Eurovision to kick off tonight with first live semi-final - with Hartlepool star Michael Rice joining BBC coverage

The Eurovision Song Contest will begin in earnest tonight as 17 international acts take to the stage in Israel for the first live semi-final.

Tuesday, 14th May 2019, 8:56 am
Michael Rice performs BIgger Than Us on The Graham Norton show. Picture: PA.

The first of two semi-finals at the Expo Tel Aviv venue will determine which 10 countries appear in the 26-strong grand final on Saturday.

Three favourites are due to appear: Australia's operatic pop star Kate Miller-Heidke, Iceland's fetish-punk group Hatari and Finland's Darude, a dance music veteran known for his 2000 track Sandstorm.

Michael Rice performs BIgger Than Us on The Graham Norton show. Picture: PA.

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The public vote will make up 50% of the total vote, with the other half determined by a professional jury in each participating country.

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All countries taking part in the semi-finals can vote along with France, Spain and host country Israel.

Fans can vote over the phone, by text or via the Eurovision app, available on iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Michael Rice is representing the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest.

UK residents, however, can not vote in this round and should save their votes for the 18-act second semi-final on Thursday May 16 and the grand final on Saturday May 18, where the UK's entry Michael Rice will perform during the second half.

The UK, as one of the "Big Five" countries, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are already assured of a place in the grand final. Last year's winners Israel also do not have to qualify via the semi-finals.

Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills will oversee BBC Four's coverage from 8pm (BST), with 21-year-old Rice joining the pair.

Michael found fame on BBC One programme All Together Now.

First semi-final running order:

1. Cyprus - Tamta with Replay

2. Montenegro - D Mol with Heaven

3. Finland - Darude ft. Sebastian Rejman with Look Away

4. Poland - Tulia with Fire Of Love (Pali Sie)

5. Slovenia - Zala Kralj and Gasper Santl with Sebi

6. Czech Republic - Lake Malawi with Friend Of A Friend

7. Hungary - Joci Papai with Az En Apam

8. Belarus - Zena with Like It

9. Serbia - Nevena Bozovic with Kruna

10. Belgium - Eliot with Wake Up

11. Georgia - Oto Nemsadze with Keep On Going

12. Australia - Kate Miller-Heidke with Zero Gravity

13. Iceland - Hatari - Hatrio Mun Sigra

14. Estonia - Victor Crone with Storm

15. Portugal - Conan Osiris with Telemoveis

16. Greece - Katerine Duska with Better Love

17. San Marino - Serhat with Say Na Na Na