Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Sunday, 17 May 2009 10:44 UK

Norton's Eurovision debut reviewed

Graham Norton
Norton hosted Your Country Needs You, which chose the UK entry

Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest was the first in 30 years not to feature commentary from Sir Terry Wogan.

The venerable host quit after the UK's dismal performance in 2008, saying the competition was no longer about the music.

Comedian and TV presenter Graham Norton stepped into his shoes - but did he fill them?

Here is a round-up of reactions from across the press and the internet.


Norton slipped easily into the role and injected some of the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm Wogan was famous for.

Introducing opening act Cirque du Soleil, Norton observed: 'I didn't realise Janette Krankie was performing'.

And before Albania's entry he quipped: 'The bad news is you're about to watch Albania. She's only 17 so please bear that in mind. Where was her mother? Why didn't she step in and say no?'

After a wobbly start, complimenting the Russian hosts as 'not that bad' - precisely the type of behaviour the great British public had come not to expect from Terry - Norton found his stride.

First there were suggestions of corruption when he let slip that the choice of Anastasia Prihodko, Russia's surprise last-minute entry, might just have had something to do with the fact that her father is a billionaire.

Then there was the suggestion that Iceland's entry had 'rooted around in a cupboard and found an old bridesmaid dress from 1987' (she went on to come second). Not to mention his verdict on the claim that Azer­baijan's singers were sporting traditional dress, 'which would be true if you come from the village where Liberace is the mayor'.


Norton's tongue-in-cheek style brought a fresh burst of humour as he added his own observations and insight to the on-stage entertainment.

The final in Moscow was marred by the arrest of about 30 gay rights protesters, including Britain's Peter Tatchell. Norton criticised the way Russian police dealt with the march.

The comedian, who often uses his homosexuality as a cornerstone for jokes, said: 'Heavy-handed policing has really marred what has been a fantastic Eurovision.'

2150 BST: So, now we're into voting. Graham - who is having a brilliant Eurovision, it's so nice for the commentary to be genuinely warm rather than just worldly cynical - says that every year 'thousands' vote for the UK, even though they can't.

2220 BST: Ah, Graham is thanking all the nations, even the Czechs, who give us six. If Terry was here, he'd already be deep into calling up the NATO troops.

2245 BST: Actually, now Graham thanking every nation for a few measly points is starting to take on the air of Uriah Heep.

2000: And we're off with an exciting montage of Moscow and a voiceover from Graham Norton: 'I miss Terry too.' At least you realise, Graham.

2306: 'It's an extraordinary year where music came back to the forefront of the Eurovision song contest.' claims Graham. But also fake tan, false boobs, burlesque dancers and terrible rapping. Truly all forms of bad taste music have been here.


missmim: "It was kinda rude of Graham Norton to talk over the bits Russia had recorded for us because we dont have ads."

MrSteveAnderson: "The real winners last night were Graham Norton and the launch of a Jade Ewen as a new pop star who everyone already knows of."

fourleafclovr: "Graham Norton had big shoes to fill but did he fill them? Hell yeah, he was so funny, kept us fully entertained!"

Linksan: "Congrats to Norway, but I think the big winner tonight was the British audience, listening to Graham Norton. He was hilarious!"

kajacrol: "I'm afraid Graham Norton wasn't hysterical in the least... Bland, bland, bland. Just like Jade and the song"

popjustice: "'It's a bit Stars In Their Eyes', says the Stars In Their Eyes Terry Wogan. Well done Graham. Well done."

ravkomsy: "I thought Graham Norton was quite restrained and diplomatic."

ziparker: "Credit where credit is due, Graham Norton did a good job. But, my heart belongs to Terry."

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