Is Hannah Waddingham the Real Winner of Eurovision?

After Mae Muller’s disastrous second-to-last performance in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, trounced by Sweden’s Loreen with her song Tattoo, we have to ask ourselves – was Hannah Waddingham the only British winner of Eurovision 2023?

Hannah is a bright star of the UK musical stage, but might have been know to a wider audience only for her part in Apple TV+ hit comedy Ted Lasso, where she plays scheming football club owner Rebecca Welton. So where did the 5’11” actress come from, and how did she come to present Eurovision 2023?

Born in Wandsworth in London in 1974, Hannah’s mother, Melodie Kelly, was an opera singer, as were both of her maternal grandparents. Her mother joined the English National Opera when Hannah was eight years old, and she grew up around the theatre.

A graduate of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, Hannah has a four octave vocal range. Her first performing experience was in dinner theatre, performing in the interactive comedy Joni and Gina’s Wedding.

Hannah has appeared in stage productions both in London’s West End and on New York’s Broadway. She performed as Starbird in Space Family Robinson (Julian & Stephen Butler, 2002), Suzanne Valadon in Lautrec, and the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, both in the London production and then on Broadway, for which she received an Olivier Award nomination. She received outstanding reviews and another Olivier nomination for her portrayal of Desirée Armfeldt in Trevor Nunn’s revival of A Little Night Music, including being described by one critic as the “Joanna Lumley of musical theatre”.

Hannah Waddingham
Hannah Waddingham in Into the Woods, 2010


In mid-2010, Waddingham played the Witch in the production of Into the Woods at London’s Open Air Theatre, and in 2011 originated the role of The Wicked Witch of the West in the West End production of The Wizard of Oz.

In 2012, Hannah starred in Chichester Festival Theatre’s revival of Kiss Me, Kate.

By that time, Hannah had started to make TV and film appearances, including as a porn star in BBC sitcom Not Going Out, in the 2012 film Les Misérables, and in ITV comedy Benidorm.

Her breakthrough role was arguably that of the “Shame Nun”, Septa Unella, in season 5 and 6 of Game of Thrones. She also had a recurring role on the Netflix series Sex Education.

Since 2020, Hannah Waddingham has portrayed Rebecca Welton, the owner of AFC Richmond, on the Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso. She does her own singing in the season one episode “Make Rebecca Great Again” and the season two episodes “Carol of the Bells” and “No Weddings and a Funeral“. In 2021, she won an American Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, and the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the role.

She also appears as the character Mother Witch in Hocus Pocus 2, as Lady Bellaston in the ITV drama miniseries Tom Jones, and as Mimi Dagmar in the Midsomer Murders episode, The Stitcher Society.

In March 2023, Waddingham was announced as part of the cast for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two.


She hosted the Olivier Awards in 2023, but after her performance as co-host of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in Liverpool, alongside Alesha Dixon and Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina, with Graham Norton joining them for the final, Hannah Waddingham gained widespread praise, with The Guardian dubbing her an “overnight national treasure”.

Hannah Waddingham
The hosts of the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, Julia Sanina and Hannah Waddingham, on stage at the dress rehearsal of the first semi-final on 8th May 2023, held on 8th May 2023 at the Liverpool Arena in Liverpool

Hannah is a single mother to a daughter who has an autoimmune disease, Henoch–Schönlein purpura, and says that she keeps her Emmy award in her daughter’s bedroom to remind her that “mummy will only ever be away when it’s for a really, blooming good reason.” She speaks fluent French and Italian and has stated her love for languages.

So now we all know where Hannah Waddingham comes from, where will she go next?

See also: Our Top Ten TV Celebrity Cars of All Time

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