The UK’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest has said arriving in Tel Aviv for the event has been “daunting” but “magical”.
Speaking after his second rehearsal at the Expo Tel Aviv venue, Hartlepool native Michael Rice said being at the centre of preparations had given him a burst of motivation.
The 21-year-old found success after winning the BBC One singing show All Together Now, where contestants sing to an audience of 100 music industry experts.
Asked how it felt to know he would be singing to a predicted global audience of 200 million come the grand final on Saturday, Rice replied: “It’s definitely different from 100 people.
“I really thought 100 was a daunting number but this is so much more daunting.”
Last year’s grand final in Lisbon, Portugal, was watched by an estimated 189 million worldwide.
“It feels magical,” he said of the venue in the north of Tel Aviv.
“There is so much going on in the background and backstage. It makes you know that you are here to do this – that it’s your time to shine.
“The lighting’s incredible and the people who work at the Expo are just so nice, so helpful.
“Being here for Eurovision is incredible. It’s just amazing to be here and experience the big stage like this.”
During the conference Rice took part in a hat draw to determine where he would perform in the grand final, pulling out a slip which said he would appear in the second half.
He also performed an a-capella rendition of Bigger Than Us, the song chosen for him during the BBC’s national selection show Eurovision: You Decide earlier this year.
Rice hinted that he had “four or five meetings with big record label people” organised for when he returns to the UK.
He will be joined by his mother, Stephanie, and his grandmother the night before Saturday’s grand final.
He said: “My mum’s coming out and my nana is coming out next Friday. They are all so excited and proud of me. The town’s going wild – the whole of the North East.
“This is their first time actually coming to watch Eurovision. My mum’s a big fan and my nana watched it growing up in Ireland. It’s going to be amazing seeing me on stage.”