Belfast Telegraph

UK entry Michael Rice finishes last at the Eurovision Song Contest

The 21-year-old’s hopes of turning around his nation’s fortunes were dashed in Israel.

The UK’s Michael Rice has placed last at the Eurovision Song Contest (Andres Putting)
The UK’s Michael Rice has placed last at the Eurovision Song Contest (Andres Putting)

The UK has been snubbed at the Eurovision Song Contest – coming last for the first time since 2010.

Michael Rice scored just 16 points between the public vote and international jury vote on a night when The Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence won the crown with his song Arcade, scoring 492 points.

Hartlepool native Rice sang Bigger Than Us at the Expo Tel Aviv venue in Israel against a backdrop of a starry night sky and racing comets.

But his performance failed to soar and did not connect with the international crowd.

Despite the disappointment on the night, Rice remained upbeat and said he had enjoyed his Eurovision experience.

He said: “The main thing I wanted to do was come and sing my heart out and make my country proud. I’m so thankful to the fans who have supported me and the song, as well as my whole team who have supported me throughout this whole amazing journey.

“I’ve been able to travel and meet amazing artists from across Europe and beyond. I can’t wait to see what’s next for me and get back into the studio and bring you some new music soon. And of course congratulations to Duncan – he was amazing!”

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

Gold glitter rained from the roof as Laurence’s name was called out before the 25-year-old lifted the trophy, handed to him by last year’s winner, Israeli singer Netta Barzilai.

He said: “Oh god, this is to music first. Thank you, thank you.”

Rice, who rose to fame after winning the singing show All Together Now last year, said previously that he hoped to improve the UK’s reputation at the contest.

The UK has not won Eurovision in 22 years or finished in the top 10 in the past decade.

Prospects of a British victory were bleak – both Coral and Ladbrokes gave Rice a 150/1 chance of taking the title.

He performed 16th, after Norway and before Iceland – whose techno-punk outfit Hatari were a favourite to win.

The finale was watched by a peak of 8.1 million viewers and an average of 7 million, according to the BBC.

Italy’s Mahmood came second with 465 points while Russia’ Sergey Lazarev was third with 369.

Malta’s Michela Pace opened the show with her song Chameleon, dancing in front of shifting graphics showing an urban landscape.

The first highlight of the night came with the arrival of Lazarev, who returned to the contest with the song Scream.

He sang Russia’s entry in 2016 and finished third with the song You Are The Only One.

Swedish entrant John Lundvik’s gospel-tinged pop song Too Late For Love secured screams from the audience.

Then came the Netherlands’ Laurence – the favourite to win the contest.

Laurence, 25, was named front runner shortly after releasing his anthemic song in March.

PA

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