Around 180 million viewers are expected to tune in to this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Here, Steve Rogerson gives a guide to the coverage on the BBC from the two semi-finals on BBC Three to the grand final on BBC One, plus the most extensive coverage ever on BBC Radio, which will be doing a special pop-up digital radio service.
Your guide to the BBC’s coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014
The annual Eurovision Song Contest starts with two semi-finals on 6 and 8 May 2014 followed by the grand final from Denmark on Saturday 10 May 2014.
Graham Norton will host the Eurovision final on BBC One
The only song contest in the world in which the music is not the main attraction is also the most watched worldwide with about 120 million viewers tuning in to see the finals last year; this year some reckon it may top 180 million. It could only be the Eurovision Song Contest, which starts on Tuesday 6 May 2014 with the first semi-final followed by the second semi-final on Thursday 8 May 2014 leading up to the grand final in Copenhagen on Saturday 10 May 2014.
This is the 59th time the event has been held and Denmark won the right to host it thanks to its entry – “Only Teardrops” by Emilie de Forest – being victorious last year. There are 37 countries entering and, as usual, the big five of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK will get a bye to Saturday’s final where they will join host country Denmark and 20 countries that have won through from the semi-finals. The voting will be the same as the past five years with half coming from a national jury and half from viewers’ votes.
This year’s venue is the B&W Hallerne and the hosts will be Lise Rønne, Nikolaj Koppel and Pilou Asbæk. Politics and country friendships have always played a part in the voting with a little bit of you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours sometimes being more important than what is being sung. Countries out of favour politically often get low votes. And there is the annual controversy of whether Israel should be allowed to enter as it is clearly not in Europe.
The first semi-final will be live on BBC Three at 8pm on Tuesday 6 May when ten of the sixteen countries will earn a place in Saturday’s final. The hosts will be Scott Mills and Laura Whitmore and the show will include an interview with UK entry Molly. UK viewers will not be allowed to vote in this semi-final.
The sixteen contestants are: “One Night’s Anger” by Hersi (Albania); “Not Alone” by Aram MP3 (Armenia); “Start a Fire” by Dilara Kazimova (Azerbaijan); “Mother” by Axel Hirsoux (Belgium); “Amazing” by Tanja (Estonia), “Running” by András Kállay-Saunders (Hungary); “No Prejudice” by Pollapönk (Iceland); “Cake to Bake” by Aarzemniekl (Latvia); “Wild Soul” by Cristina Scarlat (Moldova); “Moj Svijet” by Sergej Ćetković (Montenegro); “Calm After the Storm” by The Common Linnets (Netherlands); “Quero Ser Tua” by Suzy (Portugal); “Shine” by Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia); “Maybe” by Valentine Monetta (San Marino); “Undo” by Sanna Nielsen (Sweden); and “Tick-Tock” by Mariya Yaremchuk (Ukraine).
The second semi-final will be live on BBC Three at 8pm on Thursday 8 May and this time UK viewers will be able to vote to help pick the ten out of the fifteen entries who will go through to Saturday’s final. Again the hosts will be Laura Whitmore and Scott Mills. UK entry Molly will feature with a look at what she will be doing in the week leading up to the final.
The fifteen contestants are: “Rise Like a Phoenix” by Conchita Wurst (Austria); “Cheesecake” by Teo (Belarus); “Something Better” by Softengine (Finland); “Three Minutes to Earth” by The Shin and Mariko (Georgia); “Rise Up” by Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd (Greece); “Heartbeat” by Can-Linn featuring Kasey Smith (Ireland); “Same Heart” by Mel Finegold (Israel); “Attention” by Vilija Matačiūnaitė (Lithuania); “To the Sky” by Tijana (Macedonia); “Coming Home” by Firelight (Malta); “Silent Storm” by Carl Espen (Norway); “My Slowlanie – We are Slavic” by Donatan and Cleo (Poland); “Miracle” by Paula Selling and OVI (Romania); “Round and Round” by Tinkara Kovač (Slovenia); and “Hunter of Stars” by Sebalter (Switzerland).
The Grand Final
Graham Norton will host BBC One’s coverage of the final from 8pm on Saturday 10 May. The final can also be heard live on BBC Radio Two where Ken Bruce will be commentating. Voting will start after the last song has finished and you will not be allowed to vote for your own country’s entry. The viewers’ votes will be combined with those from the jury, which will make their decision at a non-televised viewing on Friday 9 May.
The twenty qualifying from the semi-finals will be joined by the six with byes, and these are: “Cliche Love Song” by Basim (Denmark); “Moustache” by Twin Twin (France); “Is it Right” by Elaiza (Germany); “La Mia Città” by Emma (Italy); “Dancing in the Rain” by Ruth Lorenzo (Spain); and “Children of the Universe” by Molly (United Kingdom).
BBC Radio Two pop-up coverage
BBC Radio Two will be broadcasting a special pop-up digital radio service, complementing the output on BBC Radio Two, BBC One and BBC Three. This will be the BBC’s first digital pop-up service since Olympics Extra in 2012.
Radio Two Eurovision will air from midday to midnight from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 May 2014, over the four days of transmission. However, on the big day Saturday 10 May, it will be simulcast with Radio Two from 10am to 1pm with Graham Norton’s regular weekly show, when he will be live on air from Copenhagen.
The network will feature shows presented by Radio Four's Paddy O’Connell, Radio One's Scott Mills and Radio Two's Ken Bruce, Maria McErlane, Michael Ball and Sir Terry Wogan, who presented his legendary TV commentary from 1973 to 2008.
Listeners will be able to hear highlights of the first semi-final on Thursday afternoon with the second semi-final live on Thursday night. And Paddy O’Connell will be live every day from Denmark with the latest news from behind the scenes, as well as hosting the Eurovision post-show party on the Saturday night.
Brand-new programmes will include The Luck Of The Irish in which Sir Terry Wogan reflects on why Ireland is the most successful country in Eurovision history; Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic takes to the air alongside members of 1981 winners, Bucks Fizz, ahead of the competition final on Saturday night; and David Quantick presents The Blagger's Guide To Eurovision on Thursday 8 May at 5pm.
There will also be special Eurovision-themed editions of Sounds Of The 60s with Brian Matthew (Friday 9 May, 5pm repeated Saturday, 3.30pm), Sounds Of The 70s with Johnnie Walker (Thursday 8 May, 7pm repeated Sunday 11 May 10pm) and Sounds Of The 80s with Sara Cox (Thursday 8 May, 3.30pm repeated Friday 9 May, 10pm). These will also broadcast documentaries from the BBC archive.
As well as the pop-up radio station, there will be a host of Eurovision-related programming on BBC Radio Two including Buck’s Fizz’s Cheryl Baker joining Ken Bruce as his special guest on Monday 5 May, playing Eurovision classics on Tracks Of My Years.
Betting odds for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest
Armenia has emerged as a clear favourite at about 7/4 ahead of Sweden at 3/1. The best of the rest is Denmark with odds ranging from 7/1 to 10/1. The Ukraine come in at around 14/1 followed by Norway and the UK at 16/1 and Azerbaijan and Hungary at 25/1.