Ulrika Jonsson recalls mortifying Eurovision blunder caught live on air05/13/2023
Eurovision: Ulrika Jonsson and Terry Wogan present contest in 1998
Ulrika Jonsson, 55, had the honour of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in Britain with the late Sir Terry Wogan in 1998.
The UK took their turn to host the competition that year after Katrina and The Waves stormed to victory the previous year with their hit track Love Shine a Light.
Ulrika, who is best known for presenting ITV show Gladiators and appearing as a team captain on BBC Two’s Shooting Stars, recalled what a “privilege” it was to host the iconic Europop event.
While the star took her role in the competition very seriously, even giving up alcohol months before the event, she recalled how not everything went to plan on the night.
“It’s organised madness,” she reflected. “It’s passion and hysteria, furore and trepidation, all wrapped up in a few hours of live broadcasting.”
Ulrika, who has been a huge fan of the competition since she was a little girl growing up in Sweden, remembered how one embarrassing blunder she made was captured live on air.
She explained in her latest column for the Sun: “It all went swimmingly in 1998, apart from one tiny blip when the Dutch announcer, a mature lady, said she had once taken part in Eurovision and I foolishly said: ‘Oh, a long time ago?’”
The TV presenter also recalled the mayhem that ensued after the winner of the Birmingham-based event, Israeli singer Dana International, forgot to accept her award.
“When winner Dana International — the first transgender victor — was announced, panic set in and Terry and I desperately had to fill as she didn’t come to the stage to collect her award,” she wrote.
“She was too busy lording it about backstage. That’s the thing with so many of the performers — they’re so self-obsessed and living in that moment that they just forget what they’re doing.”
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Ulrika also remembered that she wasn’t even able to relax once the winner was announced due to the competition’s incredibly strict protocols.
Looking forward to tonight, she added that she was looking forward to “watching it from the comfort of my living room” without “inadvertently making disparaging remarks to someone on the other end of the line.”
Personally, I look forward to watching it from the comfort of my living room on Saturday night without having to fret about mispronouncing names or, God forbid, numbers.
Or even inadvertently making disparaging remarks to someone on the other end of the line.
“Afterwards, even though I had spent hours on stage presenting, when I was finally able to have a drink, I wasn’t allowed,” she despaired.
“The security guard at the after-show party wouldn’t let me in because I’d left my accreditation in my handbag.”
While Ulrika had been forced to muddle through a few blips on the night, she still marveled at being able to take part in a show that had “become her religion” as a small child.
This evening, 25-year-old Mae Muller will represent the UK with her upbeat track I Wrote a Song.
The Eurovision Song Contest airs at 8pm tonight on BBC One.
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