Ready for Rotterdam: Lesley Roy represents Ireland in tonight's Eurovision semi-final

- plus, when and where to watch the proceedings
Ready for Rotterdam: Lesley Roy represents Ireland in tonight's Eurovision semi-final

Lesley Roy will perform her song Maps for Ireland on Tuesday May 18. Picture: Ruth Medjber.

Lesley Roy has landed and is ready to go for the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam - competing in tonight's semi-final.

The Balbriggan native was beaming at a press conference earlier last week, where she talked about the preparation ahead of her performance.

"I've been involved in everything about this for every single step of the way. I love the staging to bits. We were very mindful of the high chance that the show might be just for people at home so the majority of the song is directed for people in their sitting rooms," Roy said.

The 34-year-old had to write a whole new song following the high-profile cancellation of last year’s contest, which was rescheduled due to the pandemic.

Instead of her original entry Story of My Life, Roy will sing her new song Maps — which she co-wrote with Lukas Hallgren, Philip Strand, and Emelie Eriksson.

To keep up with the high-energy tempo of the track, she'll also perform the piece while running on a treadmill.

"I am very excited about it. Especially after the months and months of work. We wanted to stand out and I think regardless of anything else of the night, the paper world that we've built specifically for viewers at home will really cut across the screen,” she said.

“We're super excited to try and pull this off. It's really entertaining. I think it's really creative — what we've been able to do and how all the props are moved by hand and how it continues this story of a journey."

Virtual support

Roy will perform seventh on Tuesday night. Picture: Ruth Medjber.
Roy will perform seventh on Tuesday night. Picture: Ruth Medjber.

Around 3,500 locals will watch the contest as a socially distanced audience in Rotterdam's Ahoy Arena.

Roy was able to travel for the contest with her wife but had to leave the rest of her family and friends at home due to restrictions. She says that the virtual support she has been getting has been brilliant so far, however.

"Every performer is probably going to be a little upset that their family isn't going to be able to meet them after they perform on one of the biggest stages in the world but at the same time, I think we've all been living in this online bubble for a year so it doesn't feel that drastic,” Roy said.

"I know they're going to be cheering me on from Balbriggan. My sister and her bubble are having a party next week. My nieces have been wearing their t-shirts to school. It is what it is when it comes to Covid but I've got great support."

Many are hoping that Roy will join the ranks of Dana, Johnny Logan, and Linda Martin and finally bring the Eurovision title back home after 25 years. Martin, who won the contest in 1992, even sent a message of encouragement to Roy ahead of the performance.

"She said: 'We're all behind you. You're doing the country proud and you're shining a great light on Ireland',” Roy recalled.

Running order

Bookmakers from Eurovisionworld.com currently have France pegged to win and Ireland to come in at 22. However, bookmakers have been wrong before and Roy is a seasoned musician and songwriter, lending her talents to Medina, Jana Kramer, and Adam Lambert in the past.

"I've been running this song every morning for two hours for the past four or five weeks so I'm definitely in a good place,” said Roy. “I've gotten into a good routine of what to do physically and emotionally to get ready."

The whole team has been undergoing Covid-19 testing every 48 hours in Rotterdam, according to Roy. There are also strict measures in place behind the scenes.

"It's so separated. It's very open backstage with very few people there. They've made it so safe. I haven't seen many artists before or after me except for on the screen and they're moved off very quickly to their own section. We're all in our own little boxes,” Roy said.

"We're trying to be as safe as possible with this. We just want to get to the stadium and do it in the best way we can."

Ireland will perform seventh on Tuesday night, which Roy feels "blessed" with. "We're right in the middle and I think we're just right before the break. I think we're in a brilliant spot,” she said.

No matter what happens on the night, Roy has loved the journey so far and is already thinking about how she can be involved in next year’s Irish entry.

"I love the adrenaline and the details of it all. I imagine after one week off and I'll be jumping back into work. I'm addicted to writing songs."

Where can I watch?

The Eurovision is a creature of the television age, being an EBU co-production, including involvement from RTÉ and the BBC.

No surprises that that's where you can find the contest, then.

Tonight's semi-final goes out at 8pm on RTÉ 2, and tomorrow's final at the same time on RTÉ 1. Marty Whelan brings his well-seasoned vocal tones to proceedings on both nights.

For an alternate commentary track, tune into BBC 4 tonight at 8, and for tomorrow night's finals, Graham Norton handles proceedings in inimitable fashion on BBC 1.

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