Eurovision 2021: James Newman to represent UK in song contest final

The grand final in Rotterdam, in which Newman will perform his song Embers, takes place on Saturday night

James Newman appears on stage during the second semi-final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 (Getty Images)

Singer-songwriter James Newman will fly the flag for the UK when he takes to the stage during the Eurovision Song Contest’s grand final tonight (22 May).

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He will perform his song Embers - an upbeat dance-pop offering inspired by the end of lockdown - during the 2021 final in Rotterdam.

Newman had been ready to perform the ballad My Last Breath during last year’s contest before it was scrapped due to the Covid pandemic.

But he will now sing Embers 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.

Positive Covid tests have caused disruption

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.