Thursday 29 May 2014

The winner takes it all!

A colleague of mine from the BBC was very busy during Eurovision this year - chasing various artists for a autographs. However, unlike most signed programme booklets, this one is for a very special cause. All proceeds will go towards Oxfam in support of the 100k Trailtrekker (rather them than me!)

The programme booklet has been signed by the majority of artists in the contest this year, including of course the winner, Conchita Wurst! It's a unique item and will be a collectable in years to come. If you want to get your hands on it and support a good cause at the same time you can bid for it here.

Good luck to all the Trailtrekkers and well done to Laurence for arranging this - what a lovely idea!

Monday 12 May 2014

The party's over now...

Wow! What a result. Austria's win at Eurovision was truly remarkable and huge congratulations Conchita Wurst. The victory is good on so many levels and as the singer said when she received her trophy, it was a triumph for freedom. Things didn't go too well for the UK but I don't think we should be too downhearted, it was a close contest and ultimately, if you look at the points, we weren't all that far away from the top ten. Well done to Molly.

The top three were all western countries. Austria stropped off from the contest a few years ago and yet here they are, proving that western countries with few voting allies, can win this contest. The Netherlands came second in another stunning reversal of fortunes. For the first time ever, Azerbaijan failed to make the top 10 - in a year where there was much more transparent voting. Note that Azerbaijan's jurors and public unsurprisingly put Armenia in last position despite it being one of the favourites. Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest?

I'll write a more comprehensive account next week, once I've had the chance to properly review the contest. For now, it's time to finish my final media interviews and catch up on some much-needed sleep!!

Thursday 8 May 2014

The circus has come to town!

Eurovision 2014 is in full swing. The first semi final took place on Tuesday night and threw up some surprises - San Marino qualified! Well done Valentina, proving that if at first you don't succeed... Montenegro also qualified for the first time. Huge cheers for Ukraine and massive boos for Russia when the results were announced. Those girls might be in for a rough ride on Saturday. BBC Three was good fun as always - more tonight!

The second semi final will be on BBC Three this evening - the UK can vote. Ones to watch out for include Israel, Malta, Ireland and Poland - shake what mama gave ya indeed. There's a real buzz about the UK this year - I really hope Molly does well. 

My book is now available for pre-order here or an open access download here

I'm heading to London tomorrow for the final. 

Ciao for now.

Sunday 4 May 2014

We're in the bubble

The Eurovision circus is in full swing now with all delegations present in Copenhagen. Today saw the Big Five (UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain) rehearse alongside the home team, Denmark. It's going to be a slick set of shows. 

Eurovision is changing. Gone are the lavish opening ceremonies with open invitations, the contest is downsizing and there is a much more frugal approach to the event now. The welcome reception will take place tonight but it's strictly for delegations only. Accredited press can go along to the red carpet to watch delegates arriving and like last year, can watch the party on a screen in the Euroclub. It all smacks a little of "let them eat cake" (cheesecake if you're from Belarus) although it's not entirely surprising given the budget constraints facing national broadcasters. 

Whilst Eurovision can be an expensive business it's still one which countries buy into. Georgia for example, uses Eurovision as a platform for promoting the country, an avenue for nation branding. Of course politics can and does come into Eurovision too. Tijana, the singer from FYR Macedonia performed at the Euroclub last night and expressed regret that Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina were all absent from the contest this year. She then performed a short rendition of the Serbian winner from 2007 "Molitva". It's easy to be cynical but bearing in mind that there was a full scale war going on in the Balkans only two decades ago, it shows how Eurovision really does continue to unite. All eyes will be on Russia and Ukraine in the first semi final on Tuesday. Tijana will be joining Scott Mills (and me!) on the show on BBC Three. 

More tomorrow!

Saturday 3 May 2014

This is Copenhagen calling!

Yesterday I arrived in Copenhagen for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. I met the BBC team at Heathrow who were in good spirits. I'm delighted to be appearing on their semi final coverage again on BBC3 with Scott Mills - Tuesday and Thursday, 8pm. The UK can vote in Thursday's show.

The venue this year is, well, interesting. It's an old shipyard, renovated especially for the contest. It doesn't look great from the outside but it's what's inside which counts and it'll look great on TV I'm sure. Rehearsals are continuing today, there's the usual speculation about which countries will make it to the final and which ones will be left out in the cold. Poland is worth watching, the Slavic girls are using their charming beauty. I really like the song but not sure about the presentation - focusing on breasts - is it empowerment or misogyny?  

I've just met the lovely Tinatin Berdzenishvili from Georgian TV, one of the nicest people out of all the Eurovision delegations. Georgia will take part in the second semi final - it's a quirky song, not everyone's cup of tea but it's well performed. Thanks to Tinatin for the interview. More tomorrow!