Played in by bagpipes are the hosts...As last year, our hosts are Graham Norton and Claudia Winkleman.
All of the dancing pairs are now introduced, also to the bagpipes. The countries taking part in this year's contest are Sweden, Austria, Denamrk, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Poland, and the Ukraine.
The pair consists of a professional dancer and somebody who is some sort of 'celebrity' in their home country. For the UK is Louisa Lytton. If you watch British TV, you might know her from "The Bill", but wasn't she also in "EastEnders"?
There are also four judges whose markings provide a portion of the overall vote. It is ironic to see that after all the democracy of televoting, problems with neighbourly voting has resulted in judges making a comeback. There was already a part jury vote in the ESC 2008 semi-final, and the unconfirmed rumour I've heard is the ESC2009 will be 50% televote and 50% jury vote... but I stress this is just the rumour mill at work, no official announcement has been made as yet.
The four judges are from countries not taking part: France, Germany, Slovenia, and with a guarantee of impartiality, the girl on the left is from Singapore!Together, these judges - voting in the traditional Eurovision sense (...8,10,12) will award marks which count for a quarter of the result of the performance; with the remaining 75% of their score arriving from the televoting.
In a change to the previous time, the contestants will apparently dance for longer, but the first part of their dance should be a traditional style (you know, some flirty ballroom nonsense) and the second part should be something related to their country of origin. I think some overlap is permitted. Unfortunately even before we get started we have one of the commentators (Len Goodman) being shushed mid-whinge. I do always hold out hope for an interactive version where the commentary is simply omitted.
The commentators are the ever-grumpy Len Goodman (again) and Craig Revel Horwood.
It's the half-way point.
We pause for a brief spell in the green room, you know, that room that is rarely green... Love the expressions on these two!
The picture above is not terribly good. So I will remind you again that not only is this review written live as the contest progresses (well, in a rough form, and fleshed out immediately afterwards), but the pictures are captured live as well, there is no Sky+ or Tivo style backing up and getting a better shot. That, above, is the one I got for the Russian performance. Of course, if you have a better picture of any of tonight's performers (no smaller than 609×342 JPEG) then send them to me and I may include some of them!
The results of the judge's scores are:
No ties are allowed, so the Singapore judge has the deciding vote. She brings it to:And, well, placing the host country last of the available options, not a popular move.
And who I didn't like? Sadly: Ireland (clumsy melange of incompatible styles), Netherlands (he didn't do a lot of dancing), Ukraine (annoying fake smiling).
This was followed by a short "behind-the-scenes".
Time for a sort of group photo... no, sorry, a group dance! 28 people on one dance floor. It was a sort of a cross between an interval act and a little bit of showing off for each pair.
Claudia has a brief chat with somebody in the audience.
Now it is on to the interval act while the votes are collated and verified. It is Lesley Garrett with a performance from "Carousel". Something of a step down from Enrique Iglesias if you ask me!
While this is going on, I will take a moment to say that it was a bold move of the BBC to take this to Glasgow's SECC which isn't a television broadcasting venue; however there were numerous little quirks like the sound being on when it shouldn't and vice versa, and some occasionally dramatic camera wobble - especially the dolly in front of the stage.
Back once more to the green room, a freudian slip - the Finnish couple are really enjoying each other!
Okay, serious hats on now, it is time for the votes to come in.
Karin in Sweden gives the points first. Only one for the UK. Their 12 goes to Finland. Len What'sHisFace was whining neighbour voting, but it was a good performance from them.
Marvin in Austria and four points to the UK, their 12 to Poland.
Yens (Jens?) in Denmark gave 5 to the UK and 12 to Poland, again.
Kushnia? Bushnia? in Azerbaijan. Only a 3 to the UK, and their 12 goes to the Ukraine.
Brian in Ireland, 8 points to the UK (look, neighbours). A high score for Lithuania from Ireland, surprised? 12 to Poland, the ones tipped to win.
Yanoo (Jaanu?) in Finland. She says Graham is "looking so cute tonight", I wonder if she knows...? The commentators think they're in with a good chance as the UK receives no points early on, but as Finland's 12 doesn't go to the UK, like typical sore losers they say they'll never set foot in Finland again, I can hear Fins everywhere breathing a big sigh of relief. Finland's 12 goes to Russia.
Julie (I like that name) in the Netherlands gives the UK their 10, with 12 to Poland. Things are certainly looking good for Poland tonight.
Audreysh? He's called that? It's Lithuania. And the commentators think Lithuania will give 12 to the UK, given that it hasn't been a high-scoring song.
Carol Smilie in Glasgow cannot give votes to itself, so their 8 goes to Ireland. Len says "See how nice we are? Why didn't they reciprocate?" They did dumbass, even to giving us the exact same EIGHT. The UK's 12, almost predictably now, goes to Poland.
Larissa in Russia graces the UK with one point. Groans from the commentators, but at least it is something. Russia's top goes to the Ukraine.
Rita (Rika?) in Greece, with 3 points for the UK, and a 12 to Cyprus? Oh, wait, they're not in it, so the 12 instead goes to Russia. The connection? Another country that uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Come on, we must milk this conspiracy for all it is worth. ☺
Helena in Lisbon presents the Portuguese vote, with no points for the UK but a 12 to the Ukraine.
Not a Julie but a Julia (maybe Yulia?) presenting the Ukrainian vote by candlelight it seems. A 3 for the UK, with their 12 to Russia.
Finally it is Anna in Poland, with a single point to the UK. The commentators give a lot of whinge about "all those Polish builders". They would only be happy with a string of 12s. We could hope, but that's not how it is going to happen, instead Poland's 12 goes to Azerbaijan.
We can call it for Poland. Actually, we could have quite a while ago.
She can't quite believe it:
Polish fans in the audience:
And the final goodbyes before the winning dance is performed again:
Now it's time for the Jackson medley and Poland's winning dance (that looks painful).
I rather think that the Dutch entry was given a strong message by the voters of Europe. They begun with one point, from the judges, and they finished with that same one point. Indeed, they were the only ones to receive nothing whatsoever from the televote.
I don't care who that Len bloke is, or how many accolates or how much experience he has. Can we please find an announcer who is upbeat, positive, happy, and actually has some enthusiasm for what is going on?
Now Glasgow isn't the highest class place in the world. We know that because it has been a "European City Of Culture" which seems to be a title reserved for crappy towns in desperate need of a makeover. Witness a recent recipient Bilbao (that's in northern Spain) and the current holders Liverpool. I guess we could take the 'culture' scheme seriously if it included places such as Venice or... I'm sure you can think of plenty of places in Europe which are culturally significant - whether for art (Prague?) or religion (Santiago de Compostella?) or traces of ancient societies (Rome? Athens?) or important historical events (Pompeii? Dieppe?) or just places that have a nice look and feel to them (Stockholm, I believe, would be the winner here).
After all of this discussion, we have said very little about the city of Glasgow. Indeed it is too easy to pick holes in the city and point out the problems that it has - an obvious one being Rangers vs Celtic. But to do that is to miss the point of what it can offer a visitor. Naples is a nice place but how often is the rubbish collected? I would have expected the contest, held in Glasgow, to have included a little bit of Glasgow other than the opening sequence showing some random buildings. It isn't exactly going to sell the city as a destination to foreigners. And if the BBC figured it couldn't pull this off, shame on them.
I'm saving my comments on this until last, for I think the contest this year was truly awful. Trying to get dancers to do two different things at once is not going to decently show their capabilities. Take last year's winners (Finland). The girl wore a sort of light coloured outfit that was almost frumpy and sort-of 1940s for her first dance. For her second dance, flat shoes and a long flowing dark outfit that suited the mood of the performance. She could have done her second dance in the light outfit and heels or she could have done her first dance in the dark outfit and flats, but I don't think that would have worked as well - and I reckon the evidence of this is shown in the Irish entry.
My hopes for ESC2009
Same time next year? From Warsaw?