BBC count cost of song contest success

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The Independent Online
As Katrina and the Waves performed their celebratory rendition of Eurovision winner "Love Shine A Light" in Dublin on Saturday night, BBC executives were reeling from the pounds 3m hole which the song's success could blow in their budget.

For in Eurovision tradition, the winning country is obliged to stage the following year's contest.

After Bucks Fizz's victory with "Making Your Mind Up" 16 years ago, Jan Leeming presided over the last British-staged Eurovision, a comparatively tame affair in the genteel surroundings of Harrogate.

Since then the stakes have been raised, with new technology and competition from other entertainment sources transforming the event into an extravagant occasion.

Ireland's domination of the contest - with four victories in the past six years - has nearly bankrupted its national television station RTE.

But BBC bosses, like the Eurovision contestants, kept smiling yesterday, with Michael Leggo, the head of BBC entertainment, saying "I can't think of a nicer problem to have."

Apparently confusing the significance of the occasion with Thursday's election, he added: "We are delighted to be bringing the contest back after an absence of 18 years [sic]."

Manchester has already thrown its hat into the ring as a potential venue, but the British public is likely to be less than overwhelmed by the prospect of staging the contest.

Eurovision expert Professor Ian Gordon of Reading University, said: "The British seem to feel contempt for the type of song which tends to win. There is a very strong Euro-sceptic element to British pop tastes."

Invited for the first time to take part in a televote on this year's event, British viewers backed the Irish contestant. But Norway was in mourning again after scoring "nil points" for a record fourth time and coming last for an unrivalled sixth year.