LONG gone are the days when the United Kingdom invariably came first or second in the Eurovision Song Contest.

It’s ten years since the UK was in the top ten, and over the last ten years, our average placing has been 21st out of 24 to 26 songs.

Sadly, Michael Rice added to this unenviable situation on Saturday night in Tel Aviv by coming last with a mere 16 points versus 492 awarded to The Netherlands.

Hundreds of British fans travelling to Israel to see the show were braced for a poor placing, but few were predicting last place, believing that Germany, Israel, Spain, San Marino and the monotonous dirge of Slovenia may keep us from the bottom.

Despite the end result, this is usually a once in a lifetime for most participants, and Michael appears to have thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks in Israel, where he got to attend numerous parties, and develop friendships with fellow participants.

Being part of perhaps the most spectacular Eurovision final ever must be some consolation to Michael.

The Israeli TV station KAN really pulled out all stops to make this an exciting – if overlong – final, with an amazing opening sequence inspired by plane travel and airport arrivals.

KAN was also able to attract a stellar array of past Eurovision personalities to perform in intervals, winners like Mans Zelmerlow of Sweden, Austria’s Conchita, and others like Ukraine’s Verka Seduchka, who despite coming second in 2007 appears to have made more mileage out of Eurovision than the winner of that year.

Also, clinching a deal with Madonna to perform in the interval was a major achievement. However, some question the value and appropriateness of inviting US stars to appear in a European contest.

And talking of value, there will likely be the predictable calls made to leave the Eurovision Song Contest, given the UK’s consistent poor performance, and the cost to the BBC of guaranteeing a place in the final as a “big five” competitor with Spain, France, Germany and Italy.

However, studies have shown that the cost to the BBC for participating is well below the cost of replacing it with a drama or some other show, so it really wouldn’t make sense to withdraw.

So we can look forward to winner Duncan Laurence hosting 2020’s Eurovision in the Netherlands. His mournful Arcade was the consistently among the favourites to win as it vied with Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Russia in the bookies odds.

At the very end of the final, however, it looked as if Sweden’s John Lundvik was gong to take Sweden’s seventh win with a healthy lead in the professional jury vote.

In a nailbiting last few moments it was revealed that public vote for Sweden was significantly lower than the other favourites, pushing Lundvik to sixth place. Lundvik looked visibly shaken on the split screen as it became clear victory had been handed to The Netherlands.

Tel Aviv was for the most part a great host city despite the small Expo Centre failing to accommodate many long-standing fans who travel each year to the show.

Overall, and despite the UK’s lamentable last place, this was, for most, the best Eurovision experience ever.