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Hosts for the Eurovision Song Contest unveiled

Eurovision 2023 (BBC/PA)
Eurovision 2023 (BBC/PA)

British TV star Alesha Dixon, actress Hannah Waddingham and Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina will host the Eurovision Song Contest alongside returning favourite Graham Norton, it has been announced.

The international music show will take place at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

Broadcaster Zoe Ball, 52, announced the news on her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show on Wednesday.

She said: “Last time the Eurovision was in the UK back in 1998 hosted by our dear Sir Terry Wogan and Ulrika Johnson, last year in Turin of course Alessandro Cattelan, Laura Pausini and Mika, in those fabulous bright suits.

“On the TV hosting the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool will be Alesha Dixon, the Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina, the award-winning actress from Ted Lasso and Games Of Thrones Hannah Waddingham and someone you may well know, Mr Graham Norton.

“While Graham is on the TV because he’ll be doing the presenting, he will have a little bit of help from the commentary box – Mel Giedroyc will be there as well, on hand to be his glamorous assistant.”

Norton returns as the commentator for the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, marking his 13th time hosting the BBC’s coverage of the competition.

Ball added: “Alesha, Julia and Hannah will also be presenting the semi-finals.”

Dixon rose to fame in the early 2000s as a member of the girl group Mis-Teeq, before pursuing a solo career with hits including The Boy Does Nothing.

British Independent Film Awards ceremony – London
Alesha Dixon will host Eurovision Song Contest 2023 (Ian West/PA)

The 44-year-old lifted the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing glitterball in 2007 with professional partner Matthew Cutler before returning to the competition as a judge on the panel for three series until 2011.

She then joined the judging panel on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 and has become a beloved face on TV.

Dixon said: “I’ve performed all over the world and there is just something about the buzz and anticipation of a live show that can’t be rivalled. Eurovision delivers that excitement, creativity and talent, but on a vast, global scale.

“I remember watching the Eurovision Song Contest on the TV when I was small, so to be there bringing the Grand Final and Semi Finals to people watching across the world is HUGE.”

Meanwhile, British actress Waddingham, 48, who scored an Emmy for her performance as Rebecca Welton in award-winning comedy Ted Lasso, said it was a “great privilege” to host the song contest “this year of all years”.

She said: “There’s something really special about Eurovision which is why I’ve been an avid fan for years – from the camaraderie of all the acts backstage, to the epic scale of the show.

“It’s one of the world’s greatest music festivals, but this year, perhaps more than ever, it is such a great honour to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, a country which has carried itself with such strength and unity.”

Sanina, who fronts Ukrainian alternative rock band The Hardkiss, completes the all-female line-up.

Last year, the singer was chosen by the public to sit on the professional jury to select Ukraine’s 2023 Eurovision entry alongside 2016 Eurovision winner Jamala and Taras Topolia from the band Antytila.

The Brit Awards 2022 – Arrivals – London
Hannah Waddingham (Ian West/PA)

The 32-year-old previously highlighted the importance of Liverpool hosting on behalf of war-torn Ukraine, saying the combination of the cultures coming together “is going to be something unbelievable”.

On hosting the song contest, she said: “I’m so excited to showcase Ukrainian culture and creativity, and to help put on a show to make my country proud. I can’t wait to get to Liverpool and meet the fans and the rest of the Eurovision family.”

BBC Eurovision director Martin Green previously said Ukraine’s participation in the song contest can be imagined as a “really rich ribbon running through” the event.

Ukrainian broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko, who has commentated on Eurovision in Ukraine since 2007, will appear during the live shows to give insight from Ukraine’s commentary box in the Liverpool Arena.

National Television Awards 2022 – London
Timur Miroshnychenko (Ian West/PA)

Miroshnychenko and Liverpudlian presenter Sam Quek will also front the Opening Ceremony live stream on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube Channel.

Kate Phillips, the BBC’s director of unscripted, said: “The BBC is thrilled to have such a talented line-up bringing the Eurovision Song Contest from Liverpool – on behalf of Ukraine – to the world.

“One thing that truly unites us all is music, and we’re proud to have a team – who are well accustomed to the worlds of music, performing and live broadcasting – as part of our Eurovision presenting family.

“It will be a remarkable moment for the BBC to deliver two huge pinnacles in this year’s broadcasting calendar, the King’s Coronation and Eurovision, within the same week.”

A total of 37 countries are set to take part in Eurovision this year, with Ukraine automatically qualifying as 2022 winners as well as the so-called “big five” – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.

The 15 countries who will be performing in the first semi-final on May 9 include Ireland, Serbia, Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Croatia, Malta, Sweden, Moldova, Switzerland, Israel, the Netherlands, Finland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, semi-final two on May 11 will see Armenia, Cyprus, Romania, Denmark, Belgium, Iceland, Greece, Estonia, Albania, Australia, Austria, Lithuania, San Marino, Slovenia, Georgia and Poland go head-to-head.

The BBC has run the event as the public broadcaster during the eight previous times the UK has played host due to winning the contest, or when other countries could not host the show.