Eurovision 2010: Dubovie holds UK hopes

By Paul Joslin
BBC News, Essex

image captionDubovie has been rehearsing in Oslo all week

19-year-old Josh Dubovie is set to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest in Norway on Saturday night.

He had an arduous 36-hour journey to Oslo - travelling by car ferry to Denmark, driving north for three hours, hopping on a boat to Norway, then catching a coach to the capital.

But his biggest test will come when he performs the UK's entry, That Sounds Good To Me, to a television audience of 125 million.

Dubovie has described it as "the most important three minutes of my life".

By his own admission, the Basildon boy has little experience on the professional circuit - but friends and teachers at his old stage school in Essex have every confidence in his abilities.

"He showed great signs when he was very young," says StageAbility founder Gary Sullivan.

"The first show he ever did with us was Annie and I'll never forget the vision of him walking on stage in his little knee-length shorts.

"I've got them, downstairs in my costume store. So if he makes it big, I'm going to be on eBay with those!"

Rejection letter

Dubovie first attended StageAbility aged nine, taking part in a Friday evening after-school class.

image captionStaff and pupils at StageAbility are backing Josh on Saturday night

The school mainly concentrates on acting, but they also put on musicals like The King And I and My Fair Lady.

Aged 15, Dubovie got his first major role in a school production of Les Miserables, playing Enjolras, the charismatic leader of the student revolutionaries.

The part sparked his interest in singing and he hired a vocal coach, who encouraged him to pursue it as a career.

He was turned down by X Factor and Britain's Got Talent - but, by amazing coincidence, his rejection letter from ITV arrived on the same day he won Your Country Needs You, the BBC TV competition to find the UK's Eurovision act.

Pupils at StageAbility say their classmate fully deserves his big break.

"He's a really great guy," says Zak. "Really nice, really friendly, very generous to everyone and always looking out for other people, always has nice things to say about everyone.

"He's never in a bad mood, always really friendly and chatty and treats everyone else as equals. A really nice guy."

Dubovie is expected back at StageAbility this July, when he is due to take the lead role in a local production of Notre Dame.

His co-star in the production, Amy, says the cast is fully behind their friend's Eurovision efforts.

"The night that he won [the nomination] I don't think anyone could completely believe it," she says.

"We all knew Josh had it in him, but I remember waking up in the middle of the night thinking 'oh my God, Josh is representing the UK'.

"It's going to be a great experience, but he's still going to be the same Josh when he comes back."

Political voting

In Oslo, Dubovie has spent the past week in Eurovision bootcamp, with a strenuous schedule of rehearsals at the Eurovision venue, the Telenor Arena, about 15 minutes outside the centre of Oslo.

His stage show incorporates five dancers and a series of brightly illuminated boxes, which the teenager jumps off towards the end of the song.

image captionDubovie's UK entry was written by Pete Waterman and Mike Stock

After the first run-through on 22 May, he described the experience as "unbelievable" and joked about his stress levels.

"If I didn't have nerves, I wouldn't be human," he told reporters.

One thing the contestant isn't concerned about is so-called political voting.

"The politics of it is not really a big deal because I think the voting has been changed, so every country has an equal playing field," he says, referring to the reinstatement of juries at last year's event in Moscow.

Dubovie points to Jade Ewen's success in 2009 - she came fifth - as proof that political voting is just a scapegoat for nations who don't want to admit their entries were below par.

"She really broke the ice for us," he says.

"Hopefully this year everyone will be a lot more supportive of the UK.

"We could do well."

Additional reporting by Mark Savage.

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