Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Terry Wogan’

Eurovision: A Return to Authenticity?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 14th May, 2017

NB&D Eurovision nightMost years I watch the Eurovision song contest in the company of fellow Liberal Democrats, and this year was no exception, with a jolly event last night at the home of the Chair of the Newham and Barking & Dagenham local party and his wife. Even during an election campaign it’s good to let one’s hair down once in a while. Besides, the idea of European nations coming together to celebrate — along with the odd outlier like Australia — chimes in well with the LibDems’ pro-European character. Among the membership of the local party there are nationals of a range of other EU member states, as well as Asian and Afro-Caribbean activists, making it one of the most multicultural in the country.

Salvador SobralAs for last night’s Eurovision show, even though I still lament the passing of Terry Wogan, it struck me as a distinct improvement on some recent years, for a couple of main reasons. The first, naturally, was Portugal’s victory with Salvador Sobral and his ballad Amar Pelos Dois. Quite apart from the poignancy of the singer’s health problems, he showed that you don’t need over-the-top light shows and pyrotechnics to win. The simple act of singing a good song well is rightly what it takes. The second thing that cheered me about last night was that far more entries than usual sang in their own language, rather than in English, as had become the fashion. In my view, that is how it should be, as Europe is a stunningly diverse continent when it comes to languages and culture. We should champion that diversity, and celebrate it (as indeed the European Union does). And what better way than the annual songfest that is Eurovision?


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Eurovision Comes to Orpington

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 15th May, 2011

Eurovision is an annual fiesta of kitsch, wherever it is staged. This year it was housed in a converted football stadium in Dusseldorf. But for many of the estimated 120 million TV viewers who watch the event, it’s the atmosphere at Eurovision parties they’re attending that’s important. A number of local Liberal Democrat associations hold fundraising evenings that are a good way of winding down from local elections — particularly important this year, when disappointment was the predominant feeling amongst LibDem campaigners. I joined friends at Orpington Liberal Club, not for the first time. I thought Moldova’s entry and Jedward from Ireland really got into the spirit of things with their entries, though the winning Azerbaijanis, Ell and Nikki, were better than some others. At least Azerbaijan — which I visited on a journalistic assignment a few months ago — has the money and facilities to host next year’s jamboree. I do miss Terry Wogan’s wit, sarcasm and sometimes sheer mental fatigue as the British TV commentator, though. Graham Norton, untypically, was last night more low-key and rarely outrageous, which is surely what was called for.

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Is There Anything More Camp Than Eurovision?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 24th May, 2008

I have never really appreciated ‘camp’. Graham Norton sets my teeth on edge. But there is something wonderfully over the top about the Eurovision Song Contest — especially when one sees it at a Eurovision party, as I did with Lewisham Liberal Democrats this year. We all drew lots (at a pound a ticket) to see which country we would represent. I got the hosts, Serbia, which was never going to manage to replicate the butch originality of last year’s female effort — and didn’t. Moreover, the two smarmy presenters in Belgrade were pretty cringe-worthy. One or two of the songs were actually rather good, not least Ukraine’s, and Russia was a justifiable winner. Bosnia and Herzogovina entered into the crazy spirit of things. Spain was simply embarrassing. The guy in Stockholm announcing the Swedish votes seemed to be out of his head.

For some time now, in the UK, Terry Wogan’s commentary has been part of the carnival. He was as wry (and sometimes outright bitchy) as ever, though by the end he was souding weary, and genuinely miffed that the British entry came joint bottom (though at least without the indignity of ‘nul points’). It’s true, as he said, that voting goes along political and geographical lines these days, though actually most of the top places were won by reasonable numbers. If Wogan retires, I suppose we might end up with Graham Norton next year. Will that be more than I can bear?


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