Sunday 20 October 2019

Terry Wogan: Conchita Wurst turned Eurovision into 'a freak show'

Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst of Austria performs during last year's contest
Eurovision Winner Conchita Wurst pictured at the Dylan Hotel before her performance at the George as part of the Dublin Gay Pride Festival. Picture:Arthur Carron
Sir Terry Wogan, Fearne Cotton and Nick Grimshaw are among the stars fronting the BBC Children In Need baking campaign

Jenn Selby

Terry Wogan, former presenter of the annual international singing competition, made some surprising remarks about the bearded trans-sexual performer.

Turns out, Sir Terry Wogan wasn’t as impressed by Conchita Wurst’s landmark Eurovision Song Contest win this year as the rest of us were.

The former presenter of the annual singing competition said that the bearded trans-sexual performer, whose real name is real name Tom Neuwirth, turned the spectacle into a “freak show”.

Wogan made the comments in The Irish Times as he reviewed Graham Norton’s new autobiography.

Musing on handing the presenting baton over to the “inspired, logical choice” for his replacement, he writes: “Norton says my only advice to him was not to start drinking before song seven.

“He made it his own from year one - although I'm bound to say that the Bearded Lady who won this year, reducing Graham to tears, might have had a slightly different effect on me.

Conchita Wurst poses for a 'selfie' with fans at the Dylan Hotel, Dublin, yesterday. Cathal Burke
Conchita Wurst poses for a 'selfie' with fans at the Dylan Hotel, Dublin, yesterday. Cathal Burke

“I've always seen the Eurovision as a sometimes foolish farce, but not as a freakshow.”

Wurst won Eurovision 2014 representing Austria with the song “Rise Like a Phoenix” in May, despite facing a huge transphobic backlash from some European nations.

Conservative protests sprang up in Russia, Armenia and Belarus, calling for Wurst to be banned and threatening to withdraw from the competition.

Reuters reported that a 2013 Russian petition signed by more than 15,000 people requested the state broadcaster to remove Eurovision from its TV schedule.

“Austria will be represented in Eurovision 2014 by the transvestite contestant Conchita Wurst, who leads the lifestyle inapplicable for Russians [sic],” the All-Russian Parent Meeting petition read.

“The popular international competition that our children will be watching has become a hotbed of sodomy at the initiation of the European liberals.

Terry Wogan
Terry Wogan

“Russia is one of the only European countries that has managed to maintain normal and healthy family values based on love and mutual support between men and women.”

But it was Wurst who had the last laugh at the competition in Copenhagen.

Not only did she walk away with the grand prize, but also became a symbol for greater tolerance of all appearances and sexualities.

“This is for all those who believe in the future of peace and freedom – you know who you are. You are unity and your are unstoppable,” she said during her acceptance speech.

Wogan’s comments follow her performance at the European Union last week.

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