Ahead of this years Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, the BBC have spoken with Ken Bruce, who has been providing commentary for the United Kingdom on BBC Radio 2 since 1988.
How does it feel being able to go ahead with a live contest for Eurovision 2021?
“After the disappointment of it not happening last year, it’s slightly unbelievable that we will have a show this year, even though it’ll be subtly different. I’ll miss the huge atmosphere that the contest brings to every city it visits and, of course, the excitement of actually being in the venue, but I’m sure they’ll create quite a buzz in Rotterdam even with a much reduced audience in the hall.”
Did you miss it last year?
“I really did miss it. After all, I’ve been going to the Eurovision Song Contest for over 30 years. It had to be postponed of course and I half suspected they might have to again this year, but happily all looks good for 2021.”
Eurovision feels like the perfect tonic after the year we have had, why do you think that is?
“It’s almost the perfect form of escapism where everyone can forget about the problems of everyday life at the moment and laugh, sing and perhaps even cry a little – when the results come in.”
What do you think about the UK entry this year?
“James Newman is a very strong contestant. He has a great track record as a songwriter so knows what appeals to the record-buying public, he’s an equally good singer and I honestly think the song is one of the strongest we’ve put in for some time. It’s easily made it onto the Radio 2 playlist. Whether all this translates into votes on the night is anyone’s guess, though.”
You’ve been a part of Eurovision since 1988, what do you love about being a part of the Eurovision family?
“The fact that it does feel like a family. Every year, we turn up in some outpost of the continent, but you meet the same people. The artists change from year to year, but the international commentators, engineers and production teams tend to keep coming back so it can turn into a vast international reunion!”
If you weren’t hosting the show, how would you be celebrating Eurovision?
“I would definitely be watching and enjoying Graham’s commentary as I never get the chance to hear it. I would probably start drinking right from Song 1 though – which I would never do on radio…. tempting though it sometimes is….”
What is your favourite Eurovision song of all time?
“I’m fond of Volare, Go (Before You break My heart) by Gigliola Cinquetti and Måns Zelmerlöw, Heroes, but my all-time favourite is Johnny Logan’s What’s Another Year. Sadly we recently heard the news that its composer, Shay Healy, had died. It’s just a wonderful song.”
You can catch Ken Bruce live on BBC Radio 2 on Saturday 22nd May at 20:00 GMT for the Eurovision 2021 final.