25 YEARS - 1970s

25 YEARS - 1980s

25 YEARS - 1990s

25 YEARS - 2000s

25 YEARS - 2010s


     Click the pictures above for a review of the 70s, 90s, 00s and the 10s.... 


1980 - Not quite ready to grow up yet ;-/

In 1980 I was 17 and starting to think that maybe I should move on from the Contest to cooler music. Sure, other pop was in my head and on my turn-table, but was there room for Eurovision too? Well, sure there was! My pen pals were still enthusiastic and after all, it was just one night a year….


So, the Netherlands stood in for Israel as 1980 host and Israel was not even there – something I could not fathom at the time, but I was happy to tune in anyway, especially as we had won in this very hall just 4 years earlier. I really wanted Greece or Turkey to win that year, but it was not to be. A dull ballad won – that’s how I saw it then – what a waste. But Ireland was close to Wales , so that was cool, I thought. Johnny Logan would be a name to reckon with too..

More exams in 1981, ‘A’ levels this time, but I still needed my annual Euro-fix! From the previews, it seemed obvious that the UK would win, although (as often happened then) Turkey was a big favourite too for me. Cyprus had joined in and that made it seem even more popular – the contest was growing – I had to stay with it! On the night, I thought we had blown it, Bucks Fizz sounded awful! But somehow, we did it. I knew the song was already a big hit over Europe (the ‘Pop over Europe’ show on BBC Radio once a month had taught me that – well that’s a blast from the past!), so maybe it was an early example of promotion working its magic…


Growing older, more mature, a little college study, looking to start work…. did this all fit with my annual passion? What did I care! It was too much fun to resist, although it was still a very private affair. Gearing up for the previews, waiting for the Radio Times to mention them on a Sunday in April, but which Sunday? Simple days without the internet then, but the Radio Times (TV magazine) invariably had good coverage of the Contest and most of the national papers would devote 2 pages or more to all of the songs and singers. It seems paltry now, but then it was pretty exciting I can tell you!  


So 1982 was no exception – Turkey was up there again for me and I had played ‘Hani’ to death since the preview show (hold the rewind button down, try to guess where the song started on the tape… and press play… ah simple days)…. I ended up pretty good at guessing a 3 minute song’s rewind time on my little tape recorder! The iPod generation have no idea how easy they have it! 

‘’Where is Harrogate ?’ came the opening titles. I was asking a similar question – why Harrogate ?! A strange choice, although they did have a new concert venue, but I thought it was all flowers and old people up there! Germany won. Nicole had the UK ’s 500th Number 1 with the English version ‘A Little Peace’ and Turkey finished 15th. I seemed out of tune with the rest of the continent, but my long-suffering pen friends were a little more in tune with me, as I like to remember it. 



1983 was a good year – we now had our first video recorder. I’d be able to watch this contest again… and again…. and again! The previews too! Amazing! What would they think of next! The local paper in Cardiff had mentioned Finland’s eurosong several weeks before the contest – an article saying that the Finns thought they would finally win with a song which was like Kim Wilde’s ‘Cambodia’. I would look out for that one! But, it was Yugoslavia for me this year – a Shakin’ Stevens sound-alike who had the catchiest song in the Contest. But it wasn’t to be… another boring ballad took the prize (as you can see I was not a great fan of ballads in the early days). Yawn. 


Not to worry, I could watch the ones I did like over and over – and you can be sure I did…. Yugoslavia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Israel… not a great set in Munich but some classic songs and Ami Aspelund’s ‘Cambodia’ sound-alike song is a big favourite to this day! Kuka Han on?!


So it was to Luxembourg in 84, with an American sounding (slightly merry?) presenter and what seemed to be a very small venue. The orchestra seemed to be hidden in a cellar… but the sound was good.


84 and 85, I watched with a Welsh-Greek friend (my international links were growing) and while I think he was a little bemused, he did enjoy them, as long as we went out clubbing afterwards with the lads and girlfriends.


Sweden ’s 84 win was eclipsed by Norway ’s win in 85. Gothenburg remains one of the best contests ever for me. Great songs, great voting, a cool presenter (and possibly the first ever live pan-european gasp, when Lill’s dress “fell apart”). 1985 remains a classic year and the voting was really exciting too. It was always Germany or Norway for me, so I was a happy boy.


During 1984 I'd discovered that I was not alone in my annual obsession. One of my brothers spotted an advert in a pop magazine (‘Record Mirror’) from somebody whose Eurovision videos had been stolen and who was hoping to get them replaced (who would steal Eurovision videos?!). I replied to the ad and then kept in touch with David Hutchison in Scotland and we became good friends, along with many many others who contacted him. There were more people like me out there after all! This could be fun!



David was actually on the UK jury for Gothenburg 85 and he gave me the contact details to try for 86. He did the same to another euro pal (David Elder) in Scotland , so David E and I bombarded the BBC contact with letters (remember, no email or text options back then). Then one day, at work, my mother called me to say there was a letter from the BBC – I asked her to open it and read it to me… they were inviting me to be a member of the UK jury for 1986!! I was jumping around the office! Train tickets, hotel, taxi pickup and a small fee included. What a result!



David E had a similar response and we met up in London (representing Wales and Scotland, no less) and had a blast. Lots of BBC wine, dinner in the BBC boardroom, a tour of the studios, a sit through rehearsal for a popular quiz show (‘Bob’s Full House’) and an audio link to the final rehearsal in Bergen, so that we knew the songs (of course, David and I knew them inside out already and pretty much knew how we were going to vote). Then the big moment, a little sozzled, but more excited than I had ever been before, this was it! A score out of 5 for each song with the voting slip taken away for adding up after each one. David and I signalled our scores to each other…. I still remember a look of disgust from David when his five fingers for France were met by one finger from me! Haha…


The Jury had a show of hands between Turkey and Spain , then Yugoslavia and Denmark , as each had tied scores from the jury. Then our UK scores were ready.


1986 - Jury Service in London with David Elder - VALENTINO and a LUVBUG wink at the Irish Tourist Office

You can see my ESC86 Voting Form here  



Our jury, in the depths of BBC Television Centre was disconnected from the Bergen transmission. We had to wait until after our votes had been cast before we could tune in again. When we did, I was amazed to see Belgium far in the lead, even though we had given the song 10 of those points. It was a long, exhausting but amazing day. I thought this was the peak of my Eurovision addiction, but little did I know that more was to come.


Early in 1987, one of my brothers announced his was getting married and the date would be May 9th….  He asked me to be best man (how could I refuse), but then the date for Brussels was announced and it was the same day! As the date came closer, my nerves about being Best Man overcame my disappointment of missing the event live and the evening turned into one of those times where you have to avoid the result at all costs. When we came home, I sat and watched the whole show on video from start to finish, ending at around 4am ! And how disappointed I was that yet another dull ballad (now seen as a bit of a classic), had won. My Greek and Turkish favourites had faltered.


I was looking forward to 1988 being a little more traditional, but that was not to be. Some months before the contest was to be held in Dublin, David H in Scotland, suggested we ask RTE (Irish television) if we could get a day pass to the event (they were offering day passes to locals who wanted to see inside the Simmonscourt Pavilion). RTE agreed and as Dublin was a short hop, we excitedly booked a few nights in a B&B and headed to Ireland in May. I was going to Eurovision!


We had been allocated a day pass into the arena for the Thursday before the Contest and I can still feel the thrill of walking into the hall and seeing the set, as Maxi and Chris belted out "Lied für einen Freund"… We were glued to our seats and bemused as groups of school children, some nuns and what looked like farmers were ferried in and out to watch the rehearsals too. Later, during a break, we took a walk around and wandered into the Press Room (yes, wandered in….). We met the lovely Kato from Norway and some other fans and got chatting with a very nice press lady called Mary who said we should take some tickets for the Friday night rehearsal and why not pop to the official reception at Dublin Castle too…? Was this really happening?!


1988 - Gary and the Davids meet Yardena Arazi, Karoline Krüger, Anita Skorgan, Silver Wings and Céline Dion!



We were amazed by the reception at Dublin Castle , not least that we had been let in! Here we had the chance to chat to some of the participants – amazing! I particularly remember Yardena Arazi being very surprised that we knew her songs from Kdam 88 and Gerard Joling, Jump The Gun, Scott Fitzgerald and La Decada being more than happy to chat and sign autographs. We even bumped into Céline Dion, but I hadn’t rated her or her song (wrong yet again!). What a great night!


We had managed to get 3 tickets for the Friday rehearsal, so David E flew out from Scotland to meet us and we sat wide-eyed through the whole thing, even the dummy voting. I’m glad we did, as we got to see a Yugoslav ‘win’ and a reprise in English… (‘Rascal’). Sweden ’s song (‘Stad I Ljus’) was performed by the composer Py Bäckmann, as Tommy Körberg had a throat problem. The final was watched in our Dublin B&B lounge much to the surprise of the owner and some of the other residents - great fun as always though with incredibly exciting voting, but we felt we’d already hit a high the night before.  


Well Dublin 88 could never be beaten, could it?! And maybe it really was time I grew out of this too?! Hmmm


Maybe not….! Switzerland was the host in 1989. By now I was writing to the EBU around Christmas to find out the draw for the next Contest. This in hand and having met some fellow Eurofans in Dublin who had Press Accreditation, we thought we’d take our chances and ask Swiss TV if they would grant us Press Accreditation for the Contest. To great surprise, accreditation application forms arrived by post and we eagerly completed four of them and sent them straight back. Was this really happening too?! Another new experience…. Wow!


A few months later and the 4 of us (2 Gary’s, a David and a Douwe) were flying to Geneva to be met at the airport with a lift to the Arena (the newly named LYS ASSIA hall….). They were actually giving us a lift on a Eurovision themed coach with the Danish group HOT EYES who had arrived at about the same time. We were in Heaven! The Turkish group PAN were also at the Hall when we arrived to pick up the accreditation badges. Life may never be the same again!


We were in the strange position that having flown out on the Sunday before the Contest, we had missed the second preview show, so the first time we would hear many of the songs was at rehearsals. Oh how times have changed since then….


We soon fell into the swing of rehearsals, press conferences, receptions and excursions. Interviewing and mixing with all the performers and having a front row view of all the rehearsals really was a dream come true. A boat trip on Lake Geneva was also a highlight where we spent time with the artists from Sweden , Austria , Denmark , Finland and the UK of course. The magic of the accreditation badge was such a privilege and we spent a non-stop week of lapping up the atmosphere and everything that Lausanne had to offer.  


1989 - Céline Dion, Atilla Sereftug, Daniela Simons, Birthe Kjare, the Group Pan, Ana Oxa, Fausto Leali and Thomas Forstner


1989 - Looking the part and meeting Ray Caruana




Having sat through the final rehearsals, we did not have tickets for the final itself. Finally plucking up the courage to ask the head of press at the event (Mr Wolf) whether there were any left, he surprised us all by handing us 4 tickets and told us to enjoy the event. This was within an hour of the final….! Nobody said OMG those days, but we’d have said something similar to suit the times. Amazing! We were in and we loved it! My first Eurovision in the arena - Rock me Baby! OMG !


Heading home with a bag full of singles, the first Eurovision CD-single from the Netherlands and all sorts of promotional materials including a “one-size drowns all” ‘Dolce Vita’ T-shirt from Finland, we probably didn’t need the plane we were in – we were flying high all the way!

So, Eurovision had stepped up a gear for us and the bug had really taken hold. Surely, we would have to try to get to Yugoslavia in 1990?  



1989 - RIVA win for Yugoslavia