Andrew Lloyd Webber makes Eurovision racism claim
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has claimed racism is a factor in the UK's failure at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Speaking to the Radio Times, Lord Lloyd-Webber said the low rankings of acts like Blue and Jade Ewen had not been based purely on their music.
He added that, when he took Ewen to Moscow in 2009, he was asked "why have you brought a black artist?"
A BBC spokeswoman said the corporation "had no evidence whatsoever of any racism around the event".
But, referring to this year's contest, Lord Lloyd-Webber said: "I don't think there's any point beating around the bush. I don't think there was one black face on the programme."'Problems'
Ewen, who sang It's My Time at the 2009 contest, has a Jamaican mother and Scottish-Sicilian father.
The singer - who is now a member of the Sugababes - eventually came fifth in the competition, but Lord Lloyd-Webber felt she deserved more.
"At the press conference in Moscow, I was asked, 'why have you brought a black artist?," he told the Radio Times.
"I said, 'because she is the most talented artist that we had and I think she's a major, major star'.
"I think we would have come second but there's a problem when you go further east," he continued.
"If you're talking about Western Europe - Germany, fine; France, fine; Spain, fine; Greece, fine; Scandinavian countries, fine.
"But Ukraine? Not so good."
Asked whether he thought racism had ultimately cost the UK the title, he commented: "Well, it doesn't mean that we would necessarily have won that year but we could have come second."
The contest was won that year by Norway's Alexander Rybak, who was born in Belarus, and sang his own composition, Fairytale.
But Ewen actually performed better than many of the UK's other entrants in recent years.
Josh Dubovie and Andy Abraham both came last, in 2010 and 2008 respectively.
And this year, 76-year old crooner Engelbert Humperdinck received just 12 points for his song Love Will Set You Free, placing second-to-last.
28-year-old Swedish singer Loreen, who is of Moroccan-Berber origin, won the contest with her club track Euphoria.