BBC Eurovision Producer Helen's Blog Part 5
With the grand final looming, the ever wonderful Helen Tumbridge is back with her exclusive insight into this year's Song Contest. She's seen our boys perform on stage and she's one very happy lady. Here's what she had to say about the run up to tonight's final.
I went all quiet on you yesterday, I did note a certain lack of e-mails/text/tweets asking if I was ok, and whether my leg was being amputated, but I’ll forgive you.
Yesterday was a LONG day, at 0730 hours I was buying ginger. The lady in the supermarket thinks I have a ginger habit I buy so much of the stuff. But it’s for the boys and their vocal warm up. Lee Ryan keeps asking me where I get it from. I told him I’m growing it in my room. I think he may have believed me.
So, ginger purchased we went to first and second dress rehearsals. We quickly popped into WDR Radio on the way to do Radio 2 with Ken Bruce. I love Ken Bruce. I have very fond memories of sitting at the after show party in Moscow at around 0530 in the morning having a drink with Ken Bruce. He’s very rock and roll on the quiet.
Backstage at Eurovision it’s all showbiz. I’ve met Jedward.
I also have a bit of a crush on the Bosnian guy, Dino Merlin…I like the more mature man. Our dressing room neighbours are Switzerland to our left and Moldova to our right. With us in the middle we’re like a UK sandwich. When I say dressing room, please remove from your mind any image of glamour, comfy sofas or champagne on ice. It’s approximately 10 foot x 6 foot, one mirror and a hanging rail. It’s where the boys get changed. I feel I know them a lot better now than I did this time last week. It’s also where vocal warm ups happen – I run my own competition backstage, allocating my douze points as I wander past and listen in at the doors to the warm ups. I’ve disqualified Italy cos they bought a trumpet, and as we all know the simple rules of Eurovision are 1. Track no longer than 3 minutes. 2 Track must have a definite end. 3. No live animals or children under 16 on stage. 4. All performances sung live to backing track. I’m sure there are a few more rules, but to be honest, I fell asleep reading them.
Dress rehearsal 1 was done with no audience, don’t ask me why, they could make a fortune selling tickets. But the second Dress Rehearsal is very important. The National Jury Vote. Dun dun daaaaaa. Half the votes are allocated on this performance. I found myself in a group hug with Blue just before they went on, they’re very tall you know. I want so much for this to go well for them. It’s all I think about day and night – ask my long suffering husband.
As they walked onto the stage, the 36,000 strong crowd went bananas – they’d obvisouly cottoned onto the fact they could make some money and quickly sold tickets. I could hear the crowd screaming the allegedly sound proof door. They performed a storm last night. I have to admit I cried. All the rehearsals, the planning, the long hours from all the team, BBC production as well as Blue was there to see. For months, we’ve been waiting for that three minutes, and it was worth the wait. We all left very happy bunnies.
Back at our hotel I found Ken Bruce in the bar! I didn’t like to say no to his kind offer of a drink, people who know me will vouch that I never say no to a drink. So, I had a hot date with Ken, can someone call Dino Merlin and say I’ve gone off him.
And here I sit, with 4 and a half hours to go until the show. I’m beginning to feel a bit sick, but that might have something to do with how many drinks Ken bought me last night.
I’ll be in the infamous and very exclusive green room with the boys for the voting – if you want to know what a really tired person looks like, look out for me. And I’ve promised Graham that I won’t wave or do that stupid putting hand to ear thing to encourage people to vote for us like I did last year. Even Gary Barlow said he saw me…did I just name drop terribly? And then in Moscow when Greece gave us douze points I jumped up so wildly, shoving Jade out of camera shot with my womanly hips, and generally acted like a football hooligan. Oh the shame. I’m usually so demure as well.
The boys are resting. Graham Norton is up in his commentary box preparing. There is a tangible feeling in the air. This will be my final blog, and I’m trying to think of something witty and erudite and possibly something that will get me a book deal, but I am all out of words. I so want Blue to win. Please, please, as a nation, gather yourselves tonight round BBC One (and BBC One HD) from 2000 and will those boys to give the performance of a lifetime. They’ll be on at 2103 precisely. They can do it. They will do it. I can.