THE UK will perform next-to-last in Saturday’s Eurovision Song contest final, as the official running order was unveiled in the wake of Ireland’s semi-final exit.
Nicky Byrne, the Irish former Westlife singer, failed to qualify for the grand final when he performed his song Sunlight at Thursday night’s semi-final in Stockholm, Sweden.
Byrne will not be joining UK contestants Joe and Jake, who already have a place secured to perform on Saturday. The UK’s place in the final is assured because they are from one of the “big five” - the countries that founded the competition.
Successful countries were Latvia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Australia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Israel, Lithuania and Belgium.
Eurovision hopefuls going home disappointed were Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, Belarus, Macedonia, Slovenia, Norway and Albania.
Ireland is the most successful country in the contest, with a total of seven wins.
Acts from Azerbaijan, Russia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Malta will also compete in the final after triumphing in Tuesday’s first semi-final.
The UK’s hopes are in the hands of duo Joe and Jake, who met when they were individual contestants on BBC’s The Voice.
They are rated 150/1 outsiders by bookies, with Australia - in only their second Eurovision outing - and Russia as favourites.
Meanwhile, Byrne tweeted: “Amazing Time Amazing Support / I gave it my all, I’m sorry I didn’t get us there. / I pass on the torch to someone else now next year.”
Ireland’s Eurovision fortunes have waned over the past few years, especially since the introduction of the weeknight semi-final rounds.
In 2007, Ireland came last for the first time ever, scoring just five points for Dervish’s They Can’t Stop The Spring.
Ryan Dolan also finished last in 2013 with Only Love Survives, which was the last time the country made it through to the final.
The last time Ireland won the contest was in 1996, when Eimear Quinn triumphed with her song The Voice.
It has been a bad year for Scandinavian entries. Only Sweden, which automatically qualifies, will go through to the Grand Final.
Denmark and Norway were knocked out in the semi-finals, which were decided based on a combination of public and jury voting.
Iceland and Finland also failed to make it through.
Australia now has a perfect track-record of getting into the final - having joined the contest only last year.
X Factor winner Dami Im, who was mentored by pop star Dannii Minogue, was voted through to the final with her song Sound Of Silence.
Despite being on the other side of the world from Europe, Australia was invited to join Eurovision for its 60th anniversary in 2015, when contestant Guy Sebastian finished in fifth place.