It’s almost time for one of the most highly-anticipated nights in the European entertainment calendar: the Eurovision grand final. Some 26 acts will be performing their hearts out to be crowned Eurovision champion in Turin, Italy on Saturday night (May 14).
After earning ‘nil points’ last year, the UK is hoping to storm the competition with 2022’s entry Sam Ryder and his pop number SPACE MAN. Favorites Ukraine, last year’s winners Italy and 2021 runners-up France will also be eager to take the crown.
Fan favorite Graham Norton returns to present his 13th Eurovision Song Contest on BBC One on Saturday, while over on BBC Radio 2, Ken Bruce will continue his coverage, both live from Italy. Meanwhile, TV presenter AJ Odudu will be delivering the results of the UK professional jury vote live from Salford, for the first time ever.
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Hosting the semi-final heats – and the grand finale – at the PalaOlimpico this year is a trio of presenters; hitmaker Mika, singer Laura Pausini and TV star Alessandro Cattelan. Here is all you need to know about the people facing the contest this year.
Lebanese-British musician Mika, who speaks fluent Italian and owns a home in Florence, is a familiar face to us Brits. He topped the UK charts in 2007 with his hit Grace Kelly. The singer’s debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, sold more than 5.6 million copies worldwide, bagging him a Brit Award and a Grammy nomination.
He’s dropped four albums since – his most recent, titled My Name is Michael Holbrook, was released in 2019 – and last month the 38-year-old played the iconic Coachella festival in California. Mika has a huge following in Italy and initially moved to the country – and learned to speak the language – because he was offered a job as a judge on the X Factor there.
The Lollipop singer told The One Show: “I learned it in a couple of months, luckily my Italian is better now, the ironic thing about this whole thing is that I’m going to do Eurovision, the biggest TV show Italy has ever had to put on, and the whole thing is in English.”
Mika also fronted his own TV variety show, Stasera Casa Mika, which won the 2017 Rose d’Or Award for Entertainment. After Eurovision, the pop star, who revealed he always watched Eurovision with his family growing up, will be touring across North America before continuing to gig across Europe.
Laura Pausini and Alessandro Cattelan
Laura Pausini has been dubbed one of the most respected Italian recording artists in the world. The 47-year-old has released 14 studio albums and has an impressive collection of accolades to her name from her. The singer, who also speaks Spanish, has won four Latin Grammys, a Grammy Award and a Golden Globe.
She also received a historic Oscars nod, for the first ever song sung entirely in Italian to be nominated, before performing her track Io sì (Seen) at the 93rd Academy Awards. Laura is no stranger to the world of TV either; she’s appeared as a coach on The Voice Mexico and as a judge on the Spanish version of the X Factor.
Alessandro Cattelan, meanwhile, has forged a successful career presenting TV and radio, spanning 20 years. The 42-year-old made a name for himself on MTV Italia, hosting Total Request Live in the early 2000s. He also presented satirical news program Le Iene on channel Italia 1.
For nine years, he fronted the Italian version of the X Factor and this year he launched a new show, Alessandro Cattelan: Una Semplice Question, where he ‘searches for happiness’ via interviews and unique experiences with celebrity guests.
Watch the Eurovision grand final live on Saturday 14 May on BBC One from 8pm.