Eurovision may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but after a year we’ve had it might just offer a dose of much-needed escapism.
More than 10 million are expected to tune in tonight to see if the UK entry James Newman can persuade other countries to vote for the UK.
The singer is a prolific songwriter who has already provided a string of hits for other acts.
He hopes his song Embers will succeed where most British entries have failed in recent years, by at least making it on to the board with some points.
In normal times, tonight would be an excuse for many people to hold a Eurovision party with friends.
And many bars and clubs in the region have in recent years embraced the event as well with special events.
This time around it is likely that families will enjoy it quietly, but after taking a break last year, Eurovision has returned with renewed vigour for 2021.
Tim Mansell, from Shrewsbury, is the co-producer of a new jukebox musical, based on Eurovision.
Called Euro-phoria, it will hit British theatres in 2022.
He said there continues to be a huge demand for all things Eurovision because it is simply pure over-the-top fun. It also inspires nostalgia as people remember contests from their childhood.
He added: “Everybody loves Eurovision. It’s a chance for people to let their hair down, enjoy a night of pure escapism and celebrate the best of pop music.
“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, but it’s a bit of harmless fun and after the troubles of Brext, Covid-19 and the lockdown, it’s just what people need.
“I’m sure lots of people will be tuned into their TV sets tonight. We hope they’ll also be coming out to see our show next year.”
Tonight’s show has a sprinkle of stardom added to it with the unexpected arrival of US rap star Flo Rida. He will tonight perform for San Marino, joining singer Senhit in Rotterdam after they managed to win through Thursday’s semi-final.
Newman is nowhere near the favourites list for tonight but says he is “absolutely buzzing” to perform.
He said: “We’ve had such a rubbish time, I think Eurovision is such a celebration of music, which is just what we need.
“I have recently been watching past finals, and everyone is just having the best time, it’s just the kind of escapism people need right now.
“We wrote Embers in North London last year. I really wanted an upbeat song, as I felt like that was what I needed to do for this year.
“One of the sessions was with Conor Blake, Danny Shah, Tom Hollings and Samuel Brennan, who are all doing amazing things in the industry right now. Conor showed me this concept, and it essentially is about the spark being reignited, that glow in the fire that hasn’t gone out yet.
“It represents coming back together after the year we have had and people being reunited with loved ones, and just having fun together.
“It felt so right to me, and I loved the big brass drop.”
Newman said it feels “absolutely mad” to be representing the UK and added: “I am absolutely buzzing, it has been two years in the making, I’ve been building up to this huge stage performance and I can’t wait to perform in front of millions of people across the world.
“It has been a year of performing on my own in my kitchen.
“The whole reason I got into music from such a young age was because I love performing in front of people, so I am so excited to go and do that on such a massive stage.”
Graham Norton will return to Eurovision as commentator for his 12th contest on BBC One, while Ken Bruce will host the Eurovision coverage on BBC Radio 2.
TV star Amanda Holden will serve as the UK’s Eurovision spokeswoman, delivering the results of the UK professional jury vote.