It’s time for another #Eurovisionagain! We’re diving deep into the Eurovision archives this week and go 44 years back in time to the Eurovision Song Contest of 1976!
In 1976 the 21st Eurovision Song Contest took place in the Dutch city of The Hague after Teach-In won the year before with Ding-A-Dong. It was the 3rd time the Netherlands hosted the Contest after previously hosting in Hilversum in 1958 and in Amsterdam in 1970.
Nowadays the Contest we love takes place in May, but back in 1976 the Contest was broadcast on the 3rd of April and former Dutch winner Corry Brokken presented the show. It did not go without some controversy though. Sweden withdrew from the Contest, which was a big surprise as they hosted the show the year before in Stockholm. However, Swedish TV thought that the Contest had become too commercial and they were also afraid of winning which meant they would have to host the expensive show again so soon. Nevertheless, they made a quick comeback and returned to the Contest the year after in 1977. Turkey and Malta withdrew as well but Greece and Austria returned.
It is not uncommon for some artists to return to the Eurovision stage and in 1976 it was no different. Fredi represented Finland after previously singing for his nation in 1967. Sandra Reemer took the stage for host country The Netherlands after previously representing the country alongside Andres in 1972. Peter, Sue and Marc performed for Switzerland again after their performance in 1971 and Anne-Karine Strøm returned as a solo singer for Norway after being part of the Bendik Singers in 1973 and 1974. Sadly for Anne-Karine, her return wasn’t such a big success. She had the unfortunate honour of ending up in last place, back-to-back, in 1974 and 1976.
Save Your Kisses
Like the year before, the first song performed on the night won the Contest. Brotherhood of Man, consisting of Martin Lee, Lee Sheridan and Nicky and Sandra Stevens represented the United Kingdom and started the show with their song ‘Save Your Kisses For Me’.
There were a lot of nerves that night for the group. After conductor Alyn Ainsworth was presented to the audience and the welcoming applause faded, the orchestra started. “When we opened that show with our song, we all had our backs to the audience. And Martin had to turn around and sing his lead. And I’m always so grateful that I didn’t have to sing that lead!’ Nicky said when looking back at their performance. “When he turned around and began singing ‘Though it hurts to go away’ I remember thinking ‘Go on Martin!’. That was really great”.
The song became a huge hit, selling over 6 million copies, but the performance was also equally memorable for its choreography and staging.
“We had great staging in Den Haag. It was absolutely brilliant and Theo Ordeman, the producer of that show, did a fantastic job.” Sandra remarked. Brotherhood of Man performed their song again at the Eurovision's 60th anniversary show in 2015. While thinking of modern-day Eurovision, Sandra said: “If Theo Ordeman was still alive and he had to do it again with all the lighting and the equipment that is around now I think it would have been even more spectacular!”
EurovisionAgain started as an initiative from Eurovision fan and journalist Rob Holley right after the cancellation of Eurovision 2020. Together with some friends he rewatched earlier editions of the Eurovision Song Contest every Saturday. After two weekends, the EBU joined in and streamed a show on the official YouTube channel every Saturday, attracting more than 125.000 live views at its peak. The Eurovision Song Contest of 1976 is the second oldest show broadcast online since the initiative started. In mid-May, the 1974 Contest was broadcast the day after Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light.
We would like to thank Dutch broadcaster NOS for the permission to broadcast the show on YouTube. The show will be available until 24 September 2020.