Sir Terry Wogan has quit the Eurovision Song Contest and will be replaced by fellow Irishman Graham Norton.
Wogan, 70, has provided witty commentary for the kitsch contest for 35 years – but has grown tired of tactical Eastern bloc voting that has scuppered the UK’s chances of winning in recent years.
Wogan said: “I’ve had 35 wonderful years commentating on the Eurovision for radio and television.
“From my first, in a small music hall in Dublin, to my last, in the huge arena in Belgrade, it has been nothing but laughter and fun.
“The silly songs, the spectacle, the grandiose foolishness of it all. I’ll be sad to leave it all behind, but I’ll be watching and listening, and happy to leave it in the witty hands of Graham.”
Terry was left fuming after former X Factor finalist Andy Abraham finished last at the contest in Belgrade in May, receiving just 14 points for the UK’s entry, Even If. Russia won with 272 points.
At the time, he said that Eurovision was “no longer a music contest”, adding: “I don’t want to be presiding over yet another debacle.”
Graham, 45, who hosted the Eurovision Dance Contest in 2007, will first host talent contest Your Country Needs You, in which theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber will help find an act to represent the UK in Russia next year.
He said: “Sir Terry is an impossible act to follow but I just couldn’t say no. I can’t wait to get to Moscow – with a combination of cheap vodka and a language barrier what could possibly go wrong?”
Terry said: “Let’s hope that between him and the musical brilliance of Lloyd Webber, Royaume Uni will gather its proper share of ‘Douze Points!’ and bring the Grand Prix home to where it belongs.”