Belfast Telegraph

Joe Nawaz's TV View: I just couldn't get in tune with Eurovision show

The road to Eurovision was paved with good intentions, honestly. I was in the Post Office the other day picking up a parcel of old VHS Blake's 7 episodes (because I'm simultaneously that much of a sci-fi geek AND a luddite). I was about to offer my ID up, when the postal clerk cheerfully waved it away and told me that he read and – yes – enjoyed my column, right here! On this page!

Now, aside from him being a clearly cultured individual, and me blushing like a debutante at her coming out ball, it also served to remind me of just how far I'd fallen from my old deluded ambition of one day achieving rock star infamy. Rather, one kind remark must put me now in the 'Bono' category of local journalism.

But it also occurred to me, more broadly, that being a critic for a living can be an existentially bleak and somewhat soul-sapping experience at times. We want to experience good stuff – we aren't masochists (those rumours notwithstanding) – it's just that they're often few and far between – whether it be down to budgetary constraints or being contractually obliged to hire Davina McCall. But anyway, it's actually rather nice to be appreciated and even to show appreciation now and again.

It's what keeps society ticking. So, paying it forward, I wanted to use the column this week to pick out some of the TV heroes of the week. Plant a surprise love-bomb in the way Benedict Cumberbatch detonates photos of pompous Irish rock stars. I wanted to call out the frankly brilliant man-crush material that comprises Peter Capaldi, for taking time to explain to a little confused autistic girl that Matt Smith had said it was ok for him to be the new Doctor Who, if she didn't mind. I wanted to call out UTV's Rare Breed for managing to milk more compelling telly out of Ulster farming than there are pints of milk with 'big Sunday feeds' in Tyrone.

I even wanted to tug my forelock (is that still legal?) to newspaper drama Scup, the valiant, if occasionally misfiring attempt to make the first palatable Irish language drama on the Beeb. But then, dear reader, I caught the UK launch of the Eurovision Song Contest, and my goodwill unraveled faster than a Lib Dem election pledge. Radio 1's deputy head boy, Scott Mills (left), tried the full gamut of his repertoire from mindlessly enthusiastic to enthusiastically mindless in his efforts to drum up even a little lethargy for this year's dismal fayre.

Cut to a toothsome textbook English "singaa-songwritaa" called Molly, on the couch with Mills, as she declared everything from Florence and the Machines to her family as "amaaaazing".

"What sort of track did you want to write for the contest?" came the Mills' efforts to inject some feeling into proceedings.

Molly wanted to be true to herself. "As a songwriter AND an artist," she insisted. "This really is a dream situation for a songwriter AND an artist." She reiterated. Her easel was just out of shot. As was her songwriting. But in a word in his ear from producers, Mills "ramped" up the tension with this fruity little zinger: "What's the most exciting thing about it all Molly? Am I getting you excited for it?"

That silenced the hooting, chuntering studio 'fans' for a bit and was the perfect opportunity to wheel on the thing, or song itself. Polished, gospelly, singerly, pouty, buttock-clenchingly earnest and, um dreary – it ticked all the boxes a UK Eurovision entry should. As I sat there, my newfound benevolence in tatters, and even cursing that so-and-so Capaldi for patronising that child, Molly's constipated caterwauling finally spoke to me: "Something's stirring in the silence, and it feels like violence".

Belfast Telegraph


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