LONDON (Reuters) - Comedian Graham Norton is to take over as presenter of the Eurovision Song Contest, replacing Terry Wogan who bowed out after more than 30 years of hosting the show, the BBC announced on Friday.
Wogan, who first commentated on the camp and kitsch contest in 1973 before taking up the role permanently in 1980, had become increasingly critical of the show’s politics, with neighbouring countries voting for each other.
Last year Britain’s entry Andy Abraham finished joint last after receiving no votes from any of the 22 east European countries taking part.
“I’ve had 35 wonderful years commentating on the Eurovision for radio and television,” Wogan said.
“From my first, in a small music-hall in Dublin, to my last, in the huge arena in Belgrade, it has been nothing but laughter and fun. The silly songs, the spectacle, the grandiose foolishness of it all.
“I’ll be sad to leave it all behind, but I’ll be watching and listening, and happy to leave it in the witty hands of Graham.”
Norton said following in Wogan’s footsteps was a “huge honour.”
“Sir Terry is nothing less than legend and is an impossible act to follow but somebody must and I just couldn’t say no,” he said.
“I can’t wait to get to Moscow — with a combination of cheap vodka and a language barrier what could possibly go wrong?”
The Eurovision Song Contest has been broadcast every year since 1956, making it one of the longest-running television programmes in the world.
Britain last won in 1997 with “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina and the Waves.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison