Who is Italy’s dancing Eurovision gorilla?

Meet the man in the monkey mask who's tipped to help Italy take Eurovision glory

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There something special about a man in a gorilla suit. Rowan Atkinson’s Gerald stole our hearts with his excellent Not The Nine o’Clock News interview and a drumming gorilla captured our imaginations in a Cadbury ad.

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Italy’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 is the hot favourite to take the title, thanks in no small part to its very own smooth man in a simian suit.

But who is the dancing gorilla? And what on earth is he doing on the Eurovision stage?

Who is the man dancing in a gorilla suit in Italy’s Eurovision entry?

The ape with the awesome moves has been unmasked as an Italian professional dancer and choreographer named Filippo Ranaldi. He’s a Hip-Hop dance champion with his N.ough company, and has also worked on The X Factor Italy.

Here’s what Filippo looks like without the mask.

And here he is practising his moves.

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#ScimmiografoChallenge Ciao a tutti! Sono Filippo Ranaldi (Filippo Ranaldi Full / Filippo RanaldiTwo) , “la Scimmia” che ha condiviso il palco del Festival di Sanremo insieme a Francesco Gabbani e oggi voglio lanciarvi una sfida! Se anche voi non riuscite a star fermi sulla sedia quando ascoltate #OccidentalisKarma, fate un video della vostra “SCIMMIOGRAFIA" e condividetelo su Facebook, Twitter o Instagram! Mi raccomando, non dimenticate di inserire l’hashtag #ScimmiografoChallenge e di sfidare i vostri amici! I più bei video verranno ricondivisi sui social ufficiali di Francesco! ____ Per ripostare su Instagram i vostri video preferiti, scaricate quest’app: @repostapp.official https://appsto.re/it/orL_H.i

A post shared by Filippo Ranaldi (Nough) (@filipporanaldi) on

Ranaldi has been staying in character while rehearsing in Kiev.

He doesn’t even break during interviews.

Gabbani is kind of a big deal in his native Italy, where he’s just about to release his third solo album. Born and raised in Carrara, Tuscany, he grew up in a musical family.

His younger brother, Filippo (not to be confused with the gorilla) is actually one of the songwriters and performs as one of Gabbani’s backing singers.

How do you do Italy’s signature Eurovision dance move?

Well, Francesco is here to show you.

For those who don’t speak Italian, he says you sway your arms from side to side for 8 beats. On the fourth beat you raise your right leg, and on the eighth beat you raise your right leg. Happy dancing!

If only we’d thought to send Gerald, eh?

Here’s everything you need to know about the Eurovision Song Contest 2017

Eurovision 2017: Who’s performing in the final?

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Check out the full list of acts and running order for the show, starting live on BBC1 at 8pm.