ESC2016: Arrival…

It’s a Bank Holiday Monday at the beginning of May. This usually means two things in my life: it’s the start of the assessment period and there’s marking to be done, and it’s almost time for the Eurovision Song Contest!

Significantly for all the fans, and probably of way more importance for the all the competing artists, today (Monday 2 May) marks the start of the rehearsals for this year’s contest, which is being held in Stockholm, Sweden. Cue much giddiness and tumult on social media!

The much anticipated ‘Eurovision Week’ is almost upon us, but before then the extensive rehearsals begin. It’s no accident that the spectacle of the television broadcasts are so slick and professional, the rehearsals ensure that. This year SVT, the Swedish host broadcaster, is promising something a little different, so let’s hope they deliver that. Back in 2013, when they hosted in Malmö, SVT did a great job. And the stage this year looks amazing…

A week from today (9 May) I will arrive in Stockholm and enter the ‘Eurovision bubble’ once again. As usual I will be blogging from the rehearsals, as well as the activities in the press centre and around Stockholm. It’s always a privilege to be accredited by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to be at the heart of the event, and I am delighted that once again I will have the opportunity to share the build-up to the television broadcasts next week. You know the drill by now: two semi-finals (10 May, 12 May) and the Grand Final (14 May). This year (for the first time) the semi-finals are on BBC4.

You may have seen the entertaining (as well as rather cliché) launch trailer for the BBC coverage this year…

Almost time for us to get our Eurovision party started. Lot’s to see and do before then!

As a warm-up to what lies ahead, last Wednesday I attended a Eurovision masterclass held by the BBC at Media City. The session included a discussion with Eurovision Digital Executive Producer, Nora Ryan. Nora looked back on the BBC’s digital highlights from the Eurovision last year, as well as looking forward to Stockholm. Did you know that ESC2015 was the most tweeted programme across the BBC platforms last year?

This was followed by a Q&A with UK entrants, Joe and Jake …

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They are really natural and at ease with all the attention. To close the event the boys took to the stage and performed their entry for Stockholm “You’re Not Alone”. If you haven’t yet heard the song, here it is…

I attended the BBC event with our very own ambassador, Carol Poole. Not that she’s desperate to geg-in on proceedings, but this is the *best-picture-ever* … 😀

2016-04-27 13.58.35 copyI had a little chat with ‘our boys’, J&J. Really nice blokes. I told them I’d ask them a question in one of their press conferences in Stockholm, and asked what they would like me to ask. Their suggestion: anything as long as it’s a bit of banter. Top blokes indeed!

As you have heard, our UK entry isn’t a national embarrassment this year. No, we won’t win, but hopefully J&J will do well enough so that they can build a career off the back of their participation. As the late Terry Wogan would say, ‘let’s cheer them on with word and gesture’.

More on the runners and riders in my next post, as we preview the first semi-final…