'Keep the faith' - BBC's face of Eurovision Graham Norton praises Hartlepool's Michael Rice for 'strong song' ahead of final

Presenter Graham Norton has thrown his support behind the UK's Eurovision star Michael Rice ahead of the competition this weekend.

This year's event is taking place in Tel Aviv, Israel, and marks a decade since Norton took over from Sir Terry Wogan as the host of the BBC's Eurovision coverage.

The UK will be represented in the competition by 21-year-old Michael Rice, from Hartlepool, who shot to stardom after winning All Together Now, a singing show on BBC One last year.

And presenter Norton has said that Michael has a chance at the title in this year's race.

He said: "I think the song is strong but what makes it really stand out is Michael's voice and personality.

"To those that say we can never win I would remind them of Portugal, Israel, Austria, Germany, all recent winners and countries that never gave up though many said they should.

Eurovision Song Contest star Michael Rice, from Hartlepool.

Eurovision Song Contest star Michael Rice, from Hartlepool.

Keep the faith, United Kingdom."

Related content: Hartlepool's Michael Rice arrives in Israel for Eurovision Song Contest

In recent years, UK entrants have largely failed to finish in a high-ranking position in Eurovision.

Ahead of his trip to Tel Aviv, Michael revealed hopes that his song, Bigger Than Us, could be the one to change that.

Graham Norton is preparing to front the BBC's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. Picture: PA.

Graham Norton is preparing to front the BBC's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. Picture: PA.

The last time the UK won Eurovision was in 1997 with Katrina And The Waves' Love Shine A Light and the UK has not finished in the top 10 since 2009 with Jade Ewen's It's My Time.

Read more: 'Do it for Hartlepool' - town's praise for Eurovision hopeful Michael Rice as he sets off for contest in Tel Aviv

In quotes obtained by the Press Association, Norton added: "My job at Eurovision is unlike anything else I do.

"I just sit back and watch the show, making the odd comment when I think it's needed.

Michael Rice performs his track on The Graham Norton Show. Picture: PA.

Michael Rice performs his track on The Graham Norton Show. Picture: PA.

"Work is really a big word for what I actually do on the night."

-*The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest will start tomorrow, with the final held on Saturday.