Eurovision 2021: Why does the UK automatically qualify for the final?
The UK will not be required to take part in either of the semi-finals
The Eurovision Song Contest is only days away, with competitors gearing up for the return of the singing competition in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The first of the semi-finals for the contest took place last night (18 May), and saw various countries compete to win a place in the grand final on Saturday 22 May.
The second semi-final is set to take place on Thursday (20 May) evening.
However, not every country is required to compete in the semi-finals, including the United Kingdom, who will advance straight to the Grand Final.
Here’s all you need to know about why the UK automatically qualifies for the Eurovision finals.
Why does the UK not take part in Eurovision semi-finals?
The UK will not be required to take part in either of the semi-finals because they are one of the ‘Big Five’ countries.
The UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy all advance straight to the Grand Final of the contest.
This is because all five countries pay the most money into the European Broadcasting Union, which organises the annual contest.
However, the UK will still be able to vote in the second semi-final on 20 May.
How does the second semi-final work?
Seventeen countries will participate in the second semi-final. Those countries plus France, Spain and the United Kingdom will vote in this semi-final.
Armenia was originally scheduled to participate in the semi-final, but withdrew from the contest due to social and political crises in the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.
How can I watch semi final 2?
The second semi-final will be broadcast on BBC Four on 20 May in a programme hosted by presenters Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills, and singer Chelcee Grimes.
The broadcast will begin at 8pm.
The final of the competition will air on BBC One on 22 May at 8pm in a special programme hosted by Graham Norton. It will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in a programme hosted by Ken Bruce.
Who is the UK’s Eurovision 2021 entrant?
Singer-songwriter James Newman has said he is “excited and honoured” to represent the UK in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest.
Newman is the older brother of pop star John Newman, and had been set to appear at last year’s contest before it was cancelled.
He had been ready to perform the track ‘My Last Breath’ at the 2020 contest, but had to write a new entry after the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said the 2020 songs would not be eligible for this year’s show.
Newman has revealed the new song he is taking to the Contest in 2021 is titled ‘Embers’, a dance track the singer has described as a "banger" and "full of positivity".
"’Embers’ is about those sparks that don't die out," he told Radio 1 Newsbeat. "When we were writing this, it felt like I wanted to show everyone that we were coming back together.
Unlike his original Eurovision effort – a ballad – ‘Embers’ is more of an upbeat affair, and is a “celebration of music… hopefully people like it."