Ireland, Malta, Latvia, the Netherlands and Azerbaijan are out of the running for Eurovision 2023.
On Tuesday night, 15 countries performed at the M&S Bank arena in part one of two semi-finals for the chance to win a place in Saturday’s grand final.
Ten acts made it through with Finland favourite Kaarija and Sweden’s former winner Loreen who was victorious in 2012 with her hit Euphoria, also secured a place.
Hosted by Alesha Dixon, Hannah Waddingham and Julia Sanina, the stadium was lit up by an array of wacky, moving and colourful acts, while King Charles, Queen Camilla and the late Paul O’Grady starred in a opening video to kick off the show.
The ten acts who have made it through were; Croatia, Moldova, Switzerland, Finland, Czechia, Israel, Sweden, Serbia, Portugal and Norway out of the 15 countries who performed at the M&S Bank arena in Liverpool on Tuesday night.
Hosted by Alesha Dixon, Hannah Waddingham and Julia Sanina, the stadium was lit up by an array of wacky, moving and colourful acts for the first part of the semi-final, with the second part taking place on Thursday.
Eye-catching: Eurovision Kaarija, the entrant from Finland, whose real name Jere Pöyhönen, is a 39-year-old rapper who is from Helsinki is in Saturday’s final
Back again: Loreen, who won the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2012 with her epic anthem Euphoria, was bidding to represent Sweden again this year and secured her place
In a change to the rules this year, the decision of who goes through entirely with the public, with national juries being able to have their say during the final on Saturday.
31 countries will compete in two semi-finals with 10 from each going through to the Grand Final.
Last year’s winner Ukraine automatically progresses to the Grand Final, along with the big five, comprising the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
The night kicked off with a performance from Norway. Alessandra performed Queen of Kings followed by Malta’s The Busker with Dance Our Own Party.
Other countries performing were Serbia (Luke Black with Samo Mi Se Spava), Latvia (Aija with Sudden Lights), Portugal (Mimicat performing Ai Coracao), Ireland’s (Wild Youth singing We Are One).
Croatian rock band Let 3, who first formed in the 1980s, gave it their all are through to the grand final. Switzerland’s Remo Forrer followed and also got through to Saturday as did Noa Kirel from Israel, who is one of the country’s biggest stars and sang Unicorn.
Other acts included former Euphoria winner Loreen with Tattoo for Sweden, TuralTuranX, Tell Me More, representing Azerbaijan.
Czechia’s act was Vesna with My Sister’s Crown got through, Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper with Burning Daylight representing Netherlands and Eurovision favourite Käärijä did the Cha Cha Cha for Finland.
Rita Ora performed a medley while X Factor’s Rebecca Ferguson also sang to the audience.
Fireworks: Wild Youth, the entrant from Ireland didn’t make it through to the final
Out of the running: Sudden Lights, a band from Latvia didn’t get the public vote
Dynamic duo: Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper of the Netherlands sang their hit Burning Daylight but didn’t secure a place for Saturday night
Epic: The Busker from Malta put on a dazzling performance but failed to get the public vote and so crashed out of the competition
Guitars: Music duo TuralTuranX representing Azerbaijan are out
Performance: Norway’s Alessandra performed Queen of Kings during The Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision: Mimicat from Portugal performs during the first semi-final
The newly-crowned King and Queen made a surprise appearance on the Eurovision Song Contest semi-final in a little cameo on BBC One.
Royal fans were delighted to see King Charles, 74, and Queen Camilla, 75, appearing in a pre-recorded video as the semi-finals kicked off in Liverpool this evening.
The royals featured in the opening credits, in a Welcome to Liverpool film which followed a young boy from the north-west city who learned his hometown is hosting the 2023 Contest.
Their Majesties made the cameo on the first night of the semi-finals, just weeks after they attended the M&S Bank Arena to officially open the stage for this year’s competition.
Also featured in the opening sequence is the late Paul O’Grady, who suddenly passed away last month at the age of 67.
A royal cameo! The newly-crowned King and Queen Consort made a surprise appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 Semi-final opening sequence
The royal couple, 74 and 75, visited the M&S Bank Arena last month where they officially opened the Eurovision stage
Bringing the party: Rita Ora sent the crowd wild with a medley of her hits
All eyes on her: The singer put on a daring display in a sexy leather bodysuit and lace up heels
Stunning: X Factor’s Rebecca Ferguson performed during the semi-final
Paul, who shot to fame as trailblazing comic drag act Lily Savage before becoming one of the country’s best-loved presenters and DJs, tragically passed away in March aged 67.
But the TV favourite was remembered when he appeared with his beloved dog in a segment celebrating Liverpool, where this year’s competition is taking place.
Paul starred in the video alongside Paul Hollywood, Ukranian Strictly dancer Nikita Kuzmin and King Charles and the Queen Consort.
Viewers watching at home became emotional when they saw Paul on their TV screens once more, smiling broadly whilst he mopped the floor with his pooch in the other arm.
One wrote: ‘A gorgeous little nod to the great and utterly fabulous Paul O’Grady in the opening titles to Eurovision.’
‘So lovely to see Paul O’Grady in that opening and what an opening trailer that was. Amazing to see the King and Queen in it too and of course Ukraine the key part of it all,’ another fan added.
‘Seeing Paul O’Grady was very touching,’ a different viewer chimed, while others said they were ‘sobbing already’.
‘Paul O’Grady and kids in tracksuits holding hands. Sobbing already,’ one wrote.
‘Paul O’Grady in the opening sequence I’m crying’, added another viewer.
Hosts: Alesha hosted the first semi-final alongside Julia Sanina and Hannah Waddingham, which will see five acts sent home at the end of the show
‘I’m crying!’: Elsewhere in the show, viewers were in tears as they watched the late Paul O’Grady make a surprise cameo in the opening credits of the semi-final
Loved: Paul, who shot to fame as trailblazing comic drag act Lily Savage before becoming one of the country’s best-loved presenters and DJs, tragically passed away in March aged 67
Crying: Viewers watching at home became emotional when they saw Paul on their TV screens once more, smiling broadly whilst he mopped the floor with his pooch in the other arm
The Eurovision semi-finals will take place across two days and feature an array of performances, including from Eurovision legends and Ukrainian and British stars.
For the first time in the UK’s Eurovision Song Contest history, both semi-finals are being presented live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.
Radio DJs Scott Mills and Rylan will bring UK audiences their colourful commentary, while Alesha, Julia and Hannah host.
And Alesha sent Eurovision fans wild as she harked back to her Mis-Teeq days by performing a rap about the competition.
The Britain’s Got Talent judge, 44, was branded an ‘icon’ by viewers – who were equally impressed by the sign language interpreter kept up with her.
Alesha hosted the first semi-final alongside Julia Sanina and Hannah Waddingham, which will see five acts sent home at the end of the show.
The songstress looked incredible in red bow crop top which teased a glimpse of her toned stomach and voluminous hot pink trousers.
As the host rapped while presenting a segment, viewers took to Twitter to comment on the surprise performance.
‘Alesha Dixon is rapping really quickly and Woman 3 is keeping up with every word. She’s an icon,’ one wrote.
Another added: ‘Honestly the first semifinal has been on for 30 minutes and it’s already iconic and so gorgeously done. Hannah Waddingham speaking French: sexy Alesha Dixon rapping: iconic Paul O’Grady in the intro: sobbing.’
While a third viewer chimed: ‘Oh, Alesha’s still got it. I’d forgotten her rapping in Mis-Teeq.’
‘Alesha Dixon rapping is peak Eurovision craziness,’ said another. ‘I’m so confused why is Alesha Dixon rapping’, typed a different fan.
Special: But the TV favourite was remembered on Tuesday night as he appeared with his beloved dog in a segment celebrating Liverpool, where this year’s competition is taking place
Talent: Bake Off’s Paul Hollywood, who was born in Cheshire, iced a cake
Poignant: Ukranian dancer Nikita Kuzmin, who is a favourite on Strictly, also appeared in the opening credits
Racy performance: Noa Kirel from Israel is one of the country’s biggest stars and sang Unicorn
Return: Pasha Parfeni from Moldova previously performed in 2012 in Azerbaijan and came 11th
Cool: Luke Black of Serbia performs on the stage
Putting on a show: Croatian rock band Let 3, who first formed in the 1980s, gave it their all
Latvia: Aija with Sudden Lights battled it out for a place in the final
She’s back! Alesha sent Eurovision fans wild as she harked back to her Mis-Teeq days by performing a rap about the competition
Impressed: As the host rapped while presenting a segment, viewers took to Twitter to comment on the surprise performance
There is also a special commentary team on BBC Radio Merseyside, which will include Claire Sweeney and the winner of The Voice of Eurovision talent search, which is currently underway to discover new Liverpudlian talent.
This year’s Eurovision Grand Final has the Royal seal of approval. During a visit to the venue, the Liverpool Arena, the King told the UK entrant Mae Muller that he would be ‘watching with great interest’ and ‘egging her on’. ‘Thank you. No pressure,’ she joked.
At last year’s contest, held in Italy, the UK fielded its strongest entry for years with Sam Ryder’s Space Man, but no one begrudged the Ukrainians their victory with Kalush Orchestra’s ebullient Stefania.
For the grand final commentary on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, Graham and comedian Mel Giedroyc will take turns in the commentary box to bring those watching at home their unique and expert views on the 2023 acts.
Eurovision Semi-Final Part Two will take place on Thursday, on BBC One at 8pm.