Hartlepool’s Eurovision star Michael Rice is delighted to be back home after winning his second TV talent show in a year.
Millions of people tuned in to BBC Two on Friday night to see the 21-year-old win the race to find the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest entry for 2019.
Michael’s rendition of Bigger Than Us was a smash with judges Mollie King, Marvin Humes and Rylan Clark-Neal before taking first place in the phone-in vote.
Now back home, he admitted he had only accepted the invitation to audition for the show because he thought it would be good experience.
Michael hit the headlines in March last year, when he won the BBC’s Saturday night talent show Altogether Now, and admitted he had been convinced lightning would not strike twice.
He was amazed when presenter Mel Giedroyc confirmed he had seen off rivals Kerrie-Anne, performing Sweet Lies, and Jordan Clarke singing Freaks, to got through to the final in Tel Aviv in May.
“I could not believe it, I just thought ‘Are you joking?’,” he said.
I just stood there in shock, then the other contestants ran to me and they hugged me - it was really, really nice,Michael Rice
“I did not think it was going to be me. I just thought it would be great experience. I did not think anyone could win two TV shows within a year.
“I just stood there in shock, then the other contestants ran to me and they hugged me - it was really, really nice,
“It is crazy. I did not expect it to go my way. Everything was go good - the staging, the dancers...”
Michael has been thrilled with the whole experience and especially the friendship which grew between the six acts taking part.
“We all got on so well. In rehearsals, everything was just fantastic,” he said.
“It has been a really good thing to be part of.”
Now he is looking forward to a busy few months before heading to Israel for the big night.
“It is going to be a total whirlwind, travelling to different countries, performing the song for eveyone,” he said.
“It is going to be really good experience.”