A series of programmes celebrating Eurovision has begun on the BBC – on the night this year’s song contest was due to take place.
The 2020 contest was cancelled in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Graham Norton and Rylan Clark-Neal are instead hosting programmes which celebrate Eurovision’s 64-year history.
The night kicked off with Eurovision: Come Together, where fans can vote online for their favourite Eurovision song.
“We couldn’t deny you your Eurovision fix,” declared Norton.
On Friday, the BBC announced the shortlist for the programme would include Eurovision classics from Verka Serduchka, Loreen, Alexander Rybak, Netta, Abba, Bucks Fizz, Conchita and Gina G.
The BBC will also join other European broadcasters to honour all the 41 songs which would have competed this year.
Some of this year’s songs would have been eliminated at the semi-finals, where the entrants are normally whittled down to 26.
None of the 2020 songs will be carried over to next year. Instead, countries will select new entrants for the 2021 contest.
Several countries – including Greece, Spain and Bulgaria – have confirmed they will send the same acts next year to give the artists a second chance, but they will have to perform different songs.
Currently, there’s no word on whether the UK’s 2020 entrant James Newman will be chosen for the 2021 contest, although he has said he “absolutely” wants to represent his country again.
What’s happening this year?
- Eurovision: Come Together Graham Norton is hosting a 90-minute programme which looks back at some classic Eurovision performances and encourages viewers to vote for their favourite. Norton is also speaking to James Newman, who would have represented the UK at this year’s contest. It is broadcast at 18:30 BST on BBC One.
- Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light will honour all the 41 songs which would have made up this year’s contest, in a non-competitive format. The live show will be broadcast across Europe and hosted from the Netherlands by the Dutch presenters who were due to front this year’s contest, but Graham Norton will provide commentary for UK viewers. It’s being screened at 20:00 BST on BBC One.
- The A-Z of Eurovision will see Rylan Clark-Neal go into the archives to relive “the disasters, the costume changes and memorable musical moments” from Eurovision’s 64-year history. It airs at 22:00 BST on BBC Two.
- TOTP2 Goes Eurovision is a repeat of a programme first shown in 2007. Hosted by Steve Wright, the Eurovision-themed edition of the Top of the Pops spin-off will feature archive performances by Cliff Richard, Lulu, Bucks Fizz and Abba. It goes out at 23:00 BST on BBC Two.
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest was originally due to take place on Saturday at Rotterdam’s 16,000 capacity Ahoy Arena.
In March, the organisers said in a statement: “We, like the millions of you around the world, are extremely saddened that it can not take place in May.
“The health of artists, staff, fans and visitors, as well as the situation in the Netherlands, Europe and the world, is at the heart of this decision.”