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Katie Boyle: A Eurovision legend leaves the stage

by | Mar 20, 2018

Katie Boyle: A Eurovision legend leaves the stage

by | Mar 20, 2018 | Eurovision, Featured |

Katie Boyle, host of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1974, has died at the age of 91.

Born Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali de Principi di Francavilla in Florence, Italy, she spent the early years of her career as a model and an actress before establishing herself as a familiar face on British television as a continuity announcer, a presenter and a popular guest on panel games and other shows. Her cosmopolitan background, elegant style and very proper accent made her an obvious choice when the BBC first had the honour of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 1960, however, and it is her long association with the competition for which she remains best remembered.

In many ways, Boyle was the face of the early years of the contest, as it gradually evolved from a stuffy piece of black-and-white light entertainment programming into the all-colour extravaganza of glamorous outfits and infuriatingly catchy pop songs it had become by the time of her final hosting engagement in Brighton in 1974. In other words, it is no exaggeration to call Katie Boyle an ESC legend.

When you’re a legend, you get to pose in a commentary booth at the Royal Festival Hall ahead of your first time hosting the competition.

When you’re a legend, you get to be the very first person to appear on stage in a colour broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest.

When you’re a legend, you get to wear a feather boa and no knickers – and be proud of it in many, many interviews thereafter! – while introducing some Swedish group called ABBA in front of 500 million people.

When you’re a legend, of course, you’ll never forget you’re a Womble now.

When you’re a legend, you’re guaranteed a front row seat even after you’ve retired from hosting duties – with the risk that some German madman might target you for special attention.

And when you’re a legend, you get to write an autobiography that belongs in any good fanboy’s collection alongside the greats of the contest.

That’s this weekend’s reading sorted.

And so a long and eventful life comes to an end. Rest in peace, Katie Boyle, Eurovision legend.

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