Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Eurovision that nearly wasn't...

The Eurovision Song Contest of 1977 maybe be familiar to some because of the sight of Ronnie Hazelhurst dressed up in a suit and waistcoat conducting Lynsey De Paul and Mike Moran sung Rock Bottom or the talkback from the gallery of the late Stewart Morris which reveals how pressured a live event can be. 

The Brotherhood of Man had won the 1976 contest in The Netherlands meaning that the United Kingdom was to host the contest, 

Though the contest was a month later then it was originally planned to take place on the 2nd of April. Because of industrial action, the contest was postponed until the 7th of May. That is half the story though, involving Boadicea's Breastplate, lands afar, nudity and a tales of no 'nul points'. Now the evening got off to a somewhat bright start with host Angela Rippon who had been reporting on what was happening and contest was going to place during her day reading the news, came on wearing a dress which reflected more light then the whole of Wembley Stadium itself. Certainly giving a shock to the lighting depart when they saw this, but with Angela apparently looking like diva, looking to all parts of the auditorium at the Wembley Conference Centre, trying to find in the gloom which camera she was on. Though everything going on around them, revolves being set off instead of credit rollers plus when a cameraman tried to get a shot of the winner, he fell over backwards getting a black eye for his trouble and the people all around the world seeing a shot where from focussing on triumphant singer, got a shot rising above hear had and nearly of the ceiling before Stewart Morris cut to the stage. 

With Angela Rippon and other dignitaries to award the prize, trying to work out what was going on at this point. Marie Myriam of France, the winning singer was more concerned about the cameraman himself leading her to ask someone to get some ice for his bruised eye. Eventually she went to the stage to collect her prize and reperform her winning song and what happens in the following video reveals the talkback not normally heard by the public. But Morris ever the professional takes all of this in his stride and controls the situation to make it look normal to the viewer at home.

A masterclass from Stewart Morris

 Unlike this year's contest which has forty-two countries who will contest this year's edition, eighteen countries took part on the night. Until the final, there were going to be twenty but Tunsia who were going to perform fourth in the contest withdrew along with Yugoslavia, who next appeared again in 1981.

In the lead-up to the night, it was reported that the Belgium entry Dream Express were going to wear see-through tops on the night. But how much is this is true, can be down to the press reports of that time and newspaper trying to whip up a storm through this. But how much anything like that can be seen as a gimmick is down to the truth of the matter. 

On the actual night itself, the voting system seemed to go awry with the Greek jury awarding both 12 and 11 points instead of the 12 to 1 points system. The fact was that they had given four points to both Spain and Austria with the 3 to 1 points given to Finland, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. To sort this out Spain got four points and Austria got three and mean the other had one less and the United Kingdom did not even get one at all then. But the chaos continued though as France gave three points to both Greece and Israel, two to German and one to Austria and Belgium. Are you following this still? It is confusing and imagine having to deal with this lot, which they had to do.

So back to the scores, the Greek mark from the French remained as it did, Israel went down to two and Germany down to one meaning that Austria and Belgium now lost out because of this. To add to this, it all was done after the contest but three years later a more clearer system was set out so this could never happen again. 

France won the contest performing last on the night gaining 136 points, but only three maximum twelve points compared to Lynsey and Mike who got six maximums and finished second. Though overall sales of the record of Rock Bottom were really good and making the top ten in most European countries. Though the magical and legendary 'nul points' was not achieved this year with Sweden, the winners of course in 1974, three years on managed only to get two points just from Germany. Perennial high finishers Ireland took third place with The Swarbriggs who had represented Ireland in the 1975 contest, were joined by two lady singers to gain 133 points and four maximums including one from the United Kingdom. 

But if Ronnie Hazelhurst was conducting for the United Kingdom, then that Alyn Ainsworth who had resigned from the BBC in 1960 to go freelance was conducting for Belgium for the third year in a row ensuring on the big night, that although the United Kingdom did not win itself. It did  have a victory that two conductors were conducting on the big night itself, even thanks to a bit of friendly neighbourliness that Belgium got twelve point from The Nederland meaning both British  conductors could say that they had both got twelve points.

So after the roller had been run and the dust settled, it was off to France in 1978. The nezt British based contest would be in 1982 in Harrogate, but that's for another time... So if you watching the Eurovision Song Contest, enjoy it and I'll will be live tweeting along to the contest with observations and humour over at Twitter, just look up @boggenstrovia there and I'll be there...

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