Ukraine will be like a ribbon running through Eurovision, says BBC
A BBC Eurovision director has said that Ukraine’s participation in the song contest can be imagined as a “really rich ribbon running through” the event.
The international music show will take place in Liverpool in May after the city was chosen to host the competition on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.
Martin Green, managing director of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 at the BBC, was asked by the PA news agency on Tuesday about how the country, which was invaded by Russia last year, will be emphasised at the event in May.
He said: “Just imagine it as a really rich ribbon running through the whole thing and importantly both on and off camera…
“We want to make sure that we celebrate and honour the fact that we’re hosting this on Ukraine’s behalf.”
He said the new branding for Eurovision, showing hearts beating together in the colours of the Ukrainian and UK flags – unveiled on Tuesday, was “hopefully” seen as a “statement of intent”.
The artwork has been a partnership between the UK’s Superunion agency and Ukraine’s creative studio Starlight Creative.
The slogan of this year’s event, United By Music, was also revealed the same day, which the BBC said “reflects the very origins of the contest, developed to bring Europe closer together through a shared TV experience across different countries”.
The branding also sees a “nod” to the city’s rich musical heritage and iron street signs, the BBC said, as the typeface Penny Lane has been used in the branding.
The Beatles, formed in Liverpool, released the song of the same name, Penny Lane, in 1967.
Mr Green confirmed that Kalush Orchestra would be taking part in the competition in the grand final as last year’s winners, similar to previous years.
He added that the show is still in “deep development” so there is no announcement on musical guests, however, he did say that audiences should watch out for “a lot of surprises and goodies”.
During previous years, Madonna, Mika and Riverdance have guest performed during the show.
Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool, said the city will look “gorgeous” – with art installations, the Eurovision village by the waterfront, a cultural festival and local businesses getting involved.
She added: “You’ve also got a relationship with Ukraine so you’ll see that through the whole programme and that’s a thread that will weave all the way through it.”
This includes a school programme which has seen children in the Liverpool region being taught Ukrainian along with other European languages before the event kicks off.
Ms McColgan added she hopes there will be a “legacy” of relationships between Ukrainian and Liverpudlian artists that are created off the back of the event.
The BBC has run the event as the public broadcaster during the eight previous times the UK has played host due to winning the contest or when other countries could not host the show.
Mr Green added: “(With the coronation of the King) this is an extraordinary seven days for this extraordinary organisation to really show everyone what it does and what it does best.”
Ms McColgan said Liverpool is used to hosting “big events” and added that there is still accommodation available in the city, around 10,000 hotel rooms, and more in the surrounding areas that have ferry and train links to the event.
The Eurovision’s handover and allocation draw programme will be broadcast live for first time on the BBC.
It is hosted by Rylan Clark and AJ Odudu, on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from 7pm and will incorporate the new branding and Ukrainian refugees who have settled in Liverpool and local schoolchildren.
St George’s Hall and the Liverpool sign at Liverpool ONE is using the branding already before it is rolled out across the city from April.
The 11,000-capacity M&S Bank Arena on Liverpool’s waterfront will host the contest in May.