The Eurovision Song Contest is looming on the horizon, but it already looks as though the UK entry will have quite a rival in the eye-catching stakes.
Belarus's entry this year, a male singer called IVAN, has expressed his intentions to perform his song 'Help You Fly' surrounded by live wolves... oh, and he'll be completely naked too.
Russian news website LifeNews.ru has reported that the singer has been hard at work rehearsing his song, a rocky ballad, on stage with two wolves. No accidents as yet, although video footage does show one of the animals snapping at IVAN, real name Alexander Ivanov.
Nudity alert! Here is he rehearsing...
Unfortunately for IVAN's plans to steal the night, a quick look at the Eurovision Song Contest rule-book indicates that he may have a problem with one of his plans. The competition forbids any use of live animals in performance. There is no reference to onstage nudity, neither forbidding nor encouraging, but IVAN presumably won't be allowed to sing unclothed for long.
IVAN's producer Viktor Drobish so far remains hopeful, telling LifeNews.ru, "We haven't received any answer from the organisers yet. But yes, Sasha will be naked on stage and there will be wolves."
Joe and Jake will be the UK's entry after winning this year's open competition to represent us. Their song is 'You're Not Alone' and they'll be performing in the same semi-final as IVAN, although presumably with fewer wolves and more layers.
The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Stockholm on 14 May.
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This year’s grand finale takes place on Saturday 14 May, airing on BBC One from 8pm. The live semi-finals will be held in the week leading up to it, on 10 and 12 May.
This year, the UK will be represented by duo Joe & Jake, with their song ‘You’re Not Alone’. They were picked in a viewer vote, following a live show to pick the winner last month. You may well recognise the pair, as they previously appeared as individual contestants on the 2015 series of ‘The Voice UK’, with Jake sent home in the Knockout round, while Joe made it to week two of the live shows.
Having been represented by the likes of Jedward and Dustin the Turkey in previous years, 2016 sees another familiar face representing Ireland. Former Westlife member Nicky Byrne will be hoping to score victory with his song ‘Sunlight’, but unlike the UK, he will have to make it through the semi-finals first to be in with a chance of winning.
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The Contest will be beamed live across Europe from Stockholm, following Sweden’s win last year, where Måns Zelmerlöw’s song ‘Hero’ came out on top. It will be the third time the contest has taken place the capital, but the sixth time it has been held in Sweden.
As ever, Graham Norton will be on hand to give his unique take on proceedings, giving his verdict on the night’s good, bad and bizarre performances. Given that this is also the first Contest since the death of former Eurovision commentator Terry Wogan, who Graham took over from in 2008, viewers have wondered whether there will also be a special tribute paid to him. Meanwhile, it is also expected that Scott Mills and Mel Giedroyc will resume their roles hosting coverage of the semi-finals.
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In total 43 countries have entered the competition this year, with the big six (the UK, Spain, Sweden, France, Germany and Italy) already guaranteed a place in the final due to the fact they historically pay the biggest contribution to fund the annual event. However, there are only 26 or 27 places in the final, so the semi-finalists have got a challenge on their hands to get one of them. This year also marks the return of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia and Ukraine after absences from recent contests.
Yes, after being invited to take part in last year’s competition as a special guest, our Aussie mates will return to compete again. However, this time around, they will have to compete in the semi-finals along with the other entrants, rather than being granted a place in the final. They will be represented by former ‘X Factor Australia’ winner Dami Im, with her song ‘Sound Of Silence’.
The voting system has been radically overhauled for 2016, with the Eurovision Broadcast Union stating that it will add “a new level of excitement for hundreds of millions of viewers in Europe and beyond”. So how will it work? Well, for the first time ever, the public and juries in each country will vote separately, each awarding between one to 12 points to their favourite 10 acts. The results will be announced in two parts, with the juries' scores going first. These will then be followed by the results of the public vote, with votes from all countries being combined together. The hosts will then announce these, starting with the country that received the fewest, with the same method also being used in the semi-finals. Still confused? Find out more here
Ha. Well, hopefully the new voting system should mean that we don’t end up with ‘nul points’, but we won’t be placing any big bucks on us being crowned champs. Despite having one of the best entries we’ve had in years, we’re 21st favourite (out of 43) to win, with odds of 50/1, according to bookies William Hill.
Currently Russia is the bookies’ pick, pegged at 2/1 for their entrant, Sergey Lazarev with song ‘You Are the Only One’. Sweden is the second favourite to scoop the crown for two years running, with Frans’ ‘If I Were Sorry’ at 5/1. Malta is next at 8/1, with Australia and Croatia at 10/1.