London, May 5 : Sir Cliff Richard only missed winning the Eurovision Song Contest of 1968 because of General Franco's fascist regime, which rigged the contest to boost Spain's image, a documentary has claimed.
The Spanish entrant Massiel bagged the Eurovision title 40 years ago with the song La, la, la robbing the British crooner of the title by only one point.
Sir Cliff, who was knighted in 1995, represented the United Kingdom with the hit song Congratulations! in the contest held at London's Royal Albert Hall and strongly led the competition until the last moment when Spain's entry surged ahead.
Now, a documentary filmmaker, Montse Fernandez Vila, has revealed that Spain's only ever Eurovision win was down to behind the scenes negotiations by television executives from Spain's state run channel.
She said that RTE executives toured Europe offering cash and promising to buy television series and contract unknown artists from other Eurovision member states to influence the vote in the then prestigious singing competition.
"There is evidence that votes were bought to secure a win for Massiel," the Telegraph quoted her, as saying.
With the emerging tourist industry on the Spanish Costas, Franco's regime hoped that a Eurovision win would boost its popularity both at home and abroad.
Fernandez Vila told Spanish daily newspaper 20 Minutos: "The regime was acutely aware of the need to improve their image."
"Looking back at the parties that were organised and the way Massiel was turned into a national hero - it seems a bit excessive for a song festival but it all served to glorify the regime," she added.