The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 has begun in Israel with the first of two live semi-finals.

Netta Barzilai – last year’s winner – kicked off the event in her home nation with a rousing rendition of Toy, her Me Too anthem featuring bizarre chicken noises.

Seventeen international acts will take to the stage but only 10 will make it to the 26-strong grand final on Saturday May 18.

Wearing leather and chains, Tamta, representing Cyrus, was the first entry to take to the stage with the club-ready track Replay.

After Montenegro’s D Mol, dance music veteran Darude appeared with vocalist Sebastian Rejman.

The pair, representing Finland, performed Look Away to the loudest applause of the evening thus far as a dancer threw high kicks atop a podium on stage.

Two other favourites will perform on Tuesday night.

Australia’s operatic pop star Kate Miller-Heidke and Iceland’s fetish-punk group Hatari will also sing 12th and 13th respectively.

Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills are commentating on the event on BBC Four and will be joined by the UK’s entry Michael Rice.

The UK, as one of the “big five” countries, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are already assured of a place in the grand final. Last year’s winners Israel also do not have to qualify via the semi-finals.