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Ireland’s Eurovision entry, Bambie Thug, has called on the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to “gain some conscience” and “humanity,” as the contest bosses struggle to keep politics off the stage at the annual competition.

The 31-year-old, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns “they” and “them”, also said “they cried with their team” when they found out Israel had got through to the grand final of the contest.

Pic: Reuters
Eden Golan, representing Israel, performs on stage during the first rehearsal of the second semi-final of the 68th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at Malmo Arena, in Malmo, Sweden, May 8, 2024. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
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Eden Golan. Pic: Reuters

Bambie is currently fifth favourite to win the competition with “ouija pop” song Doomsday Blue.

Israel’s act, Eden Golan, will compete with her song Hurricane which was reworked after an initial version titled October Rain was ruled too political by the EBU, which believed some lyrics referred to the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.

In March, Bambie was one of the nine contestants – including the UK’s Olly Alexander, Finland’s Windows95Man and Switzerland’s Nemo – who called for a ceasefire in Gaza and the “safe return” of Israeli hostages in a joint statement.

Earlier in the week, Bambie said the EBU prevented them from displaying a pro-Palestinian message during their performance during the first semi-final.

They told reporters at an earlier news conference that they had been forced to change writing painted on their body which had been painted in an early Medieval alphabet which translated to “ceasefire and freedom”.

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At the time, a spokesperson for the EBU said: “The writing seen on Bambie Thug’s body during dress rehearsals contravened contest rules that are designed to protect the non-political nature of the event.

“After discussions with the Irish delegation, they agreed to change the text for the live show.”

Bambie Thug. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Pic: Reuters

Bambie said for the EBU to better handle future political issues it needed to focus on “gaining some heart and some conscience and some humanity”.

They also said demonstrations and calls for Israel to be banned over their ongoing ground offensive in Gaza was “completely overshadowing” the contest.

They said: “It’s an incredibly intense atmosphere, you know… I don’t think it’s sitting well with any of the contestants, to be honest.”

There are more pro-Palestinian protests planned in Malmo to coincide with the Eurovision grand final, amid the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Police estimated more than 10,000 people took part in a march on Thursday.

During an earlier rehearsal on Wednesday, Golan was met with some boos and cries of “Free Palestine”, and an audience member appeared to have a Palestinian flag removed from them in the auditorium.

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Eurovision fans boo Israeli singer

Separately, Spain’s state-owned broadcaster hit out at the EBU on Friday, calling for it to respect “press and opinion” at this year’s event.

RTVE wrote on social media: “The Spanish delegation from @eurovision_tve has conveyed to @EBU_HQ its commitment to freedom of the press and opinion and has asked that @Eurovision let them watch it.”

The post was made shortly after it was announced that Madrid would be hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest later this year.

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Some 26 countries, including UK entry Olly Alexander, 33, with his track Dizzy, are due to battle it out for the coveted Eurovision glass trophy tonight.

Bambie also referred to an unexplained “incident” involving Netherlands act Joost which happened on Friday and resulted in him being “investigated” by the EBU and removed from the two grand finale rehearsals.

Joost Klein. Pic: AP
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Joost Klein. Pic: AP

When asked if they and other acts were supportive of him, Bambie said: “I don’t know what exactly happened with the incident, but I am with anyone who was pro-Palestine.”

There is no indication that today’s “incident” is linked to disagreements about the situation in the Middle East.

Joost had been part of the flag parade at the start of Friday’s rehearsal, and walked around the stage in full costume, but then failed to arrive on stage for his performance around 30 minutes later.

He later failed to perform in the grand final jury vote – which is the final rehearsal before the real show.

The EBU – which has said the investigation is “ongoing” – is yet to confirm whether Joost will be performing in the grand final tonight.

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Golan responded to a question over whether she was a ‘security risk’

Bambie also said they were worried Ireland might miss out on votes due to the ongoing boycott to stop Eurovision.

They said: “I’m fearful that we will miss a lot of votes because of the boycotting, and that those then will make someone else have more of a chance to win.

“I don’t think it should, but there are 200 million viewers.”

They said people should vote for Bambie Thug “for art, for change, to shake things up and for best song, best performer in the competition”.

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The crowd chanting ‘Joost’ and booing in response to his absence

Croatia is currently predicted to win the contest, followed by Israel, with fellow non-binary contestant Nemo, who is competing for Switzerland, resting in third place.

Meanwhile, Irish premier Simon Harris has said the “whole country will be rooting” for Bambie, who is the first Irish finalist since 2018.

:: Sky News will be in Malmo with updates, a live blog, and all the biggest news from the final as it happens

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Charlie Colin: Original Train bassist dies after ‘slipping in shower’

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Charlie Colin: Original Train bassist dies after 'slipping in shower'

Charlie Colin, a founding member of 90s pop rock band Train, has died after slipping over in a shower, according to reports.

The incident is understood to have happened in Belgium, where the 58-year-old had been house-sitting for a friend in Brussels.

According to TMZ, the star’s mother confirmed what had happened – but could not confirm exactly when he died. His sister also confirmed the musician’s death to US entertainment site, Variety.

The band, formed in San Francisco in 1993, released a statement on Instagram saying: “When I met Charlie Colin, front left, I fell in love with him.

Colin, left, and Pat Monahan perform during the 44th annual Grammy Awards in 2022. Pic: AP
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Colin, left, and Pat Monahan perform during the 44th annual Grammy Awards in 2022. Pic: AP

“He was THE sweetest guy and what a handsome chap. Let’s make a band, that’s the only reasonable thing to do.

“His unique bass playing and beautiful guitar work helped get folks to notice us in SF (San Francisco) and beyond.

“I’ll always have a warm place for him in my heart. I always tried to pull him closer, but he had a vision of his own.

“You’re a legend, Charlie. Go charm the pants off those angels.”

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Read more from Sky News:
Anonymous rapper who claims to be footballer announces first gig
The sports events and festivals that clash with general election

Colin was a founding member of the band, alongside Pat Monahan, Rob Hotchkiss, Scott Underwood, and Jimmy Stafford, and with them recorded hits including “Drops of Jupiter” and “Marry Me”.

He was reportedly forced to leave the group in 2003 due to substance abuse issues.

The band recorded their most famous hit, “Hey, Soul Sister”, in 2009 following Colin’s departure from the group.

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Dide: Masked rapper who claims to be a Premier League footballer announces first live gig

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Dide: Masked rapper who claims to be a Premier League footballer announces first live gig

Dide, the anonymous masked rapper who claims to be a Premier League footballer, has announced his first live gig.

The music star, who rose to prominence on social media last year and wears a studded black rose mask to conceal his identity, will perform in London in June.

Known only as Dide, the incognito rapper has sparked frenzied speculation about his identity, with Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson, Chelsea’s Noni Madueke, Fulham’s Alex Iwobi and West Ham’s Michail Antonio among the names thrown into the mix.

“The main thing for me is the music rather than the football player,” he told Sky News exclusively Iast year, in his first on-camera interview. “I guess fans and the public ran with all these different opinions, which is cool.”

Who is Dide? Sky News meets the mystery rapper

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October 2023: Dide speaks to Sky News

Announcing his first live show, he said: “Finally, my first live show! My first live public performance.

“I know you all have been getting on to me about doing one. You can’t miss this!”

The show will take place at The Lower Third on Denmark Street in Soho, central London, on 20 June.

Interestingly, England take on Denmark for their second group-stage match of Euro 2024 in Germany that afternoon. Could this be a reason behind his choice of venue, or coincidence?

Either way, presumably he won’t be at the match – ruling out Saka, who is in the England squad – but hopefully he’ll get to watch before he goes on stage.

However, there’s no mention of the England game in his announcement.

“Thank you for your support,” Dide added. “See you at the show.”

Read more on Sky News:
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Ahead of the gig announcement, Dide shared a video on social media announcing Energy, which could be a new track, to be released on Thursday.

“Time to peel back the layers,” he wrote alongside the clip. “Mask off.”

During our interview last year, he told Sky News his identity would be revealed in the future.

Fans will no doubt be watching to see if and when that happens.

Pre-sale tickets are available from 23 May, with general tickets on sale from 28 May.

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The gigs, sports events and festivals that clash with the 4 July general election

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The gigs, sports events and festivals that clash with the 4 July general election

Some sports fans and music lovers who want to vote are set to be double booked on polling day after Rishi Sunak called a general election on 4 July.

The prime minister announced in the pouring rain this afternoon that “now is the moment for Britain to choose its future“.

But those set to see The Killers at the O2 Arena or Megan Thee Stallion at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro who also want to vote may face a challenge to their plans.

Other gigs clashing with the general election include Morgan Wallen’s biggest-ever UK show at Hyde Park, and Paloma Faith’s stadium show at the Utilita Arena in Cardiff.

Comedian James Acaster – who backed Labour’s Rosie Wrighting to be elected MP in Kettering – is also performing at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town on the same day as the election.

Usually, polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on polling day and require attendance in-person with an acceptable form of ID.

The Electoral Commission says they can get busy, however, particularly before most people start work or towards the end of the day, which might make it harder for people to attend events and vote on the same day.

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But it is possible to vote by post, or by proxy, the commission says, if you have applied to do so within the deadline.

The crowd for Fred Again at Glastonbury
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The thousands at Glastonbury will be back from the festival in time to vote on 4 July

A number of other music festivals are either starting on Wednesday 3 July or Thursday 4th, and others are starting the day after, including BST at Hyde Park with Kings Of Leon, Kylie, Robbie Williams and Andrea Bocelli, among others.

Glastonbury attendees will be relieved however as election day comes the week after the four-day festival, held from the 26 to 30 June.

Just after hours after announcing the election, Sunak rolled out the Conservative’s vision for another five years at the ExCel centre in east London.

But the prime minister might pause campaigning in four days’ time to watch Southampton play Leeds in the Championship playoff final. He was spotted at St Mary’s Stadium to watch the Saints see off West Bromwich Albion on Friday.

What about the Euros?

Sticking with football, both England and Scotland will look to win Euro 2024 in Germany this summer, while Sunak and Keir Starmer campaign at home.

The Three Lions will play Serbia on 16 June, Denmark on 20 June and Slovenia on 25 June.

Meanwhile, Scotland will kick off the tournament against Germany on 14 June, before playing Switzerland on 19 June and Hungary on 23 June.

There’s also a chance either side could play the day after the general election: If England finish second in their group and win their round of 16 game, they will play on 5 July at the MHPArena in Stuttgart.

Scotland will play this day if they top their group and win the first knockout game.

If England finish first in their group, or if Scotland finish second, and either side win their round of 16 game, they will play on Saturday 6 July instead.

England Team
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England will play the day after the general election if they finish second in their group and win their round of 16 game

Any other clashes?

For some private schools, 4 July is the end of term, which could mean some intend to start their holidays on that day.

For those watching the tennis, Wimbledon will take place from 1 July to 14 July – often a full day trip for many who attend.

On the day of the election, the tournament will see the second round of the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Singles, as well as the first round of the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ Doubles.

The Henley Royal Regatta will be in full swing on 4 July, having started two days before, while the British Grand Prix is due to get under way the day after on 5 July.

Read more:
Sunak’s general election speech in full
Why summer election is a big call for PM
Starmer declares ‘time for change’

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But those perhaps most likely to be annoyed by the election date will be in Scotland, with the six-week state school summer holiday starting from 28 June, with many jetting off as soon as the children break up.

Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, expressed his discontent on X just after Sunak spoke, saying: “A Scottish school summer holiday election is the final insult this Tory Government can impose on Scotland.”

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