Israel wins the Eurovision song contest 2018 – as it happened

Last modified: 10: 59 PM GMT+0

Crown goes to Netta of Israel with her quirky entry Toy, in memorable contest after stage invader interrupted UK’s song

So that’s IT for another Eurovision, and it’s goodbye from Lisbon! Thank you all for joining in and helping me hold this ship together, and a massive thanks to Alice for helping me navigate the madness. However you feel about Eurovision (and I fully expect plenty of people to share their opinions on this matter overnight), it remains one of my favourite nights of the year - you’ve all been brilliant company, so thank you for joining in.

Putting on Eurovision is an absolutely epic feat - 43 countries, thousands of press and huge delegations to organise in one year. As usual the European Broadcasting Union have done the most phenomenal job, and the people of Lisbon have been an absolute joy. If you love Eurovision and get the chance to go, I can’t recommend it enough.

Alice and I are on Twitter @heidistephens and @alice if you fancy saying hi; right now we’re off to the afterparty to dance the night away. Thank you so much for joining in, and I’ll see you next year!

Time for another rendition of ‘Toy’ before we all go home *does chicken arms*

I’m happy for Netta - she took a massive risk and it totally paid off. Eurovision bonkersness lives, and I can’t be sad about that.

Cyprus have come second, which means ISRAEL have won this year’s Eurovision. A triumph for chicken madness, quirky pop and taking your Pikachu home. The UK came 24th out of 26, as predicted. Let’s never speak of this again.


So it’s Israel or Cyprus. Popular voters, I love you.

Netta of Israel reacts.
Netta of Israel reacts. Photograph: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images


Only three countries left! I can’t breathe.

I’m sandwiched between Israeli and Cypriot journalists here. Not gonna lie, it’s all quite tense.

See this is all exciting now. One by one, countries are being eliminated from the top spot. Can Cyprus do it, or will be it be Germany or Israel?

Lowest public vote goes to Australia, which is an absolute shocker. Sweden have done very badly in the public vote, we’re not going back there next year.

So the scoreboard after the jury votes: Austria at the top with 271. The UK has 23. I have issues with the new numberwang voting system.

But we haven’t had the public vote yet, so everything can change. STAY EXCITED PEOPLE.

Israel just gave the UK 8 points. We love Israel.

To be fair they’ve given Austria 12 points, so it’s all relative.


Greece have given Cyprus 12 points. All is well.

Cyprus’s Eleni Foureira reacts as she waits for the results.
Cyprus’s Eleni Foureira reacts as she waits for the results. Photograph: Pedro Nunes/Reuters


I CAN’T go back to Sweden, I had to take out a second mortgage after 2016. I’ll be liveblogging back in front of the telly next year at this rate.

So much jury love for Germany, Austria and Sweden. This is a beige bloodbath.

The UK currently has 7 points from the jury vote. For context, the country in the lead (Israel), has 158.


“Is this a surprise?”, silver commentator asks Cesar.

“Yes, I wasn’t expecting this”.

You and me both, Cesar.


Hello why do all the juries love Austria please. I mean it was fine, but still.

(apologies to my Austrian boyfriend, I still love you).

The UK currently has a total of 4 points. Exciting times.

Apparently the stage invader was described by the Australian TV commentator as “some absolute cockhead”. Loving your work, Australia.

Mel Giedroyc confirms that the UK jury 12 points go to - AUSTRIA.

Austria. For crying out loud.

The good news is they’re flying through the jury votes. The bad news is I can’t keep up. Right now Cyprus are at the top of the table, and we haven’t even got to the public yet.

Every jury is giving their ponts to different countries. No consistency at all. It’s already feeling quite stressful.

Nothing for the UK so far from the jury vote.

Time for some scoring! Ukraine gives their 12 points to FRANCE. Ooh, interesting. Azerbaijan go for Albania, and Belarus go for CYPRUS. We’re in for a fun night.


Time is running out to vote! Time for another recap. Here’s my summary:

  • Ukraine: man trapped in a piano
  • Spain: slush
  • Slovenia: stompy banger
  • Lithuania: Birds of a Feather
  • Austria: plinth
  • Estonia: singing dress
  • Norway: Jarlsberg
  • Portugal: bye for now
  • UK: absolute trooper
  • Serbia: drums
  • German: Aldi Sheeran
  • Albania: shouty
  • France: deep
  • Czech Replubic: rapping backpack
  • Denmark: viking wizards
  • Australia: stone cold banger
  • Finland: dystopian circuss
  • Bulgaria: shouty Gaga and friends
  • Moldova: Carry On Ikea
  • Sweden: Justine Sweber
  • Hungary: My Ears
  • Israel: I’m taking your Pikachu home
  • Netherland: country Best Western
  • Ireland: snow love is love
  • Cyprus: FUEGO
  • Italy: last

I’ve opened another Super Bock. It’s the only way.

Not fussed about this song, but am very much enjoying Salvador’s Brazilian blow dry.

Salvador’s back. Last year he railed against “disposable, fast-food music without any content”, calling his win “a victory for people who make music that actually means something.”

Part of me really wants him to hand the trophy to Netta at the end of this.

Salvador Sobral at the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Salvador Sobral at the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Photograph: Rolf Klatt/REX/Shutterstock


This interval thing is a hot mess. Sweden did this so much better in 2016. Feel free to watch this instead.

Wait! I forgot Czech Republic in my top five. It’s now a top 8. Look, I love pop music. Judge away, I don’t care.

So I’ve done some asking round (yay journalism) and nobody in this press room has the smallest idea who is going to win this. Last year Portugal was a dead cert. How exciting is that?

Artists waiting in the green room during the Eurovision 2018 Grand Final.
Artists waiting in the green room during the Eurovision 2018 Grand Final. Photograph: Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images


So my top five for tonight:

  • Cyprus
  • Israel
  • Denmark
  • Moldova
  • Australia

If I can have a bonus two, I’ll go for Finland and Slovenia.

Hang on, we’ve got bonus rap and drumming. Now we’re talking.

Time for the interval act! I haven’t seen this and have no idea what’s coming. First up: more Portuguese singing that sounds a lot like the earlier Portuguese singing.

My mum has just posted on Facebook “that young man from Sweden can dance me off any time”. MUM.

I’m back! Is this recap still going?

Time for a recap! I’m going to dash to the loo. Be back soon.

The voting is open! Obviously I’ll vote for the UK because I’m outside the UK and I can. SuRie deserves every vote going for that performance under pressure.

So that’s it for the singing! Well done everyone, we survived the first half. Now we just have to endure the interval act and the interminable scoring before 1500 journalists start frantically booking hotels in Limassol for May 2019.

According to Google Translate the title means ‘You did not do anything to me’, which just about sums up the audience response to this song. Italy are one of the Big Five, which means they automatically qualify for the final with any old guff - this year they’ve sent Simon Amstell and David Baddiel to shout about the pointlessness of war. I miss the dancing gorilla from last year.

Everyone’s here is still shouting FUEGO, you’re too late.

And FINALLY, it’s time for ITALY, with Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro singing ‘Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente’. There was probably a postcard, but I was being hugged by Cypriots.

Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro from Italy perform the song ‘Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente’.
Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro from Italy perform the song ‘Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente’. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP


The crowd are going absolutely bonkers for this, both in the stadium and in the press room. All together now, FUEGO (drink).

Eleni is an Albanian-Greek goddess in a catsuit held together by a million flaming sequins and a note from her gynaecologist. If nothing else, this will mobilise the dad vote (along with Greece and Albania, let’s face it).

This is one of the hot favourites to win this year - I’ve danced my union jack socks off to this song this week. Notwithstanding Cyprus being the country where I spent my formative years, it’s also a solid gold banger with serious hairography and a chorus that’s straight out of the Avicii playbook (RIP).


Next up it’s CYPRUS, with Eleni Foureira singing ‘Fuego’. In her postcard, Eleni is shopping for fruit and vegetable and making Portuguese food. DRINK.

Eleni Foureira from Cyprus performs the song ‘Fuego’.
Eleni Foureira from Cyprus performs the song ‘Fuego’. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP


I cannot tell a lie, this inoffensive number didn’t exactly jump out at us in the studio version. But the staging - with a cute gay couple frolicking in the snow - has turned it into a real contender. The performance sparked a roar of support from the arena audience in the semi-final - and led to Chinese TV censors’ decision to edit Ireland out of their broadcast (along with Albania, because of performers’ tattoos). The EBU have responded with speed and class, refusing to let China show last night’s second semi-final or the final thanks to this breach of EBU values of inclusivity. Quite right too.

It’s time for IRELAND, with Ryan O’Shaughnessy singing Together. In his postcard, Ryan is going diving. There are fish. It doesn’t get any more nautical than this – DRINK.

What is it with the Netherlands and country music? This is basically Rock Star by Nickelback, sung by a man in a hat (DRINK). The dancing gets a bit weird, and this is very much not my favourite. Sorry Netherlands - I’m still singing O’G3NE from last year in the shower if that helps?

Next up it’s THE NETHERLANDS, with Waylon singing ‘Outlaw In ‘Em’. In his postcard, Waylon is hugging a baker and making custard tarts (DRINK).

Waylon from the Netherlands performs the song ‘Outlaw In Em’.
Waylon from the Netherlands performs the song ‘Outlaw In Em’. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP


I mean, that was incredible. Go Israel.

Everyone in the press centre is dancing and waving rubber chickens. Happy days.

So this chicken noise-aided banger is musical Marmite. But whether you love or loathe it, one thing’s for sure - no-one will forget Netta and her dancers dominating the stage.

References to Pikachus and smartphones aside, you COULD say this is an exuberant celebration of girl power that’s a potential Eurovision winner for the #metoo era. OR you could say it’s Bjork-inspired neon madness. Either way, expect to see it shoot into the top five - it’s this year’s fan favourite. And if you’re going to follow Eurovision around the continent, there are much worse places than Tel Aviv.

Hold on to your hats, it’s time for ISRAEL, with Netta singing ‘Toy’. In her postcard, Netta is DJ-ing on a rooftop. Go Netta, you absolute queen.

Netta representing Israel with ‘Toy’ performs during the Grand Final of the 63rd annual Eurovision Song Contest.
Netta representing Israel with ‘Toy’ performs during the Grand Final of the 63rd annual Eurovision Song Contest. Photograph: Jose Sena Goulao/EPA


My lack of rock knowledge (I once owned a Nirvana album) makes it very difficult to tell if this is any good by metal standards. It has an epic key change, however.

My guess is that everyone on Twitter is making the same joke right now, and I hate to be left out. U OK #hun?

I’m assuming this is Hungarian for ‘rock out like you have spiders in your hair’ because the lead singer is giving it both barrels. I know heavy rock has a huge following all over the world and I absolutely support it being represented at Eurovision, but very much not my thing. I’m worried he’s going to do himself an injury, surely that much headbanging isn’t good for you? *mum face*.

Massive change of tempo right now - next up it’s HUNGARY, with AWS singing Viszlát Nyár. In their postcard, they are making something chocolately in an alleyway (DRINK).

This is an absolute bop, to be fair. Sweden LOVES a wet look sparkle jacket.


Dance You Off is slick, and Benjy definitely has a Bieber thing going on (Sweber?), but he’s basically making a live music video - it works on screen but leaves the arena audience with nothing to see. Not sure this is enough for the top spot this year, but I’ve been in this bubble too long and have lost all sense of what’s normal.

Ah, here’s Benjy on his giant rainbow sunbed. Alice tells me this chap is Swedish pop royalty - his brother Oliver is a DJ, while his mum Pernilla Wahlgren has competed in Sweden’s Eurovision selection Melodifestivalen five times, but never won. Imagine the tension round that dinner table - hey mum, you can come to Eurovision and carry my bags.

It’s time for SWEDEN, with Benjamin Ingrosso singing ‘Dance You Off’. In his postcard, Benjy is making cheese (DRINK), and charming some ladies at a picnic. Smooth.

Benjamin Ingrosso from Sweden reacts after performing the song ‘Dance You Off’.
Benjamin Ingrosso from Sweden reacts after performing the song ‘Dance You Off’. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP


“It’s a very good chicken sir, congratulations”. I love Eurovision.

I can’t stop smiling. This is SO good.

This is definitely our lucky day, because DoReDos are pure bonkers brilliance. The staging takes Balkan brass oompa-disco, adds an Ikea modular shelving unit, and turns it into a three-minute farce worthy of a 1970s sitcom. It’s not subtle - but if you wanted subtle, you wouldn’t be watching Eurovision. It’s super-clever, and I absolutely love it.

Who’s next? It’s MOLDOVA, with DoReDos singing ‘My Lucky Day’. I missed the postcard, sorry. BRACE YOURSELVES THIS IS AMAZING.

Right, back to Bulgaria. In a smart move, the delegation have smooshed together the fanbases of five Bulgarian stars. Rumours swirling backstage suggest they’re not exactly thrilled to be stuck together, but the result is a compelling performance with strong vocals - and lots of dry ice. Does that count as on stage weather? Drink anyway, the highlight of the night is coming up.

Statement from BBC about SuRie:

“SuRie was offered the option to perform again by the EBU. SuRie and her team are extremely proud of her performance and have together decided there is absolutely no reason to perform the song again.” Fair enough.

It’s time for BULGARIA, with Bulgarian supergroup EQUINOX (god, doesn’t just that phrase make you love Eurovision?) singing ‘Bones’. In their postcard, Equinox are on a tram. I nearly got run over by one of those yesterday.

I absolutely love this , but if the ridiculous dystopian circus staging feels familiar, that’s because UK X Factor staging guru Brian Friedman is behind it. Less is more, Brian.

Watch out for a moment right at the end that’ll make you drop your drink.

So if Saara looks familiar, it’s because she was UK X Factor runner-up in 2016. She’s always the bridesmaid, also coming second in Finland’s The Voice, and second in the Finnish national Eurovision selection TWICE, in 2011 and 2016 (thanks Alice for being my fact queen).

Next up it’s FINLAND, with Saara Alto singing ‘Monsters’. In her postcard, Saara is playing golf in deeply inappropriate footwear.

Ah, lovely tribute to Lys Assia, the first ever Eurovision winner. What a legacy.

OK things in the green room have got weird. One of the presenters is trying to marry all of Serbia.

Loo break time! Hurry back, because Finland is next and it’s EPIC. Only ten songs to go!

This vocal was better in the jury final last night, sadly. Still an absolute tune, mind.

OK, here’s my tip of the day. Stop asking why Australia is in the Eurovision Song Contest and just enjoy the stone cold bangers they send every year. Jess is one of Australia’s biggest stars and her record label have stepped up with a stirring pop classic, neon production and a glittery dress I’d quite like to nick.

This is a huge fan favourite (read: absolutely goes off in a gay club) and if Jess can nail the delivery of this big song it could even deliver Australia’s first winner. In which case we’re probably all off to Berlin, because rumour has it Germany have done a hosting deal.

Next up it’s AUSTRALIA, with Jessica Mauboy singing We Got Love. In her postcard, Jess is making her own guitar.

Jessica Mauboy representing Australia, performs at the Grand Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.
Jessica Mauboy representing Australia, performs at the Grand Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. Photograph: Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS


This is my goosebump song of the night - I’m a sucker for stomping, beardy wizards and rousing drums. It’s straight out of a Disney blockbuster and I love it. Also viking longboat sails, which are definitely a nautical reference - DRINK.

It’s time for DENMARK, with Rasmussen singing ‘Higher Ground’. In their postcard, Rasmussen are exploring a rather beautiful library. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in Portugal.

So rumour has it that SuRie is going to sing again at the end. I’m really pleased for her, she’s worked incredibly hard and deserves a shot without idiots invading the stage.

Incidentally, the random backpack is this year’s Chekhov’s Gun; like last year’s Romanian cannons, it serves no purpose whatsoever other than to make Mikolas look like Dora The Explorer.

So on paper this is dubious white rap with a Timberlake-tastic chorus, sung by a manchild who looks like Taron Egerton in Kingsman. But somehow Mikolas pulls this off with bags of charm, and I absolutely LOVE it.

Next up it’s the CZECH REPUBLIC, with Mikolas Josef singing ‘Lie To Me’. I have no idea what he did in his postcard, I wasn’t watching.

Mikolas Josef (C) representing the Czech Republic.
Mikolas Josef (C) representing the Czech Republic. Photograph: Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS


Don’t go ANYWHERE for the next five songs, they’re all brilliant.

Much like Ukraine’s 2016 winner, this tale of a refugee has an emotive message and a lot of pre-show buzz. In the jury final last night this got one of the warmest reactions in the arena. Expect this to do very well.

It’s time for FRANCE, with Madame Monsieur (oh, France, you are so relentlessly FRENCH!) singing ‘Mercy’. In their postcard, both Madame and Monsieur are riding a furnicular railway. How fun.

BBC Eurovision have just tweeted to say that SuRie is OK. Will update if I hear anything else, I’ve asked the BBC team in the press room for an update.


I’m not sure if Eugent Bushpepa is the name of the singer or the band, but either way it sounds like some kind of exotic vegetable and now I really want a name like Eugent Bushpepa.

This starts out in a folky rock style that’s right up my street, but I’m less keen on the descent into shouty Guns and Roses. Mr Bushpepa has a great voice though, and an equally excellent beard.

It’s time for ALBANIA, with Eugent Bushpepa singing ‘Mall’. In his postcard, he is in a boat, wrapped in a blanket. I think he’s OK though.

Stay with me people, we’re almost half way to the half way point of this incredibly long evening.

This is essentially German Mick Hucknall singing James Bay’s ‘Let It Go’. A week ago I’d have called this a perfectly serviceable ballad that wouldn’t trouble the left hand side of the scoreboard, but this has gathered some real momentum over the semi-finals, and is now one of the favourites. I absolutely blame Ed Sheeran.

It’s time for GERMANY, with Michael Schulte singing ‘You Let Me Walk Alone’. In his postcard, Michael is paragliding. He looks bored out of his mind.

So this is classic Eurovision, straight out of the Love Love Peace Peace playbook - old man playing a local instrument, topless hunk on the drums (DRINK), traditional beats given a banging dance remix. We’ve heard versions of this from Balkan nations a million times, but I still can’t resist.

I’ve been reliably told that Balkanika are a huge group in the region, and with hardly any of their neighbours making it to the final this year they should definitely get some local votes.

Next up it’s SERBIA, and Sanja Ilic & Balkanika singing ‘Nova Deca’. Their postcard features a tour of a winery. Sorry, still a bit shaken by the SuRie thing. I hope she’s OK.

Oh my goodness, there was a stage invasion. Did someone try to grab her?

SuRie is holding this together incredibly well and just got a huge round of applause from the press room. You go girl, that must have been awful.

A fan invades the stage during the performance of SuRie (R) representing the United Kingdom with ‘Storm’ during the Grand Final.
A fan invades the stage during the performance of SuRie (R) representing the United Kingdom with ‘Storm’ during the Grand Final. Photograph: Jose Sena Goulao/EPA


Incidentally, I highly recommend the 7th Heaven dance remix of this song, it’s the Euro-banger the UK absolutely should have sent. They’ve even been playing it on Radio 2, which suggests the original was considered too middle of the road. Eurovision lesson #1 - when in doubt, always take the dance remix.

OK, so here’s the thing. This is actually a very good song from the UK, performed by a highly competent singer with very decent staging - the UK songs have improved immeasurably in recent years and it’s clear the BBC is really trying.

That said, I’m worried this will still end up in the bottom five - no fault whatsoever of SuRie’s, and nothing at all to do with political voting. The song simply isn’t going to stand out alongside 25 countries who put their heart and soul into this competition, and have bought their A-game with highly polished songs and staging.

SONG NINE! *orders jug of white Sangria*. It’s time for the UNITED KINGDOM, with SuRie singing her ode to the complexity of Brexit negotiations, ‘Storm’ (DRINK). In her postcard, SuRie is picking tea, because she’s now migrant labour.

Britain’s Susanna Marie Cork aka SuRie performs “Storm”.
Britain’s Susanna Marie Cork aka SuRie performs “Storm”. Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images


Time for a short interlude - grab a drink or top up the snacks, but don’t forget to come back as the UK is next!

This is a perfectly nice song, but not good enough to trouble the top ten, let alone win. I suspect the brief was “put on a decent show, but for god’s sake don’t win again”, so we might be saying ‘ate logo’ (goodbye for now) to Portugal. It’s been fun.

Big cheer from the crowd, because next up it’s PORTUGAL, with Claudia Pascoal singing Did You Know Portugal Has A 900-Year Nautical Heritage? Only joking, it’s called O Jardim (The Garden). In their postcard, Claudia and co. are looking at some ships. DRINK.

So in the interests of avoiding a repeat of the 2009 International Incident, I’ll be quite clear. This song is entirely terrible, from the shaky lyrics to the call-and-response scatting. It’s cheesier than a Jarlsberg fondue. BUT Alex has charisma galore and is absolutely selling this - you cannot deny he has incredible stage presence.

Please don’t win, I can’t afford (affjord?) a trip to Oslo next year.

HEIDI TRIGGER WARNING, it’s time for NORWAY, with Alexander Rybak singing ‘That’s How You Write a Song’. In his postcard, Alex is doing some graffiti, hopefully with permission.

So I’m in two minds about this song - I’m not a huge fan of popera and I feel like I’d be snoozing off if it wasn’t for the very cleverly animated dress (which cost 65k Euros, and had to be paid for by sponsors because the Estonian government refused to cough up). Elina has an incredible voice, however (she’s singing in Italian), and is an absolute poster girl for Estonian dentistry.

Not my personal cup of tea, but it’s a stand-out bit of staging and I wouldn’t be surprised if this finished up in the top five.

Next up it’s ESTONIA, with Elina Nechayevai singing ‘La Forza’. In her postcard, Elina is rock climbing up to a giant palace. Could she not have used the steps?

This song is perfectly fine, pleasant to listen to and VERY pleasant to watch (Cesar is quite easy on my tired eyes). But in this year’s deluge of bangers and clever staging, poor Cesar is likely to get forgotten - even with his magnificent hydraulic plinth that looks like the International Space Station. He’s my prediction for last place right now, which gives you some idea how strong the field is this year.

It’s time for AUSTRIA, with Cesar Sampson singing Nobody But You. In his postcard, Cesar is mountain biking through Portugal. No Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car for him.

My friend Rob just pointed out that the graphics look a bit like the title sequence to Birds Of A Feather, and now I can’t unsee this.

This is a lovely song sung with real charm - her voice has a bit of Dolores O’Riordan/Cerys Matthews about it, and there’s something quite captivating and heartfelt about the whole performance. I think this will do pretty well, and I would be perfectly fine with a trip to Vilnius next year (YES I just looked it up, don’t @me).

Get ready for a change of pace - next up it’s LITHUANIA, with Ieva Zasimauskaitė singing ‘When We’re Old’. In her postcard, Ieva is driving a classic car through a windfarm. Okaaay.

Ooh, there’s a ‘where’s the music’ fakeout in the middle. I love a touch of mild peril.

So Lea has has all kind of beef with the pressures of modern life, and is registering her protest with an anthemic stomper. It’s great, but it’s on far too early in proceedings to get the votes it deserves.

It’s time for SLOVENIA, with Lea Sirk singing ‘Hvala, ne!’, which means ‘thanks, no!’. In her postcard, Lea is strolling on the beach. Portugal has an extensive coastline, in case you hadn’t noticed. It’s a nautical nation.

Amaia y Alfred are the winners of a hugely popular Spanish TV talent show, and are apparently an actual couple in real life. They have undeniable chemistry (as you’d hope, ain’t no room for domestic tension at Eurovision), but this song is an unrelenting slush fest that will either charm your socks off or make you feel queasy. Probably best that we haven’t started drinking (I haven’t started drinking, I’m guessing you all started several hours ago).

Next up it’s SPAIN, with Amaia y Alfred singing ‘Tu Cancion’. In their postcard, they are having a nice walk near some hot springs. There is food! DRINK.

The mad piano reminds me to tell you to watch out for fun props this evening - Portugal has banned the LED backdrop from recent years, which means everyone has bought massive props in lieu of funky projections. I suspect this has been an absolute ballache for the production team (just wheel on my MASSIVE BURNING PIANO), so make the most of it - I fully expect the LED backdrop to be back next year.

I quite like this - good start, Ukraine. OOH, the stairs have burst into flames (DRINK).

So this is weird. Imagine an episode of Mad Men where Pete Campbell has become inexplicably trapped inside a piano, but manages to free himself in order to sing a song about the weather. I’d absolutely watch that.

First up it’s UKRAINE, with Melovin singing ‘Under the Ladder’. In his postcard from Portugal, Melovin is contemplating cliffs and riding a horse. As you do.

OK, let’s kick off with some singing. This year is a bit of a slow start, but bear with it. Amazing stuff is coming later.

It’s time to meet our hosts! They are four women (take that, Kiev) with matching mid-atlantic accents. They are something of a mixed bag, presenting-wise, which is very much the Eurovision way. I think four was probably two more than actually required, to be honest.

Every year Eurovision makes me realise how rubbish my flag knowledge is. I asked Alice yesterday if a particular flag was San Marino, and she pointed out that it was Spain. This morning I entirely failed to identify the flag of Portugal, despite currently being IN PORTUGAL. I’m so ashamed.

Out come tonight’s finalists, Olympic opening ceremony-style - they are accompanied by flag-bearers in sailor suits (DRINK), who I am very much hoping will be at the afterparty later. Ooh, there are lady sailors too, one appears to be wearing thigh boots. How are you supposed to climb rigging in those?

No sign of the oiled-up guy from Tonga, sadly.

Hold the phones - the singers have been replaced by a couple of DJs who’ve travelled by time machine from 1997. Their DJ booth looks like a neon Pokemon.

More Portu-crooning. It’s quite haunting and rather splendid, but I’m ready for my cheese course now.


Time for a musical intro, courtesy of some traditional Portuguese crooning by a rather fabulous woman and a man with a traditional guitarra. The lyrics translate along the lines of “as Salvador mentioned last year, Portugal only does Real Music now and we have no time whatsoever for your jiggly pop nonsense”*

*might have made this up

Proceedings open with an extended postcard from Lisbon, showcasing how entirely delightful this city is. After last year in Kiev and 2016 in Stockholm, Eurovision in the sunny climes of southern Europe is a concept I’m entirely behind. If you can’t decide who to vote for, just choose a warm country for my sake. Based on current odds, Cyprus is your best bet.

And we’re off! ALL ABOARD!!!

Alice just popped out to get some beers and bumped into Lordi having a ciggie outside, in full Lordi costume (you can see their selfie on her Twitter @alice). Welcome to Eurovision.


Hard to describe what this press room is like - about 1500 people who haven’t slept in a week, flags everywhere, incredibly noisy and excitement building. Later things will get entirely mad, with groups of journalists singing along and cheering all their scores. For lots of these guys, winning will mean hosting Eurovison for the first time ever. It’s a HUGE deal.

Only half an hour to go! I’M EXCITED.

A small drama is playing out in the Lisbon press room right now. Some Cypriot journalists have been evicted from the seats next to me by some Germans who say they reserved the tables earlier (insert your own towel/sunbed analogy here). Germany and Cyprus are both favourites to win this evening and I feel like tensions may run high later. I’m caught in the middle and staying neutral, like Switzerland.

OBVIOUSLY we need a drinking game - it wouldn’t be Eurovision without one. Dust off that christmas bottle of port, and take one modest sip (it’s a very long night, trust me on this one) for any occurence of the following:

  • Fire
  • Nautical references
  • Manufactured stage weather
  • Hats
  • Between-song postcards featuring Portuguese food
  • Giant drums

A couple of bits of housekeeping before we start - I’ll be able to see the same TV broadcast as you, but because I’m not watching on the BBC I sadly can’t hear Graham Norton’s commentary. So feel free to share any Norton gems in the comment box for the benefit of those reading later. Also I’m reliant on the WiFi in the Lisbon press centre this evening - it’s been fine all week, but if I disappear just party on without me until I get back online.

This year’s Eurovision theme (yes, this is a thing) is All Aboard!, which the Portuguese have embraced with gusto. You can’t move in Lisbon for logos featuring seaweed, plankton and molluscs, along with references to Portugal’s 900 years of nautical history. So sailor suits are optional this evening - I’ve gone for a Vasco Da Gama onesie, and Alice is wearing a novelty Ferdinand Magellan hat. Let me know in the comment box below if you’re throwing a party, watching with family, or have international snacks.

In happy news, the press room has booze this year (Super Bock beer and something called Somersby cider that’s so sweet it makes your teeth ache) - as usual I’ll be observing Terry Wogan rules and not drinking until Song 9 - by coincidence, this is when the UK entry is on. All aboard the Super Bock train for that.


Boa noite everyone, and welcome to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final liveblog! I’m live from beautiful Lisbon, where I’ve been immersing myself in the Euro madness since Tuesday.

I’ve watched both semi finals, the jury final, and listened to every song roughly 412 times. I’ve danced to Moldovan oompa-disco at 2am, been taught Cypriot hairography by a Danish journalist wearing a viking helmet and a fur vest, and consumed considerably more than the recommended daily amount of vinho verde and pastel de nata.

As in previous years, I’m following all the Eurovision action in the Lisbon press centre this evening, just a stone’s throw from the live Grand Final in the Altice Arena. Keeping me company are 1500 members of the world’s press, along with my friend and Eurovision superfan Alice - she’ll be keeping a beady eye on the comment box and the goings on in the arena while I’m tapping away feverishly for the next (oh good lord) five and a half hours. You are very much encouraged to join us in the comment box below - feel free to add all your wit and wisdom on the presenters, the songs, the costumes and the performances.

There’s some good stuff coming up tonight, so grab several bottles of Mateus Rose, a plateful of custard tarts and make yourself comfortable. Kick off is at 8pm - see you then!


Heidi Stephens

The GuardianTramp

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