Interview: Graham Norton On Eurovision

The biggest music extravaganza on the planet returns this May as the Eurovision Song Contest, one of the longest-running and most-watched non-sporting events in the world, is broadcast live from Lisbon across the BBC.

The Portuguese capital will play host to the competition for the first time in history following the country's first victory at the 2017 contest in Kyiv, with the song Amar pelos dois, performed by Salvador Sobral.

Graham Norton will provide the commentary on BBC One for Europe’s biggest party night of the year at 8pm, Saturday 12 May, BBC One.


What do you love about hosting Eurovision every year? Are there any highlights?

I love hosting because it puts me bang in the middle of one of the biggest nights for entertainment and television every year.

How much do you prepare or can you ever prepare for Eurovision?

I watch all the rehearsals I can and listen to all the songs several times but you can't really prepare for the night itself. There is something that happens during that live final that takes on a life of its own. Neither of the last two years winners seemed obvious until the night itself and suddenly there was an emotion that cut through and affected the whole audience.

Have you ever been to Lisbon, where Eurovision will be taking place, before?

I've been to Lisbon once before but remember zero about it, so I'm looking forward to spending some time there this year. Apparently Madonna is living there so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.

What do you think of the United Kingdom entry this year? Can the United Kingdom win?

Of course the United Kingdom can win! I think we are in a very safe pair of hands this year with SuRie and the songs is a terrific anthemic floor filler.

What makes a great Eurovision song?

A great Eurovision song is simply a great song. What makes a winner is far harder to predict. There are so many factors, not just the staging but also the running order and simply what all the other songs are like.

Have you listened to all of the songs yet? Who would you say are the big contenders for this year?

I have listened to this years entries and the standard is really high. Everyone's favourite right now is Israel and it is terrific but I think Saraa Aalto for Finland might do very well.

Do you prefer the silly songs?

Silly songs are great from a comedy point of view but now they tend to be weeded out during the semi-finals. Voters take the contest really seriously so we have to as well.

Is it easy to predict the winner? Or at which point do you think a winner becomes clear?

You can never predict what is going to happen. It is normally only obvious who might win on the night itself and sometimes it is only when the voting starts that it becomes clear. What keeps Eurovision so exciting is that anything can happen!

What do you think about the stripped back staging this year and the fact that there won’t be an LED as standard?

LEDs haven't been around for that long so I don't think we'll notice their absence too much. I imagine it might encourage some more inventive staging and with that comes a whole catering portion of lunacy.

Do you have a favourite Eurovision moment of all time?

It has to be little Dana sitting on her stool in 1970. Ireland's first win!

Interview supplied by the BBC.


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