Weaver's Week 2013-05-19

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We said the off-season was over. Only Connect and the awards reports are slotted in around lots of coverage of:


Eurovision Song Contest 2013

Semi-final 1, 14 May

It's a cold and wet Tuesday night here at Eurovision Towers. So cold and wet that we reckon The Devil has got a cheeky tenner on Finland for the wonning. While SR give a brief video montage of tonight's competitors, RTE Radio 1 has time for a cheeky news bulletin and weather forecast. Wet and windy, #dowrapup. Shay Byrne and Zbyszek Zalinski are on air in time for the opening performance, Loreen's "Euphoria", performed by a children's choir in voice and sign language, before presenter Petra Mede rises from the middle of the stage. That's how to make an entrance!

Eurovision Song Contest Lights on!

The children were on a bridge above the crowd, and it looks like there are little lanterns all over the ceiling, like little fireflies. The main stage is in some sort of ice crystal design, pillars to the left and right. It makes a change from the video walls. The motif this year is a butterfly, a very welcome change from the hearts we've had for the past years.

Natália Kelly's "Shine" kicks off for Austria. (Yes, we know that it's the broadcaster entering, not the nation, but saying it's ÖRF's entry would be gratuitously confusing.) Some lovely Chinese lanterns, a decent upbeat song and some very silver jeans. With only six to fall, this has to be in contention.

Eurovision Song Contest SPOILER: Austria's no longer in contention.

Birgit Öigemeel performs "Et uus saaks alguse". She's a winner of Pop Idle Estonia, she's played Maria in The Sound of Music, and the camera loves her so much that all the colour has drained from the picture. All? No! One resolute band of pink remains in the corner of the screen. Birgit begins her performance on a satellite stage halfway in the crowd, before walking back down the catwalk to the main stage. She's wearing an off-the-shoulder white dress, and this is Eurolovely, a combination of fragile and uplifting.

"Straight into love" is the song from Hannah for Slovenia. "The next song contains flashing lighting and strobe effects", warns the BBC captions. Not a problem on the wireless, where we're listening on the monophonic long wave. Still sounds better than DAB. Hannah's backing dancers have come straight from their welding job, wearing face masks into the first chorus; she's in some sort of leather platemail job. A bit electro, a bit rock, a bit that we've heard it all in the first minute and not even the gymnastics of the metalworkers can save it.

Eurovision Song Contest Face masks on for Slovenia!

"One of the weirder entries of the year", warns Zbyszek about Croatia. It's from the klapa tradition of Dalmatia, and our hosts in Donnybrook don't rate its chances, much as they like it. "Mizerja" is performed by Klapa s Mora, siz men who dress in frock coats and sing in harmonies. It is absolutely beautiful, it could have been entered at any time in the past half-century; this may be a positive or a negative. "A swarthy version of Il Divo", reckons Shay.

Favourite o'clock! Denmark has sent Emmelie de Forest performing "Only teardrops", there's another Wrong Sort of Shiny Warning. Denmark's cultural neighbours in Ireland will note the flute playing and the tribal drumming; everyone will note how the DR budget did run to a full backing band, but didn't run to any footwear, nor to a replacement dress after the one got ripped in transit. Absolutely assured performance, though is it tempting fate to have a confetti fall and pyros on the stage now? And not, say, at 11.10 on Saturday?

Eurovision Song Contest Croatia win the Eurovision Smart Dress contest.

Time for a commercial break; go visit the Isle of Man, go watch the all-Ireland football or hurling live. (We'll vouch for that, having gone along to see Warwickshire lose at hurling, and they couldn't even manage that lossing properly.) Or see a comedy skit involving BBC3 hosts Scott Mills and Ana Matronic.

From Russia with love. Dina Garipova performs "What if"; she's the winner of RTV The Voice of Holland of Russia, and attended the Golden Microphone stage school. As one does. The set is dressed with some ball lights, and a few bits of confetti falling from the last performance, and some backing singers come on during the second verse. It's a perfectly nice song, but very Eurovision-by-the-numbers: worthy, overtly internationalist, key changes, and asking the audience to break glowsticks for the final chorus. Seen all of these before, and it's not 1992 any more.

Eurovision Song Contest Higher! Better! Faster! Stronger! Ukraine!

"Gravity" from Zlata Ognevich represents Ukraine. Shay has to explain the visual joke at the start: Zlata is carried on stage by a giant, the Ukraine's equivalent of Richard Osman. It's the (literal) high point of an anodyne number; the Céline Dion lookalike is performing a number that wouldn't be out of place in the latter's Vegas shows. Not so much defying gravity as submitting to it.

Zbyszek is a fan of Anouk, performing "Birds" for the Netherlands. Shay reckons it's "a little bit Lana Del Ray". She's performing on the satellite stage, a simple performance of a complex song, one that might well sound better on Saturday. We've watched it back, and we're not sure if we love it or completely don't get it.

Eurovision Song Contest Way to go, droid? Straight home, captain.

Montenegro presents Igranka performing "Who see", and carrying an official BBC Wrong Sort of Shiny warning. Hang on, our long wave transmission seems to be having some problems, all we're getting is static and noise. The duo are dressed as astronauts in spacesuits, their backing singer is Android from best-forgotten ITV show Scavengers, and the camerawork uses slow-motion and dissolve-fades, both unusual at the contest. {hits radio} Well, that's solved the problem. Shame we've missed the song.

More Wrong Sort of Shiny for Lithuania, "Something" is performed by Andrius Pojavis, who (apparently) discovered his songwriting abilities while living in Ireland for a year. The song begins, we get board instantly, and spend three minutes checking other reaction. The Netherlands sounded like Radiohead says someone, and according to someone else could be the new Alison Moyet. But we're not over the original yet!

Eurovision Song Contest Belarus send their large ball.

Belarus send Alyona Lanskaya and "Solayoh", which opens with pyro on stage and the singer emerging from a giant disco ball. Borrowing the mutilated cha-cha beat and flaming torches from "Wild dances", just without the conviction. And we note that some jokers in the crowd have brought along their Turkish flags. D'ya think we should tell them Turkey have pulled out?

Next is Aliona Moon, singing "O mie" for Moldova. Apparently, she was a backing singer last year; this year, she's stuck to the middle of the stage wearing a red dress while some fit lads dance behind her. About halfway through, she starts going up! Up! Remember that lift the host used? It's here. And her skirt appeared to burst into flames. Shame the song was so missable.

Eurovision Song Contest Moldova: on the rise.

RTÉ home entry next, "Only love survives" is performed by Ryan Dolan, and carries a Shiny Warning. It's introduced by a couple of bodhran-playing chaps whose shirts were confiscated by the Troika and whose trousers were subject to the Croke Park Agreement's enforced reductions. Though it's not a video wall, the backdrop is capable of taking some Celtic imagery. Clearly going for the expat vote and the "lumme, he's nice" vote to make the final, clearly not going for the win.

After the break, more bailoutery, but first Shay and Zbyszek need to advertise car breakdowns, and Matronic needs to talk to Loreen. And we don't get to see the little vignette about why Australia loves Eurovision.

Cyprus are still in, "An me thimáse" is performed by Despina Olympiou. Shay reckons she wins the Céline Dion Lookalike side contest, Zbyszek says this is a very boring song, we reckon that they must have set the costume budget in the week before Easter when all the banks were closed. Might well have won in 1993, but not even the BBC believes it's 1993. Not yet.

Eurovision Song Contest Cyprus entered.

Belgium! Not just a description of the last performance, but the next one: Roberto Bellarosa sings "Love kills". He's a winner of The Voice of Holland of Walloonia, and endures a camera floating around his head like it's an annoying fly. We can see his autocue being projected onto the back wall. More Wrong Sort of Shinies, and an earworm of a chorus.

Three winners of The Voice of Holland of Somewhere so far, and we finish with three winners of the completely and utterly unrelated Number One Voice of Serbia. Moje 3 sing ""Ljubav je svuda", a modern-day morality tale with an angel and a devil tempting a human cupcake, all set to a disco beat, and sung in Serbian. They'll be using this on the "Eurovision Is Bonkers" clip shows for years to come. Unless it wins on Saturday.

Eurovision Song Contest Serbia's equivalent to The Sugababes 2.5.

Viewers in Ireland, place your vote by calling 1513 7172 xx, or SMS xx to 53535, or use the official Eurovision voting app. Viewers in the UK, place your vote by calling 09015 2252 xx (landlines) or 62252 xx (mobiles), replacing xx with the number of your song. Don't bother trying to vote via SMS or on the official Eurovision voting app. Calls cost 15p (UK), 60 cent (Ireland); SMS and app voting costs 25 cent (Ireland). The active voting window opened at 21.20 last Tuesday night for 15 minutes, and you'll need to build your own time machine.

While the viewers of Europe hear and see Petra in the green room, viewers of the BBC are subjected to Graham Norton re-writing history with his claims that "there was no expectation of victory in 1997." Hogwash; even this cynic reckoned the BBC would be there or thereabouts. Instead, we get footage of Bonnie Tyler, captioned "Holding out for a Eurovision hero". We appreciate the BBC having some confidence in their chosen representative. We don't share it. We'd rather see Sarah Dawn Finer's silly history of the contest, from "Volare" to "Euphoria".

Eurovision Song Contest One of the Scissor Sisters and Bonnie Tyler.

Rather than the BBC's retained expert saying "there's lots of political voting", we'd really rather see the interval act, a dance presentation based on the Northern Lights.

Comedian Sarah Dawn Finer, in character as Lynda Woodruff, is the "official EBU spokesperson", seen here staying in an ice hotel. It's Sweden's three minutes to sell themselves to the rest of the civilised world. Though she could just have come to the UKGS Eurovision desk tonight. Clips from the six entries going straight to the final, and we have a result, revealed with slightly less than the usual maximum of fuss. Going through: Moldova's dress, Lithuania's icecreams, Ireland's expats, Estonia's lovely, Belarus's nonsense, Denmark's pyros, Russia's loveliness, Belgium's voice, Ukraine's gimmick, and finally the Dutch birds.

Eurovision Song Contest Licking the wall of an ice hotel. Don't try this at home. Unless you live in an ice hotel.

See that hole in the middle of Europe? That's Former Yugoslavia, that is. Goodbye Slovenia, leather trousers won't save you. Farewell Montenegro, the Scavengers revival ends here. Bad luck Croatia, it was different and daring and could have won in 1978. And no Serbia, then? Missing out from last performance in the semi-final? That's rubbish. Also missing out: Austria, which was a bit bland; and Cyprus, for which we'd like to make a snark on laundering Russian points, but just don't have the interest.

Estonia has done well to qualify from second performance: that's usually a terrible memory hole. Another first-half draw might not help, but this seems a dark(-and-white) horse.

Only Connect

Series 7, heat 1: Corpuscles v Cat Lovers

Readers who want to play the walls, they're 278 and 279 on the Only Connect website. Alumni of Corpus Christi college in Oxford are on the left; one of the opposition provided a voice-over for Shakespeare in Love.

Now, there's a new series format for this run. It's the University Challenge Group Phase, reducing eight teams to four over a series of ten games. Victoria provided a helpful diagram.

Only Connect (2) We'll have another simple diagram next week.

At the game, the Corpuscles are put into bat, and zig with 5000 when the answer's 10,000. Close, but no cigar. The audio round features Monsoon, Lush, All Saints, and Oasis. They're not all Britpop: All Saints were British pop. Nor did they intermarry, or if anyone from Monsoon married Miki from Lush we're a) unaware and b) dead jealous. 1-0 to the Corpuscles.

St Geoffrey's Day, in the reign of Queen Dick, and the Corpuscles are musing that they might not have taken that fourth clue, because they never happen. Pictures for the Cat Lovers: a position in American Football, a type of lamp, and the team think they're going to gamble with "safety". They're right, and a well-deserved three points, and a 4-1 lead.

The Green Knight, Electric toothbrush, Kryten, Worzel Gummidge. And don't lose your head. "Are they all played by the same actor?" "And which actor plays an electric toothbrush?" The Cat Lovers have this for another bonus. Harry Bailey and Mistress Quickly and the Thénardiers are literary innkeepers, which gives one more point. The Cat Lovers have the first set, 6-1.

Sequences opens with some pictures: green rosette carrying 4, yellow 3, and it's not blue 1, but red 1. This isn't party politics, nay and nay, it's horse rosettes. Could, conceivably, be count of councillors, or MPs in England, but do remember that Only Connect comes from Wales. The Cat Lovers beef up their score before getting stumped by some numbers. If 17 is 3 and 2, 18 is 1 and 4, and 19 is 7 and 3, then 20 is going to have to be 5 and 1. It's the arrangement on a dartboard, and a panel-beater. 7-1 to the Cat Lovers.

More pictures for the Corpuscles: some spectacles, what we think is the appendix, and they're straight in with "Watch". They reckon it's things they check before leaving the house: the high church Mrs. Coren Mitchell knows it's the sign of the cross. Three points. They get the musical notation question, after the Cat Lovers reckon the key signature goes before the time signature. Pulled back to 7-5.

Varieties of atomic radiation are next for the Corpuscles, and they can detect and define alpha radiation for three points and the lead. Orville and Abraham and Homer has the team thinking of fathers of flight, but it's slightly more prosaic. Generations of The Simpsons: more friends of radiation. The Cat Lovers have it 9-8.

Which brings us to the Connecting Walls, and the Cat Lovers start by looking for detectives, but can't get a group out of their five. They do eventually bring out a set of characters from Toy Story. The team isn't taking the hints: Live-in and Guerilla, and Buzz wasn't a toy. Time expires with just the one group found. The remaining groups: forms of marketing, photo agencies, and those detectives. The middle group evades them. Four points!

Insert the new wall for the Corpuscles. They think about treaties, but first find some deputy prime ministers. After bringing out some gardens, they have a set of things to pass (including UC's Pass the Baton round), and almost two minutes for names prefixed by "van". The team confused "deputy prime ministers" with "party leaders" – RAB Butler never led the Tories – and the last group is women who won the Nobel Literature prize. Six points!

A 14-13 lead for the Corpuscles going into the final round, Missing Vowels. It's Sausage O'Clock, and that goes to the Cat Lovers 3-1. Films with colours in their title has a sharp adjudication – one of the Corpuscles says "Clockwork Orange", omitting the initial "A", so they lose this section 3-0. Countries that have gained independence since 1990 goes to the Corpuscles by 2-(-1), but the time has expired. The Cat Lovers win it, 18-17. They take the role of team A, the Corpuscles are team N, undone by a single missing vowel.

Eurovision Song Contest 2013

Semi-final 2, 16 May

The opening act is people dancing as though they're members of an orchestra, and then turning into a demonstration of BMX, longboarding, and parcour prowess. No pyros on the stage. Petra is wearing a strange dress. Seriously, it's bonkers. Seventeen songs tonight, and BBC3 host Ana Matronic points out that the UK will not be voting this evening. That's except for voters in Weymouth, who have a district council by-election.

Eurovision Song Contest Latvia couldn't get Ice Cube.

Latvia kick off, the duo PeR perform "Here we go". Ana reckoned they were trying to be the new Jedward, but their rap about "European peeps" and invitations to "make some noise" and slo-mo walk to the satellite stage remind us only of the Jed's uncool friend Vanilla Ice. Even the gratuitous stage dive? Trying far too hard.

That should have had a content warning; there's a Wrong Sort of Shiny warning for San Marino. Valentina Monetta has been told to stay out until she qualifies, after messing up last year. This time, it's "Crisalide", which quickly reveals itself to be a power ballad with dancers stretching their legs and a light ball, and then turns into a disco number via the most obvious cut-and-shut job since Honest Ron's Motors got shut down.

Eurovision Song Contest San Marino, still not allowed in.

"Pred da se razdeni" is performed by Esma and Lozano, representing Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of). It's a twentysomething bloke singing calmly, and an older woman in red putting in an ethnic number. Given the draw – very little Balkan vote – this will struggle.

Last year's hosts, Azerbaijan, have sent Farid Mammadov singing "Hold me". He's come with one prop, a perspex rectangular cuboid, in which there's a man dressed in black. For the first verse, he attempts to be Farid's shadow beneath him, and then the mirror image down a side. Remarkable staging of a modest Euroballad.

Eurovision Song Contest We still have no idea about Macedonia.

Finland is represented by Krista Siegfrids performing "Marry me". She's in a long white dress, the gentleman backing dancers are in suits, the lady singers in Finnish costumes. That's until the final chorus, where there's a costume transformation. It's an upbeat uptempo number, with lots of ding-dongs. And it's going to divide the euro-viewer: this will either go down brilliantly or go down like a lead balloon.

During the commercial break, something happens on stage, and Matronic talks to the Lithuanian entry and his eyebrows. He hopes to finish third, which is only about twenty places out. Scott muses why Finland is doing the walk of shame in their lyric. Good point.

Back on stage, Malta has sent Gianluca Bezzina, a song called "Tomorrow", and a lyric video that confirms the antagonist of the song is a risk assessment guy. Absolutely charming, likely to meet with enough jury approval to get absolutely nowhere on Saturday.

Eurovision Song Contest Didn't Bulgaria do this banging act some years ago?

Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov represent Bulgaria with an entry called "Samo shampioni (Only champions)". It's very ethnic: a pretty brunette woman in red and white bangs the drums before stepping forward to sing, another bloke bangs drums, there's someone else playing the bagpipes, and three ladies in national dress add vocals. They're quite clearly throwing the Eurosink at this, it would be a wonderful interval act.

Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson represents Iceland, with "Ég á lif". He's been in the Icelandic version of Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar, still looks that part, and performs a relaxing piano ballad about how good it is to be alive. {sits back and relaxes} Without that key change at the end, it would be a fabulous Christmas song; as it is, that could do very well. Or not.

"The first group ever representing Greece" claims Matronic. What about the light-suit "SAGAPO" people from a decade or so back, weren't they a group? Koza Mosta and Agathon Lakovidis perform "Alcohol is free". This year, the Greeks are wearing t-shirt and shorts, and performing a very fast-moving song in the national tradition, augmented by a brass section and light-up guitars. It'll do decently, might even pick up 12 in the final from somewhere.

Eurovision Song Contest Israel also entered.

In the seeding for the semi-finals, Israel called dibs on Thursday, for religious reasons. Moran Mazor is their entry this year, "Rak Bishvilo" the song, and Wrong Sort of Shiny the warning. It's a woman in a long dress, singing an intense ballad. Apparently, she's called "the librarian" because she wears glasses; this tells us a lot about the low esteem in which librarians are held by cultural vandals.

Armenia are represented by "Lonely planet", performed by Dorians, and with music written by Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath. This explains why it sounds like mid-80s soft rock, and looks like mid-80s soft rock, with the singer looking like another winner of Superstar, and with small fireworks going on around the stage. Our cup of tea, probably not liked by many other people.

Eurovision Song Contest Hungary win the Eurovision Woolly Hat contest.

For Hungary, it's ByeAlex with a ditty called "Kedvesem". Remember how the lyric video came to the Eurovision stage about twenty minutes ago? This is the lyric video with translations. Ceefax 888 may be gone, but its trans-linguistic powers live on! The song itself is sweet, with a softly-whistled motif. A trifle repetitive, but it doesn't really lose from that. The performer is a bloke in a leather jacket and wearing a knitted hat. Hipsters across Europe will love this.

Favourite o'clock! Norway have sent Margaret Berger singing "I feed you my love", with a Shiny Warning right from the start. It's downbeat techno music, very contemporary; if it came in without the Eurovision baggage, it would get on daytime Radio 1.

Rather than burble during the commercial break, we get to see Petra talk with Lys Assia, the winner from 1956 and someone who seems to have been on more broadcasts than Terry Wogan.

Eurovision Song Contest Cor! Pyro's on stage.

More Wrong Sort of Shiny warnings for Albania, Adrian Lulgjuraj and Bledar Sejko perform "Identitet". One of them is an aging rocker who growls through the opening verse, the other is young enough to have a strong voice. There's not much rock at Eurovision, and this is a decent enough song performed decently enough by decent enough performers. Pyros on the guitar might be enough to clinch it.

Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani perform "Waterfall" for Georgia. It's Thomas G:Son o'clock, he wrote some song called "Euphoria" last year. Man and woman in a sea of dry ice, singing an epic ballad about how their love is a bit like a waterfall and they're in a moment of bliss. Going through, obviously; appearing in the tearjerker of some Hollywood blockbuster, certainly. Winner? Perhaps a bit too confident for its own good: Azerbaijan '11 had a certain fragility, a certain doubt, and this is too self-assured.

Eurovision Song Contest Six in a line, let's start the clock.

Shiny warning for Switzerland, "You and me" is performed by Takasa. A Swiss mod band, white shirts and sharp black ties for the gents, and playing fast punk music. Except it's not, it's mid-Atlantic poodle rock from about 1989. The band includes the oldest contestant in Eurovision Song Contest history, even older than Englebert Hopeless and the Russian grannies from last year. He was a young man when this song began.

And finally! Romania gets Cezar with a tune called "It's my life". The song is light opera, the bloke is dressed as Dracula, the stage wrapping contains some dancers (not a surprise) and the house lights appear to bounce up and down. As, indeed, does the performer thanks to the on-stage lift. They're getting their money's worth out of that gimmick! Doesn't quite need a formal shiny warning, we'll give it an informal one.

Blah blah UK viewers can't vote blah blah active voting window from 21.22 to 21.37. Blah blah green room silliness replaced by Ryan Dolan from RTÉ. Scott and Matronic talking about Swedish music – Avicii and Robyn and the songwriters, an interview with (er) one of Westlife. Julia Zemiero (the new Australian commentator) and Paul Jordan (the BBC's retained friendly expert) give their thoughts on the gimmicks: pyros, bare feet, and the handshots.

Eurovision Song Contest Instead of the interval act, here's the outside of the arena.

"Sweden has produced a whole range of international recording artistes. Some of them will now perform." That's except for viewers in the UK, who are force-fed a diet of Matronic and Mills meeting the performers, and the stars, and the BBC entry. Why oh why oh why can't we have the interval act, especially when it's Darin and Agnes.

Progressing to the final are Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Finland, Malta, and Greece.

So, you see that hole where Yugoslavia used to be? It's gone. For the first time since 1985, there's no Yugoslav representation in the final. The Balkans in general have gone – Albania is out, Bulgaria's finished, we lose Israel. Latvia, Switzerland, San Marino also fail to qualify, which is less of a surprise.


Elsewhere, blogger Travis Penery discusses what's wrong with Who Wants to be a Millionaire. This column's thought: Millionaire is no longer event television. We don't tune in expecting anyone to win a quarter-million, or even to get within sniffing distance. With the clock forcing the pace, Millionaire doesn't work to bring out the contestant's character; and there are only so many times we can bear Chris Tarrant repeating the same old lines.

It's been Awards Season. The BAFTA Television Awards were dished out last Sunday night. The Great British Bake Off won Best Feature, but managed to lose the Radio Times Audience award to "Game of Thrones", which no-one has ever actually seen on broadcast television. Mr. Alan Sugar couldn't believe that his Young The Apprentice had been beaten in Best Constructed Reality series by Made in Chelsea. We're not: at least the Chelsea show has some tenuous connection to the real world. In better news, there was a Special Award given to Clare Balding, surely for her sterling work on Britain's Brightest.

The Radio Awards were handed out on Monday. The best competition was "Fan Reporter" on Talk Radio, ahead of "Two Strangers Risk It for a Biscuit" on Real Radio Scotland, and "500 Words" on Radio 2. Kate Lawler was beaten by Danny Baker and Greg James for best entertainment programme. John Humphrys won the journalism prize for his insistent questioning – not of contenders in the Mastermind seat, but of entwhistle BBC director-general George Erstwhile. A special lifetime achievement award went to Richard Park. It's for his work in radio, so doesn't include his experience on Fame Academy, where he was turned into a talking dog in the first live show and never changed back.

Channel 5 has announced details of its new Big Brother series. Emma Willis will remain with Bit on the Side, with co-hosts Rylan Clark (from The X Factor) and AJ Odudu (from The 5.19 Show, where she was very good). There will be a psychology show on Saturday evenings, and the Sunday Bit on the Side will transmit at lunchtime. And there will be live streaming on 5*, albeit only for two hours in the early evening.

BARB ratings in the week to 5 May make Britain's Got Talent the top show, with 9.6m viewers; BBC The Voice had 9.25m. The Masterchef final was seen by 6.55m, with 5.05m seeing HIGNFY, and 4.3m for Celebrity Mr and Mrs. Elsewhere, the University Challenge final pulled in 2.95m viewers, with 1.95m of them sticking around to go "whaaa?" at Only Connect. It means the Coren — Guttenplan double-act is more popular than Stephen Fry (QI, 1.75m), and more popular than Keith Lemon (Celebrity Juice on ITV2, 1.675m). Come Dine Saturday brought 1.05m to Channel 4, a similar figure to Britain's Got More Talent on ITV2, and 400,000 saw QI on Dave.

Next week sees the return of Just a Minute (Radio 4, 6.30 Monday), an updated version of Most Shocking Talent Show Moments (C5, 9pm Thursday), and Countdown moves to 3.15 (C4 weekdays). Next Saturday has two of the most competitive events possible: more Battle Rounds in BBC The Voice of Holland of UK (BBC1, 7.10), while the Best Garden is announced at the Chelsea Flower Show (BBC2, 7pm). Oh, and seeing as how this edition of the Week is published on Saturday, there's a Eurovision final tonight.

Eurovision Song Contest

Awkward turtle time. We seem to agree with Fraser Nelson, the editor of "The Spectator" weekly magazine {2}. This is most unusual. We agree with Mr. Nelson that the BBC entry will bomb, that the BBC does not understand a song contest, and that the Eurovision Song Contest is a positive force for a better Europe. Look at Azerbaijan last year, really making an effort to stage an outstanding week and stick in people's memory.

We disagree with Mr. Nelson's conclusion that this is the fault of the BBC as an institution: we believe the problem lies with the individual production staff who still treat the contest as "light entertainment", a term that died out before Bonnie Tyler's career started. The rest of the country takes it seriously, more seriously that do the producers. The BBC performance will be better than Jemini, and far worse than British music is capable of producing. That's why we'll not be watching tonight's programme live, we'll be watching some British music live, at a sound house in Leicester.

Turning to the voting. Not entering the Eurovision Song Contest at all this year are Slovakia, Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey. This was bad news for the former Yugoslav republics who lost Bosnia-Herzegovina, bad news for Estonia as Slovakia loved them. Bad news for Spain and Moldova, who got lots from Portugal. Particularly bad news for Azerbaijan and Albania, getting lots from both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey. It's good news for people hoping to score from the Swiss, as expat votes usually gave points to all of the above, and to former Yugoslavia.

There's a slight change to the voting procedure, in that all available data get used: both jurors and televoters rank entries from 1 to 26 (or however many), their rankings are combined, and points allocated to the top ten. The net effect is to slightly dilute the power of the televote further: the hypothetical song that gets a massive expat vote but no jury votes would lose a few positions, and perhaps drop from 6 points to 3. The difference between 12th and 22th is now as important as the difference between 12th and 2nd.

The running order has been confirmed as follows:

01 France, Lithuania, Moldova, Finland, Spain
06 Belgium, Estonia, Belarus, Malta, Russia
11 Germany, Armenia, Netherlands, Romania, UK
16 Sweden, Hungary, Denmark, Iceland, Azerbaijan
21 Greece, Ukraine, Italy, Norway, Georgia, Ireland

Lots of the showy numbers early on, most of the favourites clustering towards the end. We reckon that the winner will appear after Bonnie Tyler.

After last night's rehearsal, the voting order was released. It begins with San Marino, Sweden, and Albania, with Scott Mills sixth for the UK. There's a run of Balkan-friendly countries immediately after him, and a corresponding run of Old Eurovision nations starting with Belgium. Germany, Denmark and Georgia vote in positions 26, 31 and 34. This suggests Scandinavia versus Georgia for the wonning. Find out how wrong our prediction is within twelve hours!

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