Eurovision song contest bigger than UK's Michael Rice as Netherlands triumphs

Michael Rice Credit: PA

Michael Rice flew the UK flag at the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night ... but unfortunately it looked like our European neighbours didn't like the sight - or sound - of the Union Jack.

The 21-year-old from Hartlepool, Co Durham, was one of 26 acts vying for the top prize during the climax of the week-long contest in Tel Aviv.

But it was Netherlands in the form of Duncan Laurence who stormed to victory, leaving Rice in last place with just 16 points.

Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands reacts after performing his song "Arcade" Credit: AP

Rice performed Bigger Than Us in front of a sea of waving flags and glow sticks at the Expo Tel Aviv in the north of the city.

He was joined by an outfit of backing vocalists dressed in white as he broke into the song's gospel-influenced chorus.

Cheryl Baker, who sang with former UK winners Bucks Fizz, tweeted her support, as did TV personality Rylan Clark-Neal.

But judges and the public didn't appear to rate his performance as he soon realised his fate was sealed picking up a handful of votes in the early stages.

By half-way, it was clear Rice was not going to win.

Rice performed for the expert jury panels on Friday night during a non-televised dress rehearsal of the grand final.

The international panels cast their votes in advance of the televised grand final.

Their results were revealed along with those of the public vote on the night.

Michael Rice received great support from back home. Credit: AP

Madonna also made her Eurovision debut after days of speculation over whether she would indeed appear. She posted a picture on Instagram, wearing a 'pirate' eyepatch with the caption: "Madame X has many faces..."

The Queen of Pop, 60, has been dogged by calls from the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign to cancel her appearance.

Sweden's John Lundvik will perform, singing the gospel-tinged ballad Too Late For Love, as will Russia's Sergey Lazarev, who will sing Scream.

Both were touted as favourites to win after well-received performances in the second live semi-final.

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

Some 200 million people around the world were expected to be watching as 26 countries competed to be crowned Europe's top pop act and follow in the footsteps of past winners such as Swedish icons ABBA and Celine Dion, who once represented Switzerland.