Why the fuss, particularly on social networks, about the Eurovision Song Contest? It seems to attract bile and adoration in equal measure. It’s either great fun or it’s a waste of licence-payers’ money, it’s either harmless entertainment or some foreign conspiracy. Depending on your point of view, it’s all or none of these things, but why the noises off?
For the Eurovision Song Contest, insert Eastenders. I could not think of anything more dispiriting and depressing to watch than events in Albert Square, where everyone seems to be an alcoholic or a murderer. And guess what? I choose not to watch it. It is not my cup of Earl Grey. Instead, I might do something else like read a book or magazine, listen to the radio, go for a walk, go the pub or all manner of alternative activities. If there is something on the telly I don’t like, my first thought is not to channel-hop to try and find something I do like.
Much TV has the same effect on me. I know what I like to watch so I rarely watch something random that I might not like. I certainly don’t watch something that I know I will not like and I never understand people who do. “My God that programme was awful last night. I sat through two hours of it and I’ll watch it again next week in order to moan about it again.”
Eurovision is, above everything else, an entertainment show that should not be taken seriously. It can be wildly eccentric, it can be deathly dull. You are far less likely to discover an Abba than a Brotherhood of Man, but who cares? I watched segments of last night’s contest and I was struck by the fact that so many artists could not sing in tune, but that was okay. But for all that, it was funny and, just occasionally, there was something that approached half-decent.
The point about the BBC, where you will find Eurovision, is that it is the ultimate public service broadcaster and it provides programmes for everyone. Whatever you like, there will be something for you on good old Auntie and for many people Eurovision is a high point of the year.
There’s another thing. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s rubbish. I don’t like formulaic popular beat combo music acts like Muse and Queen, but I am not pretending that they are no good. I suspect far more people like Muse than, say, some of my favourite bands like the Wondermints or the Ducktails but that’s not the point. The bands I can’t stand are every bit as good, if not better, musicians than the ones I like, but it’s a taste thing.
I very much accept that much of Eurovision is not exactly stellar music and no one ever pretended it was. It’s fluff and rarely do you get the feeling you get when Abba took the stage in 1974 at Brighton and played Waterloo. We all knew that we were witnessing something very special, although we could not know that they would go on to become one of the biggest acts ever.
Just don’t get angry about Eurovision. I don’t get angry when Eastenders comes on, four times a week at the last count. I exercise my freedom to watch or do something else. Let the addicts have their one day a year and for God’s sake don’t fret about it. Dale Winton will be back at his normal time next week, always assuming he can remove himself from his sun bed in time.
Finally, look at the history of Eurovision and why it was set up in the first place. It’s a rather nice story, actually, about bringing people together after the horrors World War Two. I like nice stories, not that you ever find them on Eastenders.