Police facial recognition surveillance court case starts

Ed Bridges

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Ed Bridges has had his image captured twice by South Wales Police AFR technology

The first major legal challenge to police use of automated facial recognition surveillance begins in Cardiff later.

Ed Bridges, whose image was taken while he was shopping, says weak regulation means AFR breaches human rights.

The civil rights group Liberty says current use of the tool is equivalent to the unregulated taking of DNA or fingerprints without consent.

South Wales Police defends the tool but has not commented on the case.

In December 2017, Ed Bridges was having a perfectly normal day.

“I popped out of the office to do a bit of Christmas shopping and on the main pedestrian shopping street in Cardiff, there was a police van,” he told BBC News.

“By the time I was close enough to see the words ‘automatic facial recognition’ on the van, I had already had my data captured by it.

“That struck me as quite a fundamental invasion of my privacy.”

The case could provide crucial guidance on the lawful use of facial technology, which is a far more powerful policing tool than traditional CCTV – as the cameras take a biometric map, creating a numerical code of the faces of each person who passes the camera.

These biometric maps are uniquely identifiable to the individual.

“It is just like taking people’s DNA or fingerprints, without their knowledge or their consent,” said Megan Goulding, a lawyer from the civil liberties group Liberty which is supporting Ed Bridges.

However, unlike DNA or fingerprints, there is no specific regulation governing how police use facial recognition or manage the data gathered.

Liberty argues that even if there were regulations, facial recognition breaches human rights and should not be used.

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South Wales Police

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South Wales Police is the biggest user of facial recognition technology

The tool allows the facial images of vast numbers of people to be scanned in public places such as streets, shopping centres, football crowds and music events.

The captured images are then compared with images on police “watch lists” to see if they match.

“If there are hundreds of people walking the streets who should be in prison because there are outstanding warrants for their arrest, or dangerous criminals bent on harming others in public places, the proper use of AFR has a vital policing role,” said Chris Phillips, former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

“The police need guidance to ensure this vital anti-crime tool is used lawfully.”

Facial recognition’s usefulness for spotting, for example, terrorist suspects and preventing atrocities is clear but Liberty says the technology is being used for much more mundane policing, such as catching pickpockets.

Liberty also says:

  • images of people on watch lists can come from anywhere
  • police have not ruled out taking watch list images from social media
  • some lists include people not wanted for any crime
  • AFR has been used to look for people with mental health conditions

Ed Bridges had his image captured by facial recognition for a second time at a peaceful protest against the arms trade.

His legal challenge argues the use of the tool breached his human right to privacy as well as data protection and equality laws.

Three UK police forces have used facial recognition in public spaces since June 2015:

  • South Wales Police
  • Metropolitan Police
  • Leicestershire Police

Liberty believes South Wales Police has used facial recognition the most of the three forces, at about 50 deployments, including during the policing of the Champions League final in Cardiff in June 2017, where it emerged that, of the 2,470 potential matches made, 92% (2,297) were wrong.

South Wales Police has gone to considerable lengths to explain its use of facial recognition and last year described it as “lawful and proportionate”.

‘Misidentifying minorities’

When the technology was tested recently in London, one man was fined for refusing to have his image captured.

BBC News also reported that at least three chances to assess how well the systems dealt with ethnicity had been missed by police over five years.

Civil liberties groups say studies have shown facial recognition discriminates against women and those from ethnic minorities, because it disproportionately misidentifies those people.

“If you are a woman or from an ethnic minority and you walk past the camera, you are more likely to be identified as someone on a watch list, even if you are not,” said Ms Goulding.

“That means you are more likely to be stopped and interrogated by the police.

“This is another tool by which social bias will be entrenched and communities who are already over-policed simply get over-policed further.”

Liberty says the risk of false-positive matches of women and ethnic minorities has the potential to change the nature of public spaces.

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BBC Sport

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Liberty lawyer Megan Goulding says recent evidence suggests AFR misidentifies women and ethnic minorities

Last week San Francisco became the first US city to ban the use of the technology, following fears about its reliability and infringement of people’s liberty and privacy.

The information commissioner and the surveillance camera commissioner have both become involved in Ed Bridges’s case, as has the Home Office, indicating the high level of interest and concern about the parameters within which facial recognition can lawfully operate.

The case is expected to last three days, with judgment reserved to a later time.

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Brexit: Hammond to warn Tories over no-deal ‘hijack’

Philip Hammond on a visit to the UK Atomic Energy AuthorityImage copyright

Chancellor Philip Hammond is to warn prospective Conservative leadership contenders against “hijacking” Brexit by “knowingly inflicting” a damaging no-deal exit on the economy.

In a speech to the CBI, he will urge Tories not to ape the “populist right” by claiming a clean break from the EU is the only “truly legitimate Brexit”.

It comes as Theresa May prepares to discuss her Brexit plan with cabinet.

No 10 has promised a “bold, new offer” to try to win over Labour MPs.

The Commons will vote on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – legislation required to bring the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU into British law – in the first week of June.

MPs have rejected the withdrawal agreement three times and if the bill falls at the first attempt, the prime minister is likely to come under intense pressure from Conservatives to stand down.

Talks with Labour on finding a compromise deal acceptable to their MPs broke down last week.

But Downing Street hopes to appeal to Labour MPs committed to Brexit with new proposals to protect and enhance employment rights and environmental standards outside the EU.

On Sunday, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart suggested the two sides were “half an inch apart” on key issues and “sensible” Labour MPs could be won round.

The cabinet is also expected to discuss planning for a no-deal exit, which remains the default legal position if the UK does not agree a deal before the 31 October deadline for leaving.

But Mr Hammond will warn business leaders on Tuesday that there is “no mandate” for such an outcome and that even with “all the preparation in the world” it would be highly damaging.

“To advocate for no deal is to hijack the result of the referendum and in doing so knowingly to inflict damage on our economy and our living standards,” he will say.

He will say he will continue to make the case for a negotiated exit, based on what he regards as the “absolute obligation to protect jobs, businesses and future prosperity”.

“We need to be clear, that if we do not resolve this issue in the next few weeks, there is a real risk of a new prime minister abandoning the search for a deal, and shifting towards seeking a damaging no-deal exit as a matter of policy.”

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Media captionIs the UK in a crisis over leaving the EU?

If the UK left the EU without a deal, it would trade with the bloc using World Trade Organization rules.

On Sunday, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said that was now “the only way the democratic will of the people can be delivered”.

The UK was originally due to leave the EU on 29 March, but the deadline was pushed back when MPs failed to approve Mrs May’s deal.

When the new deadline was announced, the government said it would “continue to make all necessary preparations” for a no-deal Brexit, after it was reported that departments had stood down their planning.

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foinsí Ghaeilge (Irish sources) at The National Archives

It is a thoroughly unremarkable occurrence to see a letter in The National Archives addressed ‘To my most loving brother’. Literally thousands of pieces of correspondence bear some version of this rhetorical commonplace. Only one, however, does so in Irish.

Writing in 1618, Brian Coghlan of King’s County – present day Offaly – addressed a letter to the German colonial adventurer Mathew de Renzi with the endorsement ‘Tabuir dom dearbratear ro gradhach .i. do mhaithgamhuin de rensi a maile atha cliath maille re (?) moran bEnnacht’, which we might translate as ‘Give to my most loving brother .i. to Matthew de Renzi in Dublin with many blessings’.

brian coghlan letter to mathew de renzi

Brian Coghlan writing to Mathew de Renzi. WALE 31 7

The endorsement came to the attention of archivist Dr Daniel Gosling while working to catalogue a cache of documents related to early seventeenth-century land disputes in the Irish midlands, principally in County Offaly. It was not the first Irish language discovery in the WALE 31 cataloguing process, however. A few months prior the world had been introduced to some mysterious text on the outside fold of a small, folded petition.

mysterious text folded petition

Mysterious text on a small, folded petition. WALE 31 7

Keen to spread word of the discovery, and to crowdsource its transcription and translation, Dr Paul Dryburgh posted images on Twitter. These came to the attention of the present authors courtesy of Dr Neil Johnston, who looped us into the conversation given our association with a collaborative project that promotes the reading of Early Modern Irish, Léamh.org. The text turned out to be the names of townlands contested in a dispute pitting de Renzi and members of the local elite family of the MacCoghlans.

The dispute – traceable over dozens of petitions, letters and the like – is of immense historical value for the richness of detail it provides into land holding and settler-indigenous relations. Perhaps more interesting, still, is the light it sheds on the active role of Irish Gaelic participants in common law procedure, their links to the state, and the range of positions they took vis-à-vis the settler community. We are conditioned to think of Irish-English relations in the seventeenth century as grounded in conflict driven by imperial expansion, horrific violence, and culture destruction through ‘Anglicization’. And rightly so. But interests, affinities and alliances could cross political, religious and ethnic lines, Coghlan’s letter to ‘his loving brother’ serving as case in point.

The importance of the WALE 31 find, thus, lies less in the brief text itself but in how it puts English-language sources into conversation with Irish ones. In this way, the value of the Gaelic materials at The National Archives far outweighs their number or volume.

An extraordinary case in point, also drawn from the de Renzi papers [TNA SP 46/90 f. 50], is a letter from the hereditary poet Tadhg Mac Bruaideadha. Dated 1617, this is one of but a handful of extant examples of correspondence in Irish. No mere exchange of pleasantries and update on the kids, Mac Bruaideadha’s letter was an epistolary throwing of the gauntlet challenging bardic colleagues to a literary duel over the relative merits of Ireland’s northern and southern halves (Leath Cuinn and Leath Mogha, respectively). The ensuing debate, known to posterity as the Contention of the Bards (Iomárbhagh na bhFileadh), would generate dozens of poetic thrusts and parries extolling the virtues of the poets’ native regions and their historic kings while disparaging those of their rivals. Yet only the letter from Mac Bruaideadha, the sole copy of which exists in The National Archives’ holdings, gives a sense for the originating motivations and broader stakes and goals of the contest.

letter from poet tadhg mac bruaideadha

Drawn from the de Renzi papers, a letter from poet Tadhg Mac Bruaideadha. TNA SP 6/90 f. 50

While the primary story here concerns the manuscripts, it is worth noting the importance of the medium as well as the message. By blasting images of the Irish script on Twitter, The National Archives’ team connected to both Irish- and English-language scholarly communities.

Demonstrating the possibilities afforded by the platform, a number of scholars and online collaboratives, including Léamh, were alerted to Dryburgh’s query.

Within 24 hours, specialists in Irish history and Irish-language palaeography had come together on Twitter to work out collectively a transcription of the manuscript and the first steps toward a translation. Notable here was the way that relationships in real life translated into, and augmented, connections online, which in turn enabled real-time scholarly collaboration.

Also worth noting is how the affordances provided by social media encouraged a level of public risk-taking rarely available through more conventional means of scholarly communication (e.g. the printed book or the scholarly article). Because the tweet-and-reply framework allowed for an iterative approach to the work of transcription and translation, scholars were willing, and indeed eager, to help each other out, willing to risk getting something wrong and work collaboratively.  In this way, Léamh and other online collaborations have helped nurture a loose-knit community of scholars and in a small way helped lay the groundwork for future scholarship that crosses linguistic and disciplinary boundaries.

That said, we should leave the last word to the manuscripts themselves. These documents are penned in Irish script and, with their many examples of abbreviations and contractions, reflect traditional scribal practice. Such scribal shorthand, though an integral part of the script, can make the deciphering of sources such as these a difficult task. While some of the contractions are clear enough (such as the ‘n stroke’, a single horizontal stroke above a character indicating that it is followed by the letter n), others can be more ambiguous, and a familiarity with Early Modern Irish language and grammar is often required to simply transcribe a text, not to mention translate it! This highlights the benefit of bringing together scholars from different fields – historians, linguists, experts in palaeography and manuscripts – to fully realise the potential of the archive’s Irish language sources.

There are some useful online resources for helping people to learn to read the Irish script as well: a detailed description of many common contractions and abbreviations can be found at Tionscadal na nod  and the digitisation of dozens of Irish manuscripts on Irish Script on Screen has made a vast corpus of hitherto hidden material more widely accessible.

These examples from the archives afford us a mere glimpse into the wealth of Irish language material that is preserved in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century manuscripts and are a reminder of how Irish language sources can broaden our understanding of not only Early Modern Ireland, but that of England and Europe too. While the focus of Irish language scholars working on this period has been mainly on literature, and especially on Bardic poetry (which is, of course, a rich historical source in itself), these documents represent the broad range and variety of extant Early Modern Irish manuscript material, which includes petitions, letters, genealogies, prose and travel writings. Even signatures, notes, jottings and scribal marginalia, often dismissed as scribblings, can tell stories which are often obscured by more traditional sources. In the land petition above, for example, the note penned in English beneath the Irish script is a reminder of how the cultural spheres of ‘Gaelic’ and ‘English’ Ireland coexisted and cannot be understood as mutually exclusive entities, and thus reveals the complexities of relationships, cultural spheres and identities in Early Modern Ireland – topics recently explored to fascinating effect at the ‘Dominus Hibernie/Rex Hiberniae’ conference at The National Archives.

One thing reinforced at that conference is the rarity with which an Irish correspondent might address a settler colonist in the intimate terms Coghlan chose; another is that should some further linguistic treasure of the Irish past emerge in the archives, the watchful and social media savvy archivists of The National Archives will surely alert us using the 280-character epistolary conventions of our age. But what exactly is the emoji for ‘my most loving brother’?

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US president says war would be ‘end’ of Iran as tensions rise

Hassan Rouhani and Donald TrumpImage copyright

Image caption

Tensions have risen between Iran under President Hassan Rouhani and the US under President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump has issued a stern warning to Iran, suggesting it will be destroyed if a conflict breaks out between the two countries.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” he said in a tweet on Sunday. “Never threaten the United States again!”

The US has deployed additional warships and planes to the Gulf in recent days.

But Mr Trump’s tweet marks a shift in tone after recent attempts to downplay the possibility of military conflict.

Only a matter of days ago, the president told aides that he did not want US pressure on Iran to turn into a conflict.

And when asked by reporters last Thursday if the US was going to war, Mr Trump answered: “I hope not.”

Iran has also moved to talk down concerns over the escalating tensions. On Saturday, its foreign minister insisted there was no appetite for war.

“There will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told state news agency Irna.

Why are there tensions?

The latest frictions come after Iran suspended its commitments under the 2015 international nuclear deal, and threatened to resume production of enriched uranium which is used to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons.

The deal aimed to cut sanctions on Iran in exchange for an end to its nuclear programme, but the US unilaterally withdrew from the agreement last year.

Calling the deal “defective”, Mr Trump then re-imposed sanctions.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Paul Adams looks at the recent developments behind the US-Iran tensions

Tehran has allegedly placed missiles on boats in the Gulf, and US investigators reportedly believe the country damaged four tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, claims Iran has denied.

What’s the latest in the Gulf?

In recent days, the US has deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier to the region and reportedly drawn up plans to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East.

Diplomatic staff have been ordered to leave Iraq, and the US military have raised the threat level in the region because of alleged intelligence about Iran-backed forces – contradicting a British general who had said there was “no increased threat”.

Dutch and German soldiers said they had suspended their military training programmes in the country.

On Sunday, the Iraqi military said a rocket had been fired into Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies.

It reportedly hit an abandoned building near to the US embassy. There were no casualties and it is not yet clear who was behind the attack.

Separately, Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of a drone attack on a pipeline on Friday. It alleged that Houthi rebels in Yemen conducted the strike on Iran’s orders.

A state-aligned Saudi newspaper called for the US to launch attacks on the country.

Iran denies the allegations.

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Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 WARNING: Leaked S8E6 download alert

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 will be broadcast soon, with the finale of HBO’s hugely popular fantasy epic about to shown.

The last ever episode of Game of Thrones is airing soon, with fans left wondering how the Song of Ice and Fire will be wrapped up.

Fans have already been warned that Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 will bring with it a “bittersweet ending” to the saga.

A short trailer for the Game of Thrones finale hasn’t revealed much, simply showing part of it is set in the aftermath of the Battle for King’s Landing.

Game of Thrones fans have been left divided by season 8, with the last instalment – The Bells – proving especially controversial.

It remains to be seen if Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 wraps things up in a way most fans find satisfying, or if it will be divisive once again.

Either way, the upcoming Game of Thrones finale is the moment the show has been building towards ever since it first hit our screens in 2011.

Game of Thrones fans will be on tenterhooks wondering what the finale holds for Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow and the whole of Westeros.

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 – Warning issued about leaked Game of Thrones episodes (Image: HBO)

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 is undoubtedly the biggest episode of TV to air in 2019, and fans will surely be keeping an eye out for any leaks.

The first two episodes of Game of Thrones season 8 leaked early while an alleged leaked synopsis for the finale has also been posted online.

These Game of Thrones season 8 leaks came after two major episodes of Game of Thrones season 7 also leaked early.

These episodes of Game of Thrones were S7 E4, called The Spoils of War, and S7 E6 Beyond The Wall.

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 – The final ever episode of Game of Thrones is about to air (Image: HBO)

These Game of Thrones leaked episodes appeared on torrent download sites as well as illegal streaming portals.

And these Game of Thrones episodes had massively important plot points as well as game-changing moments for the narrative of the HBO fantasy epic.

Game of Thrones fans will have to wait and see if the season 8 finale leaks early as well.

At the time of writing Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 – which is the last ever episode – has not leaked early.

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 – The HBO fantasy epic looks set to come to a dramatic close (Image: HBO)

But if it does get leaked then the Game of Thrones finale is likely to end up on torrent download and illegal streaming websites.

And if that happens Game of Thrones fans need to be aware of something important.

Game of Thrones viewers have been warned that cybercriminals regularly try to load malware onto GoT episodes that end up on sites that enable piracy.

A study by Kaspersky Lab found that Game of Thrones was the number one target for crooks trying to spread malware online.

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 – The Game of Thrones finale is hugely anticipated (Image: HBO)

And the cybersecurity experts warned that the first and last episode of a Game of Thrones season tends to be the most dangerous episodes to illegally download.

Kaspersky Lab said: “Game of Thrones led the list of TV shows targeted by cybercriminals to use as a disguise for malware.

“In 2018, the show accounted for 17 per cent of all infected pirated content, with 20,934 attacked users.

“This is despite the fact that in 2018, there were no new episodes of Game of Thrones released, while the other top shows in the rankings were promoted with high profile marketing campaigns.”

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 – GoT fans may be wondering if the finale will leak early (Image: HBO)

They added: “In every case observed, the malware distributors focused on targeting the first and the last episode of each season, with the launch episode the most actively used.

“For example, the Game of Thrones season 1 episode Winter is Coming was the most commonly targeted episode of the show.”

So, if you’re trying to watch the Game of Thrones finale through illicit means it could leave your computer with a crippling piece of code.

If you’re planning on tuning into Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 as and when it’s first broadcast then you don’t have much longer to wait.

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 – Fans have been warned about the dangers of leaked episode downloads (Image: HBO)

Game of Thrones season 8 episode 6 will air in the UK on Sky Atlantic at 2am BST on Monday May 20.

Game of Thrones episodes are simulcast so fans in the UK get to watch it at the exact same time as our counterparts in the US.

After that the Game of Thrones season 8 finale will be available to watch on demand on NOW TV.

And then the final ever episode of Game of Thrones will air once again on Sky Atlantic at 9pm UK time on Monday May 20.

• Stay tuned to Express.co.uk for more Game of Thrones season 8 news and piracy updates

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Eurovision 2019 LIVE: Netherlands OVERTAKE Norway to WIN as UK plunge to LAST place | TV & Radio | Showbiz & TV

The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 kicked off tonight at 8pm BST with 26 countries competing for a chance to walk away as winners and host the competition next year. 

Graham Norton provided commentary for the UK, taking over from radio presenter Scott Mills and This Morning host Rylan Clark-Neal who presented the two semi-finals earlier this week. 

Netherlands were the favourites to win this year’s competition with odds of 4/6 on Bet365, SkyBet, Ladbrokes and William Hill. 

Duncan Laurence and his song Arcade sailed through the second semi-final but they faced competition from Australia who had odds of 11/2. 

When Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke performed a rendition of song Zero Gravity in the first semi-final, odds on her winning were slashed. 

Michela Pace, representing Malta with her song Chameleon was the first performance of the night. 

The UK’s entry, Michael Rice and his song Bigger Than Us, was 16th in the running order. 

The odds for the UK to win were 150-1 so it’s unsurprising that the UK trailed in last place.

Madonna performed her new track Future with rapper Quavo and her classic Like A Prayer during the show. 

Follow our live blog below for updates on the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. 



Eurovision 2019: Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands has won this year’s contest (Image: BBC)

12:07am – Netherlands first win in 44 years

The Netherlands have not won the competition in 44 years since Teach-In in 1975. 

Previously, they took home the trophy in 1957 and 1959.

12:00am – Netherlands WIN Eurovision 2019

The public vote has come to an end naming the Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence as the winner of this year’s contest with 492 points. 

The UK’s Michael Rice came last with just 16 points.

11.53pm – UK plunge to LAST place 

As the public vote comes the UK falls to last place in a disappointing result. 

Norway have now risen up the ranks to overtake Sweden.

11.45pm – North Macedonia on track to win

Votes are coming in and North Macedonia looks set to claim a shock victory as the small nation enjoys a flurry of votes. 

The result could be a surprise as the Balkan nation was not previously tipped as a favourite.  

11.22pm – London calling

Rylan Clark-Neal has revealed the votes for the UK

North Macedonia gets 12 points from the UK’s jury selection, which means the nation is surging up the leaderboard.

This competition is really heating up at North Macedonia is emerging as a new favourite.

This new voting system from 2015 has really shaken things up and made things interesting.

11.16pm – The votes are coming in

The votes are starting to come in rapidly and it’s looking good for Italy early on.

Favourites the Netherlands aren’t at the top but are within the top five at the moment.

A number of countries still don’t have any points but at least the UK has got some now.

Eurovision 2019

Eurovision 2019: results are coming in (Image: BBC)

11.07pm – The voting lines are now closed

The results are going to be coming in shortly from the different nations.

It’s starting to get tense as we wait tentatively for the vote.

10.58pm – Madonna takes to the stage

This is the first time in the history of Eurovision that Madonna has taken to the stage and is the third time the star has performed in Israel.

Graham is saying what we’re all thinking: “A slightly muted from the audience. But she showed up and she put on a show.”

Sadly, many fans found the performance underwhelming and hit out on social media. 

10.45pm – Anticipation for Madonna’s performance is building

One fan said: “Lets have a quick chat with our performers. Nooooo I don’t care!!! Bring Madonna on stage NOW #Eurovision.”

Another wrote: “All hail Queen Madonna  #Eurovision.”

10.30pm – Time for the interval

Eurovision fans have taken to social media to reveal who they would like to see win tonight’s show.

One said: “Iceland are my winners #eurovision,” and another wrote: “Norway. Iceland. Switzerland. #eurovision.”

A third tweeted: “I’m calling it. Greece to win. #eurovision.”

“Slovenia, Cyprus, France are my favorites so far. Honorable mentions for Iceland, Norway and Italy :> #Eurovision,” a fourth remarked.

10.10pm – That’s it! The lines have opened so get voting for your favourite

10.05pm – Spain are the final country to perform

Miki is the last singer to take to the stage after an evening of brilliant performances.

He performs his vibrant song La Venda and is joined on stage by very colourfully dressed backing dancers.

10.01pm – Another bookies favourite, Australia 

Kate Miller-Heidke performs Zero Gravity and is now of the favourites to win after her impressive semi-final performance.

The singer looks stunning in an extravagant gown and puts on a great performance accompanied by thrilling stage. 

9.57pm – Switzerland, another favourite performs 

Luca Hanni performed in the second semi-final earlier in the week with his up-beat tune She Got Me.

This could be one to watch as Graham adds: “By far one of the biggest reactions in the hall.”

Eurovision 2019: Madonna performs at the Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision 2019: Madonna performs at the Eurovision Song Contest (Image: BBC)

9.52pm – Serbia take to the stage

Eurovision goes from catchy pop tune to power ballad with Serbia’s entry.

Nevena Bozovic belts out Kruna as she represents her country. 

9.48pm – Italy are up next

Representing Italy is Mamood with his song Soldi, which is already a big hit.

After the performance, Graham commented: “They love it here in the hall and remember it has been a huge hit, expect that to do well.”

9.45 – France, another Big Five country, takes to the stage

France did not have to compete in the semi-finals as they are one of the Big Five countries.

Bilal Hassani performs for the first time tonight with song Roi.

The singer is joined on stage by a famous French ballet dancer as an important message about acceptable is shown on the screen behind them. 


Eurovision 2019: Australia’s impressive staging (Image: GETTY)

9.41 – The next performance is Azerbaijan 

Azerbaijan follows on from Belarus as we near closer to the end of tonight’s performances. 

Singer Chingiz takes to the stage to perform song Truth.

9.37 – Time for Belarus

Next up to perform for the audience is Zena singing her tune Like it for Belarus.  

Amazingly, the young singer is only 16 years old.

9.33pm – Eurovision’s next county is Estonia

Estonia is the 18th country to perform tonight as Victor Crone takes to the stage.

Enjoying Victor’s rendition of Storm, viewers took to Twitter to comment.

One said: “The kind of music to make you feel happy is fairly present this year #estonia #Eurovision.”

“Country songs are exactly what eurovision needed thank u estonia #eurovision,” said another.

9.29 – Iceland is next

Hatari is the next performer to take to the stage and will be belting out song Hatrio mun sigra.

Very unusual stage setting, as Hatari is performing a metal cage.


Michael Rice will be hoping to impress viewers with his rendition of Bigger Than Us.

Bookies have not predicted great things for this song but Eurovision is full of surprises. 

Viewers watching at home have been quick to support Michael.

One said: “Michael Rice you have done yourself and the UK proud. Fabulous performance!  Definitely deserving of a win! You are a winner no matter what the scoreboard says at the end of the evening. Much love xxx.”

Another remarked : “@bbceurovision @grahnort loving the show so far #michaelrice Was brilliant good luck to him.”

9.17pm – Norway’s three-piece are the 15th country to take to the stage 

Singers Alexandra Rotan, Tom Hugo and rapper Fred Buljo make up the band KEiiNO.

They are performing song Spirit In The Sky that includes joik, the oldest living vocal tradition in Europe.


Eurovision 2019: Michael Rice represented the UK (Image: GETTY)

9.15pm – The host’s country entry is next to perform

Kobi Marimi takes to the stage to represent Israel who won last year’s competition.

The song was written especially for him and Graham warns that it will be an emotional performance.

As he finishes the powerful ballad, Kobi breaks down in tears.

9.08pm – Katherine Duska representing Greece is next

In an extravagant gown, Katherine Duska performs her song Better Love.

After the performance, Graham confesses: “Have I been in the Euro bubble too long? I enjoyed that!”

9.06pm – It’s time for the bookies favourite, the Netherlands 

Duncan Laurence is the hot favourite to win the competition with his ballad Arcade.

With simple staging, the single puts on an emotional performance.

Will he win the show or will he be beaten in a shock twist?

9.01pm – Cyprus is next to perform for the audience

Tamta gives an upbeat performance of her song Replay as she represents Cyprus in the competition. 

She wears a revealing latex body suit and extremely high thigh boots.

The audience is on its feet as they catchy tune gets them dancing. 

8.56pm – Slovenia take to the stage  

Zala Kralj and Gasper Santl are representing Slovenia with their duet of song Sebi.

Commenting on their performance, Graham remarks: “Romantic or creepy? You decide.”

The two give an emotional performance and as they finish Graham adds: “I’ve decided, it’s creepy.”


Eurovision 2019: Kobi broke down in tears (Image: BBC)

8.53pm – Sweden’s turn

John Lundvik takes to the stage ready to perform his song Too Late for Love.

The writer for this song is also one of the co-writers for the UK’s entry. 

Backing singers, the Big Mamas join John helping to get the party started and as the performance comes to an end members of the audience can be seen dancing.

8.46pm – North Macedonia is up next 

In a completely different style, Tamara Todevska takes to the stage to perform.

As she belts out her own song Pride, viewers at home are taking to Twitter to share their thoughts on the show. 

One said: “I am forcing my boyfriend to watch this. He claims to dislike it but I caught him chair dancing #Eurovision.”

“San Marino! Proper Eurovision, that was,” tweeted another.

“Wow #NorthMacedonia has produced not only a singer with a fabulous voice, but also a very powerful song without all the gimmicks. She won’t get many points of course because #Eurovision is now all about weird dress, weird dance and swinging from the ceiling,” wrote a third.

8.42pm – San Marino’s entry starts to sing

Serhat is representing San Marino with catchy tune Say Na Na Na.

He’s joined by a number of backing dancers who bring the party atmosphere to the performance. 

Will viewers be saying yes yes yes to San Marino?

8.39pm – Denmark takes to the stage

Leonara begins her performance of Love Is Forever as the audience joins in.

Time for more unusual staging with a giant grey chair in the middle of the stage.

If the audience’s reaction matches viewers at home then this could do well tonight. 

8.33pm – Sergey Lazarev for Russia is next

Representing Russia is Sergey Lazarev who takes to the stage in a white suit.

Russia brings with it the first unusual staging of the night as a number of different silhouettes of Sergey being rained are are projected on the screen.


Eurovision 2019: Graham Norton is providing the UK commentary (Image: BBC)

8.26pm – Czech Republic’s entry performs

Czech Republic’s Lake Malawi are the first band of the night with their rendition of Friend of Friend.

The lead singer gets the crowd joining in and clapping their hands 

8.23pm – Jonida Maliqi representing Albania is next

Next up is Albania in the unlucky number two spot with Jonida Maliqi and the song Ktheju tokës.

Graham points out the singer who performs second on the show has never won the competition.

8.17pm – Malta takes to the stage

Michele Pace, with her rendition of song Chameleon, is the first performer on tonight’s show.

The 18-year-old was chosen to represent Malta after winning X Factor Malta.

Praising the young singer, Graham remarked: “What a tough job, to come out here and kick off the competition.”

8.12pm – Eurovision 2019 has begun

Last year’s winner Netta Barzilali kicks off the show by disembarking from a life-size plane.

All of this year’s acts are taking to the stage in the order that they will perform tonight.

Dana International, who won the competition for Israel in 1998, performs her winning song Diva. 

Netta and Dana introduce tonight’s hosts Bar Refaeli, Erez Tal, Assi Azar and Lucy Ayoub.

7.45pm – 15 minutes to go until Eurovision begins

Eurovision Song Contest 2019 is about to kick off and fans on social media are getting into the spirit of the competition. 

“Me & the missus walked down the aisle to the #Eurovision theme #TrueStory,” one viewer reminisced. 

Another added: “Fingers crossed to you all in #Eurovision.”

“#Eurovision here we go, looking forward to watching a great show,” a third wrote.

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