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BBC flies the flag for Eurovision with a weekend of camp celebration. Here’s how you can join in

Reiss Smith May 15, 2020
Dana International, ABBA, Graham Norton and Conchita Wurst

Dana International, ABBA, Graham Norton and Conchita Wurst. (Getty/BBC)

Eurovision 2020 may have fallen victim to coronavirus, but that hasn’t stopped the BBC from putting on a weekend full of celebrations.

The BBC, Eurovision’s home for more than 60 years, has stepped up to fill the gaping, glittering hole left by the song contest’s cancellation, with a slate of documentaries, radio specials and dazzling live events celebrating its iconic history and this year’s would-have-been competitors.

It culminates in Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light – a live show featuring all the songs that would have competed in the 2020 contest. There’ll be no winner, but each of the 41 contestants will be given a chance to, well, shine, and will join together from their homes to perform Katrina and The Waves’ 1997 winner, “Love Shine A Light”.

Katrina and the Waves winning the Eurovision Song Contest 1997 in Dublin
Katrina and the Waves winning the Eurovision Song Contest 1997 in Dublin. (Getty)

Friday (May 15)

Eurovision at 60.

BBC Four, 9.30pm.

The beleaguered BBC Four (according to reports, it’s due to be axed as a broadcast channel this year) kicks off the weekend’s Eurovision celebrations with a rerun of a documentary made in 2015, to celebrate the contest’s 60 anniversary.

If you haven’t seen it already, expect interviews with Graham Norton, Conchita Wurst and the late great Sir Terry Wogan.

Dana: The Original Derry Girl.

BBC Four, 11pm.

No, not that Dana. This film tells the incredible story of Dana Brown (now Dana Scallion) an 18-year-old who in 1970 left Derry a schoolgirl and returned from Amsterdam as Ireland’s first-ever Eurovision victor.

The film charts Dana’s early years, from her days attending the school which would later become the inspiration for Channel 4’s Derry Girls, through to her historic win which united both sides of a divided Ireland in celebration.

The 41 contestants who would have taken part in Eurovision 2020.
The 41 contestants who would have taken part in Eurovision 2020. (Eurovision)

Saturday (May 16)

From Abba to Azerbaijan.

Radio 2, 3am.

Stay up late, get up early, listen to it online – whatever you do, this is certainly one for dedicated Eurovision fans.

Maria McErland talks all things Eurovision with Engelbert Humperdinck, the late Sir Terry Wogan, Ken Bruce and Cheryl Baker of Bucks Fizz.

Graham Norton.

Radio 2, 10am.

The BBC’s Eurovision host is naturally dedicating his regular Saturday morning slot to some of the best Eurovision songs from years gone by.

Eurovision: Come Together.

BBC One, 6.30pm.

Kicking off the BBC’s main Eurovision 2020 celebration, Graham Norton hosts this live special giving fans the opportunity to vote for their best ever Eurovision performance.

There’ll be 19 songs chosen from an elite group of experts and insiders, including Rylan Clark-Neal, Scott Mills, Ken Bruce, Adele Roberts and Mel Giedroyc, as well as former UK acts SuRie and Nicki French.

Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light.

BBC One, 8pm

The closest thing we’ll get to Eurovision this year, this live show will be broadcast across Europe and will be hosted by the planned 2020 presenters, Chantal Janzen, Edsilia Rombley and Jan Smit.

Alongside the 41 songs that wold have competed this year, expect special performances from previous Eurovision champs and a huge virtual singalong. Commentary comes, of course, from Graham Norton.

Douze Points.

Radio 2, 9pm

Back onto radio, Graham looks back at his first decade as Britain’s Eurovision commentator, reliving some of his favourite moments, the biggest controversies, and the UK’s entrants from Blue to Electro Velvet.

The A-Z of Eurovision.

BBC Two, 10pm.

Rylan Clark-Neal hosts a complete guide to the song contest from Abba and Azerbaijan all the way through to Måns Zelmerlöw — the only Eurovision performer to have won, hosted and taken part in an interval act.

Eurovision Kings and Queens of Pops.

Radio 2, 10pm.

In a feat of broadcasting trickery Rylan will be in two places at once – so maybe worth saving this for your Eurovision afterparty. Basically, this show will be back-to-back nostalgia with classic tracks from ABBA, Gina G, Bucks Fizz and many, many more.

TOTP2 Goes Eurovision.

BBC Two, 10.30pm.

A rerun of a 2007 special Eurovision-themed edition of Top of the Pops, complete with performances from ABBA, Lulu and Buck’s Fizz, as well as the UK’s iconically camp 2007 entry: Scooch’s “Flying the Flag”.

ABBA perform "Waterloo" during during the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, England, in 1974. (Olle Lindeborg/AFP/Getty Images)
ABBA perform “Waterloo” during during the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, England, in 1974. (Olle Lindeborg/AFP/Getty Images)

Sunday (May 17)

Ken Bruce’s Ultimate Eurovision Chart.

Radio 2, 2am.

If your Eurovision Zoom party is still going strong into the early hours, tune into Ken Bruce as he counts down the top 40 Eurovision winner’s songs, as chosen by listeners.

Let’s ABBA Party.

Radio 2, 5pm

Wrapping up the weekend, Nicki Chapman presents a two-hour ABBA special (swoon!) – a non-stop mix of hits, covers and tracks from the Mamma Mia! Stage show and films.

Eurovision Again.

YouTube, 8pm.

Not on the BBC, but a worthy addition to any Eurovision weekend.

For the past few weeks Rob Holley has been hosting Eurovision Again, wherein fans join together each Saturday for a virtual viewing party of song contests past that also raises money for charities such as Mermaids.

This weekend’s interactive spectacular has shifted to Sunday to make way for the BBC’s coverage, but is still a must.

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