Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Monday, 5 May 2008 14:14 UK

Congratulations... 40 years late

Phil Coulter
Phil Coulter could have missed out on a second Eurovision win

A Derry songwriter was robbed of victory in the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest because of vote-rigging by General Franco, it has been claimed.

Cliff Richard took the runner-up spot with 'Congratulations' - penned by Derry songwriter Phil Coulter.

The claim was made in a documentary shown on Spanish television on Sunday.

According to the programme, the dictator thought a Spanish win would improve the country's international reputation.

It is alleged that corrupt officials working for state-run television travelled across Europe rigging votes.

Phil Coulter said the claim was "hilarious".

History has proven that the song that won the Eurovision in real terms that year was 'Congratulations'
Phil Coulter

"I'm kind of grateful that this theory didn't emerge in the weeks and months after the event because then I would have been very very irate.

"There was certainly a sense that something odd had gone on, but maybe it was just the disappointment of coming so close to winning for the second time, back to back," he said.

"We had already been taken out of our seats at the Royal Albert Hall to come backstage because everyone was convinced we were home and then I believe that that last country to vote maybe gave 11 to Spain and none to us, thereby snatching the victroy for Spain by one vote," said Mr Coulter.

The Spanish entry, 'La La La', beat the Derry man's song by just one point - but 'Congratulations' went on to become a number one hit for Cliff Richard, selling more than a million copies.

"History has proven that the song that won the Eurovision in real terms that year was 'Congratulations'," said Mr Coulter.




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