Stage is set for Eurovision final

The Eurovision Song Contest final is set to take place in Belgrade on Saturday night – with the UK’s hopes resting on former X Factor finalist Andy Abraham.

Abraham will perform his song Even If second in the running order – but despite getting the thumbs up from Eurovision stalwart Terry Wogan, who has called his song “the best UK entry for a while”, he is not tipped to do well.

Bookmakers Paddy Power are offering odds of 100-1 on Abraham bringing the contest back to the UK. Only Croatia and Albania, at 125-1, appear to have less chance of winning.

However, Andy told the BBC News website he was looking forward to performing at the Belgrade Arena.

“I feel really good at the moment. I’m raring to go, ready to get out there,” he said.

Russia’s Dima Bilan, who came second in the contest 2006, is favourite to win this year with his ballad Believing, produced by Timbaland. Bilan will be joined on stage by gold medal winning figure skater Evgeni Plushenki.

Ukraine’s Ani Lorak is second favourite to win with her disco number Shady Lady, while Greece’s Kalomira and Sweden’s Charlotte Perrelli – who won in 1999 as Charlotte Nielsen – are next in the betting at 8-1.

The host nation, Serbia, are fourth favourites at 9-1 with their ethnic ballad Oro.

The UK, as one of the ‘Big Four’ countries who help to fund the contest, have automatically qualified for the final along with France, Spain and Germany, and last year’s winner Serbia.

They have been joined in the final by 20 other countries who qualified from two semi-finals held on Tuesday and Thursday.

Unlike last year, when the contest was dominated by Eastern European nations, a number of Western European countries have made it through to the final.

They include Portugal, who are in the final for the first time since 2003, and Iceland, who have not been in a Eurovision final since 2004.

Finland, Norway and Denmark have also qualified, as well as long-standing Eurovision countries Greece, Turkey and Israel.

Other qualifiers include Azerbaijan – who are making their debut in the contest this year – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia and Poland – who have made it out of the semi-finals for the first time.

However Ireland – whose hopes rested on Irlande Douze Points, a comedy song by the puppet Dustin The Turkey – will not be appearing after they crashed out of Tuesday’s semi-final.

The contest will be screened live on BBC1 from 8pm.