Eurovision 2022: who is UK entry Sam Ryder, odds, where is grand final – how can I watch?
The 32-year-old will take to the stage next month in the Italian city of Turin, hoping his song Space Man ends the UK’s dismal run at the contest, where it has come bottom of the leaderboard in the last two years.
Ryder’s viral covers led to a following of more than 12 million, the most of any UK artist on the social media platform, and a record deal with Parlophone.
Now he is preparing to compete for the UK at Eurovision – a night that could make or break his burgeoning career.
Here is everything you need to know about this year’s Eurovision.
When is Eurovision 2022?
As is customary for Eurovision, the grand final will be preceded by two semi-finals, which will determine which performers will play at the main event.
The two semi-finals will be held on Tuesday 10 and Thursday 12 May.
The Grand Final will feature 25 countries progressing from the semis: 10 from the first semi-final, 10 from the second semi-final, and the “Big 5” countries.
When is the final?
The final will be held on Saturday 14 May 2022.
It - as well as the live semi-final shows - will be hosted by Alessandro Cattelan, an Italian television presenter who fronted the Italian version of The X Factor from 2011 to 2020.
He’ll be joined by singer Laura Pausini, and Lebanese-British singer Mika, famous for his song, ‘Grace Kelly’.
How can I watch it?
Live coverage of the Eurovision 2022 semi-finals will be available in the UK through BBC Three for the first time since 2015; Scott Mills and Rylan Clark will be on commentary duty, overseeing proceedings and bringing viewers back in the UK all the action.
As for the grand final itself, the BBC will be broadcasting live coverage of the event, as they have done in previous years.
The live final will be broadcast on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds on Saturday 14 May.
Who is the UK’s entry?
Sam Ryder, a TikTok sensation, has been named the UK's entrant for the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.
According to the BBC, Ryder rose to stardom by covering songs on TikTok during lockdown, and now has 12 million followers, making him the most followed UK music artist on the app.
Surprisingly, oddsmakers reckon the UK has a good chance of doing well at this year’s Contest.
With the latest odds of a British Eurovision victory set at 12/1, could 2022 finally be the year we don’t hear the dreaded phrase, “nil points?”
Ryder, whose musical heroes include Iron Maiden and Sum 41, was selected for Eurovision in a new collaboration between the BBC and global management company TaP Music, which counts Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding among its clients.
His song, Space Man, is a quirky pop tune with a soaring chorus, equal parts James Blunt and Elton John, and was written 18 months ago – before Ryder had an inkling he would be representing his country.
This allowed him to sidestep the pitfall of attempting to write a Eurovision-style song – a surefire way to ruin your chances.
What has Ryder said?
“It will definitely be an emotional experience,” reflects Ryder. “Judging from the crowds at the pre-parties that I’ve been to, it’s amazing.
“There’s this air of solidarity from everyone toward Ukraine. It’s incredible to watch. I’m excited for people at home to hopefully get that emotion. I’m sure they will.
He has played at warm-up events in London, Amsterdam and Madrid, where entrants perform their songs for a select group of Eurovision superfans.
These events have also given him the chance to meet Kalush Orchestra, the act sent by Ukraine to compete, and early favourites to take the crown.
“They’re amazing, so talented,” he says.
Ryder is dismissive of the idea his background in social media gives him an advantage.
He believes the best strategy is to stay true to himself.
“If I change my relationship to singing, it’s a dangerous thing because I’m messing with something that has been such an important part of my life.
“So to make it strategic and to make it so that the happiness it gives me is dependent on where I come on a scoreboard is something I really don’t want to mess with.
“I want to focus on the fact that I’ve been asked to do it.
“I’ve been invited to share the stage with amazing performers from all over Europe, celebrating music and songwriting.
“They are the facts that I can hold on to and put my positive energy and focus into.”
Who else is competing?
A total of 40 countries will be participating in the 2022 contest.
This includes all countries that participated in the 2021 contest (barring one major exception), along with the returning Armenia and Montenegro, both of which had last taken part in 2019.
Russia will not be participating in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest following its invasion of Ukraine.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement that the inclusion of a Russian entry would bring the contest into “disrepute”.
Russia had not yet announced its act for 2022. It won in 2008 with Dima Bilan singing ‘Believe’, and in turn hosted the 2009 contest in Moscow.
Ukraine is set to compete at this year’s contest, and are actually favourites to win, given that the voting system’s political nature is likely to be highly sympathetic to the country in light of recent events.
The latest odds from Oddschecker put the nation at 19/20. Hosts Italy are then in second at 24/5, followed by Sweden at 41/5.
– The Eurovision grand final will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer and on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds on May 14 from 8pm.