Posts Tagged ‘moscow’

A Moscow State of Mind

Monday, May 11th, 2009

It would be wrong to say that I’ve spent the weekend in Moscow, because most of my time has either been at the Eurovision Stadium, or at the various parties organised by each country, but I’ve been travelling around a fair bit both on foot and on public transport.

It’s impressive that on the escalators in the Metro nobody is running up one side, like you see in London – everyone just stands there. Okay they’re as long as the escalators at Angel, but still this is just weird. I also had to raise my eyes at the amount of wood panelling lining the escalators.

What else has caught my eye? The number of McDonalds branches, a single Clarks shoe store, and more people smiling around the city than you see in London. And late at night, with everyone out of the clubs, it’s a lot calmer than most UK cities.

Arrived in Moscow at the Eurovision Stadium

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

A quick post just to let you all know that I’m now all sorted in Russia, I’ve found my bed for the week, I’m all checked, tagged, rfid’ed and handed the Eurovision equivalent of the SXSW Big Bag at the Olympic Stadium.

I’m also wondering if it was just wrong of me to thoroughly enjoy the trip in on the Airport ‘Express’ train in a carriage that rattled like the old Cowdenbeath to Edinburgh rickety diesel I remember from the late 70s?

Starting My Next Adventure – I’m Off To Moscow and The Eurovision Song Contest

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

This Tuesday, I left a rather cryptic message on Twitter:

I have in my hand a piece of paper from the Russian Consulate. Now very happy.

That piece of paper was my Russian Business Visa.


It joins a number of other ‘pieces of paper,’ including return tickets on British Midland from Edinburgh to Moscow; a reservation for a central Moscow hotel, a guide to the Moscow metro and specifically how to get to the Olimpiyski Stadium, and full press accreditation for a certain music event…

I’m going to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest!!!

Naturally I’ll be bring coverage from Russia to you all, and providing a brilliant look at Eurovision from a slightly different angle to anything you’ve seen been before. I fly on Saturday May 9th, so I’ll be there for the final stage rehearsals on Sunday, and then the dress rehearsals and live shows that make up the two semi-finals and the Grand Final on Saturday May 16th.

Do be aware that I really am a dedicated Eurovision follower, so if you’re expecting snarky and bitchy comments, you won’t find them here. But you will find the wit you all know from my other event coverage, and I do subscribe to the Wogan rule of “if it’s a duck, call it a duck.”


So what sort of coverage can you expect? Well first up there’ll be a bundle of coverage in a number of places, all of which I’ll link to from here. Most of the in depth written posts will be on The Stage’s website, but I’m also working on the following:

A Beginners Guide To Eurovision

A set of videos to introduce the concept of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), how it works,a and what to watch for over Eurovision Week (9-16th May). These will be ideally suited to introduce your friends to the ESC and how it all works, or if you’re one of my many readers from outside Europe who have no idea what this is all about. These should start running one a day from early next week.

Daily Eurovision News

A video news bulletin from the stadium , running from Monday 9th right through to the morning of the final on Saturday the 16th May. I’ll announce my co-presenter at some point next week. If you are going to be at the Contest, drop me an email, am looking to have as many voices and faces as possible on this news show.

The Alternative Commentary Track

Here’s probably the biggest challenge. The big news, at least in the UK, is that (a) Terry Wogan is no longer doing the commentary and (b) Graham Norton is taking over the role this year. This is going to be the first Eurovision since 1979 that has not been voiced by Wogan, so it’s going to sound really strange to many of us

That change, of course, opens up an opportunity. What if you don’t want to listen to Graham Norton? Or what if you’re watching the live stream from that has no commentary, because that’s preferable,or you are in a country (such as the USA) which doesn’t have the show broadcast? What do you do for a commentator then?

That’s where I’m stepping up. I’ll have an audio commentary available to everyone watching Eurovision as an alternative to the mainstream. You too can enjoy the dulcet tones of a Scotsman, in Russia, chairing a very special episode hacked together online version of Eurovision, all for free.

Unless of course Graham Norton falls down some more stairs, in which case the BBC know where to find me (and yes, I do have an alibi).

Twitter Coverage

In previous years, my Twitter Stream ( has acted as a running commentary (in text) for many of you, and anyone who was there for last year’s contest will know how much fun that can be. Those new to twitter may have seen my at work during the UK Selection contest, or the Junior Eurovision or Eurovision Dance contests.

I’ll be posting all my Eurovision news through the Twitter stream as well so if you grab the RSS feed of this site ( and follow me on Twitter (@ewanspence) then you won’t miss a thing!


And being the internet, you don’t need to tell anyone else you’re secretly going to enjoy the Song Contest – it’ll be between you and me…

A Big Weekend For All Eurovision Fans

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

But it’s not just the UK that’s doing Eurovision stuff this weekend, there are 43 countries that have to select a singer and song. Not everyone is choosing this weekend (although Finland’s final starts just as the UK’s reaches its conclusion) but there are always national finals for you to find through the delights of P2P television. And if you want to keep track of them all, then the Official Eurovision Website ( is for you.

Yesterday saw the Eurovision team choose the countries to appear in the two semi-finals (the running order will be drawn in late March). While Russia are through to the Finals as the host country and last year’s winner; and  the UK, France, Germany and Span get an automatic qualification as “The Big Four” everyone else has to duke it out in two semi-finals for the remaining twenty places. Nine places a night are determined by public vote, and the tenth is decided by a jury.

The drawing for the finals does its best to keep apart countries that have a history of voting together, due to diaspora voting and similar musical tastes (no it’s not political voting as i deconstruct here). For example Sweden and Finland are in the first semi, while Norway and Denmark are in the second semi. This way the song is the major factor in qualifying.

Semi-Final One… May 12th.
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sweden, Israel, Belgium, Andorra, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Iceland, Georgia, Bulgaria, Portugal, Switzerland, FYR Macedonia, Finland, Belarus, Turkey, Romania, Malta and Armenia.

Semi-Final Two… May 14th.
Slovenia, Denmark, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, Latvia, Hungary, Serbia, Norway, Ukraine, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Croatia, Estonia, Moldova, Cyprus, Ireland, Slovakia and Albania.

Oh and the official theme for the 2008 contest was revealed. It’s quite nice – but with no slogan this year, they may have missed the perfect “From Russia With Love” pun in the eyes of the fans, but every commentator will have to decide whether to use it or not on the night if they spot anyone in a dinner jacket.


Jury Voting Returns To The Eurovision Song Contest

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Interesting decisions from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) from their meeting in Moscow to discuss the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) 2009. Apart from the almost formality of confirming Russia’s capital as the host city next May, the voting system to decide the winning song will now be made up of a mix of pre-selected juries and telephone voting of the general public.

ESC 2009

This is similar to the recent Eurovision Dance Contest, where roughly 25% of the available points were awarded by four judges in the venue (they were given the weight of four countries, so instead of their top cote being worth 12 points in the final mix, but 48 points). What was interesting on the EDC 2008 result was that even if the Jury had not been there, and only the points from the telephone counted, then Poland would still have been the winner.

The EBU have not yet determined just how much weighting will be given to jury, but I’m wondering if it will be enough to sway the final results away from the winning telephone votes. This has been the case in some of the National Finals in previous years, and can leave a bad taste in the mouth.

But I think the biggest change that having the jury in the mix will be the perception of the voting. No matter what evidence there is, certain countries (and certain commentators) still believe that entire countries will do the will of their governments and vote for political reasons, rather than the fact they are voting for their home country, or the heart-throb male singer that’s been on their TV for months. So the jury will give confidence in the final result, but I don’t think that there should be enough weighting that the jury can ultimately over-rule the phone vote except in very close contests (such as 2003, where the top three were separated by only three points).

Here’s how you win Eurovision… You write the best song, you perform it well on the night, and you make sure that everyone in Europe has heard of you before the Grand Final. That way you get more ‘Douze Points‘ from around Europe than other songs, and you end up winning.

I don’t think adding national juries will change this, but I do think that the jury will enhance the result enhance the standing of the contest, and ultimately that’s a good thing.

So bring on the jury… now, how do I apply?