Eurovision 2020: Abba crowned UK's all-time favourite on patchy night of Song Contest programming

Abba, voted the UK's Eurovision favourite
Abba, voted the UK's Eurovision favourite
  • UK viewers vote Abba's 'Waterloo' as their favourite performance in Eurovision history
  • Simulcast special showcases all 41 entries for this year's cancelled contest
  • Graham Norton steals show by hilariously helming three-and-a-half hours of festivities
  • Britain’s Eurovision Song Contest entries: where are they now?
  • Test your knowledge with our Eurovision quiz

With the Song Contest cancelled due to coronvirus, this was a Eurovision year like no other. In an evening of Eurovision-themed entertainment, Abba's Waterloo was crowned the best Eurovision song ever by the British public, while the 41 contestants that would have performed in 2020 were honoured and all performed a cover of Katrina and the Waves's winning 1998 entry Love Shine a Light. Here's what happened during that music and nostalgia-packed evening.

Verdict on tonight's two centrepiece shows

Something of a game of two halves tonight. The BBC's own show, Eurovision: Come Together, was huge fun - a sort of high-class clip show, sure, but highly entertaining, crammed full of memories and a reminder of more carefree times.

538prom精品视频在线播放Abba's 'Waterloo' was also a well-deserved winner of the viewer vote for the UK's favourite Eurovision performance.

The Dutch production,  Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light, was far less successful. Two often excruciating hours of stilted interviews, drab acoustic performances and long.,. torturous... satellite... delays.

It was worthy and well-intentioned but stodgy and full of 'stay strong, we'll get through this together'-type platitudes. More like a traditional Eurovision show, in many regards, but without the full complement of kitsch and frisson of excitement.

Thank goodness, then, for host Graham Norton who added his trademark caustic commentary to both shows and popped up in person several times, too. He made the whole thing just about bearable and at times, seemed genuinely moved by the sincere outpourings of sentiment. 

In many ways, Eurovision was made for times like these. It has brought viewers together since it first aired in 1956. Indeed, it was created for this very purpose in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The coronavirus pandemic might have been the first thing to stop it in 64 years but against the odds, tonight's programming was a communal experience with moments of pure joy. Not bad for something produced in straitened circumstances and in a matter of weeks.

Well played, everyone - not least you, for keeping me company on this blog. Thanks for reading and goodnight

Well, that was a long two hours

As the credits roll on Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light, the action switches to BBC Two for Rylan Clark-Neal’s compilation The A-Z of Eurovision, followed by archive-raiding special TOTP2 Goes Eurovision! 

If you’re still not sated after those, there’s a veritable smörgåsbord of Eurovision-flavoured programming on BBC iPlayer, Radio 2 and the Eurovision website.

Same place, same time next year?

Eurovision has certainly come a long way since the inaugural 1956 event in Switzerland. But let's pray for a proper contest next year. Those 41 songs won't be heard next year - but another 41 will hopefully take their place at Rotterdam 2021

Katrina & The Many Waves

'God, that was awkward,' says Graham when only we can hear him.

Last song now as all this year's entrants link up for a tag-team version of the UK's 1997 winner “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina & The Waves. A rather lovely way to end. Pleasing that it's one of our songs, too. 

 

Hey up, it's our Graham

Our own Graham Norton now talks to Rotterdam via videolink. There's a painful attempt at banter with a satellite delay. Will they never learn? Still, there seems to be genuine love for 'Mr Norton' in the Eurovision community, which is sweet to see.

Björn again! It's the bloke from Abba 

A video visit now from  Björn Ulvaeus of 1974 winners - and victors in tonight's Come Together contest - the mighty Abba.

He seems to be in an enormous kitchen but he's earned those vast granite surfaces. 'Long live the Eurovision Song Contest,' grins Björn as he signs off. Well said, sir. 

Last batch of lost Eurovision entries

Eight more numbers now. Namely Malta (Lizzo in training), Estonia (Levi's catalogue model), Australia (Mr Tumble meets Paloma Faith), Ukraine (frightful electro-trad racket), Denmark (folk-pop buskers), Italy (soaring ballad), Armenia (Charli XCX tribute act) and host nation, the Netherlands538prom精品视频在线播放 (sincere but rather good soul anthem).

Thank the lord for Conchita Wurst

Resplendently bearded and apparently going commando in her Emmanuel chair to liven up another tedious montage of messages. 

Reigning champion returns

Last year's winner, the Netherlands' Duncan Laurence - who at least will get to hold the title for two years rather than one - performs now, resembling a young Rupert Everett with his lockdown hair. 

Clucking hell, it's the chicken lady

A chat now with the mighty Netta, who won for Israel with 'Toy' in 2018, complete with poultry noises and Pikachu references. She performs a low-key new song called 'Cuckoo', which is dreamy, nursery rhyme-like and rather lovely. 

Eight more entries whizz by

538prom精品视频在线播放Another eight tunes which would have competed tonight if it weren't for so-called Covid-19.

Greece (Katy Perry tribute act),  Czech Republic (rubbish rap), Poland (generic power-ballad with flame backdrop), Moldova (90s pop flop), Cyprus (queasy Europop), Romania (Ariana Grande with a penchant for puns), Croatia (singing waiter) and Germany (hormonal Jimi Somerville).

Another stilted chat!

Joy of joys. This one is with Michael Schulte - aka Lewis Capaldi with Toploader's hair - who came fourth for Germany in 2018. He's 'treating' us to an acoustic performance. Haven't we suffered enough?

Snippets of more lost songs 

Now for swift looks at another eight entries that we would have seen tonight. 

Namely Spain (anthemic X Factor quarter-finalist), Albania (Jessie J album track), Ireland (cracking power-pop song from Leslie Roy), Slovenia (socially distanced ballad), Austria (funky boyband type), Bulgaria (bargain basement Billie Eilish), San Marino (Black Eyed Peas in the reduced aisle) and, best of all, the hotly tipped Iceland - quirky, cheeky, anthemic art-pop. The winner that never was, perhaps? Even his little video was funny. 

Second bite at the cherry

Incidentally, several countries - including Greece, Spain and Bulgaria - have confirmed they will send the same acts next year to give their artists a second chance, although they will all have to perform different songs.

No word yet on whether we’ll be giving James Newman another shot but he’s said he “absolusltey wants to represent his country again”, bless him. 

Viewers' Eurovision snaps sent in

They must be on a commercial break in mainland Europe because Graham Norton now gives typically waspish commentary on UK fans who've sent in their own Eurovision-themed photos. 

UK winner lights up the night

An orchestral version of 1997 winner “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina & The Waves soundtracks a montage of landmarks around Europe - including our own London Eye - being illuminated. With lightbulbs rather than love, but you get the idea.  

Serbia in lockdown

A performance now from  Marija Šerifović, who won for Serbia in 2007 with this song 'Molitva', meaning 'Prayer'. She films it around a locked-down Belgrade.

More songs of 2020 now

We now get sneak peeks at eight more tunes which would have competed tonight if it wasn't for this whole coronavirus nonsense.

Latvia (a rubbish Lady Gaga),  Belgium (surprisingly tasteful trip-hop), the UK (unlucky, James Newman, but a sweet video message), Belarus (a rubbish Corrs), Finland (Voice auditionee who got no chair-turns), North Macedonia (salsa class soundtrack), Switzerland (choirboy perched at a piano) and Serbia (a Poundstretcher Pussycat Dolls or an Aldi All Saints).

Italy calling

A chat now with Antonio Diodato, who was due to be the Italian entry with “Fai Rumore”. Instead people in lockdown have been singing it from balconies. Another well-meaning, sincere but slightly agonising interview.

Then he gets his guitar out, like an annoying bloke at a house party. He at least has the good taste to sing Italian Eurovision classic “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”, aka “Volare”. 

More painful guff now

Holland's 'online host' gets her own little segment now, conducting awkward interviews via Zoom. This is why you're the online host, love. This could be a long two hours.

Hallelujah, it's another choir thingy

Another of those 'Get a former winner and let  random people sing along' numbers. This one is  'Hallelujah' by Milk & Honey, which won in 1979. Gali Atari from the group is singing it in a selection of strange empty locations, while the 'children of Eurovision' join in. 

This is awkward

A well-meaning but slightly painful interview now with Viki Gabor, Poland's reginiung Junior Eurovision champion. Not her fault, more the host's. He's old enough to know better. 

'Heroes' goes acoustic

Live music now with an unplugged, stripped backed version of“Heroes” by Måns Zelmerlöw, Sweden’s winning 2015 entry. This was filmed in London, so we can technically claim this as our own. Well done us. 

Azerbaijan would have been 'one for the dads'

538prom精品视频在线播放We've been denied a scantily-clad Cleopatra. Oh cruel world.

We also get a glimpse of Portugal (puffy sleeves and sincere facial expression), Sweden (an r'n'b hen do) and Lithuania, which was another bookies' favourite. It's quirky folk-pop with a dance move which went viral. 

The Eurovision entries that never were

This show will features brief snippets of all 41 entries - they'd normally be whittled down to 26 for the final but obviously the semi-finals were cancelled too - so the heartbroken acts still get their moment in the sun.

We kick off with Israel (kind of fun), Norway (rent-a-ballad), Georgia (stodgy pomp-rock), France (handsome but boring) and Russia, who were hotly tipped with this cartoonish rave-pop number. 

This is like a massive musical Zoom call

Turn your sound on, Nanna! We can't see your face, Dad! 

Logan's run

An awkward satellite chat now with three-time Irish winner Johnny Logan, who seems to have morphed into a cross between Kenny Rogers and Julian Assange. He's crooning his victorious 1980 entry, “What’s Another Year” (apt message, you see).

But it's not just Johnny singing - this is a virtual singalong, with fans from around the world forming a huge fancy-dressed choir. The mind boggles, as it usually does on Eurovision night.

Frockwatch: Euro edition

Here comes our three-headed hosting monster. On our Strictly liveblog, we traditionally do a “Frockwatch” comparison of Tess and Claudia’s outfits, so let’s try something similar here.

Edsilia is in a full-length, strapless, midnight blue ballgown. Chantal is in a hot pink ballfown . Jan is in a dinner suit with tie, not dickie blue. Edsilia wins.

Three hosts are better than one... aren't they?

Our hosts are the Dutch presenting trio who would have helmed the contest had it gone ahead: Chantal Janzen, Edsilia Rombley and Jan Smit.

Thankfully, Graham Norton538prom精品视频在线播放 will chip in with his typically scathing live commentary for us British viewers

And we're off!

538prom精品视频在线播放A poignant montage to start, of European capitals looking eerily empty under lockdown. 

Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light begins

Here’s the main event. Well, hopefully. With the live final cancelled, this special non-competitive substitute - simulcast across Europe and beyond - will screen all 41 entries and feature all manner of other Eurotreats.

Credits roll but it’s only half-time  

538prom精品视频在线播放That concludes this show but don’t go anywhere. The Eurovision larks continue, both on BBC One and on this very liveblog. Refresh your drinks and gird your loins. Whatever that actually means. 

And the winner is…

538prom精品视频在线播放Abba with 'Waterloo'. Well, of course it is. The worthiest of winners. 

Time for the result  

538prom精品视频在线播放Time to reveal the song that viewers have crowned as the UK’s Eurovision favourite. Will it be a certain Swedish foursome or one of the UK’s past winners? Will it be a retro classic or a recent favourite? Hold tight, we’re about to find out…

Who needs proper Eurovision?

The public are stealing the show here. Russian grannies! Jedward impersonators! The actual Jedward dressing up as themselves! Scooch cabin crew tributes! Was that Andy Abraham the singing binman I spotted too? Cliff Richard538prom精品视频在线播放! The fiddling bloke!

Fancy-dressed civilians take centre stage

Light-hearted VT now as hundreds of Eurovision fans around the UK - and some familiar former Eurovision faces - recreating classic performances from their homes. Think props. Think costumes. Think choreography. Think Cheryl Baker 538prom精品视频在线播放with her unimpressed Alsatian. 

All dressed up with nowhere to go  

Graham Norton now talks over video-link to Yorkshire-born troubadour James Newman, who was due to fly the UK flag in Rotterdam tonight.

As a bit of background on Newman: he’s more of a songwriter than a performer by trade, having co-written hits for Rudimental, Calvin Harris and Kesha. His Euro entry, “My Last Breath” was a tasteful ballad. Inoffensively bland but no winner either. 

That’s the last song. But which will win?  

There’s now 15 minutes of filler, oops I mean, quality content while the votes are cast and tension is built. You can vote for free at bbc.co.uk/eurovision538prom精品视频在线播放. Or have your say in our own version below...

Katrina waves goodbye  

Last song now and it’s the mighty “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina & The Waves538prom精品视频在线播放. Its fusion of Hammond organ, tambourines, hand-claps and cod-spiritual lyrics gave this the feel of a Celtic hymn.

This was the last time the UK won the competition and it came the day after Labour’s landslide 1997 election victory. How things have changed. 

This bloke’s on the fiddle  

Penultimate song now and it’s “Fairytale” by Norway’s Alexander Rybak538prom精品视频在线播放. The fiddling and folk dancing made him a worthy winner in 2009.

There’s still something adorably innocent about it, even if he does seem to be dressed as a snooker player. 

It’s Conchita time  

“Rise Like A Phoenix” now, which soared above the rest in 2014, courtesy of Austrian crooner and drag queen Conchita Wurst. Poise, passion, a timeless big band backing and the cinematic feel of a Bond theme. It was a powerful moment for LGBT+ visibility too, with the lyrical theme of triumph over adversity securing its status as an anthem for life’s survivors.

As Graham Norton538prom精品视频在线播放 himself said of Conchita’s win: “The people had spoken… and they were nicer and more tolerant people than their governments let us think.” 

Big collars! Non-ironic moustaches! Different times  

Another UK entrant now. It’s 1976 winner “Save Your Kisses for Me” by Brotherhood of Man.

538prom精品视频在线播放Miraculously, it’s the biggest-selling Eurovision single of all time, shifting over 6m copies worldwide.  A little dated, sure, but still a solid gold Eurovision classic. The jaunty melody of that chorus is hard to argue with. Unlike the 'tache and medallion combo.

Feel like chicken tonight?  

The most recent winner on tonight’s list is “Toy” by Netta538prom精品视频在线播放, who won for Israel in 2018.

Wacky, sub-Björk stuff with a catchy chorus is surrounded by gibberish, chicken noises and surely Eurovision’s only Pikachu reference. Still huge fun, though. 

Volare, woah-oh-oh-oh  

It’s all gone black-and-white again as we rewind to the third ever contest in 1958. “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu” by Domenico Modugno538prom精品视频在线播放 came third in 1958.

Popularly known as “Volare”, this Chanson-style ballad has since become a standard and one of the most successful songs in Eurovision history. Millions of drunken dads on holiday can’t be wrong. 

From Gina to Lena  

Next up it’s “Satellite” by Lena538prom精品视频在线播放, Germany’s winning entry from a decade ago in Oslo.

She’s now a big star in her home country. This is perky, bubbly pop in a classic little black dress. Or 'LBD' as they call it in fashion circles. Oh yes, you get style punditry on this liveblog too.

Montage of Brit bridesmaids  

Quick compilation of UK entrants who came second. Cliff Richard dressed as Austin Powers! A fresh-faced, beige-suited Michael Ball! Scouse songbird SoniaImaani, of whomI have no memory of whatsoever!

More patriotism? Just a little bit  

Another UK entrant now, with “Ooh…Aah…Just A Little Bit” by adopted Brit Gina G.

Perky, galloping electrobeat with a whiff of 80s synth-pop and a sparkly, hand-made Paco Rabanne frock. This  disco floor-filler topped the charts but unjustly came in eighth place. Boo.

Loïc it or lump it  

Next up, for some random reason, it’s “Rhythm Inside” by Loïc Nottet which came fourth for Belgium in 2015.

Minimalistic black-and-white staging, jerky dancing and hypnotic electro-pop. Bold and slick but one of the all-time best Eurovision songs? Surely not. 

All aboard the ABBA train at Waterloo station  

'We promise to love you forever more...' This will take some beating in tonight's vote: “Waterloo” by ABBA. This upbeat lovelorn classic by the Swedish foursome won in 1974, of course, and kickstarted the country’s international reputation as masters of pop.

From the opening piano build to the irresistible chorus, it’s a masterclass in hit-making. It went on to become one of the best-selling singles of all time and ABBA continue to influence Eurovision acts to this day. Couldn't escape if we wanted to.

A winner that never was?

On with the show and it’s contemporary r&b banger “Soldi” by Mahmood, which arguably should have won last year. It finished as runner-up but became the most-streamed Eurovision song ever on Spotify.

538prom精品视频在线播放Still sharp, catchy and highly enjoyable, combining modern stylings with just enough Euro-cheese. You wuz robbed, Mahmood. 

Raise a glass to Sir Terry  

It’s become traditional in the last decade to raise a glass to Sir Michael Terence Wogan when we reach song  - a reference to the sage advice Sir Tel gave successor Graham Norton about not drinking too early during Eurovision commentary duties.

So let’s all take a moment to toast the twinkly old legend. 

The Tin Man’s having a midlife crisis

Are you getting flashbacks to 2007? Here’s Eurodance racket “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” by Verka Serduchka, which finished runner-up for Ukraine. Those silver foil outfits still look just as sweaty. And no, it's not Su Pollard.

538prom精品视频在线播放Drag queen Verka caused some controversy in her homeland with her saucy lyrics and the number '69' on her back but it’s textbook Eurovision fare - flamboyant, bonkers and ever so slightly disturbing. Pass the Bacofoil and nanna's sunglasses.

Why no Irish song on the shortlist?  

Johnny Logan, Linda Martin and dear old Dana have somehow been cruelly omitted. I call shenanigans.

We’re going up, up, up (again)  

A Eurodance doof-doofer now: “Euphoria” by Claudia Winkleman lookalike Loreen, who won for Sweden in 2012. It's the kind of trancey dance hit that many contemporary pop stars would kill for. The chorus is anthemic enough already but when Loreen tacks on: “We’re going up, up, up…”, it lifts to another level of whooshiness.

538prom精品视频在线播放The Kate Bush-esque wafting about was an added bonus. This is the most downloaded Eurovision winner in the UK, apparently. Whodathunk?

It’s all gone black and white  

Do not adjust your sets. This is “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” from way back in 1965. It’s performed by France Gall, who won for Luxembourg - the second of their five victories, surprisingly. In fact, they’re third in the all-time list behind Ireland and Sweden.

This Serge Gainsbourg-written bumber about a rag doll is baby pop but with playful lyrics laden with double meaning. Ooh la la.

It’s the Cypriot Beyoncé  

“One for the dads” now. It’s “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira, who came second two years ago - the best ever finish for plucky Cyprus.

538prom精品视频在线播放It takes its title is the Spanish word for “fire”, of course, and it’s a catchy female empowerment anthem with wind machines, sparkly outfits, big hair and choeography which owes more than a little to Beyoncé Knowles

Skirt-ripping ahoy  

Hooray, it’s the first UK entry on the shortlist - the mighty Bucks Fizz with 1981 winner “Making Your Mind Up”. An infectious, high-energy pop toe-tapper with colourful costumes and cheeky choreography.

That skirt-ripping gimmick remains one of the competition’s most famous moments. Gawd bless Velcro. Cheryl Baker on the left-hand side is sounding a tad pitchy but hey, who cares? We won! 

Box-ticking exercise

 Lo and behold, here’s a montage of Eurovision’s classic boxes. Mmm, boxy.

Cue the “Why are Australia in it?” debate  

The night's first song which didn’t win. This is “Sound of Silence” - not the Simon & Garfunkel classic, sadly but Dami Im with Australia’s second ever entry from 2016.

It came second, somehow. That giant glittery cube must have been a vote-winner.

Diva fever! It's Dana International

Next up is Israel’s Dana Internationa538prom精品视频在线播放l, with her 1998-winning track “Diva”, performed in the West Midlands' glamorous Birmingham. As the first transgender woman to compete, Dana caused a bit of a stir among Israeli conservatives at the time but was fully embraced by Eurovision audiences.

It’s a gay Euro-clubbing anthem, which hasn’t dated terribly well, to be honest. Lyrics paying homage to women like Cleopatra (coming atcha), Aphrodite and Victoria (presumably Beckham).

“Heroes” is first up  

We launch straight into the 19-strong shortlist with “Heroes” by Måns Zelmerlöw538prom精品视频在线播放, Sweden’s winning 2015 entry. It’s like a David Guetta, hands-in-the-air house production. Slightly underwhelming country-style verses but extra points for the high-tech staging. Points deducted for his leatherette slacks.

Here’s Lord Graham Of Norton  

538prom精品视频在线播放Graham “Mr Eurovision Now That Terry Wogan Is No Longer With Us” Norton now pivots into a typically dry-witted introduction to this replacement show. In the 90-minute celebration of the UK’s favourite (and least favourite) Eurovision performances, UK viewers get the opportunity to vote live online for their favourite.

The eclectic shortlist ha been "compiled by a panel of experts and celebrity Eurovision superfans”. There they are waving, look. Abba, Bucks Fizz and Conchita Wurst are among the artists to have made the cut. 

Their selections are OK-ish but have lots of obvious omissions, if you ask me. Sandi Shaw, Celine Dion, Lulu, Lordi, Dana and Johnny Logan, to name just a few. Bobbysocks and Jedward538prom精品视频在线播放 too, perhaps, just for the lolz. 

And we’re off!   

We open with a montage of highlights from lat year’s contest in Tel Aviv, won by the not-terribly-Dutch-named Duncan Laurence with “Arcade”. 

Nearly Norton o'clock

Mere minutes until we go over to sardonic commentator Graham Norton on BBC One. Prepare for pyrotechnics, barefoot performances, patriotic flag-waving and dodgy pop, just like any other Eurovision night.

180 million people can't be wrong

That's how many viewers tune into Eurovision on a yearly basis. Many of them host viewing parties, don fancy dress and set up sweepstakes.

538prom精品视频在线播放Some of this might not be possible but tonight's programming should still be heaps of camp, kitschy, communal fun. It's a chance to pop some bubbly, forget our troubles and have a sofa singalong at home. Five minutes until showtime...

The show must go on

Europe’s 65th annual extravaganza of fancy-dressed novelty pop was cancelled back in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The showpiece final was scheduled to take place in Rotterdam tonight. Instead the BBC has an evening of Eurovision programming to fill the void and celebrate Eurovision’s 64-year history. 

We kick off in 105 minutes, so there's still time to line up your themed snacks and international drinks selection.

No Eurovision 2020? No problem 

We might have been cruelly denied Saturday night’s musical cheese-fest from the Netherlands - nul points for the pandemic - but the BBC is plugging the glitzy gap with an evening of programming devoted to all things Song Contest-shaped.

538prom精品视频在线播放It promises to be equally entertaining in a knowingly naff fashion, so please watch along with our lockdown liveblog. 

I’m Michael, your spangly-jacketed tour guide for tonight. I’ll be liveblogging from 6.15pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, social media reaction and sarky asides.

Please join me and join in too. You can email me on michael.hogan@ youxiaoqudou.comtweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments538prom精品视频在线播放 at the bottom of this blog. I'll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here. 

So what’s on the bill? Well, at 6.25pm on BBC One, Graham Norton kicks things off with Eurovision: Come Together, a one-off special giving UK viewers the chance to vote for their all-time favourite Eurovision performance from an eclectic shortlist, picked by a panel of so-called experts. I have “issues” with their choices but more of that later.

Norton will also chat to Yorkshire-born troubadour James Newman538prom精品视频在线播放, who was due to represent us in Rotterdam, the poor lamb. 

This is followed at 8pm, when the grand final should have taken place, by Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light - a live show honouring all 41 songs which would have competed tonight. This will be simulcast across the continent and beyond, hosted by the Dutch trio who were due to compère full proceedings. Expect stilted links and multiple languages. Norton will pop behind the mic to provide waspish live commentary. 

At 10pm, this liveblog will reluctantly sign off but never fear, because the festivities continue on TV. The action switches to BBC Two for Rylan Clark-Neal’s compilation The A-Z of Eurovision, followed by archive-raiding special TOTP2 Goes Eurovision! 

If you’re still not sated, there’s a veritable smörgåsbord of Eurovision-related programming on iPlayer, Radio 2 and the Eurovision website.

Willkommen, bienvenue and welcome, because we’re about to do Eurovision without any actual Eurovision…