Graham Norton: It’s going to be a “straight” Eurovision

The Bafta host tells Radio Times that this year's annual song contest will be all about the ballads - and explain his new beard

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If you’re hoping for a Eurovision dance party on May 23rd you may be disappointed because this year’s Song Contest looks set to be a more serious affair – so says Graham Norton, anyway.

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Norton – who’ll host the Bafta TV Awards on May 10th before heading to Austria to keep us all entertained with his Eurovision commentary on May 23rd – says that big beats have mostly been traded for ballads this time around.

“It’ll be interesting this year – I think it’s going to be quite a straight contest”, he told RadioTimes.com. “Austria are taking it quite seriously, they’re delighted to have it. And there are lots and lots of ballads this year. There aren’t that many upbeat songs.”

Sweden’s upbeat entry Heroes is the bookies favourite, though: could that mean the UK entry – singing duo Electro Velvet’s Still In Love With You, another of the few faster numbers – is on the right track?

“Who knows? You never know. They always have a chance. ALWAYS. Look, Germany won. Austria! We’re GOING to Austria. They hadn’t won since 1957 or something – it’s nuts. Who knows? We’ll find out on the night.”

A Eurovision enthusiast, Norton has been commentating for the UK since Terry Wogan hung up his Song Contest shoes in 2008. “I know, I miss Terry too,” he told viewers during his 2009 debut, but has since become incredibly popular with viewers himself.

He considers the 2014 contest a particular highlight in his Eurovision career, and not just because hosts Nikolaj Koppel, Pilou Asbæk and Lise Rønne sent the cameras into his commentary box during an ad break.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vJi4i0vxAk

“Conchita was really special, that night was just great,” he told RadioTimes.com. “We’ll see if that can be replicated this year, I doubt it can be because it was just – I don’t know, it’s stupid, it’s a singing competition, who actually cares? On the night it was sort of moving and lovely.”

If the UK were to win could Norton be persuaded to take to the stage and host it himself?

“See, I don’t know how that works. Apparently Terry did do that – back in Birmingham he hosted on stage but then went off to a little booth at the side of the stage and still commentated on it.”

“I know it sounds ridiculous but I know why you would do that because you’d hate to give the job to someone else because they might be good and then they’ll get the job and you might lose it.”

And now for a more serious question: what’s with the beard Norton dramatically debuted during the Eurovision 60th Anniversary Celebration earlier this year?

“It’s my tribute to Conchita,” Norton joked. “Basically I’m very lazy so I never shave unless I have to. There wasn’t any posh dinner or any reason to shave so after about three weeks I had sort of a beard – so I went to a beard shop and they cut it into a beard shape, and now it’s a beard.”

“My beard apparently does have it’s own Twitter account,” he added. “I don’t think it has said a lot.”

Graham Norton will host the Bafta TV Awards on Sunday May 10th on BBC1

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Cilla, Sherlock, The Missing, Strictly Come Dancing, The Great British Bake Off, EastEnders and Game of Thrones are all up for the Bafta Radio Times Audience Award. Vote for your favourite here