Voting opens in Eurovision Grand Final after Mae Muller flies flag for UK

Mae Muller will perform in the Eurovision final tonight. Credit: PA Images/ITV Granada

Voting has opened in the Eurovision Song Contest final after the UK’s Mae Muller took to the stage for her track, I Wrote A Song.

A total of 26 acts, 20 who made it successfully through the semi-finals with another six given automatic places, performed in the Grand Final of the competition in Liverpool.

The 25-year-old from north London was the 26th and final act to perform for the international voting public.

She sang from a raised platform wearing a slim, black outfit, flanked by four dancers in sheer tops, and surprised the audience with a rapped section.

Afterwards, she said: “Thank you Eurovision. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Muller is hoping to continue the success of 2022’s UK entry Sam Ryder, who finished second behind Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine.

The acts took to the stage at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool to an expected global audience of 160 million viewers after the UK agreed to host the contest on behalf of war-torn Ukraine.

The night opened with a pre-recorded video featuring last year’s winners Kalush Orchestra – and a surprise appearance from the Princess of Wales, playing the piano.

They were joined by 2022 runner-up Sam Ryder playing guitar on the top of the Liver Building on the Liverpool waterfront, with Andrew Lloyd Webber on piano.

The Chemical Brothers track Hey Boy Hey Girl was played as the countries competing in the final began to walk on to the stage with their national flags.

Fans were queuing outside the arena from around 3.45pm - with doors not set to open until 5.30pm.

Katie O’Reilly, 46, an accountant from Cardiff on her way to Liverpool Lime Street, said she had planned to drive to the city for Eurovision if train strikes had disrupted her journey.

Speaking at Euston station in London, she said: “We’re very excited, we go a lot, we’ve been overseas for them. I’ve been a fan since I was about six.

“The train disruption is a factor, but as long as our train there works then we are happy. We had ulterior plans, if we couldn’t get a train then we were going to drive up there. We booked our tickets about four or five months ago.

“We’re excited to take the atmosphere in, go to the Eurovillage, go to the club, very excited. I’m with my best friend from university, so what could be nicer?”

Outside the arena in Liverpool ahead of the grand final Credit: ITV Granada

Trina Rustlie, 52, comes from Norway but now lives in Paddington.

She will be supporting the Norwegian act while members of her family are supporting France.

Speaking at Euston station in London on her way to Liverpool, she said her family was “a little bit afraid” of potential train disruption but decided to travel anyway.

“We were a little bit afraid, we had to take the fast train and pay more, but that’s okay,” she said.

“I’m mostly excited to see Norway perform.”

Austria will open the show with Teya and Salena’s quirky dance-pop tune Who The Hell Is Edgar?, about being possessed by the ghost of 19th century Gothic author Edgar Allan Poe.

The UK's entry Muller will close the show with I Wrote A Song – a slot generally considered a disadvantage.

But they all face tough competition from previous winner Loreen representing Sweden and Kaarija representing Finland, both favourites to win.

Fans may also struggle to reach Liverpool for the celebrations due to a strike by workers in the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces Eurovision, said it had declined Volodymyr Zelensky’s request to speak on Saturday over fears it could politicise the contest.

He had wanted to make an unannounced video appearance and had been expected to implore the global audience of millions to continue backing his country in its fight to repel Russian invaders.

The EBU said Mr Zelensky had “laudable intentions” but “regrettably” his request was against the rules.

The move prompted criticism from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his predecessor Boris Johnson, among other figures.

The EBU has declined to comment further.

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram has said he will speak to both the Ukrainian ambassador and the mayor of Lviv, who are both in the city for the final, “to discuss what we can do to provide a platform” for Mr Zelensky.

It comes after the full line-up of the grand final was revealed following the second knockout round on Thursday night.

After 16 countries competed, the 10 remaining spots went to Poland, Australia, Cyprus, Albania, Estonia, Belgium, Austria, Lithuania, Armenia and Slovenia.

The 10 countries that qualified from Tuesday’s semi-final were Croatia, Moldova, Switzerland, Finland, Czechia, Israel, Portugal, Sweden, Serbia and Norway.

They will join the so-called “big five” nations - the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain - who each get a free pass because of their financial contributions to the event, along with last year’s winners Ukraine.

Who is competing and when?

  • 1. Austria

  • 2. Portugal

  • 3. Switzerland

  • 4. Poland

  • 5. Serbia

  • 6. France

  • 7. Cyprus

  • 8. Spain

  • 9. Sweden

  • 10. Albania

  • 11. Italy

  • 12. Estonia

  • 13. Finland

  • 14. Czechia

  • 15. Australia

  • 16. Belgium

  • 17. Armenia

  • 18. Moldova

  • 19. Ukraine

  • 20. Norway

  • 21. Germany

  • 22. Lithuania

  • 23. Israel

  • 24. Slovenia

  • 25. Croatia

  • 26. United Kingdom

The Eurovision grand final will air live on BBC One from 8pm on Saturday.

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