The hosts of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Liverpool, have been revealed – with TV and music stars presenting alongside representatives for Ukraine.
Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham, Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina, and TV star and singer Alesha Dixon will host the grand final on 13 May alongside veteran presenter Graham Norton, and Timur Miroshnychenko will be the Ukrainian commentator.
Waddingham, Sanina and Dixon will also present the two Eurovision semi-finals.
The UK’s act for the contest is yet to be revealed.
Dixon, who rose to fame in the early 2000s as a member of the girl group Mis-Teeq, before going on to appear as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing and then Britain’s Got Talent, said she was excited to be a big part of the event this year.
“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,” she said. “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.”
The last time the UK hosted the event was in 1998, when the ceremony was presented by Terry Wogan and Ulrika Jonsson.
While Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra were crowned Eurovision winners in 2022, meaning the country would usually be preparing to host the event this year, organisers the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) ruled it would be unsafe due to the Russian invasion.
As the UK’s Sam Ryder came in second place, the contest is being held here, with Liverpool winning the bid.
British actress Waddingham, who is known for her Emmy-winning performance in the hit comedy Ted Lasso, as well as for roles in Game Of Thrones and Sex Education, said hosting the event on behalf of Ukraine makes this year’s show even more special.
“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,” she said.
“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, was a Dancing With The Stars finalist and judge on X-Factor in the country. “I’m so excited to showcase Ukrainian culture and creativity, and to help put on a show to make my country proud,” she said. “I can’t wait to get to Liverpool and meet the fans and the rest of the Eurovision family.”
Norton, who has been a Eurovision commentator for the UK for several years, said he feels a “big responsibility to make our Ukrainian colleagues proud”.
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A total of 37 countries are set to take part in Eurovision this year, with Ukraine automatically qualifying as 2022 winners, along with the so-called “big five” – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – because of their financial contributions to the event.
Ireland, Serbia, Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Croatia, Malta, Sweden, Moldova, Switzerland, Israel, the Netherlands, Finland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic will perform in the first semi-final on 9 May.
Armenia, Cyprus, Romania, Denmark, Belgium, Iceland, Greece, Estonia, Albania, Australia, Austria, Lithuania, San Marino, Slovenia, Georgia and Poland will go head-to-head in the second semi-final on 11 May.
The Eurovision Song Contest takes place at Liverpool Arena, also called M&S Bank Arena, on 13 May.