The producer of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest has accused the late Sir Terry Wogan of “totally spoiling” the competition.
Christer Bjorkman – who will oversee the Swedish contest next month – was responding to a question at Polar Talks London about why Eurovision was viewed by Brits as frivolous, to which he replied: “There are several reasons, one is Terry Wogan himself,” reports The Mirror.
“He 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.”
Wogan, who died in January aged 77, provided the BBC’s coverage in various guises between 1971 and 2008, fronting the television broadcast for nearly 30 years. His stinging yet affectionate commentary won him legions of fans and became synonymous with the television event before he handed over to Graham Norton in 2009.
But according to Bjorkman – who represented Sweden in 1992 and also produced 2013’s contest in Swedish city Malmo – Wogan is to blame for the UK’s attitude to the contest.
“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 don’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.”
A BBC spokesperson has responded to Bjorkman’s comments: “Sir Terry Wogan is and always will be part of the heritage of the Eurovision Song Contest. His unique brand of humour brought millions of people to the competition and he unquestionably helped to establish the show as one of the TV highlights of the year to audiences throughout the UK and beyond.”
Meanwhile fans of Wogan’s commentary have taken to Twitter in support of the late broadcaster.
The final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Stockholm on 14th May.