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Impresario in Eurovision race claim

Andrew Lloyd Webber has blamed the UK's poor record at the Eurovision Song Contest on racism.

The 64-year-old impresario, spoke out after a string of disappointments in recent years for UK acts including Javine Hylton, Andy Abraham, Jade Ewen and boyband Blue. Lloyd Webber co-wrote the song performed by Ewen, who came fifth in 2009.

Asked what he thought about Britain's record, Lloyd Webber told the Radio Times: "I don't think there's any point beating around the bush.

"I'll put it to you by asking you a question. 'Did you see the Eurovision Song Contest this year? (when Engelbert Humperdinck narrowly avoided coming last). If you had seen it, you might have noticed one thing - I don't think there was one black face on the programme."

He said: "At the press conference in Moscow (in 2009), I was asked, 'Why have you brought a black artist?' I said, 'Because she is the most talented artist that we had and I think she's a major, major star.' I think we would have come second but there's a problem when you go further east..."

Asked whether he was saying that racism was the reason that Britain did not win, he said: "Well, it doesn't mean that we would necessarily have won that year but we could have come second. If you're talking about Western Europe - Germany, fine; France, fine; Spain, fine; Greece, fine; Scandinavian countries, fine. But Ukraine? Not so good."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "The BBC is committed to Eurovision and has no evidence whatsoever of any racism around the event." Swedish singer Loreen, 28, who is of Moroccan-Berber origin, won this year's Eurovision Song Contest. The former Swedish Idol contestant won with her club track Euphoria.

Lloyd Webber also admitted in the interview that he was not a fan of BBC1 show The Voice. "I don't know what the problem was there. Everyone was out of tune all the time. I just couldn't watch it," he said. "Unfortunately, I have perfect pitch - it's either one of the great advantages or the greatest affliction in life. When people sing out of tune, I just can't listen."

Lloyd Webber, who is set to find the lead for Jesus Christ Superstar in a new ITV1 show, Superstar, told the magazine he had been given the all-clear after being treated for prostate cancer. "I mean, they actually told me not to bother coming back," he said.

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