Wednesday 20 February 2019

Eurovision hopefuls prepare for first semi-final

Nineteen countries including favourites Israel will bid to reach the grand final tonight.

A fan takes a picture in front of a banner at the Eurovision Song Contest in Portugal (Armando Franca/AP)
A fan takes a picture in front of a banner at the Eurovision Song Contest in Portugal (Armando Franca/AP)

By Andrew Arthur, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

Azerbaijan, Israel and Ireland are among the countries hoping to reach the grand final of Eurovision 2018 tonight in the first semi-final in Lisbon.

Israel’s Netta Barzilai, who will perform her song Toy, is the favourite with bookmakers to win this year’s competition.

Other acts in the first semi-final expected to do well include Estonia’s Elina Nechayeva and Eleni Foureira from Cyprus.

Former Britain’s Got Talent finalist Ryan O’Shaughnessy will represent Ireland with the song Together.

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SHOWBIZ Eurovision

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 Portugal also do not have to qualify via the semis.

Singer-songwriter SuRie is representing the UK this year with the song Storm.

A total of 19 acts will perform in the first semi-final, with only the top 10 – as decided by both a jury of experts and the public – qualifying for Saturday’s final line-up of 26 countries.

Scores will be weighted 50-50 between the marks from each competing nation’s professional jury and the results of the televote.

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(PA Graphics)

Viewers in the UK will be able to vote for their favourite song in the first semi-final after the final act has finished performing.

The event will be screened live on BBC Four, where Radio DJ Scott Mills and This Morning presenter Rylan Clark-Neal will interview contestants and explore host city Lisbon.

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