The 2023 Eurovision Song Contest will soon be hosted here in the UK, but one of the presenters is having a hard time processing this year's location for the event. Graham Norton will host the Grand Final on 13 May and has admitted he's somewhat mind-blown to be fronting the show in Liverpool, the hometown of The Beatles.
Norton will be taking to the stage alongside Ukrainian singer and frontwoman of The Hardkiss band, Julia Sanina, as well as "Ted Lasso" star Hannah Waddingham, and "Britain's Got Talent" judge Alesha Dixon. "I am so looking forward to it," he told Ok! Magazine. "I don't know what it's going to be like – I still can't quite get my head around that it's going to be in the UK, and it's going to be in Liverpool. It's terrifying!"
In addition to the main show, Norton will be joined by comedian Mel Giedroyc in the commentary box to offer witty insights on the performances, while Ukrainian broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko will work alongside Liverpudlian presenter Sam Quek on the Eurovision livestream on YouTube. It will be a full-on Eurovision buildup, too, as two live semi-finals will be broadcast on the BBC on 9 and 11 May, with commentary from Rylan Clark and Scott Mills.
Fans took to social media to express their excitement at the lineup, particularly with Waddingham joining the Eurovision gang. "Hannah Waddingham presenting Eurovision is going to be one of the most powerful and iconic things to ever happen probably," wrote on Twitter user. Another added: "hannah waddingham hosting the eurovision???? we are WINNING TODAY".
It was announced on 25 July that the UK would be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. After an impressive performance, Sam Ryder almost sang the UK to victory with his song "Space Man", but was beaten to the top spot by Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra. While the competition is traditionally held in the country that won the year before, the devastating war in Ukraine means it is not safe for the competition to take place in there.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine on 24 Feb., 2022 has been catastrophic. More than 8 million Ukrainians have fled the country since, making it Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II. Thousands of people have died in the year-long war, while President Vladimir Putin's brutal reign is ongoing.
Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra, who won the competition with the song "Stefania", sold their trophy for £712,000 after it was auctioned in a raffle on Facebook with the aim of raising money to buy drones for the Ukraine military.
While the Ukrainian culture minister, Oleksandr Tkachenko, argued that his country was ready to host Eurovision 2023 and said the European Broadcasting Union should "consider how to change the rules of Eurovision for the country that is fighting for independence and democracy", a compromise was reached and the UK is hosting Eurovision 2023 on Ukraine's behalf.
BBC director general Tim Davie has promised the show will be "a true reflection of Ukrainian culture alongside showcasing the diversity of British music and creativity". Ukraine will automatically qualify for the Grand Final along with the "Big 5", which includes the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Image Source: Getty/ Marco BERTORELLO
Watch the Eurovision 2023 Final from 8pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
— Additional reporting by Gabriella Ferlita