Ex-Eurovision entrant defends contest

A FORMER UK Eurovision Song Contest entrant has defended the event after it came under fire from veteran commentator Sir Terry Wogan.

A FORMER UK Eurovision Song Contest entrant has defended the event after it came under fire from veteran commentator Sir Terry Wogan.

Sir Terry cast doubt on whether he would be involved in covering the contest again after doing so since the 1970s because of the “political” nature of the voting system, which he claimed appeared to favour former Eastern-bloc countries.

He said it was “no longer a music contest” and that prospects for Western European participants were “poor”.

But yesterday former Eurovision star Kit Rolfe, who runs a livery yard near Halstead, said the contest's voting system had always been open to abuse and that Sir Terry should not take the contest too seriously.

Miss Rolfe fronted Belle and the Devotions when, in 1984, they finished seventh place in Luxembourg.

Historians of Eurovision have maintained that the song's failure to do better was partly due to the bad behaviour of British football fans in the small state the year before, and the band were booed after they finished their performance.

Most Read

Yesterday Ms Rolfe, who still performs, said: “I don't normally watch it but I did see bits of Saturday's competition.

“It is definitely very political - but then it always has been. Friends vote for friends, and things do go on behind the scenes.

“However, it is an institution - it is completely unreal, and it doesn't really reflect modern music, but if people love it then it's up to them, why shouldn't they be allowed to?

“It is very popular with a lot of people and it is a great, fun spectacle. Even when I was in it I didn't take it too seriously.”

However showbusiness colleagues agreed with Sir Terry's views, arguing the competition had lost its way.

Veteran dancer, presenter and chat-show host Bruce Forsyth said: “I agree with him. It's not a song contest any more, it's political.

“It's all so biased, it's developed into a farce. I've stopped watching it, the last couple of years.”

Pop svengali Simon Cowell said: “If people enjoy it as entertainment, that's great, but it's all a bit empty and meaningless as a competition.”

Public relations guru Max Clifford commented: “Terry Wogan is spot on. It's all about politics and block voting and nothing to do with the merits of a song.

“It's like having a World Cup where the results are worked out in political terms and it's got nothing to do with who scores the most goals.”

Sir Terry spoke out near the end of his TV commentary after Britain's entry Andy Abraham had a disappointing night in the 53rd contest. The former binman finished joint last of the 25 finalists.

Heart throb Dima Bilan of Russia romped to victory with a massive 272 points with a crowd-pleasing ballad, produced by US R&B star Timbaland, called Believe.

Sir Terry said 43-year-old Abraham, who found fame on TV talent show the X Factor, deserved more votes from other countries than he received.

He stressed he did not want to take anything away from Russia, though, which had won the contest comfortably.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter