• Martin Hart

Top 10 Terry Wogan Eurovision comments!


The Eurovision Song Contest has many names synonymous with its existence - the late, great Lys Assia - the contest's first ever winner way back in 1956, Katie Boyle - the only person ever to present the contest four times (1960, 1963, 1968 and 1974) and ABBA - who won the 1974 contest and went on to become the biggest-selling group ever to name only three, but for Eurovision radio listeners and TV viewers both in the UK and in Europe, there will only ever be one name synonymous with Eurovision - Sir Terry Wogan. In his 35 years covering the contest for BBC radio and television, Sir Terry's magical, often controversial but always entertaining one-line quips made for some of the best and worst moments in Eurovision history. It's hard to whittle his plethora of Eurovision one-liners down to only the best 10, but here goes...

10. 'It's not easy this. You have to move your lips and it's not easy.'

It's impossible not to feel sorry for poor Björn Gustavsson, who had no problem entertaining the watching audience in 2008 - but was far less proficient in the art of pronouncing the country names while giving Sweden's Eurovision votes that year. Trust Sir Terry then to come out with one of his most memorable quips in what turned out to be his final Eurovision outing before handing the microphone over to Graham Norton in 2009. Whether you loved him or you hated him, there can be no denying that, for millions of Eurovision fans, Sir Terry Wogan was, and will always remain, the voice of Eurovision.

9. 'Spain is next, with a song called 'Bloody Mary'. That reminds me, I haven't touched a drop yet.'

There's a very deliberate reason why this one-liner is in at number nine - because Sir Terry's most-loved piece of advice during his more than three decades covering Eurovision for the BBC was 'don't start drinking until song number nine'. Sir Terry evidently didn't raise a glass to Spain's diabolical 2006 offering in the shape of Las Ketchup, but every year the Eurovision family collectively raise a glass to his memory when the Grand Final hits song nine. Sir Terry, we salute you. As for Las Ketchup, well... we don't.

8. 'They've got four languages in Belgium... and they're singing in an imaginary one.'

Be honest folks, hearing a country singing in their national language is what we love about Eurovision, right? Wrong. Belgium's Eurovision 2003 song could have been performed in any number of languages... but no, those crafty Belgians decided to send a song to Latvia in a language that doesn't even exist - leading to one of Sir Terry's best Eurovision one-liners. Mind you, the gamble almost paid off because Urban Trad finished 2nd - a mere 2 points behind eventual winner, Turkey's Sertab Erener. Ah yes, the glory days of Turkey in Eurovision - whatever happened to those days?

7. 'This is a contest in which you're gonna see a lot of hair... it's a slap in the face for European barbers.'

Eurovision has been no stranger to the odd dodgy hairstyle over the years - Rona Nushliu's beehive for Albania in 2012 arguably comes out on top - but go back to Germany's 1995 song for one of Sir Terry's many pokes at a brutal Eurovision barnet and you will come across husband and wife duo, Stone & Stone. It's fair to say that lead singer Tatjana Penniston's flowing black locks leave a lot to be desired - although not as much as her questionable performance in Dublin. Has anyone yet managed to work out how such an aberration of a Eurovision song even managed to score the single point from Malta? Answers on a postcard please.

6. 'See if you can watch this without being distracted by the two eejits in raincoats.'

Eurovision isn't always about what the lead singer is wearing, often a wardrobe faux pas by one or more backing artists can attract attention away from the lead singer... and usually for the wrong reasons. With this memorable description of Selma's Eurovision 1999 song for Iceland, Sir Terry as good as summed up how to take a classic Eurovision song and ruin it in a split second.

5. 'It'll either win by a mile or it's the Diadora League next year.'

For as much as Sir Terry sharpened his tongue when it came to other Eurovision countries, he was never scared to pull out a classic one-liner when it came to the United Kingdom - and his description of the UK's 1995 horror show from Love City Groove is up there with the best of them. As for Sir Terry's reference to Diadora, other well-known sports clothing manufacturers are available!

4. '29 years since The Netherlands have won this contest... make that 30.'

Even by Sir Terry's standards, this not so subtle dig at the Dutch Eurovision 2004 song is right up there alongside his all-time classics. To be fair to Re-union, 'Without You' isn't the worst Eurovision song ever to come out of The Netherlands... but it's also far from the best. Ah well, at least Sir Terry's prediction that the Dutch wouldn't win Eurovision that year was spot on.

3. 'The girls are wearing just a few little things run up by their mothers.'

Let's be honest folks, fashion trends have moved on a lot since the 1990s - but that didn't stop Sir Terry coming up with one of his best Eurovision fashion-related lines in describing the all-female Croatian group's costume choice during the 1997 contest. To be fair to ENI though, their garish outfits do look like they've been dipped in pots of Dulux paint... but dodgy costume choices, even these days, are why so many people love Eurovision.

2. 'Who knows what hellish future lies ahead? Actually I do, I've seen the rehearsals.'

Sir Terry was never known for mincing his words when it came to Eurovision, and his description of the 2007 contest is one of the finest examples of that. The ironic thing is Sir Terry was right, because, after all, 2007 was the year that gave the Eurovision family the likes of Marija Šerifović , Edsilia Rombley (again!) and Verka Serduchka... and we'll leave it there for Eurovision 2007.

1. 'Natasja and Soren... or as we know them, The Little Mermaid and Doctor Death.'

This will forever remain undoubtedly Sir Terry's Eurovision sharp tongue's finest outing. So controversial was his labelling of the Danish Eurovision 2001 presenters, Natasja Crone Back and Søren Pilmark, that both the BBC and Sir Terry himself apologised to the Danish broadcaster, DR, after the contest in Copenhagen. Isn't it great that there was once a time when you could say whatever you want about another country in Eurovision and get away with it... almost!

Whether you loved him or you hated him, there can be no denying that, for millions of Eurovision fans, Sir Terry Wogan was, and will always remain, the voice of Eurovision.

Many thanks to David Mann from Radio International for his assistance in compiling this article. What is your favourite Terry Wogan Eurovision commentary line? Tell us in the comments down below and on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

#EurovisionSongContest #TerryWogan

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