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Cliff Richard may have won '68 Eurovision after all

Latest update : 2008-05-07

British singer Cliff Richard may have won the 1968 Eurovision contest instead of taking second place, according to a Spanish documentary which claims dictator Franco rigged the vote in favour of Spanish singer Massiel.

British singer Cliff Richard was robbed of victory in the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest because Spanish dictator Francisco Franco rigged the vote, a documentary to be aired Thursday claims.

Richard's song "Congratulations" was the runaway favourite but was beaten in the contest, held that year in London, by just one point by Spanish contestant Massiel, who sang "La La La".

According to the documentary, music and television executives sent by Franco bought the rights to series that never aired and signed little-known acts in other European nations in return for Eurovision votes.

Spanish public television journalist Jose Maria Inigo told the documentary that the Franco regime "had a great need to win recognition, even if it was only in one area."

The documentary will be aired on Thursday night on La Sexta channel but excerpts were available on the Internet.

At the time, the winner of the competition -- in which musicians from nations across Europe compete each year -- was decided by a jury comprised of members from each of the participating countries.

Richard said he was pleased at the possibility of being declared the winner four decades later.

"If, like they say, they believe there is evidence that it was I that was the winner, there won't be a happier person on the planet," he told British newspaper the Guardian. "It's never good to lose, never good to feel a loser."

"I've lived with this number two thing for so many years, it would be wonderful if someone official from the contest turned around and said: 'Cliff, you won that darn thing after all,'" he told the Guardian.

"Congratulations" topped the charts in Britian and several other countries, selling over one million copies.

Eurovision, launched in 1956, has evolved onto an annual music extravaganza with a television audience of 100 million. The contest has helped lift artists from obscurity to celebrity.

Swedish band Abba won in 1974 with "Waterloo" setting them on the path to global stardom. Canadian singer Celine Dion's win in 1988 for Switzerland, singing "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi" or "Don't Leave Without Me", helped to launch her career.

The winner of the contest is now selected by votes cast by telephone and text messages by television viewers.

Date created : 2008-05-06

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