Sir Terry Wogan has been accused of totally spoiling Eurovision and making a mockery of the contest by the show’s current producer.
The veteran broadcaster who sadly passed away aged 71 in January helmed the BBC’s coverage of the Eurovision Song Content from 1971 until 2009, when he handed over to Graham Norton.
Speaking at the Polar Talks in London Swedish producer, Christer Björkman, said: “He raised a generation of viewers believing this was a fun kitsch show that had no relevance whatsoever.”
He told The Mirror: “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.”
“It totally spoiled Eurovision. Because of what Terry Wogan did, the UK don’t put in their best efforts.
“If you go back to the 60s and early 70s when Britain ruled this competition that wasn’t the case.
“So somewhere along the line you hanged your perception of it. Wogan did what he did very well, make fun of something, but if I would have been in charge I would never have chosen him.”
Cheryl Baker, who won the 1981 Eurovision contest with Buck Fizz, slammed Björkman’s “disrespectful” comments, telling The Mirror:
“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.
A BBC spokesperson said: “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.”
The Eurovision Song Contest has always been famed for its unconventional and outlandish acts. The 2016 contest has changed the voting process, with judging panels from each country giving their scores first, followed by the ratings from viewers in each nation.
The new system hopes to create a dramatic finish as the final winner will only be revealed at the end of the show.