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Here’s what you don’t see at Eurovision (Picture: Emma Kelly/METRO/Getty)
Tonight, around 180 million people worldwide will tune in to watch 25 acts battle it out to be crowned Eurovision Song Contest champion in a spectacular show unlike anything else in the TV calendar.
Following the two semi-finals earlier in the week, the PalaOlimpico in Turin, Italy will play host to over 8,000 fans who will watch as finalists from all over Europe (and Australia) put on extravagant performances to win the votes of the juries and the public at home, and in just a few hours, it will all be over.
But while it all comes to an end for another year tonight, a whole, whole lot goes into getting this show to your living rooms every year, and not all of it is glam. Turin have been planning their Eurovision hosting duties for months, with thousands of crew putting in countless hours to ensure that everything is on point before going live to Europe.
metro.co.uk has been lucky enough to be in Turin the past few days and has got a sneak peek at what goes on behind the scenes in the lead up to the big night. While there are very, very strict rules around filming and photography – we don’t want to spoil the surprise, after all – we can let you in on a few mind-boggling facts and backstage secrets to pique your interest ahead of tonight’s show.
The Eurovision venue has been months, and millions, in the making
When Turin in Piedmont beat out other Italian cities to be named host city for 2022, they immediately set to work on planning where the hell they would put it. Turin was home to the 2006 Winter Olympics, and for this they built the PalaOlimpico, a hockey stadium with a capacity of 13,000 people.
However, Eurovision doesn’t just need a room to put on the show. There needs to be a press centre, a bubble for all the delegations, rooms for broadcasters and interviews, a gigantic salon for the contest partners Moroccanoil to style the delegates’ hair, catering centres, and even a Covid-19 testing centre.
So, the city of Turin took over PaloOlimpico in March, and since then, 2,300 employees have worked seven days a week to build the additional man-made structures needed to host Eurovision and the 40 delegations.
This doesn’t come cheap – the city of Turin has spent around £32 million in putting on the show this year.
The stage isn’t just a stage
Every year, the Eurovision stage changes, and Italy’s effort features a gigantic sun, based on the movements and light of a kinetic sun, which is framed by water. While it all looks very impressive from the front, the back is more like a scene from The Matrix.
That sun is made up of around 1,200 individual screens which are programmed individually to execute the concept.
And you think the back of your WFH computer set-up is bad? To get everything running, 4km of cable has been used on the stage alone.
Yes, 25 acts is a lot to get through, so things have to move pretty quickly on the night. If you’re watching from home, you will know that after each song, a “postcard” video plays, this year showing each act projected onto Turin landmarks. It’s only about 40 seconds long – and that’s how long the crew has to swap the previous staging with the next.
This is all fine if the act is standing with a microphone on a box – take Switzerland, for example. But when you have Finland and their gigantic balloons, or Australia stuck at the top of a flight of stairs in a ballgown, and things get more difficult…
Sam Ryder, the United Kingdom’s entrant, has this year’s biggest structure – a gigantic metal structure reminiscent of the Crystal Maze – and is followed by Poland, so that will be particularly frantic.
And what happens with the staging when they’re not on stage? Well, they’re quite unglamorously stored in one big room backstage, and it kind of takes the magic away seeing them out of context.
We’d like to say everything is natural, but Eurovision needs to make sure the audience look engaged. So if you see everyone waving their phones with torches on during a ballad… well, that’s because the monitors told us to.
Ever wondered why everyone gets their phones out t the same time? Wonder no more (Picture: Emma Kelly/METRO)
The United Kingdom has already won… kind of
With a show as massive as Eurovision with so many moving parts, you obviously have to rehearse quite a bit. Once it is known who will be in the grand final, two huge dress rehearsals are held on the day before the grand final, running through the whole show. And that means running through the votes as well.
Europe hasn’t voted yet, so the figures are just made up, but we got a sneak peek at the process yesterday, and in what could be a very exciting prediction or a huge jinx, the United Kingdom was proclaimed winner following the televote, with a combined result of 411 points, with Estonia coming second.
Romania came last, which could be rather prescient considering WRS has landed the dreaded second place in the running order (nobody has ever won from performing in this slot).
The juries have already cast their vote
Has Sam already done enough to win the jury vote? (Picture: AP)
You know the part of the night when we go all the way around Europe, talking to national celebrities about douze point? That’s the jury vote, not the public vote, and the actual voting has already happened.
The national juries of each country watched the dress rehearsal on Friday night, and cast their votes based on those performances. These votes make up 50% of the final result, and while topping the jury vote doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win (Maneskin only came third with the juries last year), it would leave you in first place before the televote and sets you up for a very good night.
And with Sam tipped to do well with the juries… well, it’s going to be a tense time.
The Eurovision Song Contest final airs tonight at 8pm on BBC One.