectic shortlist, picked by a panel of so-called experts. I have “issues” with their choices but more of that later.
Norton will also chat to Yorkshire-born troubadour James Newman一本道理不卡一二三区, who was due to represent us in Rotterdam, the poor lamb.
This is followed at 8pm, when the grand final should have taken place, by Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light一本道理不卡一二三区 - a live show honouring all 41 songs which would have competed tonight. This will be simulcast across the continent and beyond, hosted by the Dutch trio who were due to compère full proceedings. Expect stilted links and multiple languages. Norton will pop behind the mic to provide waspish live commentary.
At 10pm, this liveblog will reluctantly sign off but never fear, because the festivities continue on TV. The action switches to BBC Two for Rylan Clark-Neal’s compilation The A-Z of Eurovision, followed by archive-raiding special TOTP2 Goes Eurovision!
If you’re still not sated, there’s a veritable smörgåsbord of Eurovision-related programming一本道理不卡一二三区 on iPlayer, Radio 2 and the Eurovision website.
Willkommen, bienvenue and welcome, because we’re about to do Eurovision without any actual Eurovision…