'˜Everybody will be thinking of Terry' says Norton ahead of Eurovision

Graham Norton will have Sir Terry Wogan's voice in his head as he guides the UK's viewers through the Eurovision Song Contest grand final.
The UKs 2016 Eurovision entry, Joe and JakeThe UKs 2016 Eurovision entry, Joe and Jake
The UKs 2016 Eurovision entry, Joe and Jake

Television commentator Norton, who took over the job in 2009, will be narrating his first Eurovision since Sir Terry died in January.

The late broadcaster was the BBC’s Eurovision commentator for almost 35 years.

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Norton said: “Everyone will be thinking of Terry this year, as will I. Terry’s voice is in my head the whole time that I am doing it.”

The TV presenter will lead a toast to his predecessor during song number nine - which this year will be host country Sweden’s entry, If I Were Sorry, performed by Frans.

“This year I am going to be encouraging everyone to raise a glass to the great Sir Terry Wogan when he told me to do it - at song nine,” he said.

“Sir Terry’s main advice to me when I took over was, ‘Don’t open your bottle until song nine’. It was very practical advice, very sensible and very him.”

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Sir Terry quit the show in 2008 after telling the BBC: “I don’t want to be presiding over yet another debacle”.

Norton said: “What is interesting is by the end of Terry’s reign, you could tell he was pretty cheesed off by Eurovision and it had got to him. By the time he had finished, he had had enough.

“So will I ever get to that point? I don’t know.

“After all the years he did it I may well go ‘never again’ under my breath but right now, I am still madly in love with Eurovision.”

The UK’s contestants Joe and Jake are among the 26 acts performing in the grand final in Stockholm, Sweden.

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They will be the penultimate act of the night with their song You’re Not Alone.

Norton said: “It’s a good decibel pop song. I think we will do okay this year and they are genuinely excited about it all.

“The boys are loving the whole experience and their expectations have been managed.”

The grand final will feature a special performance from US singer and global star Justin Timberlake.

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Ireland will not be in the final after Westlife singer Nicky Byrne failed to qualify during Thursday’s live semi-final.

Aside from host country Sweden and the “big five” of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, those in the running for the Eurovision trophy are Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania, Belgium, Azerbaijan, Russia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Malta.

The grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 airs tonight from 8pm on BBC One.