Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Now, I will confess to being a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Firstly, if you are over the age of 12 and actually remember a world in which Ceefax was the height of technical innovation, you will be interested to know that, as I once discovered, you can actually read the translated lyrics of all the songs performed if you switch on Teletext. I urge anyone who has not had the joy of this form of semantic entertainment to give it a whirl next time around.
Secondly, and more importantly, there is Terry Wogan. The man is an extremely funny old bugger at the best of times (hence his being by far the most popular DJ on national radio – learn from this, Mr Chris “dirty old whores” Moyles). However, once a year, Terry is given several bottles of Scotch and a microphone, gets locked in a dark room and is asked to give a running (rambling) commentary on a frightening array of Europop performers. It is then, truly, that Mr Wogan comes into his own. He starts well, sniggering well-meaningly at the costumes of the Swiss and Finnish performers, and making “Come in, Orson” jokes about the female presenter’s earrings. By the end of the evening, however, Terry usually gives up altogether on any notion of formality and simply resorts to snorting, chuckling and helpless laughter, while muttering the odd “Jaysus, wouldya look at the state of that?” that duly gets beamed to his grateful British audience.
Without the man and the legend that is Terry, in effect, there would BE no Eurovision audience in Britain, that much is a given. Without Terry, nobody in this country would watch it, much less give a shit who wins it. Eurovision to a British viewer is a kitsch novelty, a secret trashy pleasure, like reading Barbara Cartland and watching “Sunset Beach”.
We don’t really care about the perennial toys-out-the-pram grumblings that we, as a Western European nation, pay more than our fair share to stage a competition that we don’t do well in. It’s not that we’re getting in preparation for our part in the London Olympics, it’s simply that, to us, it’s almost embarrassing that Britain actually takes part at all (it’d be even more enjoyable laughing at Heidi the Singing Goatherder if we hadn’t actually put forward an act in the competition ourselves, let’s face it). Frankly, while we love to point and laugh, actually doing well in Eurovision would be nothing short of mortifying.
Naturally, then, as ‘missing the point’ seems to be a common pastime for our nation’s MPs, the Liberal Democrat Richard Younger-Ross appears to be getting his knickers in a twist over the fact that the United Kingdom doesn’t….well… win it. Apparently, Eurovision voting panels “vote for their neighbours rather than the best songs” ! For SHAME, the SHOCK of it!
Richard Younger-Ross, a word in your ear if I may: if you force the voters to vote ‘properly’, Terry won’t have nearly as much to be slurringly comical about over his third or fourth livener. The programme wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining, the United Kingdom (and all other “we’re above this, really” participants) would be forced to take it seriously, and the whole thing would have the humourous life sucked clean out of it until Eurovision became as much fun as a late-night televised theological debate with the Open University.
Europeans like laughing at each other, Richard. We enjoy it, we’ve been doing it for centuries, and quite frankly, we’d prefer it if you just concentrated on politics (that is, after all, your job) and left us alone to get on with it. OK?
‘The Eurovision Song Contest voting system needs to be changed because it is "harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe", an MP has said. Countries voted for their neighbours rather than the best songs, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross said.
And the BBC should insist on voting changes or withdraw from covering the contest altogether, he added. Serbia won Saturday's contest, while the UK was second from bottom, only receiving votes from Ireland and Malta. Mr Younger-Ross said the present structure was a "joke", adding that votes were based "largely on narrow nationalistic grounds".
He has tabled a Commons early day motion, which has been backed by fellow Liberal Democrat Colin Breed plus Labour MPs John Robertson and David Drew. Derek Gatherer, who has spent years studying Eurovision voting patterns, thinks suggesting the current system is a joke is a bit "heavy".’