Eurovision presenter Graham Norton has revealed he still hears predecessor Sir Terry Wogan’s voice in his head when he is commentating on the song contest.
“It’s like I’m keeping the seat warm – Terry’s still in my head, it’s still his competition,” said Norton, who replaced Wogan as UK host in 2009.
He was speaking ahead of the grand final in Copenhagen, Denmark.The UK is represented by Molly Smitten-Downes, who Norton thinks could finish in the “top five”.
“I think this year is a very good Eurovision, not just because I think we might do quite well, but I think overall the standard of songs is high and I think it is the best staging I’ve seen,” Norton told the BBC at rehearsals in Copenhagen.
UK entry Children of the Universe has been chosen to close the show in 26th place and bookmakers’ odds have improved since rehearsals began.
“The bookies rarely get it that wrong so if we’re third favourite, that suggests we will be in the running,” said Norton.
“Who’s to say whether we’ll win or not, but it would be lovely to think we’ll do top five.”
Norton revealed he was also a big fan of Austria’s entry, drag act Conchita Wurst, who will be performing Rise Like a Phoenix.
“She’s here against a lot of adversity. Other countries objected, Russia and Belarus wanted to opt out of the TV broadcast at that point, and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said no.
“There’s something lovely and poignant about that song,” he said.
After Russia was booed during the first semi-final on Tuesday, Norton said he was unsure how the voting would play out between Russia and Ukraine.
“Russia are wildly unpopular here, but this is Denmark, in other parts of Europe they’ll be watching TV and they won’t be booing, so Russia could do very well.”
He added: “But I don’t think the organisers want to go there, as that turns it into a very political event, there’s the chance of boycotts and that is not what Eurovision is about.”
The Irish presenter said it was “sad” that Ireland had failed to qualify for the main event, after being knocked out in Thursday’s semi-final.
“People watching in Ireland are like, ‘Who are we going to cheer for now?’ Here’s a hint: Molly.”