Entertainment & Arts

Eurovision 2014: Reporter's diary

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Media captionAustria's Conchita Wurst: "This night is dedicated to... peace and freedom"

This year's Eurovision Song Contest has taken place in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Some 125 million people around the world are thought to have tuned in to see Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst lift the trophy.

Newcomer Molly Smitten-Downes flew the flag for the UK with her self-penned song Children of the Universe, but finished in 17th place with 40 points.

The BBC's Sarah Jane Griffiths has been in Denmark to report from behind the scenes.

SUNDAY 11 MAY - 12:30 local time (11:30 BST)

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The flag waving and confetti cannons can be put away for another year

So that's it. Eurovision has a new champion in Austria's Conchita Wurst and the song contest is done and dusted for another year.

The year 2015 will see all the action move to Vienna, where Wurst is already being touted as the host of the proceedings.

The bearded drag queen's winning track, Rise Like A Phoenix, is tipped to score a top 10 single in Sunday's official chart countdown.

Meanwhile, Molly Smitten-Downes will be hoping it is onwards and upwards - with plans to release her debut album and a second single in the coming months.

Having improved on last year's UK score with a respectable 40 points, she can still hold her head high - although it might still be a bit sore from the after party.

Image caption Eurovision swag - not sure how much use I'll get out of this lot though

I'm all checked out of the hotel and squeezing in a quick visit to Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens in a bid to stave off the inevitable PED - that's Post Eurovision Depression to the uninitiated - and yes, it is a recognised problem.

"It's a debilitating illness!" Dr Eurovision told me before he headed home himself.

"I think it is because people look forward to it so much throughout the whole year and it is very intense for a couple of weeks - some really lovely friendships are formed here at Eurovision but it is a bubble and it isn't real life so when you go back to your job on Monday morning it can be a little bit difficult."

Eurovision superfan Simon Bennett told the BBC the cure was simple. "The moment I get home, I start organising my next trip to Eurovision!"

Till then.

SUNDAY 11 MAY - 01:15 local time (00:15 BST)

Image copyright EBU
Image caption Conchita held onto her trophy for dear life during the winner's press conference

After a quick costume change - shedding the beaded gold gown for a black lace sleeveless number - Conchita quickly made her way to the winner's press conference.

Holding on to her microphone-shaped glass trophy for dear life, she posed for photographers for the duration of her winning song Rise Like A Phoenix, before yet another glitter drop rained down from the ceiling…

She first revealed how it felt to hear, or not quite hear, her name read out: "I was crying the whole time, and suddenly there came this gold shower and I said to my agent, 'did I win?' And he said, 'yes you did!'."

She said she felt Europe had taken a stand by voting her the winner.

"For me my dream came true but for our society it just showed me that there are people out there that want to go in the future and not in the past, and I'm so thankful about that - but I think we said something tonight."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The singer said she did not realise she had won

One journalist from The Guardian website asked if she had a message for Russian President Putin.

"I don't know if he's watching," she said, before referring to her acceptance speech by adding: "But if so, I think I said it clear, we are unstoppable."

She later added: "I dream of a world where we don't have to talk about unnecessary things like sexuality, who you love. I felt like tonight Europe showed that we are a community of respect and tolerance. At the end of the day, it's so cheesy, but we are one."

As with any international press conference there were plenty of random moments, not least Conchita's manager taking the floor for a full five minutes to read out a never-ending list of thank-yous that included the cleaners.

"You're the greatest artist I ever met and I'm so thankful to work with you," he said, before adding: "See you all at wonderful Vienna, Austria - Conchita could be your host of next year!", before promptly leaving the stage.

Conchita too threw her hat in the ring for that job and also revealed there could be some kind of project in the works with two of her fellow Eurovision contenders… Suzy from Portugal and Spain's Ruth Lorenzo.

"Of course I want to go on doing music because this is the love of my life. As you all know there are these three divas in this competition, Suzy, Ruth and me. I really, really fell in love with these two girls, maybe there's something in the future going on."

Definitely a prospect to help keep Eurovision fans happy until next year.

SUNDAY 11 MAY - 00:30 local time (23:30 BST)

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Conchita was clearly overwhelmed by her win

So Austria's bearded lady Conchita Wurst is the clear winner of 2014's Eurovision Song Contest…

The knitted "beards for tolerance", the free hugs handed out by Conchita supporters and a cracking future-Bond theme all helped Conchita win a place in the hearts of voters across Europe as at least a dozen countries awarded her the maximum 12 points.

It had been neck and neck between Austria and runners up The Netherlands for much of the voting, as the points were consistently awarded to one or the other, with a few for third place Sweden and Armenia.

But after Ukraine's vote it was revealed Conchita had already won giving her her second standing ovation of the night in the press room and the arena. She later got another 12 points from Switzerland and Slovenia, giving her a total of 290.

Fighting back tears she took to the stage to accept her trophy saying: "This night is dedicated to anyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom... we are unstoppable!"

The voting was also dominated by booing for Russia - each and every time they were awarded an 8, 10 or a 12 points. They managed 7th place with 89 points.

That predicted top five place for the UK's Molly Smitten-Downes never materialised - she came in in 17th place - after securing 40 points for Children of the Universe.

She tweeted: "Massive congratulations to Austria. What a brilliant night! Thanks for all the support... Now time to party!! Love you all. Xx"

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 23:30 local time (22:30 BST)

Twitter has been on fire tonight - we retweeted loads of #Eurovision bits from the @BBCNewsEnts feed but here's a selection of some of my favourites…

Image caption Comedian Danny Wallace welcomed the voting procedure

On Iceland:

@lifeofholly I really like this. It's like a cross between Franz Ferdinand, Barenaked Ladies and Teletubbies.

@KeirHusband The Wiggles have let themselves go a bit

@PaddysMum2003 Expecting the Inbetweeners to come out dancing to Greece!

On Germany:

@catrionaw890 This coming after Conchita Wurst is like going back to work after Christmas.

On France:

@tracey_thorn What a mistake to base your whole song on the moustache in the year of the BEARD

On Malta:

@LaRainbow:"Mumford and sons meet Gary Barlow" Switches off TV. Flushes head down toilet.

On The Netherlands:

@GhettoIFE: Sorry The Nederlands. I'd love to vote for you, but your song is still TOO GOOD.

On the voting:

@dannywallace Finally! We're on to several hours of politics and maths. Saturday night is back!

On Graham Norton:

@danisnotonfire: I think I just cringed my neck back so hard for Graham Norton I decapitated myself

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 23:00 local time (22:00 BST)

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Media captionUK act Molly was the last up to perform in Copenhagen

Malta: The Mumford and Sons comparisons might be getting a bit tired but it's impossible not to think of the British folk-rockers when listening to Firelight's Coming Home. The band features four siblings and if you recognise Richard, he's another former UK X Factor hopeful. He's also sporting the only Appalachian mountain dulcimer you'll see in this year's Eurovision.

Denmark: Could they do the double? If any Bruno Mars fans are watching then there is a good chance Basim might win some votes. The former Danish X Factor star picked the prime spot of 23rd to perform this feel-good do-whoppy, boom-boom song - which makes no more sense than what he's actually singing, which is scuba duba dabda dididai (in case you were wondering).

The Netherlands: It won't surprise you to hear The Common Linnets went to Nashville to prepare for Eurovision. It's not your average Eurovision song but the country duo have been inching their way up the betting order all week. Probably one of the only songs I'll be listening to once I leave Eurovision Island.

San Marino: Three cheers for Valentina Monetta, who finally made it to the Eurovision final third time lucky with her ballad Maybe. Singing it in front of a giant fan made of satin sheets was an odd choice, and the whispery bit at the end is all a bit toe-curling. So Maybe. But, probably not.

United Kingdom: Eurovision's gone out with a bang this year - UK entry Molly's anthemic Children of the Universe is giving "power to the people" to finally start voting for the UK again. Hopefully. At 5ft 1ins, she's got some stage presence and gives a goosebump-inducing performance. But is it enough? We will soon see…

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 22:40 local time (21:40 BST)

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Spain was represented by former UK X Factor contest Ruth Lorenzo

Slovenia: Otherwise known as "flute lady", Tinkara Kovac lobbied Eurovision organisers to be allowed to play her own instrument, which means she has the added bonus of being able to use said flute as a pointy stick when she's not playing it. She's got a big powerful voice but Round and Round is a bit of a forgettable track. Bonus points for going down the Disney princess route for her dress though.

Finland: Strictly speaking, Softengine have more in common with McBusted - but I can't help thinking of them as Finland's answer to One Direction. They do play their own instruments though and the oooh aaah aaah part of their song Something Better could see them nicknamed Junior Coldplay. They're still at school and probably also still recovering from the embarrassment of having their headmaster wish them good luck in a video message during Thursday's semi-final.

Spain: Former UK X Factor contestant Ruth Lorenzo could do very well tonight with Dancing in the Rain - she doesn't even seem to mind that she forgot her umbrella. Her powerful, anthemic ballad is full of impressive high notes and has great staging - but will Simon Cowell be voting?

Switzerland: Sebalter's pulling out all of the stops; the boy can whistle, play the violin, clap, sing and bang a big drum. There's also a banjo and a tambourine on stage, which means Hunter of Stars wouldn't be a bad song to crack out at a barn dance. Some people might find his cheery disposition off-putting but that would be mean.

Hungary: Westlife had stools but Andras Kallay-Saunders has a chair, which is quickly discarded when the drum and base beats come into play. Not convinced by the two dancers chasing each other around the piano and being dragged around on the floor, but Andras did manage to show off his athletic skills by running across the stage, so well done to him.

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 22:20 local time (21:20 BST)

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Austria's Conchita Wurst will have to fight Sweden as the two countries are favourites to win

Austria: Conchita Wurst is a definite contender for the Eurovision crown. Her epic track Rise Like A Phoenix wouldn't be out of place as a Bond theme, and such a powerful voice. No gimmicks needed here - unless you count the beard of course - she can just stand and sing. Does is ruin it if I tell you that under that dress she is standing on an upturned washing-up bowl?

Germany: One of the Big Five who automatically qualify, Elaiza were Germany's wildcard. Is it Right is catchier than I'd like it to be. Singer Ela looks and sounds a bit like Pink, if anyone in Pink's band had an accordion.

Sweden: The new favourite, Sanna Nielsen is an obvious Celine Dionne fan - but Celine did win Eurovision for Switzerland back in 1988. The arena is full of fans rooting for the Viking blonde who has a great voice, a powerful ballad called Undo and some lovely lighting in her favour.

France: I'm not going to lie, I'm a big Twin Twin fan and Moustache would be top five if it was up to me. They're not the best singers in the competition but they've got oodles of charisma and they won't tire of telling you they "just want to have fun". Twin Twin, Oh Yeah! They should at least get a few sympathy votes as only one of them seems to have been able to actually grow a moustache.

Russia: Former Junior Eurovision winners the Tolmachevy Sisters have mastered the art of see-sawing and singing at the same time, which is not to be sniffed at. I don't really get why they are holding Perspex lightsaber-style poles or wrapping their ponytails together, but they've probably spent most of their performance of Shine hoping they don't get booed again.

Italy: Emma is a slightly angry Italian rock chick who is pretty big back home, but as one of the Big Five to automatically qualify, her track La mia citta will be less familiar to Eurovision fans. The fact it's in Italian also limits the amount of people who'll be able to sing along. If I'm honest I'm still thinking about the mozzarella she used to make her Italian flag at the beginning.

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 21:55 local time (20:55 BST)

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Romania had a circular piano - pretty sure it's not real...

Romania: Otherwise known as "the ones with the circular piano" (where can I buy one?), Paula Seling and Ovi may have watched one or two '90s music videos before they came. A track from the Basshunter-school of dance anthems, you can picture them now in a cheesy Euro nightclub. She can certainly hit a high note.

Armenia: Not Alone has been one of the hot favourites to win and it is possible Aram Mp3 knows it. It's the only Eurovision entry to go down the dubstep route this year but it takes a while to get there - you have to make do with a ballad for most of the track. When it did up the tempo, the electricity stage burst matched Aram/s Matrix boots and that sci-fi coat quite nicely.

Montenegro: Sergej Cetkovic was a surprise qualifier and is one of the few acts to sing in their native tongue for his ballad Moj svijet, with what sounds a bit like Panpipe Moods in the background. It is a good job he's got the roller-skating ballerina to keep us all entertained - although the weeping willows in the background look lovely.

Poland: One of this year's most memorable acts, Donatan and Cleo's milkmaids have been the talk of Eurovision Island. We Are Slavic was a huge hit back home and sounds a lot like Gwen Stefani's Holla Back, with some traditional Polish music thrown in so they've got something to wave their hankies to. It does leave you with the impression that being a Slavic girl involves washing your clothes in the river and churning butter in a highly suggestive manner.

Greece: An East 17-style rap gives way to another retro-sounding club hit with some traditional Greek sounds thrown in. Rise Up seems to have been designed with the sole purpose of getting people to jump up and down. The on-stage trampoline is too tempting for Freaky Fortune and Risky Kidd, but will they get extra points for their back drop?

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 21:35 local time (20:35 BST)

Eurovision 2014 is go! This year the show is being hosted by three Danish stars - Borgen star Pilou Asbaek, musician, journalist and presenter Nikolaj Koppel, and Lise Ronne who used to host Denmark's X Factor.

The show opens with the flags of each country taking part, before each artist strides across the stage, waving and blowing kisses to the crowd and the cameras - giving us a quick taster of what is to come.

Here's my take on tonight's proceedings…

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ukraine's Mariya Yaremchuk was the first to perform on stage

Ukraine: A giant hamster wheel is definitely one way to kick off Eurovision, but I'm sure I'm not the only one finding it hard to concentrate on Mariya Yaremcuk singing Tick-Tock, because I'm too busy hoping the man inside the hamster wheel doesn't fall off. Mariya was on The Voice in Ukraine and knows how to work a wind machine, as well as hit those high notes of course.

Belarus: Maybe it's a Belarus thing but hands up if you've ever actually called anyone your "sweet cheesecake"? Even though he's ditched the flirty lady from his video and furnished the stage with Teo lookalikes, the Robin Thicke vibe of this track can't be ignored. Their moves - including his weird sidestep thing - look like they might have been made up in the dressing room.

Azerbaijan: The second of tonight's artists to go down the circus route, and again I'm too busy worrying for the safety of Dilara Kazimova's trapeze artist to concentrate on her song Start A Fire. A proper Eurovision ballad - well sung, but not a stand out track for me. This video of Dilara singing History Repeating for her country's Eurovision selection process is well worth a watch though. A bit sad she left the amateur dramatics at home tonight.

Iceland: Pollapunk's No Prejudice is a definite crowd pleaser - one of this year's fun entries, the punky chorus and their happy vibes are infectious. They also each have dressing gowns in the same bright colours as their suits, but the best Pollapunk fact is that they submitted their hit debut album as coursework on their teacher training course.

Norway: Let's slow things right down shall we? Last year's winner Emmelie de Forest is backing Carl Espen to win and his unexpectedly sweet voice delivers powerful ballad Silent Storm in goose-bumpy fashion. Some people might find the simple staging a bit low on kicks but it's got the crowd on their feet, swaying and waving their phones about - the 21st Century, health-and-safety equivalent of lighters in the air.

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 20:55 local time (19:55 BST)

So there are just a few minutes to go until this year's grand final kicks off! All around me people have been getting their glad rags on in support of their favourite entry…

During the show I'll be tweeting from @BBCNewsEnts and giving my reaction on here every five songs or so. Don't forget to refresh the page for the latest updates.

The results of the press centre's vote has also been announced so we'll see later how accurate we all were. And if you are playing along at home, you can download a scorecard here. Enjoy!

Image caption The press centre has been voting for their favourites and here is who we predict will win

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 18:00 local time (17:30 BST)

Image caption The BBC News team is all set for the big show!

The countdown is on and we're getting all patriotic here on our make-shift BBC News desk - flying the flag for Molly.

Don't forget if you are digging out Union Jacks for your own party at home you can download a scorecard and play along.

And if you are twiddling your thumbs waiting for Eurovision to start, then BBC Archive has put together a special album of photos from song contests gone by. That should help pass some time…

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 15:00 local time (14:00 BST)

I've arrived at the press centre for the final time and I won't be leaving here until we have a Eurovision winner! I'm not alone either - around 1,600 journalists from more than 80 countries are covering this year's contest.

Fans arrived thick and fast for this afternoon's final dress rehearsal (yes they really have been doing it all over again before tonight's big show) and a few caught my eye on the way in.

Image caption Team Molly supporters arrive at the B&W Hallerne arena

Team Molly, led by Carl and Mark, are from London "and a bit of Sydney as well" and told me they've been organising Eurovision trips for a couple of years.

"We had 24 in Malmo for Bonnie last year, a hardcore group of fans who just like to have a good time and enjoy all the music and support the UK," Mark told me.

"The best thing would be getting the chance to hear a 12 points or a 10 or an 8. Molly's already won from our perspective as she's just a great performer."

Paul is also British but lives in Copenhagen and has come to watch the rehearsal with his Danish family and their Swedish friends - who have already been to seven Eurovisions.

"It's just fun isn't it? Later tonight we're having a Eurovision fancy dress party. We'll be cheering on Denmark and the UK - and Sweden," Paul said.

Image caption Fans from around Europe have travelled to Copenhagen for this year's contest

Dutch Eurovision fans Richard and Pauline have been here since Monday and are very glad The Common Linnets made it to the final.

"We are doing good in the polls, they are very high so who knows?" said Richard, sporting The Netherlands flag face-painted on each cheek.

"I love the whole party, the city is one party. We have been five or six times to Eurovision, but we only go to countries who are respectful to the gay community. When I get home I plan for the next year!"

And Conny and Stefan have travelled to Copenhagen from Vienna in Austria, complete with painted-on beards in support of Conchita Wurst.

"For us she is a much more authentic figure than to everyone else, as she has been around for several years working on these issues," Conny said. "It's so cool for us she made it to the final, it would be wonderful if she won."

SATURDAY 10 MAY - 09:45 local time (08:45 BST)

Image caption Sweden's Sanna Nielsen is currently the favourite to win the Eurovision trophy

It's here! The day Eurovision fans have been waiting for all year… the grand final.

The chosen 26 countries will all perform for a global television audience of at least 125 million people tonight, with more than 11,000 expected in the B&W Hallerne arena here in Copenhagen.

Last night each act performed for the juries of each country to cast their vote.

The bookmakers odds have fluctuated after each show, but according to Oddschecker this morning, which compiles all the big bookies - and our presenter Graham Norton - the UK is in the running for a top five place.

Sweden is now favourite, followed by Austria's Conchita Wurst, The Netherlands, Armenia and then the UK.

However, if you look at who people are betting on the order shifts - led by Armenia and The Netherlands, and we are the third most popular choice at 11/1.

Everyone has been having a go at predicting this year's Eurovision winner.

One study has used social media to predict a winner, putting the top three as Armenia, Austria and Sweden - although Italy's entry has the largest number of Twitter followers, Facebook likes and Facebook conversations.

Image caption Dr Eurovision has been sporting a Eurovision injury, inflicted by a taxi door

Scholars are using their scientific skills and all sorts of complicated things like algorithms to give us some insight into who might lift that trophy later (their study thinks Sweden).

And what about the experts in Copenhagen?

"My gut feeling has been the UK all along," Eurovision historian John Kennedy O'Connor told me.

"I think the rest of Europe are going to say, 'wow they're doing something good this year', and that will elevate the vote."

He added: "I think it's between the UK, Austria and Ukraine and I have a feeling the Ukraine sympathy vote might sway everything."

Dr Eurovision - who earned his title by doing a Eurovision inspired PHD - agreed that could play a role.

"Ukraine could pick up some sympathy votes, it will be interesting to see how that goes. But I think Denmark's going to do the double. I think it will pick up sixes and sevens all the way and just sneak there. There's no real outstanding winner though."

We'll see whose predictions are proved right tonight...

FRIDAY 9 MAY - 19:00 local time (18:00 BST)

Image caption Molly Smitten-Downes hopes her henna tattoos will bring some luck

So each of the 26 acts have now finished rehearsing for the grand final tomorrow night and the presenters have even gone through the slightly painful process of practising the voting.

I was in the arena to see UK entrant Molly perform earlier and, at the risk of getting carried away on an over-excited, super-patriotic, flying-the-flag Eurovision cloud, I thought she was really good.

Image caption She holds the universe in the palm of her hand

Her dress is all feathers and gold leather and the boho look is completed by henna tattoos on her hands, which she showed off to us backstage.

The image on the palm of her hand means the Universe apparently and they have inspired some of the graphics for her staging, along with images of floating Chinese lanterns.

Each act will be doing it all over again this evening though, and the pressure is on - each country's jury casts their votes based on tonight's performance. This then counts for 50% of the score tomorrow night, combined with phone votes from the millions watching at home.

So will Molly have Europe in the palm of her hands? (sorry) We'll have to wait and see.

FRIDAY 9 MAY - 15:45 local time (14:45 BST)

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Even though these are technical rehearsals, the acts are giving their all

I have just returned from my first trip inside the cavernous former shipyard that is playing host to this year's Eurovision Song Contest - B&W Hallerne. And it is impressive.

The first rehearsal for tomorrow night's grand final is in full swing and, save for a few technical hitches, things are looking good.

There is some seriously impressive lighting, thanks to more than 15,000 LED lights, while the steel framework around the stage references the venue's shipbuilding history. This is where the money has been spent.

But the things to look forward to on Saturday night do, of course, include all the gimmicky stuff too: I've just watched a trapeze artist, a trampoline and a roller-skating ballerina - not to mention Ukraine's entry and that hamster wheel. The human hamster took a nasty bump at the end of their rehearsal after they opened the show - let's hope he's ok for tomorrow...

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Twin Twin are hoping to give France their sixth Eurovision win

It was also my first opportunity to see any of the big six acts, who all qualified for the final automatically, do their thing. Molly is due on stage any minute now, what with her being in 26th place, but French entry Twin Twin have already rehearsed their ridiculously catchy track Moustache.

I caught up with Lorent, Francois and Patrick ahead of their rehearsal, and they told me they thought the stage was: "Big. It's the biggest in the world. It's very impressive."

So Twin Twin, how is your Eurovision experience going?

Francois: It is going very, very well, we have played lots of times in the Euro Village and the cafe and the club. It's very cool, it was always a great party. We not only played Moustache but other songs off our album Vive La Vie. It's in French but everybody dance.

You've got a big following in France, do you think you will be able to pick up votes around Europe?

Francois: We don't really think about that, we think only about our show. We want to do the best and we want to have fun. Fun fun.

All [in unison]: Twin Twin, oh yeah!

Why did you want to do Eurovision, is it seen as a cool thing to do in France?

Francois: You have to differentiate between people and the media. French media thinks that Eurovision is not cool. But people are watching Eurovision, so I think it is a cool thing. It's a great party and that's all.

We have a word in England - hipster - do you have that word in France and what do you think of people calling you the hipster Eurovision entry?

Francois: Yeah of course, I think this word is everywhere.

Lorent: It's funny, because we come from the ghetto, you know, and we are not really hipsters. Some people think that we're from this world, hipsters, because when we arrived in Paris the first people we met were fashion stylists and they gave us clothes! We don't care about the words, but maybe, maybe I am a hipster!

Francois: We met a great English stylist, Vivienne Westwood. I have a tie from Vivienne Westwood, I will wear it tomorrow - it is a great tie with curls. I think she is the best.

Do you mind people thinking of you as a novelty act?

Francois: We are! Yeah, it's cool.

Who is your biggest competition?

Francois: We don't have rivals because we have our own philosophy about Eurovision. It's like a neighbourhood party, everyone comes with a meal to eat and everybody is sitting around the table and it's a party. Points are not very important to us, it is just… live the experience. It's a great adventure.

FRIDAY 9 MAY - 11:15 local time (10:15 BST)

Image copyright PA

As soon as the semi-final was over, Eurovision organisers set to work deciding which order the acts should perform in during Saturday's final. We already knew UK entry Molly would perform in the coveted second half of the competition but we now know she will actually close the show, performing last out of the 26 contestants.

John Kennedy O'Connor, who literally wrote the history book on Eurovision (The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History), was already convinced it would be Molly's year, and thinks being in 26th place is great news for the UK.

"It just gets better for Molly!" he said this morning. "The last song has won Eurovision six times. It's the 2nd most 'winningest' spot in the draw after 17th."

This year that honour goes to Slovenia. However John did add a word of warning:

"Since the contest expanded it's not been as great. Ireland sang last and finished last in Malmo 2013. But what a powerful ending for the show! It's great for Molly."

Following two slower songs, from The Netherlands and San Marino, should also help the UK's track Children of the Universe stand out in voters minds, although one expert I spoke to this suggested many people will have made up their mind by three-quarters of the way through.

The running order was announced in the early hours as members of the international press, me included, spent time on a tortuously slow shuttle bus (the "Eurovision shuttle busses are rubbish" bandwagon has definitely been a behind-the-scenes feature of this year's contest). One passenger read the list out from his phone, greeted by plenty of excited chatter.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Talk about the Netherlands duo The Common Linnets is gaining pace

The buzz from Eurovision super-fans is that it has already been a contest of surprises this year, with acts such as San Marino finally qualifying and Ireland failing to make it through for the first time since 2009. Suggestions The Netherlands' country-tinged duo The Common Linnets could do well are also gaining momentum, so the word on the street is that anything could happen!

Saturday night's show will be opened in part by a man running in a giant hamster wheel, as Ukraine's Mariya Yaremchuk takes to the stage first.

I'm told no one wants to be in second place as that position has never won Eurovision. So bad luck to Belarus artist Teo and his song Cheesecake - that could be the last we see of him.

Here is the running order in full:

Image caption A no cheesecake rule extends to reporters
  1. Ukraine
  2. Belarus
  3. Azerbaijan
  4. Iceland
  5. Norway
  6. Romania
  7. Armenia
  8. Montenegro
  9. Poland
  10. Greece
  11. Austria
  12. Germany
  13. Sweden
  14. France
  15. Russia
  16. Italy
  17. Slovenia
  18. Finland
  19. Spain
  20. Switzerland
  21. Hungary
  22. Malta
  23. Denmark
  24. The Netherlands
  25. San Marino
  26. United Kingdom

THURSDAY 8 MAY - 23:55 local time (22:55 BST)

Image copyright Andres Putting (EBU)
Image caption Austria's entry Conchita Wurst has made it through to Saturday's Eurovision final

Well, that was tense! But we now know exactly which 26 countries will do battle in the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final on Saturday night.

Our Danish hosts revealed the 10 acts to make it through tonight's second semi-final, with the help of a dramatic pause that must set a new world record. They finally announced the tenth and final act would be… Austria's Conchita Wurst. My clenched teeth only just survived the experience.

She joins Switzerland's whistler Sebalter, Slovenia's Tinkara Kovac, Poland's Donatan & Cleo, Romania's Paula Seling & OVI, Norway's Carl Espen, Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd from Greece, Malta's Firelight, Belarus's Cheesecake singer Teo and Finland's answer to One Direction, Softengine.

Those 10 acts and the 10 who made it through on Tuesday join the "Big six" in Saturday's final - with the running order due to be announced imminently.

After Tuesday night's booing incident, this semi-final was free of any major controversy - unless you count the milkmaids (which we don't really, but more on that in a moment).

This time the crowd were belting out cheers for Austria's "bearded lady" Conchita Wurst, both in the packed-out press room and in the arena, where people chanted her name before it was read out. Things could have got a little awkward if she hadn't made it through.

Conchita said she was overwhelmed by all the support, telling the press conference afterwards: "I stopped singing and I burst into tears."

Image caption Conchita fans were handing out free hugs

They were swiftly followed by laughs, though, as she revealed: "I don't want to be a woman, I'm a very lazy boy at home and I won't change that."

She added: "I created this character to show everybody that you can achieve anything and I would never ever shave my beard."

The atmosphere in the Eurovision press centre had definitely stepped up a gear as excitement mounts for the final.

The whole complex was buzzing, with Conchita supporters handing out free hugs one minute and Poland's Donatan & Cleo getting mobbed by reporters the next. The Polish duo were even asked about the rather suggestive milkmaids they have on stage to perform We Are Slavic, who have been raising a few eyebrows.

"We have very small outfits," agreed Cleo, adding: "They are very colourful, and my girls look very pretty."

Of course we now say goodbye to Israel, FYR Macedonia, Georgia and Ireland. But the competition gained a new performer tonight too - as Eurovision super-fans Australia sent singer Jessica Mauboy to perform as the votes were counted.

THURSDAY 8 MAY - 15:30 local time (14:30 BST)

As UK entry Molly cracked on with her day of interviews in the Eurovision press centre, I bumped into Malta's act, Firelight, backstage - just before their final rehearsal for tonight's crucial semi-final.

The band - which includes three brothers and a sister, as well as a couple of old friends - have a big fanbase in the UK, much of it made up of family members, as their mother is from Doncaster.

Fresh from the make-up room singers Richard, Michelle and Danny, Leslie, Tony and Wayne were in high spirits.

Image caption Maltese entry Firelight includes four siblings - and boasts strong connections to Doncaster

So the juries all voted for you when you performed last night but this must be a big night for you, as fans get to vote on tonight's semi-final?

Michelle: We're feeling super-excited, confident. It's a family rehearsal next so all our family are going to be out there watching us - my husband, my kids, I feel excited for them as well. We're feeling very positive. The fans, they're such beautiful people, you want to perform your best just for them because they're so passionate.

Richard: We were really happy with what we did last night, all we've got to do is maintain that and hopefully it will go well.

You've got a lot of British connections in your family haven't you?

Richard: Yes, our Mum is English - she's from South Yorkshire, from Doncaster.

Danny: She's a Donny lass!

Tony: My wife, Jane, comes from Yorkshire as well, she's from York. She lives in Malta but she does a very good Yorkshire pudding!

So hopefully the UK fans will be getting behind you?

Michelle: They're all watching us tonight. They're all getting together: our uncles, our aunties, our cousins. A big shout out to all our Yorkshire relatives! We've got family all over England too. The UK can vote tonight, so we'd really appreciate your votes if you can... the rest is up to Europe.

Some of the press - myself included - have pointed out there is a bit of a Mumford and Sons vibe going on with your track Coming Home, how do you feel about that?

Richard: I am a big fan of Mumford and Sons. Folk/rock/pop is a style of music we enjoy doing very much.

Wayne: It used to be the style, before electronic music came along. There was nothing better than performing a song with your acoustic instruments. It seems like it's all coming back again, which is great.

Richard: We're just having a blast doing that style of music. It's real music.

THURSDAY 8 MAY - 11:30 local time (10:30 BST)

So tonight 10 more acts will be selected for the Eurovision Song Contest grand final on Saturday - which means another five will be going home disappointed. Among this evening's hopefuls are Austria's bearded lady Conchita Wurst, Switzerland's whistling fiddler Sebalter and Ireland's Can-Linn, featuring Kasey Smith.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Switzerland's Sebalter is among the performers taking part in Thursday's semi-final

She's being cheered on by Irish MTV presenter Laura Whitmore, who has joined BBC Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills on Eurovision presenting duties this year and will be co-hosting tonight's semi-final on BBC Three at 20:00 BST.

We caught up for a quick chat before the mayhem descends…

So how is your first Eurovision?

Surreal! I always knew it was huge - but it makes you realise how big it is. There are so many different people from different countries in one city and everyone has that one thing in common, which is Eurovision. People can make fun of the Eurovision, they can take it with a pinch of salt but for this week here, everyone's in good spirits and it's just a great celebration.

Image caption Laura Whitmore - with Sarah Jane - will co-host this year's Eurovision coverage on BBC Three

Who are you rooting for?

Besides the UK and Ireland obviously - I'm a big fan of the Irish entry. I really love the Netherlands song but it's so different for Eurovision, it's quite country, I don't know if it will win. Malta has a bit of a Mumford and Sons vibe. I quite like Greece as well - I saw them performing in the Euro Club - and I love Iceland, just for the pure fun of it.

I'm really sad Latvia's Cake to Bake didn't get through, they were really fun. That's the sad thing, you lose six in the first semi-final and five tonight - but otherwise it would be very, very long on Saturday! For anyone just to get to Copenhagen is huge for the country though. Everyone's a winner!

How do you feel about presenting BBC Three's Eurovision coverage this year?

It's huge for me and it's my first job for the BBC as well. When I was younger - I'm not even joking - I watched Eurovision every year. I'm Irish so we're obsessed with it over there, because we used to win it all the time! As a kid you'd sit and watch it and you'd imagine doing the commentary over it and what you'd say. So now it's really weird to be up there, in that little sweaty box with Scott, actually doing it. It's amazing and I love it.

WEDNESDAY 7 MAY - 23:45 local time (22:45 BST)

So we hotfooted it to the British embassy on a mission to find UK Eurovision entry Molly Smitten-Downes, arriving just as she was taking to the floor. In the absence of an actual stage for the intimate performance (in a room the size of someone's lounge) she did actually take to the floor, flanked by her backing singers and a lone drum beat for a beautifully stripped-back version of her song Children of the Universe.

Image caption A traditional Danish courtyard is renamed Emmelie's Forest, in honour of last year's winner Emmelie de Forest

"We're quite happy with this - I hope you enjoy it," Molly told the packed room, where some of the crowd sat cross-legged on the floor, clapping along.

"I'm overwhelmed by the support we've had back home and in Europe. We've been made so welcome in Copenhagen and being at the British embassy means a lot," she said.

While other guests munched on canapes, the 26-year-old from Leicestershire followed her performance with a few quick interviews ahead of Thursday's full day of press - as she takes a day off the singing to try to rest her vocal chords for Saturday.

No one was resting much of anything over at the Eurovision Fan Cafe though, which has taken over Huset-KBH - "the oldest and largest culture house in Denmark" at 43 years old. The inviting venue has even renamed its traditional Danish courtyard Emmelie's Forest, in honour of last year's winner.

Image caption Molly Smitten-Downes performs a stripped-back version of the UK entry Children of the Universe

Swedish Eurovision entry Sanna Nielsen was among Wednesday night's performers after sailing through the first semi-final on Tuesday.

She is a firm favourite among many Eurovision fans, having entered Sweden's Eurovision selection contest - Melodifestivalen - a very committed seven times.

The likes of Greece and Austria, meanwhile, were hopefully taking my cue and getting an early (ish) night ahead of Thursday night's second semi-final - just 10 out of the 15 acts performing will survive the cull.

WEDNESDAY 7 MAY - 16:30 local time (15:30 BST)

Hello and welcome to this year's Eurovision Reporter's Diary, coming to you live and direct from what is being called "Eurovision Island". How very grand...

I am comfortably installed in this year's Eurovision headquarters, former shipyard B&W Hallerne on Copenhagen's Refshaleoen island, which has undergone a multi-million pound refit to host 2014's contest.

Image caption The glamour of Eurovision's press area

Once home to toiling shipbuilders, for the next few days it is playing host to thousands of Eurovision fans from around the world, not to mention the press who will be keenly dissecting every fabulous (or not-so-fabulous) move this year's contestants make. Our press centre is a gigantic tent alongside the great halls where we can keep a close eye on what is going on in the arena on big screens, while munching on rye bread-based snacks from the canteen (we are in Denmark, after all).

Rehearsals are currently in full swing for tomorrow night's second semi-final, which will decide on the final 10 acts going through to the main event - Saturday night's grand final. But there are an enormous amount of activities planned to keep fans entertained until then.

For a start, the city's famous shopping street Stroget has been renamed 'Fan Mile'.

Fan Mile starts at City Hall Square and ends in the old Nyhavn harbour, where fans can get a boat straight to Eurovision Island. According to the magazine I was handed on my arrival at the airport earlier, it "connects the dots of entertainment on the streets and squares like pearls on a string."

I'm in.

In fact, it is definitely on the list of things to do tomorrow - not least because it's where the world's longest kiss chain is being attempted by the Aids foundation (they need more than 351 people kissing to beat the Guinness World Record).

It is actually time for me to depart Eurovision Island for today, as well. Our UK entry, Molly Smitten-Downes is hosting a swanky event at the British Embassy this evening, to celebrate British Music. I have a ticket so will report back to you in good time.

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