25 YEARS - 1970s

25 YEARS - 1980s

25 YEARS - 1990s

25 YEARS - 2000s

25 YEARS - 2010s


    Click the pictures above for a review of the 80s, 90s, 00s and the 10s.... 


1974 - with my younger brothers who needed to sleep before I could watch Eurovision



Picture it - April 6th 1974 , and I would have been sat in my pyjamas and tartan dressing gown with my nana in  Cardiff watching 18 performers from far off lands singing in languages I had never heard before. And this was happening in my country - in a town far, far away, called Brighton ….   


Brighton has since become a city and is now the city in which I live. But the 11 year old me would have had no clue about the wider World and how he slotted into it, or where he would end up. My world back then was a small world, so a glimpse into other countries via TV was an amazing experience for a Saturday evening – made all the more exciting by being allowed to stay up late to watch! Who were these people from countries I had barely heard of and certainly never visited? How could I understand what they were singing about? Who were the mysterious jurors and how did they decide between the songs? Did Katie Boyle always present the Contest? Why was it held in  Brighton and not  London or  Cardiff ?

So many questions, but I was hooked, even if I did not know it… especially hooked when the winning group were so ‘of the moment’, loud, fresh and fun. The ‘Abba Group’ from Sweden , as David Vine called them on the BBC . Yes, I enjoyed the Contest and yes I was pleased to know it would be back again the following year. At age 11 though, a year away feels like forever…


And that is how it started. A young lad, eager to know about the World but not sure how to go about it. So, in time I acquired a globe, an atlas and a book about flags of the World.


I decided to learn French at school (and German later on, after I decided that Welsh was not the language for me – something I now regret as a very proud Welshman). And I set about finding pen pals around Europe (44 at one point, all over Europe , the USA , Japan , New Zealand and Australia ).  


The Eurovision Song Contest or ‘Eurovision Grand Prix’ as they seemed to refer to it then, was one chance each year for me to view these interesting, (and sometimes funny) foreigners sharing some of their music with me. I devoured those early Contests as if I was studying a special subject for school. And so often it seemed to coincide with exams – how unfortunate and frustrating, but a great diversion from the must-do studies!  


Abba’s win took the show to Sweden the following year. I imagined Stockholm to be cold and dark and the only images I had in my head were from some old Second World War film where Stockholm was portrayed as a centre of espionage and a meeting of east and west. Karin Falck did not fit this image at all and she made me smile through the whole show in 1975. I had discovered the ‘preview shows’ on BBC that year too. They were televised on the two Sundays before the Contest. I sat in front of the TV with my little tape recorder, microphone to the TV speaker, recording the previewed songs for me to keep forever, while shouting at my brothers and father to be quiet. Simple days! Amazingly, I still have some of those tapes.  


Having seen the previews I felt like I knew the songs already and was all set for the show. My parents went out, as usual on a Saturday night, and left me with my nana again. I would have had to make sure my 2 younger brothers were asleep first, before sneaking back downstairs for my special evening. Switzerland was going to win, I had decided, but I also liked the French and Irish songs. I taped the contest from radio on a radio-cassette player which belonged to my dad – such clever technology! I think I still have those tapes too, although my 5 year old brother managed to erase a whole side of the 1975 contest, much to my horror. I never thought I would hear those songs again (how wrong I was). It seemed like the end of the World then and it would be a whole year before I could get more! I had noted down all the scores after creating my own scoring table, so they were safe. If I remember rightly, I used to make up my own logo for the Contest too – well before there were individual ones! I wonder if I still have them?!  

1976 - First trip abroad - Paris

I was now well into languages at school and 1976 would be my first visit to mainland Europe too. A school trip to France in April, just after the Contest. I still regret not buying the single (in a purple sleeve) of “1, 2, 3” which I saw in Paris that year. However, the Monday after the contest, I was thrilled that our French teacher devoted the entire lesson to understanding the lyrics of the French entry! This was how life should be, haha! …. Un, Deux, Trois, Un livre de Kafka……!


We won in 1976! It seemed to me that we always finished in the top 5, even though I had no knowledge of Eurovision before 1974 (apart from radio stations playing our earlier winners from 1967 and 1969), so it wasn’t a huge surprise, but nice all the same. The song (‘Save Your Kisses For Me’) was very popular too and with Abba riding high in the charts; it seemed that my contest was a great interest to have. I didn’t quite understand why one of my big favourites from Germany had finished so low, but that set the scene for my favourites for many years to come!  

So the Contest was coming to Britain in 77. My mum wrote to the Albert Hall in London asking if tickets would be available for the Contest for me, but they wrote back saying that the Hall had not been booked for Eurovision that time. The BBC had chosen Wembley, which I thought was a football stadium. So it looked like I’d never be able to go to an actual Contest (wrong again!).


No tickets for me in 77 and even though a strike delayed the show a few weeks, I was all set up, with tape recorder, voting table and score sheet in hand. Norway to win! Wrong again! A good show though and I was struck by how different some of the live performances were from the preview videos. The orchestra seemed to bring the songs alive. No Katie Boyle either – my 1974 theory had been smashed. Angela Rippon was a big name in newscasting at the time, so it was good to see the show in safe hands. The audience was still very polite and staid though. Wouldn’t it be nice if people had flags? Hmmmm

By 1978, I had managed to acquire many pen pals around Europe – in Germany , France , Austria , Greece , Turkey , Portugal and Romania . Eurovision was a great subject for our letters and we shared thoughts on the Contest, awarded points and revealed details of our entries as soon as we knew them. I was excited to receive letters from these distant friends and to know that one night each year we would be watching the same show. I even made tapes for pen pals in Australia , Japan and the USA . I wanted to share my passion with the World! Germany should win this one I had decided, but I loved the song from Portugal too. Wrong yet again!


Wow, Israel was the host in 1979. It was the year I sat my ‘O’ levels and had to work my Contest around exams and studying. Not so much fun…. But very exciting that the show would be coming from half way around the World and yet I could still view it with my nana in Cardiff on our little TV. The only other time that happened was for the Olympics – and that was every 4 years – and 4 years is far too long to wait for anything….


Germany to win again for me, but the Israeli and Greek songs also stood out. Happy with the second consecutive Israeli win, I was pleased that the show would go there again in 1980. I still remember some kids singing ‘”Dsching, Dsching, Dschingis Khan….” in school on the Monday after the contest….  


The 70s ended with me eager for more!