Everything you need to know about the Eurovision Song Contest 2019

The contest will be held in Israel on Saturday evening. Credit: AP

From the British entry to the controversy surrounding the host nation, the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 promises to put on a real show.

The event is always political - but this year more so than ever.

Israel is the location of the 64th rendition of one of the world's most popular televised events. It takes music, dance and a whole load of camp to the end of the realm as far as the European continent is concerned.

Here is what you need to know about the Eurovision Song Contest, the British entry, what happens if Australia wins and who is likely to take home the iconic glass microphone.

When is the Eurovision Song Contest on and where can I watch it?

The final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 will be shown on BBC One on Saturday night. The show starts at 8pm.

The music megathon is due to end at around 11.40pm - so long as all the votes are counted in time (and all the hosts from European capitals remember to stop making awful jokes to the watching world!)

This year's Eurovision slogan is 'Dare to Dream'. Credit: Eurovision

Where is the Eurovision Song Contest being held this year?

Israel is the host country for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, with Tel-Aviv taking the honour of holding the event.

It's the third time Israel has held the competition since its inception in 1956, however Tel-Aviv has never held the contest. The last two times Israel hosted Eurovision were in 1979 and 1999, both times it was held in Jerusalem.

The show offers Tel-Aviv, and Israel, the opportunity to renew its reputation as a vibrant, diverse and accepting tourist destination.

Israel's entry for this year's contest is Kobi Marimi. Credit: Eurovision

As the country's second largest city, Tel-Aviv is known for its liberal vibe as an entertainment hot spot friendly to the LGBT community. Tourism bosses will be hoping to capitalise on this, using one of the world's largest televised events to showcase what their country has to offer.

But it won't come without controversy. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has accused acts of ignoring the country's human rights record and whitewashing on its treatment of Palestinians.

Israel has seen a prolonged period of armed conflict, earlier this month rockets were fired by Palestinian militants into the country. The Foreign and Commonwealth says the majority of the country is safe to travel to for Britons.

Who is the British entry?

Michael Rice is representing the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. Credit: Eurovision

Michael Rice is representing the United Kingdom in this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

Originally from Hartlepool in the north-east of England. He lives with his mum, stepdad, sister and brother. As a teenager he worked at McDonalds, but always dreamt of being a singer.

Outside of the Eurovision circuit, Michael is currently working on his debut EP with producers Pete Boxsta Martin and Dantae Johnson who have written and produced tracks for Jessie J, Missy Elliott and James Arthur.

What is the United Kingdom's Eurovision song called?

Michael Rice will sing a track called Bigger Than Us.

The track starts slowly before dropping into an uprising chorus which resembles an ever familiar pop hit by One Direction.

Michael is already an accomplished performer, having won the first series of the BBC Entertainment show All Together Now in 2018.

What are the United Kingdom's chances of winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 and which countries are most likely to do well?

William Hill pitches the United Kingdom's odds of winning the Eurovision Song Contest as 100/1 - so it's not likely to happen.

Those fancying a flutter should consider place their bets on a win for Russia or Iceland - both have odds of 8/1 of bringing home the trophy.

Russia has won the contest once since it started taking part in 1994. In 2008, Dima Bilan took home gold from the show held in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

Iceland and Russia's entries are both tipped to do well at the contest. Credit: Eurovision

Conversely, Iceland has never won the Eurovision Song Contest. The nation has twice received an icy response to its entries, taking last place in both 1989 and 2001. Regardless of their vocal performance, the outfits of its entry will no doubt turn heads across the continent and beyond.

Poland planned to bring back a return of traditional folk inspired music - a formula which saw it take 14th plans in 2014 with "We are Slavic Girls". This year's promotion shots took on a similar vibe, embracing the ever-popular traditional maid look from five years ago.

However, Poland's entry, which at times is slightly ear-splitting, isn't quite so memorable. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn't qualify past the semi-finals.

Poland's entry has a similar vibe to its 2014 entry. Credit: Eurovision

Which countries have already qualified for the contest?

Five countries qualify automatically for the contest. Plus Israel, which automatically gets a place as the host nation.

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom always get through to the final as they were the original countries to set up the contest.

Semi-finals are held in the week before the final. Their aim is to narrow down the contestants so the show doesn't become too long (although some would mock it already is!)

Eurovision contests from the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain automatically qualify. Credit: Eurovision

In the first round of qualifiers, the following countries secured a place in the final:

  • Cyprus

  • Slovenia

  • Czech Republic

  • Belarus

  • Serbia

  • Australia

  • Iceland

  • Estonia

  • Greece

  • San Marino

At the second set of semi-finals on Thursday evening Ireland’s Sarah McTernan to made her Eurovision debut.

Qualifying on Thursday night for the final were:

  • North Macedonia

  • The Netherlands

  • Albania

  • Sweden

  • Azerbaijan

  • Russia

  • Denmark

  • Norway

  • Switzerland

  • Malta

What happens if Australia wins the Eurovision Song Contest and why is it allowed to take part?

Aussies love Eurovision - and they're also really good at it.

The southern hemisphere nation was invited to take part as a guest country for the 50th anniversary show in 2015. It was meant to be a one-off, but four years later the Aussies are still competing.

During its time in the contest, the country has taken a spot in the top 10 entries three times. Its best performance was in 2016 when it took second place.

This year's entry from Kate Miller-Heidke promises to do as well as previous performances. The song couldn't be more Eurovision if it tried, fully embracing a strangely listenable mix of dance and opera - creating a surprising combination that will no doubt please fans of the Europop genre.

Kate Miller-Heidke will represent Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. Credit: Eurovision

Australia has been confirmed as a participant of Eurovision until at least 2023 - but that doesn't mean the contest will ever be held there.

Time differences, mammoth distances for fans and contestants to travel, and the pure fact the country is not in Europe mean, should it win, the contest would be co-hosted by a European nation.

There is no official secondary host nation confirmed in the event of an Aussie win, but Germany and the United Kingdom are rumoured to be among the favourites.

Is Madonna performing at the Eurovision Song Contest?

Madonna's appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest is currently in question. Credit: AP

The Queen of Music will perform at Eurovision during the interval, her publicist confirmed last month - but it wasn't official until this week.

Ever the diva, the American singer left signing a contract to the last minute.

Eurovision's executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand said on Monday: "The European Broadcasting Union has never confirmed Madonna as an act."

He added: "If we do not have a signed contract she cannot perform on our stage."

On Thursday evening, it was revealed Madonna will perform at the Eurovision Song Contest. Her set list isn't yet known, but it's safe to say a real treat is in store for fans who plan to Get Together and Into The Groove of Eurovision for a real Celebration on Saturday evening.

Sophie Ellis-Bexter was due to be a judge, but will no longer take part. Credit: PA

In what may come as a lesser disappointment for some, Sophie Ellis-Bexter revealed earlier this week she will no longer represent the United Kingdom as a judge.

Had she taken part, she would have been responsible, alongside other judges, for analysing performances for vocal ability, performance and song composition - attributes which form 50% of the scores alongside the public phone vote.

The singer tweeted: "I still love Eurovision! Wishing all the participants a great show and good luck to the UK entry"

The BBC said Ellis-Bexter won't take part due to "unforeseen circumstances".