Love it or hate it, the Eurovision Song Contest returns to our screen next month but this year the shenanigans have started earlier than usual.
We are used to the somewhat predictable voting patterns that owe more to world politics and good neighbour relations than to a singing competition. We are also confident of seeing some weird entries (sometimes our own). But this year, a Swedish TV producer has hit out at the late BBC presenter Sir Terry Wogan for spoiling; the show.
Christer Bjorkman singled out the much-loved presenter for criticism claiming his gentle humour shattered the show’s credibility.
It is true that the programme is not regarded very highly in the UK and that years of Sir Terry’s humour have done it no favours but, really, the show only has itself to blame. Yes, he made fun of it but only because there were reasons to do so.
In my experience, Terry’s commentary added to the enjoyment of an otherwise lengthy and tedious show made up of third-class songs. Fortunately for the BBC, after Terry retired in 2009, it chose Graham Norton as its new presenter and he seems intent on being just as irreverent as his predecessor.
Bjorkman said: “He (Wogan) did this for 28 years and his commentary always forced the mockery side and there is a grown-up generation in Britain that doesn’t know anything better. He raised a generation of viewers believing this was a fun kitsch show that had no relevance whatsoever.
“It totally spoiled Eurovision. Because of what Terry Wogan did, the UK doesn’t put in their best efforts but it’s the BBC who wanted him and let him, they did not stop him. He did his best and he did what he did very well, make fun of something, but if I would have been in charge I would never have chosen him.”
I’d say that it’s just as well that he wasn’t in charge then
Former Bucks Fizz singer and 1981 Eurovision winner Cheryl Baker dismissed Bjorkman’s comments as disrespectful.
She said: “Now he’s dead to disrespect him like that is awful. Terry was the face of Eurovision, to the point where other countries watched him because he was so funny, so topical, so witty and so right.
“He did it for all those years and it’s because people couldn’t get enough of him. Maybe this Swedish bloke hasn’t got much of a sense of humour.”
Nicola Metven, TV Editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper, added her rebuttal of Mr Bjorkman’s criticism. She said: “Terry’s comments were nothing short of hilarious, made even more funny because he was making them on the BBC.
“How on earth could anyone NOT laugh and poke fun at some of the acts when you see the state of them? That is precisely why the show is so entertaining. But now some po-faced Swede is claiming that Eurovision is something far more serious and important that a ‘fun kitsch show’.
“Er, no it isn’t. These bands ain’t the Beatles. And how dare he suggest that Sir Terry ruined it. He did nothing of the sort.”
Hear, hear, Nicola. If it is ruined, and I am not saying it is, it is Eurovision’s own fault for broadcasting what can only be labelled a ‘fun kitsch show’.