Interview: Graham Norton on the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
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 Tel Aviv across the BBC.
Tel Aviv will play host to the competition for the first time following the country's victory last year in Lisbon with Netta who sung and performed Toy. Israel has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times with Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta in 1978 with A-Ba-Ni-Bi and Milk and Honey and Gali Atari with Hallelujah in 1979, Dana International with Diva in 1998 and Netta with Toy in 2018.
This year marks the 64th edition of the competition, with a total of 41 countries competing in the contest, including two semi-finals that will be broadcast on BBC Four, and the Grand Final which will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC Radio 2.
Graham Norton tells us more…
Congratulations on your tenth year at Eurovision! Do you think Eurovision has changed at all since you started?
I think most of the big changes happened before I joined the show, but I do think that the format twist of delivering the jury vote separately from the phone vote is genius. Every year is a nail biter now!
What are your highlights from previous years?
Every year delivers something truly memorable be that for reasons good or bad! I suppose the stand out things would be the Swedish final a few years ago when they produced such a slick funny balanced show and my other highlight was the night that Conchita went home victorious.
You mentioned Israel early last year as contenders - have you listened to all of the songs yet? Who would you say are the big contenders for this year?
I haven't heard all the songs yet, but thus far I think the UK is sounding really strong.
Who are you most looking forward to on this year in terms of staging as well as performance?
Russia this year have Sergey Lazarev, a former top three act, so I'm sure they will pull out all the stops, but really the thrill is being totally blind-sided by a countries staging.
What do you think of the United Kingdom entry this year? Can the United Kingdom win?
I think the song is strong but what makes it really stand out is Michael's voice and personality. To those that say we can never win I would remind them of Portugal, Israel, Austria, Germany, all recent winners and countries that never gave up though many said they should. Keep the faith United Kingdom.
Do you have any pre-show rituals or superstitions before you go live on air?
Not really because the set-up is different every year and just trying to navigate security and get to the commentary box in time is enough to think about.
How Does Eurovision compare to the kind of TV work you do the rest of the year?
My job at Eurovision is unlike anything else I do. I just sit back and watch the show, making the odd comment when I think it's needed. Work is really a big word for what I actually do on the night.
What are your tips for people having a Eurovision party at home?
Pace yourselves. If you play a drinking game that is too easy you'll never stay awake to laugh at the various presenters standing in front of the bleak abandoned streets of obscure European capitals saying, "thank you for this wonderful show you are giving tonight."