Eurovision Song Contest 2013: Reporter's log


The eyes of Europe were on Malmo in Sweden on Saturday for the 58th Eurovision Song Contest.

Some 125 million people around the world are thought to have tuned in for the final, which was won by Denmark's 20-year-old starlet Emmelie de Forest.

Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler flew the UK flag with her rock ballad Believe In Me, but came in 19th.

The BBC's Genevieve Hassan has been in Malmo to report from behind the scenes.

SUNDAY 19 MAY 14:45 LOCAL TIME (12:45 GMT)

image captionEmmelie de Forest told reporters winning was a "once in a lifetime experience"

So that's that for another year.

At the winner's press conference in the early hours, a clearly overwhelmed and emotional Emmelie de Forest said she wasn't expecting to win, despite being the favourite all along.

"Of course I believed in the song, but that's the exciting thing about Eurovision - you don't know what's going to happen," she said.

She admitted that she was most afraid of competition from Sweden, Norway, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

And if eagle-eyed fans spotted her holding her phone on the way to the stage, she revealed she had to text a friend to tell him she had won.

However, the singer admitted she didn't think she would enter the contest again in future.

"I don't think so - it's a once in a lifetime experience," she said.

A lot of the questions from the foreign journalists got a bit lost in translation.

One Russian journalist, keen to find any tenuous link to claim some sort of Russian victory, asked the singer if she knew of any Russian descent in her family.

"I don't think I'm Russian," she responded, bemused.

A Polish journalist was happy, though, when Emmelie confirmed she had a Polish connection through her parents.

It's now a short trip for the starlet over the Oresund Bridge back home to Copenhagen.

She will be going to Tivoli Gardens, where she will give a victory performance this afternoon.

But with Eurovision organisers keen to scale back the spiralling costs of the show, the venue for next year's contest remains to be seen.

Until next year!

SUNDAY 19 MAY 10:30 LOCAL TIME (08:30 GMT)

image captionBonnie Tyler said she "really enjoyed" her Eurovision experience

It's almost as if mother nature knew Eurovision was over.

After a week of glorious sunshine in Malmo with warm 23C temperatures, this morning the thermometer has fallen 10C and brought rain and misery.

Bonnie Tyler will be returning to the sun of her home in Portugal (which incidentally didn't vote for her) but said despite her low score, she still had a "fantastic" time.

In a statement, she said: "I got the feeling that I got at the Grammy Awards. I'm sure a lot of people will be disappointed on my behalf but I have really enjoyed my Eurovision experience.

"I did the best that I could do with a great song - I don't feel down. The songs at the top of the table totally deserve to be up there."

Unfortunately, although Bonnie was a hit in her heyday, she couldn't replicate that success 30 years later when she was competing against acts that were all younger than her.

Perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board when the UK picks next year's entry.


image captionEmmelie de Forest won after beginning as the pre-show favourite

Congratulations to Denmark!

She did have the joint highest number of gimmicks in her performance, so it proves they work.

After an initial period where there was no clear winner, it romped home to victory with 281 points ahead of Azerbaijan's second place 234 points. Such was the margin, they declared it after 35 out of the 39 countries had revealed their votes.

Emmelie de Forest is the fifth barefoot winner of Eurovision after the UK's Sandi Shaw (1967), Turkey's Sertab Erener (2003), Russia's Dima (2008) and last year's winner, Loreen.

Bonnie gave it her best shot but unfortunately it just wasn't good enough, finishing in 19th place with 23 points.

And poor Ryan Dolan finished last for Ireland with just five points.


I got this statement from Bonnie after coming off the stage: "What an incredible atmosphere! I really enjoyed that performance - I got out there, gave it some welly. When all those lights came on it felt like magic, all twinkling lights everywhere. I just hope Eurovision enjoyed it."

Just to show the Swedes have a good sense of humour, they lampooned themselves in the interval with a song about everything their country is famous for like Ikea, salty liquorice, meatballs and smorgasbord.

There was even an appearance from the prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. I think they were taking notes from London 2012.

I particularly liked the lyrics about getting the chance to host a contest you can't afford and meatballs with a hint of horse - it's a shame Petra was miming.

While we're waiting for the results, here's a sample of some of your tweets which had me chuckling away in the press room.

  • lotsa Wizard of Oz stuff tonight on #Eurovsion did you catch the steal of the Wicked costume Moldova did? @Gabyell
  • Romania = Demis Roussos lives again! Plus his coat is knicked from the Master in the 8th Doctor @Xenaclone
  • Nils points for Lithuania! They forgot they needed a singer for a song contest. @WycombeTories
  • Robbie Coltrane should of carried Bonnie Tyler onto the stage @tezzer57
  • Rip of Lady Gaga coming out of that egg at the Grammys @thetalentguru
  • I think he was a great cheeky chappy. The Maltese Olly Murs. @mcsquareltd

Remember, the organisers said they have engineered the announcements of the votes to make it more exciting - so expect it to get more tense later!


And we're off! The opening ceremony begins with Benny and Bjorn's Eurovision anthem written specially for the show and a parade of all the participating 26 countries with flag bearers.

It's nice to get a look at all the contestants early instead of waiting until their turn on stage. This is a bit like an Olympic opening ceremony though - methinks someone was watching London 2012 when they were deciding what to do here.

Host Petra Mede is known in Sweden for being a comedienne and TV host, so expect a few comedy gems from her.

Here's my thoughts on how the performances went, with an interesting fact about each act and their gimmick count. Here we go...

image captionFrance's Amandine Bourgeois had the unenviable task of going first

France: Amandine Bourgeois won the French Pop Idol back in 2008. Her lyrics translate to saying "I'm gonna give you hell". I believe her. She's a sultry Amy Winehouse crossed with Adele, but rockier. Gimmick count: 0

Lithuania: This song was also written by performer Andrius Pojavis and was a surprise qualifier in the semi-finals. This is the first set of overactive eyebrows you will see tonight. He looks a bit like he took a wrong turn when he got off the train and somehow accidentally ended up on stage. Gimmick count: 0

Moldova: Aliona was the backing singer for last year's Moldovian entry. Biggest glow in the dark skirt in the world. Ever. Impressive staging though. Gimmick count: 1.5 - Raising plinth, Costume change of sorts.

Finland: Krista rose to fame on The Voice of Finland where she lost out in the semi-finals. This performance has caused some controversy over the kiss at the end, but it's a catchy pop tune. All together now: "uh-oh, uh-oh-a-ding-dong!" Gimmick count: 4 - Pyro explosion, costume change, falling glitter confetti, karaoke words.

Spain: The song is about two people who meet and rediscover love. Aww. Don't be fooled - the intro to this song is nothing like the rest of it - it's like three different songs rolled into one. Gimmick count: 2 - Barefoot, use of props.

Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa is the youngest finalist, aged just 18. Another product of a TV talent show, he won the Belgian version of The Voice. He looks like a Belgian Justin Bieber, pre-hair cut days. Catchy, but a bit repetitive - like it's going over and over and over... Gimmick count: 1 - Karaoke

image captionAliona Moon of Moldova certainly sparkled on stage

Estonia: First Estonian Pop Idol winner from 2007. I'm noticing a theme here on the entrants… The Wizard Of Oz springs to mind: black and white until she discovers Technicolor. Gimmick count: 0 - but a special mention goes to the vision mixer.

Belarus: Alyona enjoys running, cycling, yoga and workouts - that's her Eurovision profile, not her dating one. Not spawned from a talent show though. This reminds me of Holly Valance's 2002 single Kiss Kiss. I'll admit this one has stuck in my head after listening to it repeatedly for the last few days. Cha-cha! Gimmick count: 4 - shooting flames, prop, drummers, key change.

Malta: Is there a doctor in the house? Why yes, it's Gianluca on stage. He spends his time doing voluntary work with children. Bless. This is one of my favourites - good use of the ukulele and is a feel-good song. Probably the only song in the world to have a lyric about risk assessments in it. Gimmick count: 1 - karaoke

Russia: Dina is another winner of The Voice in her home country. This song is really embracing this year's Eurovision theme of "We Are One". Not entirely sure why her singers threw balls out in the audience, but the sea of light-up wristbands on the crowd is brilliant. Gimmick count: 1 - use of a prop

Germany: Cascada have been a known entity on the Europop scene for almost 10 years and is the most famous contemporary act in the final. Sounds remarkably similar to last year's winning song, Eurphoria, but I still feel like I'm on a night out at a club with this classic Europop tune. I'm worried for British singer Natalie Horler though - high heels + stairs = trip hazard. Gimmick count: 2 - raining pyro wall and smoke machine

Armenia: - Another surprise semi-final qualifier - even the band admitted they weren't expecting it. This song was written by Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi. The band is made up of double denim. And eyebrows. Gimmick count: 2 - key change and shooting flames

The Netherlands: Anouk has been on the Dutch music scene since 1997 and is one of the most popular performers in her native country. I don't quite get this song - the verses sound like she's singing a different tune to the music and out of time, but apparently that's the appeal. She looks a little bit lonely up there all on her own. Gimmick count: 0

image captionCezar of Romania certainly stood out from the crowd

Romania: Dracula has entered the arena. Cezar is actually considered to be one of the most talented countertenors of his generation due to his vocal gymnastics. He said his style for the show was purposely clichéd. And yes he is the only person on stage, he's not hiding a woman under his red cloak. Are those dancers naked? Gimmick count: 3 - smoke machine, falling glitter confetti and use of a prop - although you could consider using him a gimmick too.

United Kingdom: Time for Bonnie! This lady needs no introduction. I'm surprised she's got any voice left after all the interviews and rehearsals she's had this week. It's an impassioned performance from the Welsh rocker complete with a rise on a plinth. Gimmick count: 2 - wind machine and rising plinth

Sweden: The host country is represented by Robin Stjernberg, a Swedish Idol runner up who also wrote this song. Another catchy, if slightly repetitive tune. It looks like he's wearing a sleeveless straitjacket. Gimmick count: 1 - Pyro wall

Hungary: ByeAlex, otherwise known as Alex Marta, is the editor of Tattoo Magazine and holds a masters degree in philosophy. I wonder what Plato and Aristotle would make of this contest. Another act that looks like he took a wrong turn at the train station. The only bespectacled act and sole person wearing a beanie. It's a jaunty tune, but I don't think it really goes anywhere. Gimmick count: 1 - karaoke

Denmark: The favourite to win the show. Emmelie De Forest may only be 19 years old, but she has been touring over Denmark since she was 14. This is my favourite - it got me with the tin whistle intro the first time I heard it. I think she looks like she could be Isla Fisher's sister. Emmelie would be the fifth barefoot Eurovision winner if she's victorious. Gimmick count: 4 - pyro wall, falling glitter, barefoot, drummers

image captionGreece's high octane song was called Alcohol is Free

Iceland: - Eythor Ingi is a stage singer and has featured in productions of Oliver!, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hair and Les Miserables. His image is Fisherman's Friend meets Game of Thrones judging by his intro video. This song is nice enough, but it just plods along until its crescendo. It's never stuck in my mind and I've heard it about five times. Sorry Iceland. Gimmick count: 1 - key change

Azerbaijan: Farid was raised on traditional Azerbaijani folk music and speaks practically no English, although that's the language of his song. More eyebrows. This act is actually quite clever with his dancer shadowing him from upside down. The glass box reminds me a bit of the Crystal Maze at the end when they had to collect the tickets from the windy Crystal Dome. This could be the dark horse of the competition. Gimmick count: 2 - use of a prop and key change

Greece: A rocky twist on the traditional Greek music. Koza Mostra is apparently one of the most famous Balkan ska bands in Greece, so they'll probably get a lot of votes from that area of Europe. Annoyingly catchy and when you've heard it as many times as I have, you'll start tapping your feet. Is alcohol free in Greece? It's gone down well in the press centre. Gimmick count: 1 - use of prop - no one else has light-up guitars

Ukraine: In the quest to find a "fairytale giant" for the performance, the Ukraine turned to the US's tallest man, Igor Vovkovinskiy, who is 7ft, 8.33ins tall (2.35m). Although he is Ukrainian born, I've still not figured out his significance to the act. Zlata's got a pair of lungs on her that's for sure. Gimmick count: 4 - smoke machine, use of prop, pyro explosion + extra point for use of giant

Italy: - Marco Mengoni won Italy's X Factor in 2009 and was named best European act at the MTV European Music Awards a year later so he may fare well here. He's brooding with eyebrows. It's a pretty ballad and could be another dark horse. Gimmick count: 0

Norway: The second favourite to win the contest, Margaret Berger was the runner-up on Norway's Pop Idol in 2004. She says Lady Gaga copied her style. This is another night out at a club. Admittedly, it took me a couple of listens before it stuck in my head, but now I love it. I can see this also being a chart hit across Europe. Gimmick count: 0 - just a lot of strobe lighting.

Georgia: The only duo in the final, Nodi and Sophie were born in 1986 and 1984 respectively and make me feel old. They both went to music schools and also won TV music shows. This song is a grower and was written by the same person who wrote last year's winning song so will probably do well again. Also got a cheer in the press room. Gimmick count: 3 - wind and smoke machines and raining pyro wall.

Ireland: - Have we saved the best for last? Ryan Dolan is from Strabane, Northern Ireland, and has supported Jedward - who also represented Ireland in 2011 and 2012 - on tour. Really. I can also see this being a chart hit in the UK. Topless muscular men, tattoos and lots of leather. What more could you want? Gimmick count: 2 - pyro wall and drummers

I have to say, I though the second half of the show was far more entertaining than the first, even though producers decided the running order. Although maybe that was their intention to make it build towards the end.

It's time to vote and you only have 15 mins so get going. Let's see what the interval act brings.


The contest is about to begin so settle yourself down and get ready to enjoy the show. Don't forget you can play along at home with the BBC's Eurovision party pack and score each country's song, performance and outfit.

I will be updating this log every six songs, with an interesting fact about each act, my impression of the performance and their gimmick count.

I will also be giving a live commentary on the show on the @BBCEntsTeam Twitter feed so do come over and join me for the discussion and give your views.

Let the show begin!


Guess who I just bumped into? Irish entry Ryan Dolan's parish priest and next-door neighbours!

Declan Borland did indeed fly out to give him a holy medal. He told me he's known Ryan since he was 12 and was very proud of him.

image captionRyan Dolan's neighbour Pearl Stewart (l) and parish priest Declan Borland (r) came to support him

While neighbour Pearl Stewart said she bought her tickets out here as soon as it was announced he was representing Ireland. "We came here to support him as he's far away from home and we love him," she said.

Fans from around the world have travelled to Malmo. Perhaps one of the furthest was Phil Marshall from Sydney, Austraila. "I went to the contest in Oslo three years ago and it was such a blast so we thought we'd come again," he said.

Closer to home, Dale Martin, Chris Laine and Sarah Say travelled from London to support Bonnie Tyler. "This is the first one I've been to and I've loved Eurovision all my life," Chris said. He reckons the best act is Denmark though: "You can't beat a good nose flute!"


Most acts that participate in Eurovision have a gimmick during their performance - Bucks Fizz whipped their skirts off, Sandi Shaw was barefoot and Lordi were monsters.

image captionSong contest or magic show? Azerbaijan are bringing out the props

This year is no exception and there is a wide range of stage tricks that are being pulled out of the bag to help secure the trophy.

As the BBC would never condone the copious amounts of alcohol that could be consumed in a drinking game, I was trying to think or a suitable alternative.

At first I thought items of clothing could be taken off each time a gimmick is spotted, but as there are some countries that are using quite a few - yes, I'm talking to you Belarus and Denmark - you will likely up watching the show naked by the end… In lieu of the above, feel free to pick your own substitute.

If you want to play along, the gimmicks you have to spot are: a raising plinth, the raining pyrotechnic wall or pyrotechnic explosions, shooting flames, costume change, a wind or smoke machine, falling glitter confetti, being barefoot, the use of a prop, a key change, drummers and karaoke on the screens on stage.


Just heard from Camp Bonnie after coming off stage from the final rehearsal. She said she has lots of nerves but loved the jury final last night and she's focussed on delivering her best tonight.

She added: "It has been great and I wouldn't have missed being here for the world... the support has been such a boost and I'm going to go in and do my best for the UK."


Just a quick note to say to keep an eye and ear out during the show's opening ceremony for this year's Eurovision anthem which has been written by Abba legends Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and adapted by Swedish DJ and producer, Avicii.

And Eurovision winners Cheryl Baker (@Cherylbaker) and Mike Nolan (@mikenolanfizz) will be tweeting live commentary during the contest if you want to see their take on the show.


Have you ever wondered what became of past Eurovision winners? I took a look at a selection of victors over the decades to see what they've been up to.

image captionDana won for Ireland in 1970

And if you weren't already in the Eurovision mood, I thought I'd share some of the interesting facts and figures I've learned during my time in Malmo:

  • Televoting was introduced in 1997
  • More than 1,300 songs have competed in the contest - the 1,000th was Every Song Is A Cry For Love, by Ireland's Brian Kennedy in 2006
  • Norway has finished last 11 times (1963, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1990, 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2012) and scored zero points four times
  • Ireland has won most often with seven victories. Luxembourg, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom have all won five times
  • The most covered Eurovision song is Domenico Mudugno's Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu - better known as Volare. The song has been performed by the likes of Dean Martin, Cliff Richard, David Bowie and Scott Bakula (yes, him from classic sci-fi show Quantum Leap)


The big day has finally arrived! Despite getting only five hours' sleep and being a little bleary-eyed, I am excited for tonight's final.

image captionGermany's 2010 winner Lena will announce the votes for her country

Overnight, Eurovision organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced the order in which the 39 countries will reveal their votes during the show, along with their spokespersons.

They say the order has been "determined by the results of last night's jury final", and that "an algorithm has been created to try and make the voting as exciting as possible".

Make of that what you will. The last five countries to announce their votes are FYR Macedonia, Cyprus, Croatia, Switzerland and Lithuania - all of whom, except Lithuania, didn't qualify for the final.

I'm trying to work out who is friendly with whom, and how this will make the show exciting.

The UK will announce its votes sixth, with BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills doing the honours.

Some other spokespeople who will be familiar to fans include 2010's German winner Lena, Westlife's Nicky Byrne and Tooji, who represented Norway in 2012 and finished last behind Engelbert.

But with Margaret Berger the second favourite to win, I suspect Norway will score a lot better this year.


Earlier this afternoon there was a final press conference for the big five and Sweden ahead of the final. The UK pulled out at the last minute and I haven't been able to confirm why. I suspect Bonnie wanted to rest her voice after a week of talking to the press.

The highlights were Sweden's Robin Stjernberg doing a headstand on stage and Germany's act Cascada - fronted by British singer Natalie Horler - encouraging the UK to vote for them since we can't vote for Bonnie.

image captionRomanian entry Cezar tried to keep journalists happy during the jury rehearsal with free sweets

For the last few hours, I've been sitting in on the jury final dress rehearsal. This is of equal importance to the grand final as this is what the professional juries will be watching and voting on - counting for 50% of the overall vote.

In recent years, the UK has suffered because of this "rehearsal". Both 2011 entrants Blue and last year's Engelbert Humperdinck did not perform their best and consequently scored low with the jury. In fact, Blue scored fifth with the televotes but only 22nd with the jury, giving them their overall 14th place.

This is how the scoring works:

Juries are made up of five members and are a mix of age, gender and background, and are citizens of the country they are representing. They're not allowed to be connected with any of the participating songs or artists, to ensure impartiality.

Each juror ranks all the songs from one to 25, excluding their own country, and then their scores are merged with the televotes from the grand final. If there is a tie between jury votes and televotes, the song with the most televotes will be ranked higher.

The jury members are meant to be revealed by the broadcasters during the final, so keep your eyes and ears peeled in case it's on the credits or Graham Norton says it at the very end of the show.

The jury dress rehearsal goes through the whole show - complete with an audience, opening and interval acts and the scoring. Thankfully they only ran through two countries, who announced their "fake" votes.

The fabricated scores had the UK in second place though, so let's hope it's a sign for the grand final!

FRIDAY 17 MAY, 18:00 LOCAL TIME (16:00 GMT)

I've just received a statement from Ireland's Ryan Dolan, giving his reaction to his position in the running order.

"I'm really excited that we've been scheduled to perform last in spot number 26. It's great that we'll be fresh in people's minds just as the voting lines open," he said.

The singer's parish priest has apparently flown into Malmo to bless the shirtless drummers and give him a holy medal ahead of the final!

FRIDAY 17 MAY, 13:00 LOCAL TIME (11:00 GMT)

To mark Ken Bruce's 25th anniversary as Radio 2's Eurovision Song Contest commentator, listeners were asked to vote for their all-time favourite UK Eurovision entry.

Out of the 57 possible songs, Buck Fizz's 1981 contest-winning tune Making Your Mind Up was crowned the winner.

The Top 20 have been played out on Ken's show all week with the Top 10 just revealed on his show, which he presented live from here in Malmo.

Ken said Buck Fizz's performance was "a proud moment in Eurovision history".

The Top 10 was:

1. Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up (1981)

2. Sandie Shaw - Puppet on a String (1967)

3. Katrina and the Waves - Love Shine a Light (1997)

4. Gina G - Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit (1996)

5. Brotherhood of Man - Save Your Kisses for Me (1976)

6. Michael Ball - One Step Out of Time (1992)

7. The New Seekers - Beg, Steal or Borrow (1972)

8. Cliff Richard - Congratulations (1968)

9. Scooch - Flying the Flag (For You) (2007)

10. Blue - I Can (2011)

I caught up with Ken last week to talk about his favourite Eurovision songs and memories, and if it's time the UK withdrew from the contest.

FRIDAY 17 MAY, 11:30 LOCAL TIME (09:30 GMT)

The running order for Saturday's final has been revealed by organisers, who decided against a random draw this year and instead deliberately selected an order to produce what, they hope, will be a more exciting show.

The running order pretty much alternates between ballads and dance/pop songs to avoid lulls.

image captionOpera singer Cezar gave a dramatic performance of It's My Life at the semi-final

The UK has been assigned to go 15th, smack bang in the middle of the Romania's opera-singing 'Dracula', Cezar, and Swedish entry, You, a dance tune performed by 22-year-old Robin Stjernberg.

Bookmakers William Hill have the UK at 50/1 to win, with the same odds for Sweden and worse odds of 100/1 for Cezar, so it's difficult to say whether we're at an advantage or not.

Traditionally, acts tend to score better if they are in the second half, as people tune in later - and miss the opening songs.

This is good news for favourites Denmark (4/6) and Norway (5/1), who have been allocated the 18th and 24th slots respectively.

Ireland's Ryan Dolan will sing last, which could be a good sign, although his odds currently stand at 40/1.

But spare a thought for France, which has been picked to go first, and Lithuania, which has the cursed number two slot - such is their misfortune, they are both 200/1 to win.

You can see the full running order on the Eurovision website.

FRIDAY 17 MAY, 00:30 LOCAL TIME (16 MAY 22:30 GMT)

The results are in and the line-up is now complete for the grand final on Saturday.

Ahead of the semi-final, a board was put up in the press centre showing how the assembled press had cast their votes.

image captionMembers of the press predicted the semi-final's outcome

Their final tally was not too far off the actual result, correctly predicting seven out of the 10 winners including the favoured Norway, Azerbaijan, Malta, Iceland and Georgia.

Greece also went though with their song Alcohol is Free, which just goes to prove everyone loves a song about booze.

"Maybe people were drunk when they voted for us," singer Ilias Koza suggested at the news conference later.

Finland also qualified with its catchy "uh-oh, uh-oh-a-ding-dong" refrain.

There had been talk about how the act would be received by certain European countries that might not be in favour of the lesbian kiss at the end of the performance. I guess Saturday's scorecard will reveal all.

The press vote misjudged Hungary, Armenia and Romania's crazy Dracula opera entry, however, all of whom made the Top 10.

But it was sad news for Israel, FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Latvia and Switzerland with their 94-year-old double bass player.

There was also a surprise disappointment for San Marino's Valentina Monetta who had been placed in the top three of both fan and press polls.

I must declare I wasn't asked to participate in the press poll. Had I been, I would have given a large chunk of points to Latvia as I genuinely enjoyed their song.

I thought Here We Go was a catchy pop tune, and I was willing to ignore the fact they looked like they had fallen in a pot of glue and rolled around in a glitter box.

But I'm happy Malta went though. Their singer, Gianluca, is a doctor by trade, so if there is a medical emergency on Saturday there will definitely be a doctor in the house.


Just got back from the dress rehearsal ahead of tonight's semi-final.

It was a ticketed event which makes a change from the earlier rehearsals that were closed to the press and fans - although I can exclusively reveal Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto was there - at least in cardboard cut-out form.

Meant to simulate an audience, there were numerous Spocks in front of the stage, along with a few Elvises and Marilyn Monroes.

image captionFinland hopeful Krista Siegfrids gave a memorable performance at Thursday's dress rehearsal

There will be around 11,500 fans in the Malmo Arena during the actual shows. The rehearsal, though, was only about 60% full - a consequence, perhaps, of being held on a Thursday afternoon.

Nevertheless, the crowd still gave enthusiastic applause for each act and waved their flags with all their might.

As well as the acts performing, the run-through also went through the voting results and announced fake finalists.

For the purposes of the rehearsal - and entertainment of the audience - various crew members were positioned in the green room where the artists would normally be and reacted exuberantly when they were called out as finalists.

The ones who were yet to be called were literally biting their nails and pulling comedy-worried faces. I bet these guys would be great at a party.

Tonight's show sees 17 contenders compete, among them Norway's Margaret Berger.

Her dance track Feed You My Love is considered to be the only song that could beat Denmark, so it would be a surprise if it doesn't qualify.

Armenian act Dorians will also perform, singing rock ballad Lonely Planet composed by Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi.

How did that come about? Well, he's well-known in Armenia after helping to raise funds following an earthquake in Spitak in 1988 so he was approached to write a Eurovision song.

I don't want to spoil the show too much as it will be broadcast on BBC Three at 20:00 BST.

But some of the things to look out for include Latvian beatboxers, Greece singing their song Alcohol is Free, Malta's karaoke-style act and Albania performing the only "proper" rock song in the competition.

If the rehearsal is anything to go by, Finnish singer Krista Siegfrids may also stir up some controversy by the end of her performance of her song Marry Me.


I am pleased to report that the chocolate balls are everything one could imagine and more. I am not as pleased to report that I feel a little bit sick now after eating too many.

image captionValentina Monetta is representing San Marino for the second consecutive year

In the meantime, I have been reliably informed by John Kennedy O'Connor - who literally wrote the book on Eurovision history - that the worst slot in the final is actually the second act.

No one who has ever performed second has ever won Eurovision, whereas three show openers have taken the trophy - including our own Brotherhood of Man in 1976.

John will be announcing the scores from the San Marino jury and voting public. Having championed their entry a couple of years ago, the tiny micro state with a population of 30,000 has embraced him and he has been commentating for them during the semi-finals.

I also caught up with fan favourite Valentina Monetta, who will be singing for San Marino tonight.

It is the second consecutive year Valentina has represented her country. In 2012 she failed to qualify for the final with her song about Facebook. (Yes, really.)

This year she is singing an up-tempo ballad composed by Ralph Siegel, the man who composed the winning song for Germany in 1982. Here's what she had to say about competing again this year.

Do you feel more pressure this time around?

I feel much better than last year because I know this song much better. I want a second chance and I am very happy that San Marino chose me for a second time. This year is very important for me because I'm singing a very beautiful song that represents me, my story and my soul.

This song is very different to the one you sang last year...

Yes, this year I'm representing Valentina Monetta. Last year I sang a song that was not meant for me - I joined at the last minute.

Do you feel more confident singing a song by a Eurovision-winning writer?

Ralph Siegel has a lot of experience and we have a good connection. I also had Mauro Balestri write the lyrics for me and he understands me a lot. I think that is important.

Who do you think are your main competitors?

I like Malta's song, but I don't want to think about it. I love music and I don't feel like this is a competition. I sing on the stage with a lot of peace in my heart.


The shuttle bus driver who ignored me yesterday may have been a rogue case.

image captionFika time equals lots of cake

I have since managed to catch it twice - although admittedly they were both at the starting point and the coach was already waiting there.

But they stopped at all the marked pick-up points so I am quietly confident I may be able to catch it mid-route next time.

The press centre is quieter than yesterday, but is starting to get busier ahead of the final dress rehearsal for the second semi-final tonight.

I suspect the room is also filling up because the organisers have brought out free cake. In Sweden, it's known as fika time - a traditional social institution that roughly translates as coffee break.

Typically, you enjoy your fika with a sweet accompaniment and more than a dozen cake stands and plates have been brought out crammed with cinnamon rolls, muffins and biscuits.

There are also some golf ball-sized chocolate balls covered in desiccated coconut. In the name of good journalism, I feel it is only right I sample everything and report back.


Last night I went along to the Eurovision Village where the 'Big Five' entrants performed their entries.

The gig was held in a public square so hundreds of fans turned up to watch the acts, including our own Bonnie Tyler, sing.

image captionUK hopeful Bonnie Tyler fields questions from the international press

I spotted a few Union Jacks in the crowd, as well as a Welsh flag.

Yesterday also saw the Big Five give their first press conferences, while the draw to determine which half of the final they will perform was carried out.

Traditionally the running order has been determined by a random draw. But this year, Swedish broadcaster and show producer SVT decided it would choose the running order to make the show more exciting.

The idea is to give songs a better chance of standing out, rather than being lost amongst similar-sounding entries.

Both the UK and Ireland have been drawn to perform in the second half. Where exactly will not be known until after the second semi-final winners carry out their draw later tonight.

Either way, at least they won't perform first which is considered the worst slot - something Engelbert Humperdinck discovered when he opened the show last year.

Eurovision may appear to be light-hearted fluff to many, but to others it's deadly serious and worthy of academic debate.

Today is the second day of a three-day international conference at Malmo University discussing the contest.

Topics of discussion include the politics of Eurovision, fan culture and the link between the contest and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) culture.

There was also a book launch for Eurovision scholars Karen Fricker and Milija Gluhovic, whose new text analyses all the issues.

Back in London, the Swedish embassy hosted a debate titled: "Rebranding Eurovision - should Britain sing along?"

This is a very serious business indeed.


I have finally arrived at the Malmo Arena and have sat myself down in the huge press centre.

I actually flew to Copenhagen in Denmark, rather than into Sweden, because Malmo is just on the other side of the Oresund Strait, which separates the two cities.

image captionGenevieve Hassan's official Eurovision pass

They are connected by the Oresund Bridge, which Scandinavian TV fans will recognise as the focal point for crime series The Bridge. Thankfully, there was no criminal activity there today.

Eurovision fever had also spread to Copenhagen airport, where I was greeted in the arrivals lounge by scores of people holding and waving flags for various countries.

It had also seemingly spread to my hotel, where the Swiss entrants, Salvation Army band Takasa, were performing their song, You and Me, just outside.

Organisers have helpfully put on shuttle busses to take press from downtown Malmo to the arena. But I had to learn the hard way that they won't always stop for you to get on - even at a designated stop.

Note to self: next time, wave frantically at coach driver.

In comparison, the press centre works like a well-oiled machine. There are rows and rows of desks for journalists to work from, and every delegate has a pigeon hole should there be any messages.

I wasn't going to check mine - I've just arrived, how much post could I have? But I checked anyway and it was almost embarrassingly full.

Apart from the official Eurovision media handbook, I've received "gifts" from the other countries participating: CDs of the Finnish, German, Greek, Swiss and Dutch entries.

The Greeks are quite frank about their motivation for the gift. "Feel Free - Vote Greece" is printed at the top.

I even have a CD from the Austrian entry, including a badge intended to be worn for support. It was obviously handed out before Tuesday, as poor Natalia Kelly didn't qualify in last night's semi-final.

The dress rehearsal for the second semi-final is to be held tonight. It's actually pretty important because it is during this rehearsal that the official juries will cast their votes.

These will be added to the votes cast by the public on Thursday, so the acts must still be on top form.

I will be going to the final dress rehearsal tomorrow so will be able to give you a sneak preview of what to expect.

WEDNESDAY 15 MAY, 08:00 BST (07:00 GMT)

While I'm waiting in the departure lounge at Heathrow, I thought I'd give a quick update on last night's semi-final.

As expected, Denmark sailed through with a confident performance. It almost seemed like a fast forward to Saturday's actual contest winner as the song's crescendo was punctuated with fiery rain and explosions of gold sparkly paper over the audience.

image captionDenmark's Emmelie de Forest performing at the first Eurovision semi-final

The only thing that was missing was the Eurovision trophy itself.

Others to qualify for the final included Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, Estonia and Belarus.

The Netherlands qualified for the first time in nine years with Anouk's ballad, Birds, while the contest's youngest participant - Belgium's Roberto Bellarosa - also went through.

There was also success for Ireland's Ryan Dolan and his muscular drummers, although Montenegro's dubstep astronauts didn't fare as well.

Along with Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Slovenia and Serbia, they failed to make the cut and will have to wait another year for their next attempt at Eurovision glory.

TUESDAY 14 MAY, 16:00 BST (15:00 GMT)

Yes, it's been a year already - and a host of nations have descended on Malmo to try to be crowned the victor of this year's contest.

Although the final won't be until Saturday, rehearsals began at Malmo Arena last week for the countries that will be taking part in the semi-finals.

That is, all the countries apart from Sweden and the contest's "big five" funders - the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain - who get automatic qualification to the final.

image captionRyan Dolan will be competing in the first semi-final for Ireland

The first semi-final is on Tuesday night and will see Denmark's Emmelie de Forest performing her song, Only Teardrops.

All eyes will be on the bookmakers' hot favourite to win.

Others tipped for possible victory in this heat include Russia and Ukraine - both performing ballads.

Ireland will also be competing, with Ryan Dolan performing dance track Only Love Survives. His set features topless, tattooed, muscular men - and a lot of leather.

Montenegro's Who See, meanwhile, will perform their dubstep track, Igranka, in full astronaut gear.

Tuesday's semi-final will be broadcast on BBC Three from 20:00 BST and UK viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favourites.

The second semi-final will take place on Thursday.

Be sure to download your Eurovision party pack from the BBC's official Eurovision site, where you can play along and score each country's entrant based on their song, performance and outfits.

I'll be flying out to Malmo on Wednesday morning to report on the final countdown to the big event and I'll also be tweeting from @BBCEntsTeam.

The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final is on 18 May on BBC One and BBC One HD.

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