Ted Lasso actress Hannah Waddingham will host the Eurovision Song Contest this year, alongside TV star Alesha Dixon, and Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina, it has been announced.
The international music competition will take place at the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool in May.
It beat out Glasgow’s 14,300-capacity OVO Hydro for the job, after the UK was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
This year’s edition is expected to attract a global audience of 160 million, with the presenting trio hosting the two semi-finals on May 9 and 11.
Graham Norton will join them for the grand finale on May 13, joined by actress and comedian Mel Giedroyc in the commentary box.
Broadcaster Zoe Ball announced the news on her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show on Wednesday.
She said: “On the TV hosting the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool will be Alesha Dixon, the Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina, award-winning actress from Ted Lasso and Games Of Thrones Hannah Waddingham and someone you may well know, Mr Graham Norton.”
“While Graham is on the TV because he’ll be doing the presenting, he will have a little bit of help from the commentary box – Mel Giedroyc will be there as well, on hand to be his glamorous assistant.
“Alesha, Julia and Hannah will also be presenting the semi-finals.”
Golden Globe nominee Hannah Waddingham said: “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.
“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. It is my great privilege to join Eurovision this year of all years.”
The 52-year-old British actress won an Emmy Award for her role in Ted Lasso earlier this year, and has been nominated for three Olivier Awards.
“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,” Dixon said.
She added: “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.”
She rose to fame in the early 2000s as a member of the girl group Mis-Teeq, before pursuing a solo career with hits including The Boy Does Nothing.
The 44-year-old lifted the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing glitterball in 2007 with professional partner Matthew Cutler before returning to the competition as a judge on the panel for three series until 2011.
She then joined the judging panel on Britain’s Got Talent in 2012 and has become a beloved face on TV.
Sanina, who fronts Ukrainian alternative rock band The Hardkiss, completes the all-woman line-up.
Last year, the singer was chosen by the public to sit on the professional jury to select Ukraine’s 2023 Eurovision entry alongside 2016 Eurovision winner Jamala and Taras Topolia from the band Antytila.
The 32-year-old previously highlighted the importance of Liverpool hosting on behalf of war-torn Ukraine, saying the combination of the cultures coming together “is going to be something unbelievable”.
BBC Eurovision director Martin Green previously said Ukraine’s participation in the song contest can be imagined as a “really rich ribbon running through” the event.
Kate Phillips, BBC’s Director of Unscripted, said “The BBC is thrilled to have such a talented line-up bringing the Eurovision Song Contest from Liverpool – on behalf of Ukraine – to the world.
“One thing that truly unites us all is music, and we’re proud to have a team – who are well accustomed to the worlds of music, performing and live broadcasting – as part of our Eurovision presenting family.
“It will be a remarkable moment for the BBC to deliver two huge pinnacles in this year’s broadcasting calendar, the King’s Coronation and Eurovision, within the same week.”
A total of 37 countries are set to take part in Eurovision this year, with Ukraine automatically qualifying as 2022 winners as well as the so-called “big five” – the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event.
The 15 countries who will be performing in the first semi-final on May 9 include Ireland, Serbia, Latvia, Norway, Portugal, Croatia, Malta, Sweden, Moldova, Switzerland, Israel, the Netherlands, Finland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, semi-final two on May 11 will see Armenia, Cyprus, Romania, Denmark, Belgium, Iceland, Greece, Estonia, Albania, Australia, Austria, Lithuania, San Marino, Slovenia, Georgia and Poland go head-to-head.
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