Eurovision: 183 million will watch to see if favourite Loreen can make history
Eurovision fever continued to build on Friday as thousands of fans descended on Liverpool ahead of the live final.
About 183 million people across 36 countries are expected to tune in to watch UK entry Mae Muller compete in the final, hosted at the M&S Bank Arena on Saturday night.
Following a series of semi-finals this week, 26 countries have reached the final, including current favourites Sweden.
Swedish hopeful Loreen told the Standard she was focused on her performance rather than looking at the competition, ahead of her attempt to become the first woman to win Eurovision twice.
The singer won in 2012 with her dance song Euphoria. “I am staying in my own lane,” she said. “I don’t see the other artists as competitors. I don’t have time for that.”
The 39-year-old said she was preparing like “crazy” and added: “If you see the performance, it is so physical. I am rehearsing and exercising like a crazy person. I have no life. The preparations are going well but they are intense.”
Meanwhile, Londoner Muller’s former teacher Stella James said her ex-pupil — who is representing the UK with I Wrote A Song — was an “inspiration.”
The teacher at Acland Burghley school in Tufnell Park said: “She is an inspiration to the pupils. She came back to give them a talk a few weeks ago. She is a great role model and an example of not giving up on your dreams.”
Speaking about 25-year-old Muller’s chances of winning, Ms James added: “I think she has a chance. We will all be cheering for her.”
Muller later attended the Fine Arts College in Hampstead. College principal Candida Cave said: “We look forward to seeing her light up the stage at Eurovision. We will all be rooting for her on the night.”
Cheryl Baker, who won with Bucks Fizz in 1981, said about Muller’s chances of victory: “I think we’ll do well. It’s a good song and she’ll perform it brilliantly.”
Eurovision is taking place in the UK for the first time since 1998 after Katrina and the Waves brought the prize home in 1997.
The UK was chosen to host the competition on behalf of war-torn Ukraine, who won the 2022 event but are unable to stage it.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would have preferred a country bordering Ukraine to have hosted instead of the UK so its fans could have attended.
He told the BBC he has “great respect for the United Kingdom” but added: “From the very start my opinion has been that if we can’t host Eurovision then it should take place in one of the countries that share a border with us such as Slovakia, Poland or any other country our people can reach easily.”
He has been banned from addressing the final via video over fears it would politicise the event.