Luxembourg won in 1972 and hosted the Contest in 1973, but having won that one as well simply refused to host it, so in 1974 it was held in Brighton, England.
Just as he had refused to take me to see Wizzard on Hastings Pier, my father also refused to take me 30 miles along the south coast to go to Eurovision, to see ABBA winning with “Waterloo.”
Each broadcaster sends its own team to cover the event – so every country has its own commentary with its own take on the event.
British coverage was until recently provided by a light-hearted Irish DJ called Terry Wogan, whose schtick was to not take the event at all seriously, alert the British audience to absurdities about to gallumph over the horizon and onto our screens, and complain that the Contest is fixed when Britain was losing. Eventually his light heart grew heavy with what he took to be the politics of the event, and after a frankly disgraceful swansong bordering on xenophobia he bowed out about 3 or 4 years ago. His replacement since then has been Graham Norton, another Irishman (whose work I otherwise can’t stand, but who carries the British end of the Broadcast very well).
Having won the Contest the year before, the host nation broadcasts largely in its own language, so unless you are fluent (in the case of the last 2 years’ Contests) in Norwegian or German (while this year the Contest will be conducted in Azerbaijani), you need a commentary to be able to follow it – unless you’ve ever seen it before and know the rules.
Because everyone has seen it before (or is watching with someone else who has) the commentary approximates to someone rambling during the least interesting bits of a fairly slow sporting event – rather like the old boys who drone on for 5 days at a stretch during the radio coverage of the cricket over here, (including the lengthy periods when they’ve all gone in because it’s raining – at which point the commentators on Test Match Special are able to talk for hours about a nice cake which someone has brought in for them. I am not joking, the BBC are committed to live radio coverage of every ball of every test match played by the England team). But I digress.
So, back to Eurovision, bastion of all that is best in European music…
“HANG ON!” I hear you say. “AZERBAIJANI?!?! RUN THAT ONE BY ME AGAIN, WILL YOU?”
I can feel heads being collectively scratched in the Hall among geographers present, puzzled at the unexpected movement of Azerbaijan several thousand miles to the west in order to take part in this feast of musical delights. Has there been a spectacular movement of tectonic plates about which Fox News or CNN has not made us aware? Well, no…