As the Eurovision Song Contest grand final nears, semi-final co-commentator Rylan Clark-Neal predicts who’ll end up on top.
Rylan Clark-Neal would love to see the UK win Eurovision this year. But he’s enough of a realist to know that’s a big ask of Michael Rice.
His power ballad Bigger Than Us lies in the middle of the running order, sandwiched between two more favoured tunes from Norway and Iceland.
Instead Rylan is predicting success for one of the Scandinavian countries set to compete in the song contest final later.
“If I could pick a winner and it wasn’t the United Kingdom, I would love to see Norway or Sweden win,” he tells BBC News shortly after commentating on the second semi-final with Scott Mills.
“It’s a really strong year for the Nordic side, all the Scandi lot.”
The rest of the top five, the former X Factor contestant predicts, will be completed by Switzerland, Australia and the Netherlands – “though not in that order”.
“Obviously I’d love to see Michael there,” he continues. “But because I’m from the UK I’m going to take the UK out of the situation.”
Clark-Neal will serve as the United Kingdom’s spokesperson when the results of this year’s voting are revealed at the end of the final.
Grand final running order
- Czech Republic
- San Marino
- North Macedonia
- United Kingdom
Dutch contestant Duncan Laurence is the bookie’s favourite to win the contest, which reaches its conclusion in Israel on Saturday.
Australia is second favourite, thanks in part to a dramatic staging that sees singer Kate Miller-Heidke suspended high in the air on a bendy pole.
Germany have been tipped to come last for the third time this decade with Sister, performed by a duo called S!sters who are not actually related.
Madonna will perform two songs during the globally televised show, which will also feature a performance from four former contestants.
Last year’s winner, Netta Barzalai, will kick off the event by “flying” this year’s entrants into the arena.
The Israeli singer will return later to perform her new single, Nana Banana, once all the competing songs have been performed.
Maltese teenager Michela will begin the contest with catchy dance number Chameleon, to be followed by Albania’s Jonida Maliqi.
No Eurovision finalist given the second spot in the running order has even gone on to win the competition.
Britain’s Michael Rice will be the 16th act to perform during the show, which is being staged at the International Convention Center in Tel Aviv.
He will be preceded by Norwegian trio KEiiNO and followed by Iceland’s Hatari, a leather-clad punk ensemble whose provocative attire, and anti-capitalist sentiments, have dominated much of this year’s coverage.
Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, Israel’s most internationally famous actress, will appear in a pre-recorded video.
There will also be appearances from Israel’s 1979 Eurovision winner Gali Atari and the multi-ethnic music collective The Idan Raichel Project.
Israel earned the right to host the competition for the third time after Netta won in Lisbon 12 months ago.
Yet its role as host is not popular with critics of the country’s policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
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Earlier this year, Netta spoke out against calls for the contest to be boycotted on human rights grounds.
“Boycotting prevents light being spread, and when you boycott light, you spread darkness,” she told BBC Breakfast.
“I believe in a dialogue, I believe in protest… but boycotting isn’t the answer.”
The Eurovision Song Contest final will air on BBC One from 20:00 BST on Saturday.