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A Face for the Music: Eurovision presenters over the years

13 October 2016 at 19:00 CEST
Choosing a presenter for the Eurovision Song Contest can be a challenge for the Host Broadcaster since these individuals effectively become the face of the show. Fronting a large international primetime production, one of the biggest in the world, is a nerve-wracking job and one that is best-suited to the most accomplished of hosts. Today we look back at some of the presenters of the Eurovision Song Contest from over the years.

Last week Pat Kenny, who co-hosted the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin alongside Michelle Rocca, received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA). Pat Kenny is an influential Irish broadcaster and his lifetime achievement award follows a career spanning more than 40 years. Prior to his acceptance speech a video montage featuring tributes to Kenny was played which included an appearance by the winner of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, Celine Dion! You can watch the video here. 

"I could not miss your big night with your lifetime achievement award from the Irish Academy, congratulations! This honour is so well-deserved. I remember all these years, back when you played a key role in my special night at the Eurovision in Dublin [...] I send you all my love and my warmest wishes, congratulations again" - Celine Dion

The United Kingdom's Katie Boyle holds the record for presenting the Eurovision Song Contest most times. She hosted the contest in 1960, 1963, 1968 and finally in 1974 when ABBA won for Sweden with Waterloo in Brighton. Petra Mede presented two of the last four contests when it was held in Sweden in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Petra has become a firm favourite amongst many fans. Of course, for the presenters to shine they also need a good script!

Finding the winning formula

In 2016 Petra was joined by Eurovision winner Måns Zelmerlöw who also performed during the live shows. However Måns is not the only former winner to host the contest. Corry Brokken won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1957 for the Netherlands and went on to present the contest in 1976. One of the more memorable contests is the 1991 production from Rome which was hosted by Italy's two winners Gigliola Cinquetti (1964) and Toto Cutugno (1990).

In 2003 Latvia's Marie N hosted the show in Riga alongside Renārs Kaupers, who represented Latvia as part of Brainstorm in 2000. Marie N won the contest in 2002 with I Wanna. More recently Austria's Conchita Wurst and Ukraine's Ruslana took on some hosting duties in the year following their respective victories. Eldar Gasimov, one half of the winning duo for Azerbaijan, El and Nikki, presented the contest in Baku in 2012.

From performer to presenter

It is not only winners that have turned their hand to presenting, several former participants have hosted the contest over the years. Yardena Arazi participated in the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel in 1976 and presented the show when it was held in Jerusalem in 1979. She participated again in the contest in 1988. Lill Lindfors represented Sweden in 1966 whilst in that same year Åse Kleveland participated for Norway. Lill presented the 1985 Eurovision Song Contest and Åse hosted in competition the following year. She went on to become the Minister of Culture in Norway.

Performing presenters from recent years include:

  • Stefan Raab (Germany 2000, co-host in 2011)
  • Alsou (Russia 2000, co-host in 2009)
  • Željko Joksimović (Serbia & Montenegro 2004, Serbia 2012, co-host in 2008)
  • Sakis Rouvas (Greece 2004 and 2009, co-host in 2006)
  • Dafna Dekel (Israel 1992, co-host in 1999)

Hosting hiccups

As with any live broadcast, sometimes things can go wrong and that is certainly true when it comes to the Eurovision Song Contest, especially when the voting is concerned!

In 1977 presenter Angela Rippon was put under pressure when the Dutch spokesperson stated that the Netherlands should have six points instead of the five that were listed on the scoreboard. With the scrutineers checking the results the spokesperson offered to continue with the votes to which she replied in agreement, "Why don't we let them sort out their problems, you give us your votes, ok?"

In 1981, when presenter Doireann Ní Bhriain called in the votes from Yugoslavia, she received the reply, "I don't have it", to which Doireann quipped "thank you very much", resulting in an eruption of laughter from the audience.

In 1993 the Netherlands awarded Ireland 10 points however the presenter Fionnuala Sweeney declared that Ireland had received the maximum 12. When she was corrected by the spokesperson she replied with a smile, "excuse me, I got carried away!"

In 1998, Ulrika Jonsson provided a comical moment when she called in the votes from the Netherlands. The Dutch spokesperson, Conny van den Bos, declared that her heart went out to all the performers because she knew how they felt having taken part in the competition herself. Conny also added that "it's long ago". Due to the noise in the arena, the audience did not hear this part and simply heard Ulrika's seemingly rude reply, "a long time ago, was it?"

Finding a favourite

Over the next few weeks we will be paying tribute to some of the presenters of the Eurovision Song Contest from over the years. Last week we launched a search for the favourite presenter from the 1980s and this coming Sunday we will announce the winner. Next week the search for the most popular host from the 1990s begins!