Thursday, 19 May 2011

Dumming Down Eurovision

This year's Eurovision winners (Ell/Nikki representing Azerbaijan) sung an aptly named number called "Running Scared" - something a large quantity of the country's population do on competition night. During the run-up to the royal wedding I was busy planning ways to avoid the event, eventually settling on a nice lie-in and evening trip to the dog races. For Eurovision however, I'd e-mailed out a "save the date" plea more than a month in advance and actually planned on being awake for TV footage. It may well be the annual event many love to hate but Eurovision has a place in my heart. I can actually remember lying in front of the TV as a teenager with a cushion carefully placed under me, willing my favourites to win and even once voting for a British entry. Nowadays, like the royal wedding was for many, Eurovision is merely an excuse to get a little merry.

Terry Wogan's commentary seemed to get progressively more inflammatory towards our competitors as each year passed and as his retirement grew nearer. Wogan's sarcastic banter provided the perfect stimulus for the creation of a variety of Eurovision drinking rules. Having missed Graham Norton's debut as Wogan's replacement, I was mildly disappointed by his dummed-down style of presenting. Twelve of us squeezed around the TV and devised this year's drinking rules, banking on some infamous Norton sexual innuendo and bitchiness but less than half-way through the competition we decided to ditch the rule.

In asking Norton to tone it down, the BBC have destroyed the competition's celebrated playful commentary that for many was one of the main draws of watching Eurovision. This year's Düsseldorf show distinctly lacked the mullets and spandex of previous years and seemed heavy on child contestants. One entry (yes, Spain) actually decided to unintentionally mock deaf Eurovision fans by only performing part of the song with sign-language to leave viewers guessing as to what the rest of the song was about. But reliably, as usual the English entry was shocking:

Despite the song's title, "I Can", Blue proved they in fact "can't" by delivering a song significantly more dire than Ireland's rather catchy "Lipstick", performed by the loathsome Jedward, looking somewhat Gagga-ed:

After shots of everything drinkable in the flat and four slumbering viewers, I didn't win our in-house bet and the only memorable stand-alone performance came from Moldova:

Dressing up in items from a chosen country and bringing dishes from said country for a European feast was possibly more educational than watching the show. I now know the Fins eat liquorice and that apparently both Spain and Sweden share a love of rice pudding. I'm now looking forward to sampling next year's feast.

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