Ireland's turkey bombs - No Angels have high Eurovision hopes
The eagerly-awaited Eurovision Song Contest final was shaping up Wednesday, with German girl group No Angels among the favourites - while Ireland's turkey faced an early Christmas, dpa reported.
While the German girls cavorted with Finnish heavy metallers in Belgrade, Ireland's not-so-funny television puppet Dustin fell at the semi-finals hurdle - the so-bad-it's-good gamble failing miserably to make it to Saturday's Serbian-hosted final.
As five-time winners of the Euro song fest, Ireland fortunately had little at stake in submitting its Dustin-the-Turkey novelty act.
While Dustin was being plucked back into obscurity, No Angels and their song Disappear looked set to do just the opposite. "We think we could just keep going," said group member Sandy.
Along with Finnish heavy metal act, Terasbetoni, No Angels were posing for photographs and giving upbeat interviews in Belgrade Wednesday.
The Finnish metal band were also expected to do well on account of their broad-based internet fan base.
Russian superstar Dima Biland was also among the favourites when the finalists slug it out before an estimated television audience of over 100 million.
The 10 successful countries from the first semi-final included Greece, Romania, Armenia, Finland, Israel, Poland, Russia and Bosnia.
They join Britain, Germany, Spain, France, plus the host country Serbia, who all qualify automatically under the rules.
Britain's entry, the former dustbin collector Andy Abraham, is not fancied by bookies to win with his own song Even If.
"Null-points" Norway also succeeded in qualifying this year, along with Azerbaijan in its Eurovision debut.
A second semi-final on Thursday will determine the remaining countries to proceed to Saturday's final.
The line-up will include Sweden's former winner Charlotte Perrelli, who emerged as the favourite in a Europe-wide vote of fans carried out by the BBC News website.
Eurovision traditionalists should be pleased by the defeat of Dustin who sang Irelande Douze Pointe, not least double-Eurovision winner Johnny Logan.
Logan, who won in 1980 and 1987, has expressed concern at the abysmal quality of the competition in recent years.
"The performances brought on the stage in Eurovision Song Contest are heartrending. Now they have nothing to do with musical quality," Logan is reported to have said, calling on countries to revive the "old shiny days" of the contest.
Another novelty act failing to qualify, was Estonia's humourous entry Kreisiraaio.
A record number of 43 countries will be represented at what is the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest.