Musical theatre actor George Ure has been named as the back-up for Sophie Ellis-Bextor on the UK jury for the Eurovision Song Contest after the star pulled out citing “unforeseen circumstances”.

Ure is a coach at the Urdang Academy, a school of dance and musical theatre in north London, and has performed in stage shows including Wicked and Sweeney Todd.

The Murder On The Dancefloor singer had been announced as chairwomen of the panel but stepped down on Tuesday, a day after the contest begun in earnest.

Crowds inside the Expo Tel Aviv in Israel
Crowds inside the Expo Tel Aviv in Israel (Andres Putting/PA)

Simon Cowell and Robbie Williams were among names touted by bookmakers to replace the 40-year-old pop star.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said Ure was on standby to replace Ellis-Bextor on the five-strong panel, which also includes Kylie Minogue’s musical director Pete Watson, radio DJ Adele Roberts, vocal coach Jai Ramage and singer AJ Bentley.

He also appeared as Zaki in the Kelsey Grammer-starring production of Big Fish at The Other Palace in London’s Off West End in 2017.

Jury members, who are all music industry professionals, are asked to judge vocal capacity, performance, composition of the song and overall impression.

The national juries will vote in one semi-final and the final, counting towards 50% of the overall vote.