Eurovision job ‘unlike anything else I do’, says Graham Norton

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Graham Norton will host the BBC’s coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest grand final on May 18 (Ian West/PA)

Graham Norton has described his famously scathing commentary during the Eurovision Song Contest as “unlike anything else I do” as he prepares for the grand final on Saturday.

The presenter, known for his flamboyant delivery and wit, said “work is a really big word” to describe what he does on the night.

This year’s event in Tel Aviv, Israel, marks a decade since Norton, 56, took over from Sir Terry Wogan as host of the BBC’s coverage, bringing his innuendo-laden commentary to the contest.

BBC1’s Eurovision: Your Country Needs You
Graham Norton will reprise his role as commentator during the Eurovision grand final (Yui Mok/PA)

Explaining his take on the grand final’s less successful acts, he said: “My job at Eurovision is unlike anything else I do.

“I just sit back and watch the show, making the odd comment when I think it’s needed.

“Work is really a big word for what I actually do on the night.”

Norton said he believes UK entry Michael Rice has a chance of stealing the crown.

“I think the song is strong but what makes it really stand out is Michael’s voice and personality,” he said.

“To those that say we can never win I would remind them of Portugal, Israel, Austria, Germany, all recent winners and countries that never gave up though many said they should. Keep the faith, United Kingdom.”

Rice will have his work cut out for him, as UK entrants have largely failed to finish in a high-ranking position in recent years, and a number of times have come in last place.

The last time the UK won Eurovision was in 1997 with Katrina And The Waves’ Love Shine A Light and the UK has not finished in the top 10 since 2009 with Jade Ewen’s It’s My Time.

Graham Norton Show – London
Norton hosts Michael Rice (far right) as well as (left to right) Kylie Minogue, Keanu Reeves, Suranne Jones, Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell on his BBC show (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Apart from the UK, Norton said he backs Russia’s entry – a former member of boy band Smash!! – as a contender for first place.

He said: “Russia this year have Sergey Lazarev, a former top three act, so I’m sure they will pull out all the stops but really the thrill is being totally blindsided by a country’s staging.”

Norton also offered advice to those planning on playing a Eurovision-inspired drinking game come Saturday.

“Pace yourselves,” he said.

Eurovision Song Contest 2019
Michael Rice with his backing singers and PR team at the Expo Tel Aviv in Israel (PA)

“If you play a drinking game that is too easy you’ll never stay awake to laugh at the various presenters standing in front of the bleak abandoned streets of obscure European capitals saying ‘thank you for this wonderful show you are giving tonight’.”

This year’s Eurovision will mean Norton misses hosting the The Graham Norton Show for the first time in 20 years. Jack Whitehall will stand in for him on May 17.

– The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Israel between May 14 and 18 after the 2018 contest was won by Israel entry Netta with her song Toy.

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