From beating England in the delayed 2020 Euros to Strictly professional Giovanni Pernice picking up the glitterball trophy, there’s little doubt that 2021 was Italy’s year.
The country is even hosting tonight’s Eurovision final after rock band Maneskin won last year’s contest with their song Zitti E Buoni.
Graham Norton is our man in Turin, providing the commentary, while the presenters are singing stars Mika and Laura Pausini, and Italian TV host Alessandro Cattelan. But which nation will triumph this evening?
Understandably, the bookies are predicting a victory for Ukraine (providing they made it through the semi-finals), who are represented by Kalush Orchestra.
Their frontman, Oleh Psiuk, is certainly hoping that they can send a message, telling The Guardian: “I really believe that unity is important at the moment. Our song has managed to unite so many Ukrainians and I hope that it will unite Europeans – and maybe the whole world.”
While few people would begrudge a Ukrainian victory, some UK fans may be secretly wondering if this could also be the year we salvage our Eurovision pride.
As one of the ‘Big Five’, the UK automatically qualifies for a place in the final, but we last won in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves.
Perhaps more damningly, we haven’t made the top 10 since Jade McEwen represented us with the Andrew Lloyd Webber-penned It’s My Time in 2009 (although Blue came close in 2011) and finished bottom in 2019 and 2021.
However, there are hopes that this year’s entrant, Sam Ryder, might be a genuine contender with Space Man.
DJs and Eurovision fan Scott Mills and Rylan, who hosted the coverage of this year’s semi-finals and can also be heard broadcasting live from Turin on Radio 2 today from 3pm as part of the build-up, certainly rate his chances.
Scott says: “I have been working with Sam from the very start. I’ve played his songs on my Radio 1 show since 2020. I’m a huge fan, and he is an incredible talent, with a social following most artists can only dream of. I think he is the perfect Eurovision act for us, I honestly do.”
Rylan added: “Sam is unreal, genuinely! His voice is out of this world, he’s a decent fella, and he’s up for a laugh. All of those things are so important at the contest. He is definitely giving us a fighting chance.”
The man himself is also looking forward to taking to the stage. Sam says: “Having been a fan of Eurovision since I was a kid l I am so honoured to have been presented with the opportunity to sing at an event alongside some of Europe’s most talented creatives, performers and songwriters.”
He adds: “I hope to sing my head off in a way the UK can be proud of, and to showcase a song I wrote with my friends last summer makes the whole experience even more special.”
So, even he doesn’t win, let’s hope he can at least avoid the dreaded nul points.