While the Eurovision Song Contest is sadly unable to take place this year, that doesn’t mean fans weren’t able to celebrate their favourite annual event.
The BBC hosted a TV special on the night of the would-be grand final on 16 May titled Eurovision: Come Together, as part of a wider celebration taking place all this week.
The Come Together show was hosted by Graham Norton; it reflected on the UK’s best Eurovision moments, past and present, and was ultimately won by Eurovision stars ABBA and their performance of “Waterloo”.
The BBC organised a number of shows to lift the spirits of Eurovision fans everywhere, starting with...
Eurovision 2020: The Cancelled Coronavirus Year
In February, BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat began filming a documentary that follows the UK’s Eurovision entrant, James Newman, through rehearsals, as well as backstage during the live debut of his Eurovision song, “My Last Breath”.
The documentary jumps to when the contest was cancelled, and interviews Newman as he reveals what the cancellation means for him. Other contestants speak about how their experiences of Eurovision differ, and what their future plans are.
Eurovision 2020: The Cancelled Coronavirus Year is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer, and on the BBC Newsbeat YouTube channel.
Eurovision at 60
In 2015, Eurovision at 60 aired on BBC to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the song contest. It includes interviews with Graham Norton, Eurovision champion Conchita Wurst, and the late Sir Terry Wogan.
Dana: The Original Derry Girl
Fifty years ago, an 18-year-old schoolgirl left the Bogside in Ireland and journeyed to Amsterdam to represent her country in the 15th Eurovision Song Contest. Against the odds, she won! Dana: The Original Derry Girl looks back at the life of Dana, and how she became Ireland’s first-ever Eurovision winner
Eurovision: Come Together
Graham Norton hosted Eurovision: Come Together, a one-off TV special that gave the UK a chance to vote for their favourite Eurovision performances.
The event was ultimately won by ABBA performing “Waterloo”.
Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light
Right after the Come Together show you’ll get to watch Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light, which will honour all of the 41 songs that would have competed in the 2020 contest in Rotterdam.
This non-competitive show was broadcast across Europe, just like the usual contest, with a special hosted by the original Dutch presenters who were supposed to present the live event this year: Chantal Janzen, Edsilia Rombley, and Jan Smit from the Netherlands. Graham Norton provided additional commentary.
A virtual singalong also took place, with fans dressing up in costume and forming a huge Eurovision choir, which will perform “What’s Another Year”, Ireland’s winning song originally performed by Johnny Logan.
The liveblog is now closed
The A-Z of Eurovision
Yes, there’s more! Rylan Clark-Neal narrated The A-Z of Eurovision at 10pm on Saturday 16 May, this time on BBC2.
The special took us through all of the disasters, outlandish costumes and other memorable moments that have taken place over 65 years of Eurovision.
TOTP2 Does Eurovision
Hosted by Steve Wright, this Eurovision-themed special was originally shown at the beginning of the 2007 edition of the competition.
Catchup with all of the 2020 Eurovision broadcasts on YouTube and BBC iPlayer.
Hello and welcome to The Independent's liveblog of tonight's Eurovision celebrations! I'll be your host for the evening, providing commentary and updates as the BBC broadcasts a series of Song Contest events, somewhat making up for the fact that we're missing out on the real deal this year.
Here's what's been happening over the past couple of months.
As an alternative to the Song Contest, our Eurovision Correspondent Rob Holley has been running #EurovisionAgain watch-a-longs on Saturday nights, where disappointed fans of the contest have been simulcasting contests from years past, with legendary ESC participants tweeting along too. Katrina (of the Waves), Alexander Rybak and Dami Im have all dipped in to the #EurovisionAgain twitter stream, providing insights into their time at the world’s biggest pop party.
The EBU have enjoyed the fan-run project some much that they’ve started to source classic contests (the pre-2004 Eurovisions are usually mired in complex copyright conundrums, but the original broadcasters have been happy to help during these weird times) to debut them on the official Eurovision YouTube channel! Nearly 200,000 uses of #EurovisionAgain have made it the most popular Twitter trending topic on a Saturday night, dwarfing primetime shows like Britain’s Got Talent on the popular social media platform.
Rob says: “It’s really been great for the fans. We’ve been able to dive deep in to nostalgia while raising loads of money for some really brilliant charities”.
As well as tweeting along, fans have raised over £14,000 for the charities Mermaids, Terrence Higgins Trust and Stonewall, often chipping in a tenner on a weekly basis in return for being entertained. On top of watching the show, Rob and friends also open the virtual phone lines and run a vote which attracts thousands of participants, and often gives a scoring outcome different to the original broadcast.
“Schlager diva Carola knocked Lordi off the Athens 2006 podium, which I wasn’t happy about - but Scooch did jump 14 places at our screening on Helsinki 2007, so there is an amount of justice being dished out," Rob says.
Instead of reporting from Rotterdam for the Independent, Rob has been publishing his interviews with 2020 participants as the podcast VISION AGAIN, for those wanting to know what the disappointed acts thought of their chances and whether they’ll be invited back.
“It’s been really great and I’ve been lucky to get some of the biggest names onto the podcast. I chatted to Iceland’s Daði Freyr, favourite to win with Think About Things, who said he’d be interested to compete at 2021 should he be asked and the right song comes around," he says. “Similarly, UK act James Newman also wants a shot too – he’s busy gearing up to release his new single 'Enough', but Eurovision remains the goal, and getting way ahead of the game is Ireland’s Lesley Roy, who told me she’s already started plotting an absolute banger for next year. With an extra 12 months under their belts to write epic entries, expect 2021 to blast away all the disappointment of Eurovision being cancelled.”
But it’s not all great news: “Other acts like The Mamas from Sweden won’t necessarily be gifted a golden ticket because the national final selection shows are too big not to go ahead.," Rob explains. "Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is just this huge pop behemoth, so if they want to go to Rotterdam they have to compete again."
In case you're not clued up on Daði Freyr, here's a fantastic interview Rob did with them back when we still thought Eurovision was going to happen this year :(
Here's Ben Kelly's fantastic ranking of every winning Eurovision song EVER
Unsure about where and when Eurovision started? There's a handy explainer here
So what's actually happening at 6.25pm?
Graham Norton is hosting Eurovision: Come Together, a one-off TV special that gives the UK a chance to vote for their favourite Eurovision performances.
The choices will come from a short list of artists who will all give virtual performances on the night, and the public will be given the chance to vote for their favourites.
Riverdance at 25: How Eurovision gave birth to an Irish cultural phenomenon
A reminder of WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING tonight:
Quite a lot, actually, starting with Eurovision: Come Together at 6.25pm on BBC1. The show is a celebration of Eurovision past and present presented by Graham Norton, and will include a vote on your favourite out of a short list of contestants (also past and present).
Right after that there's Europe Shine a Light, a live broadcast which the European Broadcasting Union is airing in 45 countries + as an online show.
There's no "official" competition this year, but you can bet I'm going to be passing judgement on each and every one of the performances with my usual sparkling wit.
Just a reminder of what to expect tonight: Judgement and a lot of caps-locked sentences
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