As Eurovision kicked off in spectacular style with the first Semi-finals on Tuesday night, fans across the UK were left feeling more than a little emotional when the late Paul O’Grady appeared in the show’s opening video.
Starring in the Welcome to Liverpool video, the Birkenhead-born star, famous for his drag persona Lily Savage appeared on screen to flash his trademark smile alongside a clear twinkle in his eye.
Holding one of his beloved canine companions while getting his hands dirty and mopping the floor, Paul’s appearance resonated with many fans at home who were heartbroken that he wasn’t alive to enjoy the festivities.
The broadcaster said: “Paul took part in this film as he wanted to mark his pride in his home region of Liverpool hosting the contest on behalf of 2022 winners Ukraine.”
It was included in the broadcast with the blessing of his family and friends who still continue to mourn his tragic loss.
Fans at home couldn’t help but feel touched by the inclusion of Paul’s footage in the opening film, with several shedding a tear at the poignant tribute to a much loved Scouse icon.
One fan wrote: “A gorgeous little nod to the great and utterly fabulous Paul O’Grady in the opening titles to Eurovision.”
Another viewer also agreed as they added: “So lovely to see Paul O’Grady in that opening and what an opening trailer that was. Amazing to see the King and Queen in it too and of course Ukraine the key part of it all.”
“Seeing Paul O’Grady was very touching,” a different viewer soon added, before several fans commented that they had been reduced to tears.
“Paul O’Grady and kids in tracksuits holding hands. Sobbing already,” one wrote.
Similar sentiments were then echoed by another fan who added: “Paul O’Grady in the opening sequence I’m crying.”
While Paul’s appearance undoubtedly packed the most emotional punch, the film also served as an ode to both host city Liverpool, and to Ukraine, the country they were hosting the event on behalf of.
Included in the film were a number of memorable locations from across the city, including Sefton Park Palm House, the Cavern Club, the Albert Dock, Goodison Park, Anfield, the Chinese Arch and the Royal Philharmonic toilets.
A handful of famous faces also appeared in the video alongside Paul, including Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson, and Wirral-born Great British Bake Off star Paul Hollywood, who is seen decorating a cake for the occasion.
Ukraine meanwhile was represented by Everton footballer Vitalii Mykolenko and Strictly Come Dancing star Nikita Kuzmin, while Liverpool FC women’s footballers Sofie Lungaard, from Denmark, and Emma Koivisto, from Finland, represented the breadth of nations coming together for the annual music competition.
Eurovision’s grand final airs Saturday May 13th at 8pm on BBC One
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