Saturday, May 24, 2008

What the hell. I've got the laptop on, so let's blog live through Eurosong:

7.59pm - To get viewers in the mood for a night of Euro-frivolity, a self-flagellating BBC1 announcement about Eurovision: Making Your Mind Up phone voting. Does anyone really care?

8pm - Ah, the Wogan opens with an announcement in Serbian. In Lowestoft, a bottle of Lidl fizz is opened. The Baileys (well, the Lidl ersatz Baileys - or Queen Margot creme liqueur, to give its full, glorious name) must wait a little. Wogan describes last year's winner (and this year's opener) as "a bad-tempered Jeanette Krankie". I prefer to think of her as a bonsai Keith from 'The Office'.

8.07pm - The hosts are compared to Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald. One for the teenagers, there.

8.09pm - Romania, represented by "Vlad the Impaler" and a Vladette, get us underway with an unholy alliance of 'I Believe I Can Fly' and 'The Winner Takes It All'.

8.13pm - Andy Abraham takes the stage. There remains no chance he'll come anywhere near the top, but he gives it his all and projects nicely across the chilly wastes of the arena. Wogan must bear responsibility for his presence, as he was cast out of 'A Song for Europe' but saved by the Togmeister's casting vote. A shame that the Trojan horse potential of the Romanian girl was overlooked, but there you are. Seeing the mimed backing (with commendable equal opps in the form of a girl guitarist) does, however, make me long for the days of the resident orchestra and the national conductor. With Hazlehurst having reached his coda, who'd be our national conductor now? Laurie Holloway, I'd imagine. Is Noel Kelehan still with us? To say nothing of Johnny Arthey.

A technical point. When will set designers realise that shimmery backgrounds turn low-bitrate digital transmissions into a pixellated heap of shit? At one point, it looked like Andy A was exploding. No bad thing, you might say. Also, we're on early this year. I suspect that by the time the voting starts, AA and his band will be very nicely relaxed. If not off their faces.

8.20pm - Germany take the floor with Dortmund's answer to the Sugababes. Not up to much, but a couple of years ago, when the Teutonic fraternity fielded a little girlie in a gingham dress singing a rather nice Preston (as Country and Western is known to all Wogan devotees) song, I thought they'd ace it, and they did almost as badly as us. So this'll probably do well. Hang on, I've missed one, haven't I? I'm trying to do this and make dinner. What do you want? Blood?

8.24pm - Armenia's entry with "the Mongolian nose flute and three dancing eejits". Armenia's main contributions to music have been the Chipmunks and 'Come On-A My House'. This is neither. Oh, and the great jazz producer George Avakian. He's Armenian. And lovely.

8.29pm - Bosnia & Herzegovina: a strange one. Like a cross between Tatu and Hot Gossip, only done by the National Theatre of Brent. Four pregnant knitting brides backing Scary Spice and Super Hans from 'Peep Show'. Still, when you've suffered as much as the Bosnians, it's good to let off steam.

8.33pm - Israel with one that Wogan likes almost as much as Andy Abraham. Dana International wrote it, and the bloke singing it looks a bit like she must have done before she opted for reassignment work. This reminds me of the time a friend of mine was insulted grievously by an arch transsexual. Recounting the tale, he announced that he wanted to "kick her in the knobcunt".

8.36pm - Finland rocks out. Ah well, why fuck with the formula?

8.40pm - Pablo Picasso does a number in a hat stolen from George Melly. Full Slavic knees-up ending ensues.

8.44pm - Poland goes ballad-style with the picture in Cat Deeley's attic.

8.48pm - Banging choon from Iceland. Dr Alban considers suing.

8.52pm - Turkey goes admirably ahead of the curve with some Happy Shopper alt rock. The lead singer has a Kurt Cobain model Fender Jagstang. Shapes are thrown, and Germany will guarantee at least 8 points.

8.58pm - At the advice of a compadre in the Cook'd and Bomb'd chatroom, I've pressed the red button and am now watching Portugal's pie-enhanced answer to Edith Piaf with subtitles. No sign of Boogaloo Stu. I hope he's like Disco Stu from the Simpsons.

9.02pm - Boogaloo Stu shows his hand. Not that I'd wish to shake it, for fear of where it's been. He thinks he's Quentin Crisp, but he's really Graham Norton's less-talented cousin with the hair of Mollie Sugden. And here we go with Latvia, updating George Harrison's closing number from the 1975 'Rutland Weekend Television' Christmas special. Boogaloo Stu doesn't like the pirate act. Funny. I thought he'd like his screen covered in seamen.

9.07pm - Is Sweden meant to be that colour? Ah, it's a lighting effect. I was going to tell her to call NHS Direct pronto.

9.10pm - Denmark is in the area. I know why I like it now, as I sing "Wouldn't it be nice to get on wiv me neighbours?" over the intro. Mrs Cheeseford also spots the theme from 'Sesame Street'. By George, she's got it. Whoever it's stolen from, if that doesn't do well, the Eurovision is a busted flush.

9.14pm - Time for Georgia. The nation that gave us Katie Melua. They're not increasing the value of their shitty legacy with this.

9.18pm - Bonnie Anilorac gives us the Ukraine entry, with men in boxes. As a devotee of Sam Smith's pubs when I'm in London, 'man in the box' means Ayingerbrau lager, the pump for which used to be a perspex cube containing a jolly Tyrolean gent. Having now had the equivalent of several pints, I can see that this might do well. It's got a good beat, and she's a comely wench.

9.21pm - "I am not a professional host" says the host. Don't invite criticism, old badger. Wogan asks "Why do they do this?", referring to the long interludes where the hosts have to fill. The answer is that it allows commercial European TV networks to get their ads in, as any fule kno.

9.22pm - Sebastian Tellier for France. Bearded backing singers in black. Bearded lead singer in silver makes his entrance in a golf cart, holding a transparent globe. Air and Phoenix meet Jarvis Cocker = too good for Eurovision? Who cares? This is marvy.

9.27pm - Joe Absolom sings 'Confide in Me' by Kylie, with a pair of furry wings on his back and his nadgers in a vice. Meanwhile, Ramon Tikaram pours Double Diamond on a recumbent female. Azerbaijan thinks this is the way forward. Your mileage may vary. Mine does.

9.30pm - Greece gives us her Secret Combination. I didn't know they still made chastity belts. Not my favourite, but memorable and potentially a winner.

9.35pm - Why are Spain fielding Lee Cornes in one of Devo's cast-off plastic wigs speaking the Seville telephone directory to the beat of the Macarena? Because they can.

9.38pm - Serbia will get a standing ovation from the hometown crowd, but it's just the Asda Smart Price Enya really.

9.41pm - James Lance makes a surprise appearance for Russia. Not as surprising as Chris 'Hey Look That's Me!' Harris on backing vocals and dance moves. Meh.

9.45pm - The last entry. How time flies. Norway fields Janine Butcher singing Amy Winehouse. The middle female backing singer is not a woman. Actually, this works. I can go for this. That's the final nail in Norway's coffin, then.

The interval approacheth. In 1977, we offered Acker Bilk. In 1988, the Irish fielded the Hothouse Flowers, and made them in the process. What can Serbia give us? We wait and we wonder.

10.20pm - So we got the Serbian Temperance Seven. Bloody hell. Svante Stockselius - Eurovision mastermind - is the Swedish doppelganger of Jim Moir, the BBC's last great LE supremo and floor manager on the 1968 contest. We gave Greece 12 points? How? Why? What? When?

10.31pm - San Marino rescue the UK from 'nul pwan' hell, thus making up for pissing on us in international football once about 15 years ago. Cleavage alert: the Israeli presenter really should have pushed them together or worn a less revealing dress.

10.35pm - Wogan accuses the Moldovan vote presenter of being pissed. Which would be richly hypocritical if not for the fact that septuagenarian Irishmen can hold their Baileys.

10.40pm - Denmark gets a territorial 12 points from Norway, but that's fine by me. However, they gave their 10 to Bosnia, which brought a "you must be joking" from Wogan. I can only agree.

10.48pm - I know she was saying 'sorry', but for a minute then, the Czech presenter sounded like she was awarding 10 points to Surrey.

10.54pm - Malta having failed to give any points to the UK, Ireland make up for it with an 8. The 10 and 12 go to Poland and Latvia, both admirably obscure choices for such rich praise. Hurrah for the Irish.

11.07pm - James Lance wins. At least it wasn't Greece. Kevin Bishop is retiring. Is Wogan? He's dropping heavy hints that it might be his last time, and suggesting that the western Europeans needn't bother in future. With the result decided, he and Ken Bruce are off to get even more smashed. It's a tradition, and one I endorse fully.

11.16pm - BBC News. Is it Jane Hill? Must be. She's a known Eurovision fanatic and also rather lovely.