Graham Norton blasts 'terrible decision' to stop Ukraine hosting next year's Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision host said everyone is sad about the event not being held in Ukraine

Published Last updated

Graham Norton has spoken about the decision to stop Ukraine hosting next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, after the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said it cannot be held there because of the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian entry, Kalush Orchestra, won the competition in Turin, Italy, this year, and it is traditional that the winning country hosts the event the following year.

Speaking at the launch of Paramount+ in the UK, Norton, 59, said how difficult the decision must have been for the EBU and suggested there is a strong chance the event could be held in the UK next year.

He told said: “I think everyone is sad about it in one sense, because that must have been a really terrible decision for the EBU.

Graham Norton
Graham Norton

“They didn’t want to give that news to Ukraine and nobody wanted that happen.

“Now that it’s happened, I know the BBC are looking at it really seriously, but will it happen? I don’t know. You know as much as I do.”

Last week the EBU said that following a “full assessment and feasibility study” it had concluded the “security and operational guarantees” required to host the event cannot be fulfilled by Ukraine’s public broadcaster UA:PBC.

If the UK does host the contest in 2023, it would be the ninth time it has taken place here – more than any other country.

The organiser of the Eurovision Song Contest has said it is in talks with the BBC to host the 2023 event.

Sam Ryder, arrives at Heathrow Airport in London after finishing second in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy
Sam Ryder, arrives at Heathrow Airport in London after finishing second in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy

Norton also discussed the rising popularity of drag in the UK and beyond, after the success of Queen Of The Universe – a drag queen singing competition that brings together drag queens from around the world, which airs on streaming service Paramount+.

“It’s great that it’s so mainstream,” he said.

“I mean, I think it’s slightly different in this country, in that there’s always been mainstream drag in this country, and that goes back to panto.

“For kids it’s one of the first entertainments that kids are exposed to, is drag. But now, it’s finding a real kind of mainstream TV appeal and our show is precisely that.

“The prize is a quarter of a million dollars. There’s nothing alternative programming about it. It is very shiny floor, big, mainstream entertainment show.”

Norton also stars in the successful BBC Three show RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, on which he has been a judge since its launch in 2019

When asked if he had a drag queen name of his own, Norton said: “No, I’ve got to come up with one. I only have one on my head, and it’s too rude to say out loud, so I have to work harder.”

Paramount+ launches in the UK and Ireland on June 22.