Belfast Telegraph

Eurovision hopefuls in tune for UK as Byrne bows out

By Eleanor Bley-Griffiths

As the UK's Eurovision hopefuls Joe and Jake warmed up for their appearance on tonight's song contest final, Ireland's Nicky Byrne packed his bags to leave Stockholm.

The former Westlife singer performed his song Sunlight at Thursday night's semi-final in Sweden but he failed to make the cut.

Successful countries were Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania and Belgium.

Other Eurovision hopefuls joining Ireland in departing included Denmark, Switzerland, Belarus, Macedonia, Slovenia, Norway and Albania.

The UK's place in the final is assured because they are from one of the "big five" - the countries that founded the competition.

Acts from Azerbaijan, Russia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Malta will also compete in the final.

Byrne tweeted: "Amazing time, amazing support. I gave it my all, I'm sorry I didn't get us there. I pass on the torch to someone else now next year."

Ireland is the most successful country in the contest, with a total of seven wins, but its Eurovision fortunes have waned over the past few years, especially since the introduction of the weeknight semi-final rounds.

In 2007, Ireland came last for the first time ever, scoring just five points for Dervish's They Can't Stop The Spring.

Ryan Dolan also finished last in 2013 with Only Love Survives, which was the last time the country made it through to the final. The last time Ireland won the contest was in 1996, when Eimear Quinn triumphed with her song The Voice.

It has been a bad year for Scandinavian entries. Only Sweden, which automatically qualifies, will go through to the Grand Final.

Australia now has a perfect track-record of getting into the final - having joined the contest only last year. X Factor winner Dami Im was voted through to the final with her song Sound Of Silence.

Despite being on the other side of the world from Europe, Australia was invited to join Eurovision for its 60th anniversary in 2015, when contestant Guy Sebastian finished in fifth place.

Graham Norton will be at the helm for BBC One's live broadcast of the final.

He is expected to pay tribute to former host Sir Terry Wogan, who died earlier this year.

In a Eurovision first, US singer Justin Timberlake will add some global superstar power to the finale.

Eurovision will air tonight at 8pm on BBC One

Belfast Telegraph


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