The host of ESC 2013, Petra Mede, held a relaxed and informal press conference during the lunch break of today's rehearsals. Flanked by show producer Christer Björkman and director and scriptwriter Edward af Sillén, Mede came across as entirely at ease with the preparations for next week's shows. Notably, not only is her English excellent, but her English humour really works - and being light and spontaneous in another language isn't always easy.
Starting with a brief overview of her career path to date (ballet dancer -> Stockholm tour guide -> stand-up comedian -> TV game show panelist -> Melodifestivalen -> Eurovision) and an anecdote about the Gaultier dresses she'll be wearing for the shows (apparently the designer is a huge fan of Swedish cinnamon buns), talk quickly turned to the concrete build-up to her role as the host of this year's contest and what the producers will be trying to acheive script-wise.
One thing was made perfectly clear: Mede was selected because SVT specifically wanted a solo host who can provide a single, clear line while leading viewers through the contest. Inclusivity is the key - "We Are One", after all - and the script has been designed to strike the right balance in terms of laughing with people rather than laughing at people. It was acknowledged that it's difficult to find common humour that can be appreciated from Ireland to Moldova - but Af Sillén was also responsible for the script used by the Norwegian hosts in 2010, which seems a good indicator of the type of gentle but knowing humour we can expect this year.
In a cute touch, af Sillén mentioned that Mede had borrowed 20 of his old Eurovision videotapes - videotapes! - to get a feel for the presentation styles of years gone by. While she herself says there's nothing in particular she's trying to avoid (other than a Lill Lindfors wardrobe malfunction, deliberate or otherwise),
Björkman did add that he'd given her one concrete instruction in particular: NO SCREAMING. (Sorry, we mean no screaming. Shhhhhh! Some people's heads are still delicate after the Belarusian party.)
Oh, and Mede answered a question from a French journalist in more or less flawless français. Shame there won't be much of it in her script, really.
All in all, the threesome of Mede, Björkman and af Sillén seem far more relaxed and less triumphalistic and self-praising than some of what we've seen from the host broadcaster this season (including in the press centre, on occasion), and that's reassuring when it comes to the overall tone of the show. We'll learn more during the first run-through of the dress rehearsal tomorrow afternoon!