When is Eurovision 2021 and how can I watch it live?

European Broadcasting Union has three different scenarios in order to help the singing competition go ahead

Roisin O'Connor@Roisin_OConnor
Saturday 22 May 2021 10:35
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Eurovision 2019: Netherlands win as UK's Michael Rice finishes last

The Eurovision Song Contest 2021 is back, albeit a bit different to what we’re used to. Due to the pandemic, 2020’s ceremony was cancelled, with all of last year’s entries rolling over to 2021. That means that will probably be a low-key affair in comparison to most years.

Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s event.

When is Eurovision and how can I watch live?

Eurovision will be broadcast on BBC One this weekend, with the grand final airing on Saturday at 8pm, two days after the second half of the semi-final, which screens tonight (20 May) at 8pm on BBC Four.

Who is presenting?

The BBC recently revealed that Graham Norton will return to host its Eurovision coverage for the 12th time.

Norton will comment on the event live from Rotterdam, while Chelcee Grimes, Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills will present from London.

Meanwhile, actor and singer Amanda Holden will serve as the Eurovision spokesperson, also from London, and deliver the results of the UK professional jury vote.

Duncan Laurence winning the 64th edition of Eurovision in 2019

Where is it being held?

Having proved victorious in 2019, the Netherlands will play host to this year’s event, specifically the city of Rotterdam. However, in a last minute change, reigning champion Duncan Laurence, the Dutch singer who won the competition with his song “Arcade”, has pulled out of performing again.

On Thursday morning, it was announced that Laurence had tested positive for Covid and would no longer appear.

How will it work during Covid?

Along with the City of Rotterdam and Dutch broadcasters, the EBU (Eurovision Broadcasting Union) has come up with a number of alternative scenarios that would allow the contest to take place.

“The Eurovision Song Contest will definitely make its welcome return this May despite the pandemic but, in the prevailing circumstances, it is regrettably impossible to hold the event in the way we are used to,” said Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest.

“We’re grateful for the renewed commitment and backing from the City of Rotterdam and the ongoing support of all the participating broadcasters. We very much hope to be able to gather in Rotterdam in May and will do all we can in the coming weeks to achieve this. With an ever-changing situation we are taking our time to ensure that we can host the Eurovision Song Contest in the best and safest way possible.”

Three scenarios (Scenario A was dropped earlier this year) are now on the table, two of which would involve a 0-80 per cent capacity audience at Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena in the Netherlands, where the competition is being hosted for 2021.

In scenario B, the majority or all of the contestants would perform live at the arena, while scenario C and D would involve “live on tape” performances, where pre-recorded versions of the entries are aired live and judged on those performances.

As there will be a reduced capacity for a live audience in Scenarios B and C, organisers have decided to refund all current ticket holders and later give them the option to repurchase tickets for the same show(s).

James Newman is representing the UK for Eurovision 2021

Who is competing for the UK?

Representing the UK this year is singer-songwriter James Newman, who will perform his single “Embers”. Read The Independent’s review of the song here.

Norton said: “I’m so excited for ‘Eurovision’ to return, after the past year we’ve had it’s exactly the kind of joy the world needs.

“The UK have a great entry with James Newman and ‘Embers’, it’s a banger and represents everything that Eurovision is. It’s arguably the best night of the year and I can’t wait — bring it on!”

The Independent will be liveblogging the Eurovision Song Contest – make sure you follow all of our rolling coverage, features and updates.

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