10 Things You Didn't Know About Eurovision
Stand-up comedian and Eurovision obsessive shares the secret history of the world's greatest artistic event
Published 07 May 2012
- While the rest of the world was transfixed by Abba's Waterloo in Brighton, the 1974 Contest is remembered in Portugal for very different reasons. Why? When Paulo de Carvalho entered the stage for the Portugese entry (E Depois Do Adeus – After the Farewell), that was the agreed cue for elements in Portugal's military to stage the coup that overthrew Antonio de Spinola's autocratic military regime. For your information, E Depois Do Adeus finshed last with a negligible three points. Portugal is now a stable, peaceful European democracy.
- If you look carefully at your European Travel Insurance, you'll note that it covers both Europe and all countries on the Mediterranean. Similarly, admission to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and therefore Eurovision, is open to all these countries. Morocco is the only such country to have taken the EBU up on the offer, in 1980. They finished 18th out of 19, narrowly pipping the hapless Finns. They haven't entered since.
- In a similar vein, Lebanon entered the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest with Aline Lahoud's turgid number Quand Tout S'Enfuit. However due to Lebanese broadcasting laws, Tele Liban (the state broadcaster), weren't allowed to show any 'Israeli or nakedly Zionist cultural propaganda' and proposed going to a commercial break when Shiri Maimon sang Israel's entry. This offer was politely declined by the EBC and Lebanon were kicked out, never to return.
- In 1999, Doris Dargovic with Maria Magdalene, Croatia's entry, was retrospectively docked 33% of her votes for using synthesised male backing vocals. There were no men on stage. It genuinely didn't matter.
- Not everyone is a fan of Eurovision – the French Culture Minister described the Contest as a “monument to drivel.” And the head of RAI, Italy's state broadcaster, upon withdrawing RAI from the contest in 1997, deemed the Contest to be “...of zero artistic or cultural merit...” As anyone who's watched the four-hour long Italian equivalent of Noel's House Party with added tits that passes for Saturday night prime-time on Rai Uno would doubtlessly agree.
- The most points ever racked up by a winner was by Finnish mentals Lordi with Hard Rock Hallelujah in Athens, 2006. Who were also the longest odds winners ever, with 40/1 available on the day. Trust me, that was a good night.
- Harrogate, Brighton, Birmingham and Lothian Road in the 'Burgh (The Usher Hall). They've all played host to the 'Greatest Show On Earth'. Don't say we don't put on a show for our foreign guests.
- The winner of Eurovision doesn't actually win anything. Not even a Fifteen-To-One Greek glass decanter or a Takeshi's Castle style certificate. It's the songwriters who pick up a glass trophy or a low-rent European Cup or whatnot, depending on what the host broadcaster can or cannot afford.
- As a designated national broadcaster, STV are nominally entitled to submit an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. However, the BBC presently hold the exclusive broadcasting and submission rights for the whole of the United Kingdom. STV have also shown no interest in submitting an entry. And thank Christ for that.
- Cliff Richard was denied victory in the 1969 Contest with his epic power-ballad Congratulations by Spain's Massiel with the emotional rollercoaster, La, La, La. Malicious rumours that Spanish television (TVE) were busy purchasing wildlife programming from broadcasting heavyweights Monaco, Portugal and Italy (who co-incidentally all gave La, La, La top marks) at markedly inflated rates in the months preceding the contest, have proved to be utterly discredited.