Why is UK in Eurovision semi final? Olly Alexander to perform despite automatic qualification

Eurovision Song Contest- UK's Olly Alexander rehearsing Dizzy
Eurovision Song Contest- UK's Olly Alexander rehearsing Dizzy -Credit:PA

There will be a few people scratching their heads on Tuesday night as the United Kingdom performs in the first semi final of the Eurovision Song Contest, despite already having a guaranteed place in the final later this week.

As one of the Big 5, also including France, Germany, Spain and Italy, the UK has always had a guaranteed spot in the Eurovision finale, ever since the semi finals were introduced 20 years ago. This means that unlike many other participating countries in the competition, they can rest easy in the knowledge that they don't have to qualify from either of the semis.

Eurovision semi final 1 on Tuesday, May 7, will include several of this year's most well tipped entries, with all of them vying to be one of 10 qualifiers. Among the acts in contention in the first Eurovision heat of 2024 Croatia's Baby Lasagna, alyona & Jerry Heil from Ukraine, Ireland's Bambie Thug and Windows95 Man from Finland.

READ MORE: Eurovision semi final 1 running order as hotly tipped Croatia and Ukraine compete

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And, as well as performances from the 15 competing countries, viewers at home will also get to see three more star turns on Tuesday evening - with the UK, Germany and host nation Sweden also all performing.

Why is the UK performing in the Eurovision semi final?

In a break with tradition this year, Eurovision organisers have decided to give the Big 5 and host country the chance to fully preview their songs ahead of Saturday's grand finale, in 'exhibition' performances, whereas, traditionally the first time fans have got to see them is the final itself.

Olly will be the first of the three to perform on Tuesday, with him and his dancers taking to the stage to do Dizzy, in between the competing entries from Ireland and Ukraine. However, unlike for the 15 countries actually competing in the first semi, viewers won't be able to vote for the UK.