The world’s biggest music competition returns this May as the Eurovision Song Contest, one of the longest-running and most-watched non-sporting events in the world, is broadcast live from Tel Aviv across the BBC.
Tel Aviv will play host to the competition for the first time following the country's victory last year in Lisbon with Netta who sung and performed Toy. Israel has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times with Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta in 1978 with A-Ba-Ni-Bi and Milk and Honey and Gali Atari with Hallelujah in 1979, Dana International with Diva in 1998 and Netta with Toy in 2018.
This year marks the 64th edition of the competition, with a total of 41 countries competing in the contest, including two semi-finals that will be broadcast on BBC Four, and the Grand Final which will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC Radio 2.
As one of the Big Five countries (United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Italy), the United Kingdom does not have to qualify from the semi-final stage of the competition and will gain automatic access to the Saturday Grand Final. Israel, as the incumbent champion, will also not need to qualify from the semi-final stage and will gain automatic entry to the Grand Final.
In order to find a song to represent the United Kingdom, this year the BBC undertook a massive song search via a public song submission as well as Eurovision song writing camps held by Music Consultant Greig Watts. Ten songs were then shortlisted and were given to an international jury of music experts who chose the final three songs to put forward to Eurovision: You Decide 2019 on BBC Two. Each of the three songs were then performed in two musically different ways, by two different acts. After all six acts performed the expert judges chose the best version of each song which went forward to face the public vote.
Michael Rice was chosen to represent the United Kingdom after winning the public vote in Eurovision: You Decide.
Michael will head to Tel Aviv to perform his song Bigger Than Us, an epic power ballad on behalf of the United Kingdom this May. Bigger Than Us was written by Jonas Thander, Anna-Klara Folin, John Lundvik and Laurell Barker.
The result of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be decided for 50% by you, the public, and for 50% by a group of music industry professionals. Each jury member ranks all entries, except for their own country's contribution. The jury names who will be voting on behalf of the UK jury from home are:
Sophie Ellis-Bextor (Jury Chairperson) - Artist
Pete Watson - Musical Director, Kylie Minogue/Hurts/Leona Lewis
Jai Ramage - Vocal Coach
Adele Roberts - BBC Radio 1 DJ
AJ Bentley - Singer and Musical Performer
The BBC’s Eurovision coverage is a BBC Studios production, commissioned by Kate Phillips, Controller of Entertainment and Rachel Ashdown, commissioning editor for the BBC. The executive producer is Andrew Cartmell, and the series producer is Lee Smithurst.
Eurovision Calling is the official BBC companion podcast for Eurovision 2019.
Hosted by BBC Radio 1 DJ and Eurovision super fan Scott Mills, the podcast is your backstage pass for VIP access to Europe’s biggest song competition. Each week Scott will explore the behind-the-scenes story with exclusive interviews from this year’s contestants, past contestants and the team of people involved in bringing the competition to the stage. Joining Scott is Bristolian comedian Jayde Adams and other die-hard fans from the world of comedy and entertainment as well as bloggers, aficionados and fans listening at home. Eurovision Calling is a podcast where fans can get their weekly dose of all things Eurovision, as the countdown to the competition begins.
In the week running up to the contest, Scott and Jayde will be on the ground in Tel Aviv when there will be three episodes released - on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday featuring all the backstage gossip from the finals and interviews with Graham Norton, Daniel Radcliffe and Mel Giedroyc.
Graham Norton will provide the commentary on BBC One for Europe’s biggest party night of the year.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2019, will be hosted by Bar Refaeli, Erez Tal, Assi Azar and Lucy Ayoub and broadcast live on BBC One and BBC Radio 2. The qualifying acts from the semi-finals will join hosts Israel plus the Big Five countries France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom in the Grand Final of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest from The Expo Tel Aviv.
Israeli Eurovision icon Dana International will be performing a two-song medley opening the Grand Final.
Following the flag parade and an introduction from the hosts the show will begin as 26 acts take to the stage in a bid for Eurovision glory.
The big interval act this year comes from previous Eurovision acts Conchita Wurst, Måns Zelmerlöw, Verka Seduchka and Eleni Foureira all singing each other's songs.
After viewers have cast their votes, each national spokesperson from the 41 participating countries will be called in to present the points of their professional jury - who watched the Friday night Jury Final performances. Rylan will be the United Kingdom’s spokesperson, delivering the all-important professional jury results live from London.
After the presentation of the scores from the juries, the televoting points from all participating countries will be combined, providing one score for each song. These televoting results will then be announced by the host building towards a dramatic climax. More details regarding the voting procedure and how you can get involved can be found at bbc.co.uk/eurovision
BBC Four, Tuesday 14 May, 8pm
In semi-final one, the first group of countries will compete for a place in Saturday’s Grand Final.
The 17 countries competing are: Cyprus, Montenegro, Finland, Poland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belarus, Serbia, Belgium, Georgia, Australia, Iceland, Estonia, Portugal, Greece, San Marino.
Highlights of the first semi-final include globally renowned DJ Darude representing Finland, returning Eurovision acts Joci Papai for Hungary and Serhat for San Marino will be competing once again, whilst Iceland will be represented by the very colourful, headline grabbing act Hatari.
BBC Four, Thursday 16 May, 8pm
The second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will feature 18 different acts taking to the stage in the hope of securing a place in Saturday’s Grand Final.
Competing this evening are: Armenia, Ireland, Moldova, Switzerland, Latvia, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Croatia, Malta, Lithuania, Russia, Albania, Norway, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan.
Viewers in the United Kingdom are able to vote in this semi-final once all of the acts have performed.
Potential highlights of the second semi-final include Swedish act John Lundvik who has also co-written the UK song Bigger Than Us, the first time an act has written one song whilst performing a different song at one Eurovision. Meanwhile Russia are being represented by Sergey Lazarev who took third place in 2016.
BBC Radio 2 coverage
Ken Bruce Friday 17 May, 9.30am-midday
Ken broadcasts live from Tel Aviv ahead of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. He's chatting to Michael Rice, the United Kingdom's entry to this year's competition.
Plus Ken also looks ahead to some of the songs tipped to score the big points in the final with broadcaster, journalist and self-confessed Eurovision super fan Paddy O'Connell. Måns Zelmerlöw, who won the contest in 2015 for Sweden, drops in to see Ken and talks about taking part in the interval of the Grand Final this year.
Eurovision Song Contest 2019 Saturday 18 May, 8-11pm
Ken Bruce broadcasts from the 64th Eurovision Song Contest, this year at Expo, Tel Aviv. Ken brings listeners every country’s live performance from the final of the world’s biggest song contest, which is watched around the globe by an audience of over 180 million people. Ken will also be joined by broadcaster, journalist and Eurovision guru Paddy O’Connell to share the latest news from backstage and his predictions for the big winners of the night. Michael Rice is representing the UK this year, with the song Bigger Than Us.
Graham Norton Saturday 18 May, 10am-1pm
This week, Graham hosts his weekly show live from Tel Aviv, home of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest. He speaks to UK entrant Michael Rice, plus Assi Azar, who will present the TV extravaganza. Alex Kingston and Sarah Hadland speak to Graham from London about starring in new comedy, Admissions at Trafalgar Studios. Maria McErlane is also on hand to discuss two more Grill Grahams.
Saturday Kitchen Live
Saturday 18 May, 10am
Saturday Kitchen Live will be kicking off the celebrations with a special show on the morning of the final on BBC One. Host Matt Tebbutt will be joined by chefs Jose Pizarro (representing Spain), and Anna Haugh (Ireland). Special Eurovision heavy weights - The Fizz, SuRie and Sonia will be feasting on Euro inspired dishes.
The programme will have a live link to Tel Aviv with Scott Mills chatting to this year’s UK entry Michael Rice, and viewers will be making their minds up when they vote for The Fizz’s food heaven or hell!
This week drinks expert, Jane Parkinson is picking the wines to go with the studio dishes and the show will have great moments from the BBC food archive including clips from Rick Stein, Nigella Lawson, Keith Floyd and Raymond Blanc.