One-time host and long-standing former commentator for the BBC, Terry Wogan, has heaped both praise and light-hearted scorn on the contest in equal measure during a keynote speech at the Eurovision TV Summit in Lucerne, Switzerland today.
Well-known for his ambivalent stance on the contest, he explained his viewpoint: "I'm a friend to this contest, possibly its oldest friend. How do friends behave to each other? They don't indulge in idle flattery. If a friend does something silly, you tell him so, and you laugh at him, just as he would you."
Rough with the smooth
He may still court controversy amongst fans with statements such as "everyone knows it's rubbish" and "a triumph of appalling taste", while accusing the system of a "transparently obvious" political slant. However, he admitted that "the Eurovision Song Contest gives the BBC a big audience", and praised UK writer for Moscow Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber as "extremely brave" to get involved. Perhaps the crowning praise comes with his summary of the contest as "the most brilliantly produced three and a half hours of live television ever seen". He urged broadcasters to "keep the flames of friendship and song burning".
Wogan stepped down from the commentary box this year, allowing Graham Norton to take the helm for the UK in Moscow on May 16th.