If you’re gutted that Eurovision is cancelled this year, you’re not alone.
Echoing the feelings of fans all over the world, commentator Graham Norton admits he was “very upset” when he heard the news, and disappointed on behalf of all the acts were preparing to perform.
Although he’ll be presenting this weekend’s alternative Eurovision coverage, it’s not a substitute for the real thing.
“Eurovision offers real escapism for people, which is something we need more than ever throughout these times. Every year it promises endless fun and unpredictable performances, and I love seeing people across the world united by their love of entertainment. It’s such a shame for all of this year’s acts that the show is cancelled, as they’ve put a huge amount of work in to get to this point.
“I was very upset when I heard, we all were, but people’s safety has to come first of course,” he says. “I always enjoy arriving in the host city and getting the chance to fully immerse myself in the excitement of the competition, there’s always a Eurovision fever that has taken over. No matter how many rehearsals I might have watched, there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere on the night. Something special happens when it all kicks off and that winning spot is anyone’s for the taking. I’m disappointed for the artists too and the teams that work behind them. They all work for so long to make this wonderful night of TV happen.”
James Newman, who was due to represent the UK in Rotterdam this year, will be part of BBC One show Eurovision: Come Together, in which Graham will encourage viewers to vote for their favourite Eurovision entry of all time. This will be followed by Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, a special non-competitive programme showcasing this year’s entries, which will be broadcast throughout Europe simultaneously.
“It will be a fantastic way for people at home to celebrate the amazing spirit of the event and hopefully give them a chance to take their minds off the current situation for a few hours,” says Graham. “Hopefully Come Together will still feel like event TV – it’s a big celebration of Eurovision where the UK can, for the first time ever, choose its favourite song of all time, which is pretty exciting.”
For Graham there is at least one benefit to broadcasting from home during this year’s event. “I have to admit that there’s something nice about looking back at all the greatest Eurovision moments with my slippers and a glass of vino to hand!” he laughs. “I can’t say I’ll miss the little hut where I normally commentate from but I’ll certainly miss sharing gossip with my fellow commentators and getting to witness all the performances live.”
Eurovision: Come Together airs on BBC1 on Saturday night at 6.35pm, followed by Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light at 8pm. To find out what else is on, check out our TV Guide.