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When is Eurovision? Are Ukraine favourites? Could the UK cause an upset in Turin? Everything you need to know about the contest

Sam Ryder will carry the flag for the UK this year with Space Man - and he's tipped to do very well indeed. Ukraine, however, leads the pack, with the likes of Sweden, Italy and Spain not too far behind.

Image:Spain, the UK, Sweden and Ukraine are all in the running for this year's title. Pics: EBU
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Believe it or not, the Eurovision Song Contest is one of the biggest, most-watched annual television events in the world.

Hundreds of millions of people across the globe watched last year's competition in Rotterdam - where Italy's Maneskin topped the leader board with Zitti E Buoni and the UK's James Newman scored the dreaded nil points with Embers.

This year, once more, promises to be an exciting contest - the arena will be full to the brim with screaming fans, and stars will grace the stage unencumbered by the worries of COVID.

But who is in the running, who should you watch out for, and could global events influence the result (I think you may already know the answer to that one...)?

The beautiful northern Italian city of Turin is home to this year's contest, after various places around the country bid for the chance to hold the contest.

As has been the case for decades, the victor of the annual contest wins the right to host it the following year.

The show itself will come from the PalaOlympico, an arena built for the 2006 Winter Olympics, where it hosted the Ice Hockey events.

More on Eurovision

However, more recently it has been used as a concert venue, hosting the likes of U2, Ariana Grande and Madonna.

Image:The stage will consist of a giant moveable 'sun'. Pic: Ateliermontinaro

Who is hosting?

Curiously, there is British interest in this answer - pop icon Mika is among the trio of hosts for this year's Eurovision.

The Grace Kelly singer will be joined on stage by Alessandro Cattelan and Laura Pausini in Turin.

Mika had chart success in the late noughties with his album Life In Cartoon Motion, which featured massive hits such as Love Today and Lollipop, and went on to be a judge on the Italian version of the X-Factor - if that answers your question.

For the UK, Graham Norton will, as usual, commentate on the event, while AJ Odudu will utter the words "this is Salford calling" for the first time ever, as the UK's voting spokesperson on the night.

Image:Alessandro Catalan, Laura Pausini and British pop legend Mika will host the contest. Pic: AP

Who is taking part?

We now know who is in this year's final alongside the big five (UK, Italy, France, Germany and Spain).

Performing (in order) will be - Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Finland, Switzerland, France, Norway, Armenia, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Ukraine, Germany, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Greece, Iceland, Moldova, Sweden, Australia, UK, Poland, Serbia and Estonia.

Russia was booted out of this year's contest after pressure from other member states.

How does it work?

Voting is done in two ways - the first is through national juries of each country, who award 1-12 points using their music expertise. These are the votes used by Eurovision when the talking heads come on to award each country's points.

Secondly is the public vote - you can vote for anyone but yourself. These scores are totalled up and added on after the jury's points are given out.

Win the most points, and you're hosting Eurovision next year.

Who is favourite to win?

No surprises here - it's Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra (a spin-off from their main group, Kalush) will perform Stefania in Turin - dedicated to the lead singer's mother - having made it through their semi-final.

It's a folk-rap song (how very Eurovision) sung entirely in Ukrainian - I'll let you decide what you think of the track.

These odds may be a bit skewed, given the fact the country is under assault from Russia - leading to global support for Ukraine.

We caught up with Kalush last week in Turin, where the lead singer said one of the group's members is still out defending the streets of Kyiv.

What about the UK?

Well. We're second favourite to win.

Yeah you read that correctly - SECOND. FAVOURITE.

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Sam Ryder on UK song entry

Sam Ryder, a TikTok sensation with more than 12 million followers, is among the front runners at the contest for the UK for the first time in years.

He'll perform Space Man - a track he wrote during lockdown - a jaunty contemporary pop number. What's better is he is one of the last to perform - which in terms of the stats, is very good news.

Ryder is likeable, fun, and insanely talented. He was chosen by the BBC (who runs Eurovision on behalf of the UK) and record label TaP Records, in an effort to show the UK is taking the contest seriously.

Listen to his rehearsal clip from last week below.

Which acts should I watch out for?

Some fan-faves have already been sent packing, including Citi Zeni's vegan anthem Eat Your Salad (which included the lyrics "Instead of meat, I eat veggies and..." followed by a chorus of a rude word from the crowd), and San Marino's Achille Lauro with Stripper.

However, Norway with Give That Wolf A Banana by Subwoolfer remains in the running. It has everything you want in a Eurovision act - references to eating bananas, pyrotechnics, the name Keith, and two men singing in bright yellow wolf masks.

Other notable hopefuls include Serbian artist Konstrakta, whose peculiar song references Meghan Markle and begins with the lyrics (translated to English): "What could be the secret of Meghan Markle's healthy hair?

"What could it be? I think it's all about the deep hydration."

Image:These lads from Norway want you to feed bananas to wolves. Pic: AP

For fans of early noughties goth rock, Finland's act is a blast from the past with band The Rasmus - who were known for their 2003 smash hit In The Shadows. They'll perform Jezebel - which they say is about a "girl who takes what she wants, without asking".

You're also going to want to keep an ear out for Eurovision experts Sweden, Spain's Chanel with SloMo and Italy's Mahmood and Blanco with Brividi - all tipped to do well at the bookies.

The Grand Final takes place tonight at 8pm, on BBC One.