Eurovision 2019: What time is the final, how can I watch live and who is representing the UK?

Annual singing competition takes place in Tel Aviv from 14 May

Australia and Iceland qualify for Eurovision final

The Eurovision Song Contest is almost here, with millions of people around the world expected to tune in for the 2019 event.

The first semi-final takes place next week on Tuesday 14 May in Tel Aviv, Israel, while the second is on Thursday 16 May. The final is on Saturday 18 May.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the competition.

Who is representing the UK this year?

21-year-old singer Michael Rice was voted to sing on behalf of the UK this year after competing on the BBC’s national selection show You Decide.

He will perform the song “Bigger Than Us”, which was written by Laurell Barker, Anna-Khara Folin, Jonas Thander, and John Lundvik.

Who was the winner of Eurovision 2018?

Israel’s Netta Barzilai was the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. She won with her exuberant and empowering pop song “TOY”, which she performed at the final last year in Lisbon, Portugal.

Why is Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest?

The contest is organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is made up of various broadcasters from countries across Europe and beyond, including the BBC and RTE in Ireland.

There are 73 member stations from more than 56 countries, including Israel, and all are entitled to send acts to Eurovision.

Israel’s state broadcaster has been a member of the EBU for several decades. The country has won Eurovision four times, with Dana International in 1998 remaining one of the most popular.

How does the voting process for Eurovision work?

Eurovision used to be judged by a collection of juries before being opened to the public for a phone vote. However, it was claimed that several countries were just voting for their friends and closest neighbours, which prompted the introduction of a new system.

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The juries from each country (made up of five music industry professionals) award 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 points to their favourite songs, and reveal those jury scores through their national spokesperson. Viewers from each country can also vote via phone or SMS, awarding 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12 points to their favourite songs. Once public voting has closed, the results from each country are combined to give one overall Eurovision viewer score per song.

Viewers in all the competing countries – including those who were knocked out in the semi-finals – can vote up to 20 times for the songs of their choice, but not for their own country. The country with the highest number of votes wins the competition and gets to host it the next year.

Who is performing for the interval at the Eurovision final this year?

Madonna is set to take the stage after the competitors have performed, which has already caused controversy due to the ongoing artists boycott in support of Palestine.

Lior Suchard, Israel’s answer to Derren Brown, will also perform.

How do you vote in the Eurovision Song Contest?

You can vote by telephone. Here are the official BBC guidelines for UK voters:

“After all countries have performed, viewers will be invited to vote for their favourite act/s. Voting is by telephone only. Voters in the UK can choose either to call from their landline using the long (11-digit) number for the country of their choice or from their mobile phones using the shortcode (7-digit) number for the country of their choice.

“Please note that callers from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man should call from their landlines using the long (11-digit) number to avoid higher mobile charges, as the short (7-digit) numbers are not available in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for reasons outside of the BBC’s control.”

The numbers to be used will be given during the programmes.

Who is the UK’s voting spokesperson?

TV presenter and radio DJ Rylan will be reading out the votes from the UK.

Why aren’t Bulgaria and Ukraine competing in Eurovision 2019?

Bulgaria pulled out due to “financial reasons”, which likely refers to the expensive participation fee for Eurovision. Ukraine’s act Maruv won the country’s national contest to compete but stepped down after failing to agree with its national broadcaster over what she said was a restrictive contract, which demanded she stop performing in Russia.

“I am a musician, rather than a tool of the political stage,” she said in a statement.

The second- and third-placed acts were then approached to take her place but both declined, leading Ukraine to pull out of this year’s contest altogether.

Make sure you follow all of The Independent’s Eurovision coverage here.

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