| 09 Feb 2023
BBC Radio 2 Eurovision returns

MUMBAI: It's time for Radio 2 listeners to dust off their feather boas, polish their sequins and slip on their dancing shoes as Radio 2 Eurovision returns for another year. Get ready to wave those Union Jack flags as the BBC announces the return of the pop-up digital radio service to celebrate the best of the Eurovision Song Contest 2015, and complement programming of the annual singing competition on BBC Radio 2 and TV networks BBC One and BBC Three.

The digital radio pop-up service, which launched for the first time last year, will offer Eurovision fans the most comprehensive coverage of the song contest to date, kicking off on Thursday 21 May through to 24 May with a mix of live shows, interviews and musical treats in the 60th anniversary year of the famous competition.

Radio 2 Eurovision will air from midday Thursday and Friday and 10am across the weekend until midnight each day over the four-day transmission that will have listeners dancing under their disco balls. On the day of the final on Saturday 23 May, two shows will be simulcast with Radio 2. BBC One Eurovision host Graham Norton's morning programme will air on both networks between 10am and 1pm, bringing the nation all the buzz and build-up to the evening's main event live from this year's host city, Vienna. Then from 8pm the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 goes live, bringing fans all the action from the Austrian capital as the singing spectacular gets underway.

Led by Brett Spencer (Editor, Digital, Popular Music) and Helen Thomas (Editor, Radio 2), the pop-up service will feature shows hosted by Scissor Sisters star Ana Matronic, Paddy O'Connell, Scott Mills, Sara Cox, Ken Bruce, Steve Wright, Maria McErlane, Tony Blackburn, Sonia, Rufus Hound, Vanessa Feltz and Sir Terry Wogan, who famously presented the UK TV coverage of Eurovision on BBC One from 1973 to 2008, with his cutting commentary and deadpan one-liners a signature of Eurovision nights.

Ana Matronic will present the song contest's first semi-final on Thursday (4pm), and the second part (8pm), as well as the warm-up programme live from Vienna on Saturday ahead of the competition final. Also broadcasting live from Vienna is Paddy O'Connell with his build-up shows on Thursday, Friday (both midday) and Saturday (1pm). Plus Paddy's post-contest programming with all the Euro-tastic aftermath and behind-the-scenes gossip following the main event on Saturday evening (11pm), and the Eurovision hangover on Sunday morning from 10am.

Listeners will also be treated to a special interview with last year's Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, who sits down with Paddy to talk about her extraordinary journey from 2014 victor to much-loved global gay icon. After clinching last year's Eurovision crown in Copenhagen with the rousing hit Rise Like A Phoenix – only the second time an Austrian act has ever scooped the title and the first since the 1960s – Conchita, real name Thomas Neuwirth, had quite the year: her Eurovision-winning track hit the coveted number one spot in her native Austria and went top 10 in Spain, Ireland, Germany, Holland and Denmark, to name a few; the single's official video notched up an impressive 20 million views on YouTube; she headlined the 2014 Pride festivals in London, Madrid and Stockholm; and made her modelling debut by hitting the catwalk for Jean Paul Gaultier's couture autumn/winter 2014 show.

More unmissable pop-up show highlights see Sir Terry Wogan pick his Tracks Of My Eurovision Years, and UK 1993 Eurovision runner-up with the song Better The Devil You Know, Sonia, presenting And the Winner… Isn't! Comedian Rufus Hound brings more fun with his show Nil Points, and Radio 2 presenter Vanessa Feltz takes a look at the books featuring Eurovision themes and fictional characters with The Eurovision Book Show.

If that wasn't enough, listeners can perfect their best Lulu and Abba impressions and really get into the spirit of the annual singing event with a host of special Eurovision-themed shows including The Ultimate Eurovision Quiz, and Eurovision Pick Of The Pops featuring Euro classics and fan favourites spanning the 1950s through to the 90s and beyond. Ken Bruce hosts a Eurovision Popmaster special, as well as the Ultimate Eurovision Chart as voted for by the listeners.

BBC Music Asian Network and director Music 6, Radio 2 controller Bob Shennan, said , "I am delighted to announce the return of Radio 2 Eurovision – the station's third digital radio pop-up service – a carefully curated schedule of programmes featuring the best of Eurovision past and present that's guaranteed to satisfy even the most dedicated of Eurovision fans. Each year, the competition unites the country and I'm proud to be offering listeners a truly digital experience once again with coverage across Radio 2 and its complementary pop-up service Radio 2 Eurovision."

This year's UK Eurovision entry is by duo Electro Velvet, also known as vocalists Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas, who will fly the flag for the United Kingdom and perform their track Still In Love With You. Bianca, of Beckenham in Kent, was a contestant on BBC One's The Voice in 2014, and released a single in 2011 called Hold On To Your Dreams. Alex hails from Welwyn Garden City and splits his time between working as a primary school teacher and performing in a Rolling Stones tribute act.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 will take place on Saturday 23 May in Vienna, Austria, broadcast live on BBC One and BBC One HD with commentary from Graham Norton and live on BBC Radio 2 with commentary from Ken Bruce. The semi-finals will be held on Tuesday 19 and Thursday 21 May, broadcast on BBC Three and BBC Three HD. Fans will also be able to catch the action via the Red Button.

The first of Radio 2's pop-up digital radio service was last year's Eurovision pop-up which led to a jump in digital radio sales (by 7 per cent) ahead of the launch last May. This success led to the launch of Radio 2 Country, which went live in March to coincide with C2C Country to Country Festival 2015 at London's O2.