James Newman to fly the flag for UK in Eurovision final

The 26 acts will perform for the top prize on Saturday night.

Eurovision entrant James Newman will be hoping to improve the UK’s standing at the contest when he takes to the stage during the grand final tonight.

The 35-year-old singer-songwriter is one of 26 acts vying for the top prize during the climax of the week-long contest in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The older brother of pop star John Newman had been ready to perform the ballad My Last Breath at the 2020 contest before it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

He will instead perform Embers, an upbeat dance-pop offering inspired by the end of lockdown, ninth in the running order, in front of a crowd of 3,500 fans at the Ahoy arena.

At the 2019 contest the UK came in last place with Michael Rice’s Bigger Than Us, continuing a run of poor results, while the Netherlands came top with Duncan Laurence’s Arcade.

The final features the 20 successful nations from the week’s two semi-finals, as well as the so-called big five of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Host nation the Netherlands will also compete in the showpiece event.

Cyprus’ Elena Tsagrinou will perform the track El Diablo in the opening slot while Senhit will close the show with Adrenalina.

The contest has been disrupted by a number of positive Covid-19 tests among the delegations.

Iceland, one of the favourites to win, will compete in the final despite its entry, Daoi og Gagnamagnio, being forced to pull out of performing live after a positive test.

The quirky dance-pop band had been due to perform their song 10 Years but will now compete using their rehearsal performance, recorded on the stage on May 13.

Reigning Eurovision Song Contest champion Duncan Laurence was also due to perform but pulled out after testing positive and developing mild symptoms.

The Eurovision Song Contest final airs on BBC One from 8pm.

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