Here we go! Graham Norton's Terry impersonation begins, and off goes the first song, last year's winner whose flawless complexion and neat hair seem to have been manufactured in a Euro-factory; the audience sing the chorus, a Euro-congregation at the Church of Pop.
Is the audience ready?
The lines are now open... which country can afford to win?
First up, Azerbaijan present us with a song called 'Drip Drop', which is a big football-terrace anthem that has probably already been market tested at matches in Baku. 'Drip Drop, Drip Drop!' taunt the home team to the away team.
'Bakooo, Bakooo forever!', the home team sways, scarves held aloft.
I have already eaten all the mini-poppadums.
Spain gives us the reincarnation of Leo Sayer, lumbering through key changes as a set of clowns tries to waltz around behind him occasionally colliding with each other (they get another chance to play later because of a stage invasion, a first for Eurovision).
Norway gives us key changes again; their song is Lloydwebberish and the singer looks like the type of TV gardening presenter chosen for their looks and not their green fingers. There's a definite Camaregg/Cleggaron look about him too. It's probably the suit. You could imagine him with his own lectern on the greensward at number 10 between the two coalition chaps, that fateful morn...
Here come Moldova, with a fiddle player and a terrifying swivel-hipped sax player, and a lot of leaping in futuristic silver costumes. I felt Wogan would have been a little more hilariously disgusted than Graham Norton, who possibly enjoyed the twinkly camp a little too much!
Cyprus gave us a proper song, sung by a Welshman they had found on the internet. The guy playing the fretless bass had a rather unfortunate habit of making love to the camera. Will the Welsh people vote for this en masse? With personnel from five countries in the backing band, could this be a crafty ploy from Cyprus to garner votes from all over Europe?
Bosnia Herzegovina (or Bosnier Hertsagovinier as Norton called 'em) gave us a mega-song with a very long wind-down at the end; Belgium gave us no frills with 'Me and My Guitar', sung by him on his guitar. Charming, actually.
Serbia? Mad! Mad! A man with flat helmet-like hair sings out of tune to an oompah track with a Spanish trumpet solo. Utterly weird. Belarus-man had flat hair too, only brown, not blond. 'Shahst imageen, shahst imageeen!' went the song, and suddenly as the last chorus swelled dramatically, twang! out sprung butterfly wings from the sparkly ladies' gowns. Dramatic!
Ireland's song segued from Belarus with the same b-p-ms and possibly the same chords, almost as though both countries had been given the same MOR template to work from. Oh God! An awful Irish whistle starts to tootle halfway through; old-fashioned, old-fashioned, old-fashioned! Plunk plunk plunk on the baby grand...
Greece's long-in-the-tooth love god dressed from head to toe in white made me laugh out loud. He had what appeared to be a medallion suspended on pearls round his neck and his song was punctuated by sporadic 'OOF's from extras from Lord of the Rings. Three quarters of the way through, an inappropriate Kool Herc-style scratch suddenly popped up, only to vanish again as quickly as it appeared.
And of course, the UK presented another Camaregg/Cleggaron, with a pinch of baby Milliband for good measure.Tthe song is pure Watermania circa 1987, constructed from snippets of previous hits and the result of a brainstorming session with a focus group. Ugh, unfortunately.
Georgia- poor woman! The dancers are stretching her this way and that, picking her up and transporting her to the side of the stage, folding her up, spinning her: what a challenge! Finally, she struggles free and belts out the last bit, moth so wide open I can see all her teeth and the roof of her mouth!
'Clep your hens!', commands the singer of the Turkish effort. Is that someone burping? Is Stephen Hawking doing backing vocals? No, it's a robot, wiggling it's cute robot ass and spraying the stage with sparks from a mini angle-grinder (Argos, £39.99). At the end of the song the robot transforms into a flag-waving woman with a sinister and knowing smile.
Albania gives us Soft Cell sung by a lady who looks like she could be from the Philadelphia Cream Cheese ad. Iceland's dance track is sung by a Rheinmaiden. 'Je ne sais pas poirquoi'; wasn't that a Pete Waterman title? The wheel has come full circle! And this lady is surely Ireland's twin sister!
Ukraine's earnest contribution is sung by a woman who looks rather Sun-page-3-ish, an environmentalist we hear, who starts off wearing a black hood. She sings to the sweet people, 'big-arse, big-arse, big-arse'; the show is full of backfiring Euro-English. Shall I vote for the one I feel sorry for?
We get proper bippity-boppity Euro-pop from France, son of Sunny (Boney M). I tapped my feet and thought it was the best song so far.
Graham Norton mentions a group of people who are drinking a shot every time they see a mullet or a violin: rather a lot!
Romania: Cheryl Cole, is that you moonlighting? The other singer is a creepy David Guest lookalike and they sit playing keyboards together at a transparent perspex piano. 'Joo and meee, carncha see we play wid fy-ah!' She hits a couple of very high notes in a song that's another jigsaw of other peoples hit-snippets.
Russia's song swirls in fake snow, and a man in a scarf sings about sweet emblaces with a tragic expression. 'I'm looking at your photo', he lies as he holds a scribbled drawing of a woman's face aloft. The wind machine starts off in the chorus and he tosses the picture into the false breeze (or should that be bleeze?) with a final pathos-filled flourish.
Armenia's singer is the most beautiful woman I have even seen, accompanied by an 87-year-old-man. Her long black hair reaches almost to the back of her knees. Shame about the song!
Germany- I liked this song, sung by a happy-looking girl full of youthful energy, everygirl with an ordinary voice, no special dress and no special hairdo and a natural teenagerish way of dancing.
And I have just found out she has won!