UNITED KINGDOM – The world’s biggest music competition 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 Rotterdam across the BBC. In celebration of the biggest music competition in the world, the BBC is promising plenty of Eurovision content across TV, Radio and Online.
The Netherlands will play host to the competition following the country’s victory in 2019 in Israel with Duncan Laurence who wrote and performed ‘Arcade’.
This year marks the 65th edition of the competition after it was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year there will be 39 countries competing in the contest, including two semi-finals that will be broadcast live on BBC Four, and the Grand Final which will be broadcast live on BBC One and BBC Radio 2.
As one of the Big Five countries (United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Italy), the United Kingdom does not have to qualify from the semi-final stage of the competition and will gain automatic access to the Saturday Grand Final. The Netherlands, as host, also has the automatic qualification to the Grand Final.
Multi-platinum selling, BRIT Award-winning and Grammy-Nominated singer-songwriter James Newman will be representing the UK with his single ‘Embers’, released by BMG after the renewed collaboration with BBC Studios for the contest.
The result of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest will be determined by a 50/50 vote. 50% of the votes come from the televoting in each participating country and the other 50% of votes will come from a group of five music professionals from each of the 39 countries taking part.
Saturday 22nd May, 8 pm on BBC One
Graham Norton will provide the commentary on BBC One for Europe’s biggest party night of the year. The Eurovision Song Contest 2021, will be hosted by Chantal Janzen, Jan Smit, Edsilia Rombley and Nikkie de Jager (also known as NikkieTutorials) and broadcast live on BBC One and BBC Radio 2. The qualifying acts from the semi-finals will join hosts Netherlands plus the ‘Big Five’ countries France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom in the Grand Final of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest from The Ahoy in Rotterdam. This year we will see interval performances from Dutch DJ Afrojack featuring Glennis Grace and Wulf as they will perform ‘Music Binds Us’ a specially commissioned piece for the Grand Final. Current reigning Eurovison winner from 2019, Duncan Laurence, will be performing his winning song Arcade. Plus we will a multi act performance entitled ‘Rock The Roof’, a collaboration featuring six former Eurovision winners – Lenny Kuhr (1969), Teach-In (1975), Sandra Kim (1986), Helena Paparizou (2005), Lordi (2006) and Måns Zelmerlöw (2015).
After viewers have cast their votes, each national spokesperson from the 39 participating countries will be called in to present the points of their professional jury. Amanda Holden will be the United Kingdom’s spokesperson, delivering the all-important results live from London. After the presentation of the scores from the juries, the televoting points from all participating countries will be combined, providing one score for each song. These televoting results will then be announced by the host building towards a dramatic climax. More details regarding the voting procedure and how you can get involved can be found at bbc.co.uk/eurovision.
The semi-finals will be live on BBC Four, presented by Rylan Clark-Neal, Scott Mills and Chelcee Grimes.
Tuesday 18th May, 8 pm on BBC FOUR
In the first semi-final, the first group of countries will compete for a place in Saturday’s Grand Final. The 16 countries competing are: Lithuania, Slovenia, Russia, Sweden, Australia, North Macedonia, Ireland, Cyprus, Norway, Croatia, Belgium, Israel, Romania, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Malta. Opening the show is The Netherlands Duncan Laurence, the most recent winner of Eurovision from 2019. Since 2019 Duncan’s Eurovision winning song ‘Arcade’ became a TikTok phenomenon, and earlier this year it returned to the UK charts along with an appearance in US Billboard charts. Highlights of the first semi-final include one of the bookie’s favourites Destiny, who is representing Malta. Also appearing is a Russian rapper who is also a women’s rights activist, a Ukrainian electro-folklore outfit, and a Cypriot act whose song “El Diablo” has faced protests from some of the country’s devout Christian community.
Thursday 20th May, 8 pm on BBC FOUR
The second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 will feature 17 different acts taking to the stage in the hope of securing a place in Saturday’s Grand Final. Competing this evening are: San Marino, Estonia, Czech Republic, Greece, Austria, Poland, Moldova, Iceland, Serbia, Georgia, Albania, Portugal, Bulgaria, Finland, Latvia, Switzerland and Denmark. Viewers in the United Kingdom are able to vote in this semi-final once all of the nights acts have performed. Highlights of the second semi-final include one of the bookies’ favourites, San Marino with their entrant Senhit. Plus Daði Freyr is back for Iceland. Daði was due to appear last year and even though the contest was cancelled, their entry ‘Think About Things’ was a viral sensation racking up more than 75 million Spotify Streams.
PLUS CLASSIC EUROVISION CONTENT ON FRIDAY 21ST MAY
The A-Z of Eurovision
Rylan Clark-Neal narrates a guide to all things Eurovision in this compilation of highlights, as he takes a sideways look at the greatest singing contest on the planet. Moving through the alphabet, Rylan will be taking us from A, which is of course for Abba & Azerbaijan but also animals – featuring the Italian gorilla suit man and Azerbaijan’s artist dancing with a horse’s head through Z is for Zelmerlöw, Måns Zelmerlöw to be precise. The only Eurovision performer to have won the contest hosted the contest and taken part in an interval act. The A-Z of Eurovision first broadcast in 2020 and produced by BBC Studios, will feature all the disasters, the costume changes and memorable musical moments from 65 years of Eurovision.
Eurovision at 60
First shown to celebrate the Eurovision Song Contest’s 60th anniversary in 2015, BBC Four joins the celebrations with an appreciation of the joy, fun, scandal and intrigue that has defined the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s a story of pioneering songs, singers and programme-makers; complex and extraordinary technology, laborious voting and a bit of naughtiness. Above all, it can be argued that Eurovision is a symbol of tolerance. As Graham Norton says of Conchita Wurst’s 2014 win: “The people had spoken…and they were nicer and more tolerant people than their governments let us think.” This documentary features interviews with Graham Norton, Conchita Wurst, Sir Terry Wogan and a whole host of Eurovision stars, songwriters and programme-makers.
Abba at the BBC
Abba at the BBC charts the meteoric rise of the band with some of their greatest performances at the BBC. We begin in 1974 with their Top of the Pops appearance; we even get to see the band entertaining holidaymakers in Torbay in a 1975 Seaside Special.
There are many classic ABBA tunes from the 1979 BBC special Abba in Switzerland and we even have ABBA’s final BBC appearance on the Late Late Breakfast show in 1982. This compilation is a must for all Abba fans and includes great archive interviews, promos and performances of some of Abba’s classics from Waterloo, Dancing Queen, Does Your Mother Know, Thank You for the Music, S.O.S, Fernando and Chiquitita, plus many more.
BBC Radio 2 celebrates Eurovision 2021 across the station, building up to the live Eurovision Grand Final hosted by Ken Bruce on the big night itself on Saturday 22nd May. Ken will be live from Wogan House in London from 8 pm – his first time broadcasting from there since March 2020. He’ll be introducing the 65th Eurovision Song Contest, which is taking place at the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam, bringing listeners to every country’s performance from the final of the world’s biggest song contest. After last year’s contest was cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic, James Newman returns to represent the UK, although he brings a brand new song, Embers. And in what has now become a touching tradition, Ken will be toasting Sir Terry Wogan before contestant number nine’s performance (8 pm until the end of the final, Saturday 22nd May) – a BBC Audio production.
In the weeks building up to the final, OJ Borg will be playing his very own Eurovision One Hit Wonders. OJ loves Eurovision – he’s half Maltese and, for Malta, it is like their World Cup! He’ll be playing some of the contest’s best one-hit wonders that charted in the UK, including the last Eurovision song to get to number one. He’ll also be chatting to Sally Ann Triplett from Bardo who represented the UK in 1982 in Harrogate. They finished in seventh place with their song, One Step Further, which reached number two in the charts – it was also John Peel’s favourite Eurovision song! Sally was also a member of Prima Donna who finished third in Eurovision 1980 with Love Enough For Two but just missed out on the UK Top 40 (midnight-3am, Monday 10th May) – an Audio Always production.
James Newman picks his Tracks Of My Years from Monday to Thursday on The Ken Bruce Show (17th-20th May) and is the guest on Ken’s Eurovision Preview Special where he’ll be catching up with reigning Dutch Eurovision winner, Duncan Laurence, and hearing from two of the main presenters on the night – Jan Smit and Edsilia Rombley. Also that day Ken will be looking ahead to some of the songs tipped to score big points in the final with broadcaster and self-confessed Eurovision superfan, Paddy O’Connell (9.30 am-12 pm, Friday 21st May).
There will be lots of build-up on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show as Eurovision superfan Richie Anderson supports James and his Eurovision bid (6.30-9.30am). On The Steve Wright Show, Scott Mills and Rylan Clark-Neal will join Steve to look ahead to the semi-finals taking place that week (2-5 pm). The Sara Cox Show will be featuring a Eurovision themed First & Last, chatting to a listener about their memories of the first and last Eurovision shows they attended (5-7 pm, Thursday 20th May). All BBC Audio productions.
Rylan will have Sonia – who came second in 1993’s Eurovision with her song, Better The Devil You Know – as his guest (Sat 8th May) and a Eurovision Desert Rylan Mix (3-6 pm, Saturday 15th May) – an Ora et Labora production.
Michael Ball will be closing the vote for the greatest Eurovision Song of all time (10 am-1 pm, Sunday 9th May); there will be a Eurovision special of his weekly On the Ball topical entertainment quiz and he’ll be re-living his own Eurovision experience, leading the nation with his One Step Out of Time routine for the weekly dance sensation that is Boogie with Ball (Sunday 16th May)! A Listen production.
On Saturday 22nd May, the day of the Grand Final:
• Dermot O’Leary will be speaking to Irish singer and two times Eurovision winner, Johnny Logan (8-10 am) – an Ora et Labora production.
• Claudia Winkleman will be chatting to James Newman live from Rotterdam ahead of the final that night, finding out how he’s feeling now the show is just a few hours away (10 am-1 pm) – A TBI Media production.
• Ken Bruce reveals The UK’s All-Time Eurovision Top 50, counting down the chart of favourite entries as voted for by UK Eurovision fans (available on BBC Sounds from Tuesday 18th May and on Radio 2 from 1-3 pm today) – a BBC Audio production.
• Rylan and Scott’s Eurovision Party will be hearing from some of the contest’s commentators from across Europe and beyond and speaking to Michelle Visage (3-6 pm) – a BBC Audio production.
• Sophie Ellis Bextor’s Eurovision Kitchen Disco will provide the ultimate warm-up for the UK for the main event (6-8 pm) – a Listen production.
• Ken Bruce presents the star attraction – the Eurovision Grand Final from 8 pm until the end of the show – a BBC Audio production.
• Then it’s Richie Anderson’s Eurovision After Party continuing the celebrations for those who want to keep the party going (from the end of the Grand Final until 2 am) – a Somethin’ Else production.
Radio 2 listeners may have noticed a different sound on the station as Sander Hoogendoorn – a presenter on the public broadcaster, NPO 3FM, in the Netherlands – is the network’s ‘voice’ of Eurovision. He’s recorded the promotional programming trails and jingles which are being played out across the month leading up to the Grand Final, bringing the sound of Rotterdam to Radio 2’s coverage of the event!
A special edition of Vanessa Feltz’s A Dance Through The Decadesfeatures classic Eurovision anthems from each of the last six decades of the contest (from Friday 14th May) – a Listen production.
There will be two editions of Rylan’s Singalong Eurovision Anthems – The Singalongadingdong Eurovision Mix featuring all the wild tracks that have entered over the years including Cezar’s ‘It’s My Life’, Genghis Khan’s ‘Dschinghis Khan’ and Netta’s ‘Toy’ (available now), and The Classics featuring all the best-known and much-loved entries (available from 8th May) – both Ora et Labora productions.
Plus a My Life in a Mixtape Eurovision Special with Loreen, the Swedish winner of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with her song Euphoria, will be playing the songs that have meant the most to her – shaping her musical journey, the songs she adored as a teenager, what was the first song she sang, which artist will she’ll never stop loving and more. The show will dip a Eurovision toe into the wealth of past winners and, of course, Loreen’s own Eurovision journey – BBC Audio Scotland production.
Also available on BBC Sounds is the Eurovision Collection featuring classic shows from the BBC archive from the past 20 years, including The Luck of the Irish with Terry Wogan, From Abba to Azerbaijan with Maria McErlane and featuring Terry Wogan, Terry Wogan’s Tracks of My Eurovision Years with Ken Bruce and Terry, Steve Wright’s Eurovision Love Songs, Nil Points with Rufus Hound, Eurovision Pick of the Pops 50s & 60s with Tony Blackburn, Eurovision Pick of the Pops 70s & 80s, and Eurovision Pick of the Pops 90s & beyond.
After the Grand Final, from Sunday morning Visage’s Eurovision Review will be available with Michelle Visage giving her review of the highs and lows of the Eurovision 2021 final.
Eurovision 2021: The Road To Rotterdam
An iPlayer documentary from Radio 1 Newsbeat with exclusive access to James Newman as he prepares to represent the UK with Embers at one of the world’s biggest song competitions in the world. The team follow him for the last few months as he gets ready for the biggest moment of his life….from his music video shoot to his rehearsals… all the way to his arrival in Rotterdam. The documentary also features many of the other 38 acts to show how they’ve been navigating a global pandemic to get to the Netherlands.
TX: BBC iPlayer – Monday 17th May.
There will be a Eurovision collection on iPlayer to celebrate the contests return, including classic Eurovision Song Contest finals and a selection of music programmes including a TOTPs special and a profile of one of Eurovision’s most loved winners, ABBA.