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TV review: Eurovision Song Contest – Grand Final; Case Histories

Like a cold car on a cold morning, Bonnie Tyler’s Eurovision Song Contest performance took a while to get started, but once she had left behind the vocal constraints of Believe in Me’s low-register introduction, the 61-year-old, Grammy-winning queen of 1980’s power ballads delivered a spirited rendition of an instantly forgettable song.

Tyler was never going to win, but neither did she embarrass herself – nor us – in front of the neighbours. Damage limitation is about as far as the UK’s Eurovision ambitions extend these days.

When the dust finally settled in Sweden’s Malmo Arena, Believe in Me had accrued 23 points and claimed 19th place – a lower mid-table position that makes us the Stoke City of popular song.

Across the board there was a distinct improvement in both the quality of the music and the inventiveness of the presentation, which made Eurovision’s four hours a lot more bearable but a lot less fun. Camp and competent just don’t go together.

With precious little to giggle, snicker or sneer about on stage, let us give thanks to Swedish TV presenter Eric Saade, charged with looking after the contestants in the green room.

Cometh the hour, cometh the creep. Or, as Graham Norton contemptuously put it, “There is a fly in every ointment, and here he is”.

Filled with a toxic combination of crap and himself, Saade slithered around in his body-hugging black suit, sending waves of nausea rolling across the continent every time he opened his mouth. At one point in the evening he thought it hilarious to preface his every inane utterance with the word ‘hashtag’, to memorably bilious effect.

In years to come, people will ask each other where they were when they witnessed Saade accost Denmark’s contestant Emmelie de Forest with the creepiest chat-up line in history: “Hashtag beautiful girl.”

Unbelievably, it got worse. “Over to you, Petra,” Saade grinned into the camera as he handed presenting duties back to his senior colleague in the main auditorium. “Hashtag milf.”

The ‘milf’ in question was comedian Petra Mede, and it is a tribute to her professionalism that she didn’t tell Saade where to shove his hashtag.

[pullquote]In years to come, people will ask each other where they were when they witnessed Saade accost Denmark’s Eurovision contestant with the creepiest chat-up line in history: ‘Hashtag beautiful girl.'[/pullquote]

Mede turned out to be something of a revelation, investing the traditionally anodyne and anonymous job of Eurovision hostess with humour, personality and charm. She even broke into a song and dance routine during the interval, sending up Sweden’s history, culture and national characteristics in a manner reminiscent of last year’s Olympic opening ceremony, but at a millionth of the cost.

Ex-soldier, ex-copper, ex-husband and all-round exasperating, Jackson Brodie is back for a second series of Case Histories.

Jason Isaacs stars as the Edinburgh private detective forever doing the right thing for the wrong reason, or the wrong thing for the right reason, and getting emotionally and physically beaten up in the process.

In the first of three feature-length episodes, Victoria Wood co-starred as a shopping centre security guard who decides to rescue an abused child from her mother. Terrific stuff.

Eurovision Song Contest – Grand Final, BBC1, Saturday, May 18, 8pm
Case Histories, BBC1, Sunday, May 19, 8.30pm

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