Franco Cheated Sir Cliff?

Spanish dictator General Franco’s regime rigged the vote for the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest, cheating Sir Cliff Richard out of victory, according to a Spanish documentary film maker.

The 67-year-old Peter Pan of U.K. pop, who was knighted in 1995, was the hot favourite to win with "Congratulations," but was beaten by one point because of a sudden late surge of voting for the Spanish entry.

Montse Fernandez Villa, whose documentary on the subject was broadcast on Spanish TV May 4, says the votes came from people who were bribed on Franco’s orders.

Her documentary, "I Lived Through The Spanish May," claims corrupt executives from the national state-run TV station toured Europe offering cash bungs and promising to buy television series and hire unknown artists from any country that had a Eurovision vote.

Franco, who was the leader of Spain from 1936 until his death in 1975, was said to have believed that winning Eurovision would improve his government’s reputation abroad and develop the country’s package tour business.

"The regime was acutely aware of the need to improve its image," Fernandez Villa told Spanish daily 20 Minutos.

The Spanish winner, "La La La" performed by Massiel, now 60, launched the singer’s career and she went on to become one of the country’s best-loved artists.

The song had already caused some controversy in Spain because Duo Dinamico’s original version was written in the Catalan language, but Franco insisted on it being sung in Spanish.