It’s the iconic national final known for its six-city tour of Sweden every year. But the tour could be over for Melodifestivalen 2021. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, broadcaster SVT is reportedly considering a different format for the series – it would be filmed entirely in Stockholm with no live audience.
According to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, their well-placed sources claim SVT is working on different contingency plans for the music festival. The alternative scenarios involve scrapping the usual Melfest tour and instead filming all six shows in a single venue in Stockholm.
The six Melodifestivalen shows are normally held in different locations around Sweden, including venues in both large metropolitan areas as well as smaller regional towns. The grand final traditionally takes place at Stockholm’s Friends Arena, in front of a live audience of around 30,000 people.
However, since late March, the Swedish government has banned all public gatherings of more than 50 people — which includes events like Melodifestivalen.
Even if restrictions were to be lifted in the future, Aftonbladet‘s sources say that SVT is concerned that the usual arena format may cause the virus to be spread and that the broadcaster may face negative public scrutiny. And, as one source says, “I have a very hard time seeing that they will be able to sell tickets for an arena tour.”
The paper’s sources say there is no plan to change the format of the contest, with the usual four semi-finals, andra chansen second-chance round and grand final. Instead all six shows would be filmed in a smaller Stockholm venue.
Small venue, big dreams
A source claims that SVT aren’t considering using one of their own studios. They’re thinking big and want to be able to build a full-size Melodifestivalen stage to give performers and viewers the usual experience.
Two potential locations have been suggested. The first is NEP Studios in Stockholm, where Swedish Idol is usually filmed. The venue is the largest television studio in Sweden and can accommodate an audience of 1,600. The show could be filmed with a small audience, but if restrictions are relaxed, a larger audience could be used.
The other potential venue is the Annex hall of Globe Arena. At Eurovision 2016, the Annex was used as the area for delegations. The Annex has a concert capacity of 3,950.
It will still feel “very luxurious and expensive”
Aftonbladet‘s source also says that even if the show venues are downscaled, Melfest 2021 will still have the same high production standards. The source said, “They say that it should still feel very luxurious and expensive.”
Another source says it will be no problem for SVT to produce a high-quality show, noting that Melodifestivalen ticket sales do not normally fund the stage production. But they note that holding the show without an audience won’t have the same feeling.
As the Melodifestivalen shows are regularly among the most popular Swedish television shows every year, it’s understandable that SVT would want to retain as much of the Melodifestivalen spirit as possible.
Aftonbladet says that it is not clear if SVT has committed to ditching the Melodifestivalen tour yet. A source says the broadcaster will need to have made a decision by September.
In the past, SVT has announced the venues for upcoming editions of Melodifestivalen in mid-September, however the 2020 locations were confirmed in late August 2019.
A spokesperson from SVT told the newspaper, “It is far too early to say anything about the tour in 2021. The editors will start work again next week. We will come back later.”
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