As we build up to Malmö I have dusted off and slightly re-jugged some previous blogs about the ESC.
First the front people.
It’s no picnic presenting the Eurovision Song Contest.
In essence, the job description hasn’t changed that much since 1956.
You need to be an experienced broadcaster with a touch of glamour, a calm assurance AND a firm grip on the English & French languages as well as your own.
Of late, however, those necessary skills have been trumped by the generic flim-flammery of TV.
Such is progress/change/malarkey.
Back in the early days, the presenting job was given to someone in a lovely frock and the air of a benign school ma’am.
The host guided you through the night with grace, but was generally overwhelmed by the standard shambles of the finale where the winning chanson’s composer(s) is crowned !
There have been some delicious mélanges of whizz-pans, dropped bouquets, confused looking broadcasting executives and prematurely rolled credits over the years.
And when technology failed, as it did … frequently, it was the gleaming teeth and sharp intellect of the compère which held the whole thing together.
As the dependability of satellite links firmed, so the CVs of the presenter(s) changed – and not always for the better.
The host nation’s big banana broadcasters, performers or former competitors were rolled out.
One had become two in the presentation department by the 1990s, and by now a trio is the norm despite the fact that the workload has sharply diminished.
Where once the presenter popped up all the way through, now the hosts come on at the start, disappear for a couple of hours only to return to guide us through the voting process.
So, as the need for a skilled master/mistress of ceremonies has diminished, what have we ended up with ?
Mega awkwardness for the most part.
It’s a simple broadcasting truth that manufactured double and triple acts are strange & difficult beasts.
Without chemistry. rat cunning or honed skills they are doomed to fail.
And when they are working in a non-native language the results can be really, REALLY horrible.
Of late, we have been made to suffer pairings that had seemingly emerged from the most fetid swamp of a linguistic demi-monde.
Eurovision is no place for the ill-prepared shackled to an autocue they can barely comprehend.
And if ad-libbing is attempted, then all bets are off.
We have plumbed the depths a few times and the nadir was probably reached in 2001 in Copenhagen.
Cue “Doctor Death and the Little Mermaid” (Wogan, T.) and their rhyming couplets.
Terry Wogan had to apologise for his remarks from the BBC commentary box, but he was more than a little on the money.
Tezza has gone. but there’s always a fear those couplets may return one day.
Say it ain’t so Malmö.