Eurovision Song Contest: Who are the other Graham Nortons?

Graham Norton will be back in the BBC commentary booth on Saturday to pass judgement on this year’s Eurovision hopefuls.

But have you ever wondered who does Graham’s job elsewhere in Europe? We spoke to a few of the other commentators who’ve been reporting from Kiev this week.


JULIA VARELA, SPAIN

How long have you presented Eurovision?

This year is my third time I have been co-hosting with Jose Maria Inigo. It’s a big challenge and a big responsibility, but for me it’s been a real blast.

What are you known for in your own country?

I spent 10 years as a reporter and co-host on Radio 3, a station similar to BBC Radio 2. I’ve had the chance to interview a lot of famous figures in Spain as well as bands like Vampire Weekend. I’ve also been a reporter for the morning show on TV.

What do you take with you into the commentary booth?

Jose has more than 40 years’ experience of commentating on Eurovision and speaks in a very deep voice. He has a calm style which I think mixes well with mine, which some have defined as cheerful! He is the veteran and I am the younger one, and we make a very happy couple.

Do you have any pre-commentating rituals?

I don’t have any talismans or lucky objects, but maybe this year I will take with me a photo of my five-month-old baby. This is my first year being a mother!

What do you think of your country’s entry?

The odds don’t place Spain in a very good position, but at Eurovision I’m always ready for a surprise! Anything can happen on the night.

Watch the video for Spain’s entry.


ANDI KNOLL, AUSTRIA

How long have you presented Eurovision?

It’s my 17th time. My first one was in 1999 in Jerusalem.

What are you known for in your own country?

I do a mid-morning radio show every day in Austria and I present awards shows on television. I’m that guy who does almost everything.

How would you describe your commentating style?

I love Eurovision and when you love something you can tease it a little bit. You can’t take it all seriously because there are still ridiculous dresses and boring songs. You have to stay on that thin line of making fun and completely slaughtering it.

What do you take with you into the commentary booth?

No booze – I get hammered before I go on air! No, I just have my notes and a small Austrian flag – that’s enough.

How do you think your own country will fare?

I think Nathan Trent is a very nice and talented guy, and once you’ve heard Running On Air twice it sticks in your head forever. But it’s tricky with Austria. If we don’t bring someone like Conchita Wurst it’s always 50/50.

Watch the video for Austria’s entry.


LIBOR BOUCEK, CZECH REPUBLIC

How long have you presented Eurovision?

I’m here for a second year; my first time was last year in Stockholm. Eurovision is an inspiration for me because you see top-quality performances and so many ideas that you can watch and take home. It’s a joy and a pleasure to be here, and I’ve already booked a week off next year so I can come back!

What are you known for in your own country?

I’m a TV and radio host and I present various shows like I Love My Country, music awards and all the music talent contests.

How would you describe your commentating style?

I hosted the European Football Championships in 2008 and 2012 so my approach is to create the same emotions you get at a sport event. My style is really that of a sports commentator.

What do you take with you into the commentary booth?

I have all my gadgets – computer, tablet and mobile phone. No mascots!

How do you think your own country will fare?

It will be a huge success for us to be in the final for the second year in a row. Martina Barta is a true singer who doesn’t need special effects; it’s just her on stage and she’s great.

(Unfortunately the Czech Republic were knocked out in the first semi-final.)


CORNALD MAAS, THE NETHERLANDS

How long have you presented Eurovision?

I’ve been commentating since 2004 but I’ve been coming as a journalist since 1993.

What are you known for in your own country?

Most people know me in the Netherlands for my comments on Eurovision, which is not always an advantage as Eurovision was very unpopular a few years ago. The rest of the year I’m a bit like Louis Theroux, interviewing actors, directors and so on.

How would you describe your commentating style?

I give information about the songs and the artists and their backgrounds as well as the staging and the choreography. There’s a slight sense of irony in my comments but not much as the Dutch viewers don’t really like it. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a joke every now and then!

What do you take with you into the commentary booth?

Lots of notes. I would love to have a bottle of wine with me but it’s not allowed!

What do you think of your country’s entry?

OG3NE won The Voice Holland and are very popular in the Netherlands. Lights and Shadows is a good song but it’s not new – it reminds me of Wilson Phillips.

Watch the video for The Netherlands’ entry.


OLAV VIKSMO-SLETTAN, NORWAY

How long have you presented Eurovision?

This year is my eighth time. I started when we were hosts in 2010 in Oslo.

What are you known for in your own country?

I’m quite known as a stunt reporter on television and radio. I’ve flown paragliders and transmitted live from the North Pole. I also have my own heavy metal programme on radio.

How would you describe your commentating style?

I’m quite calm and collected – I’m not a guy who starts screaming. I’m also not as ironic or sarcastic as Terry Wogan used to be. If someone is singing like a crow I’ll say so, but it’s not my goal to be mean to anyone as they’re all doing their best.

What do you take with you into the commentary booth?

Loads of water to drink and wine gums to chew on. I also have a big picture of my friends in Norwegian black metal band Dimmu Borgir, so I don’t forget where I come from!

What do you think of your country’s entry?

I think we’re going to do quite well as we have a contemporary pop song in Grab the Moment by JOWST. It’s in the EDM sphere which we are known for in Norway right now.

Watch the video for Norway’s entry.


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