UK Eurovision hopefuls Joe and Jake get advice from Abba ahead of the contest

Singer Justin Timberlake may be adding some global star power to the Eurovision Song Contest finale - but the UK entrants have been harvesting some superstar support of their own.

It is the first time in the history of the contest that a performer of global stature has taken to the stage to perform in a non-competing role, Eurovision said.

The news comes head of the first semi-final in Stockholm tonight, which will see 18 countries performing.

Joe and Jake with Bjorn from Abba (Nora Ryan/BBC/Press Association Images )
Joe and Jake with Bjorn from Abba (Nora Ryan/BBC/PA)

UK hopefuls Joe And Jake will feature in the second semi-final being held on Thursday, which will include a pre-recorded appearance of them performing their song You're Not Alone.

The duo discovered they had a secret fan in the form of Abba star Bjorn Ulvaeus, who they met ahead of the competition.

Joe said it was an honour to meet their hero, adding: "He said that when you are on the stage that night consider yourself on the frontier of Europe fighting for togetherness.

"It might just seem like a TV show to some but it brings fun and entertainment into the living rooms of millions of people across Europe and beyond. Such an inspiring man."

Eurovision hopefuls Joe and Jake
Eurovision hopefuls Joe and Jake (BBC)

Jake added: "Abba were one of the most successful groups in history and it all started for them at Eurovision. Bjorn is such a lovely and down to earth man - and an inspiration too. We are thrilled that he took the time out to be so supportive of our song this year.

"If Abba ever decided to reform we'd definitely be up for being their support act for sure!"

Alongside The Great British Bake Off's Mel Giedroyc, Radio 1 presenter Scott Mills will co-host BBC Four's live coverage of the two semi-finals from Stockholm on May 10 and 12.

On Saturday Graham Norton is once again at the helm for BBC One's live broadcast of the grand final.

Eurovision host Graham Norton (Guy Levy/BBC)
Eurovision host Graham Norton (Guy Levy/BBC)

As founders of the competition which was first staged in 1956, the "big five" of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are automatic finalists, along with the host nation.

The two semi-finals will feature 36 countries, with acts from Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Poland, Switzerland, Israel and Australia, to name a few, competing for a chance to perform in the final.

Ten countries from each heat will join the big five and host nation Sweden.

Semi-final 1 of the Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast on BBC Four tonight at 8pm.

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