The countdown to Lisbon is on!

It feels like barely a few weeks have passed since Portugal’s stunning victory in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest and yet here I am, heading to Lisbon for the 63rd edition of the event. Time flies when you’re having fun, as they say.

On Wednesday 9th May I will be speaking at Pushkin House, a Russian cultural centre in London. I’ll be discussing what the contest means in terms of nation building, minority rights and freedom of expression. It might sound heavy but fear not, there will be videos – lots of them! For more information visit the website of Pushkin House.

The 2017 contest was politically charged given Ukraine’s tensions with Russia, which eventually withdrew. The 2018 event, so far, seems to be very different. As is often the way though, politics can intrude on even the most unlikely of situations.

As for the runners and riders this year, I can’t see a clear winner. That said, I’m notoriously bad at picking the winner! Norway’s Alexander Rybak is surely up there. Whilst his song isn’t as catchy as his 2009 winner, he knows how to sell it and will be one to watch. The big favourite is Israel – it’ll be interesting to see if the juries go for this one. The message of “Toy” is one of empowerment. “I’m not your toy, you stupid boy” sings Netta. In this era of #MeToo it would certainly be a fitting winner. I’ll wait until the second semi-final is over before giving the kiss of death!

Now that I’m no longer working on Eurovision in an official capacity I am free to return to my media work and have a few bits and pieces lined up. I’m heading to Lisbon next week and looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues and of course soaking up some of that wonderful Portuguese sunshine!

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