Exclusive: BBC cuts gay rights protest from Eurovision anniversary show
The BBC has admitted it removed scenes of Russia being booed over anti-gay laws from the broadcast of Eurovision’s Greatest Hits.
The special anniversary show, which was produced by the BBC and aired across 25 countries to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest – featured a performance from Russian singer Dima Bilan, who won the contest in 2008.
The start of the singer’s performance was met with loud booing from the crowd at the Hammersmith Apollo show – in protest of Russia’s continuing ban on ‘gay propaganda’.
However, the scenes were entirely removed from the broadcast version – with the singer’s medley of tracks ‘Believe’ and ‘Never Let You Go’ also featuring a noticeable lack of close-up shots of the audience.
A spokesperson for the BBC told PinkNews: “There was indeed a lot of booing from the crowd when Graham [Norton] and Petra [Mede] initially introduced the Russian act Dima Bilan.
“Graham however being ever the professional handled the situation and said to the crowd: ‘Be nice…tonight is not a competition and we are here to support all the acts, so be nice’.
“Once Graham had addressed the crowd the introduction was re-shot, Dima was cheered and welcomed to the stage, got a great reception and put in a top performance which was broadcast [on the] night.”
Russia was booed at 2014’s Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen – and in that case the scenes made it through to broadcast.
Dima Bilan has previously signed an open letter condemning his country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law.