The hosts play one of the most important parts of the live shows of the Eurovision Song Contest. It is vital that they know exactly what to say and when to say it. In part three of our Stockholm Revisited series we meet Edward af Sillén who not only wrote the script and the intervals of the live shows, he also directed hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw and was by their side during the live broadcasts in Stockholm.
Edward is a successful screenwriter for stage, film and TV. In 2009 he became the Swedish commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest and he wrote the script for the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo. Edward also wrote the script and directed the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, a role that he reprised in 2016 in Stockholm with his writing partner Daniel Réhn. Fans of the Swedish national selection, Melodifestivalen, may also recognise Edward's voice as the man who introduces each of the entries.
The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest was widely lauded by the international media as being the best yet, with particular praise reserved for hosts Petra and Måns. "I truly couldn't be happier. First of all, I wanted the audience to feel how much we really love this contest, I wanted them to feel we take it seriously. Our vision as a team was to create modern entertainment. I also believe that Eurovision needs comedy, and I believe it can take a joke. As long as it's done with love, and some glitzy show numbers!"
The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most rehearsed shows in the entertainment industry. Even before the acts had arrived in Stockholm, Edward was working with hosts Petra and Måns both on-stage and off to perfect their performances. "First I write the script together with my writing partner Daniel, and then we spend hours and hours rehearsing it with the hosts to make sure everything goes as planned. I see the audience rehearsals as a great luxury. It's the perfect chance to try everything out. If a joke doesn't get a big enough laugh, it's out! I also direct everything involving the hosts including the show numbers and interval acts. During the live broadcast I'm by their side guiding them through the live show. I'm like an overbearing showbiz-mother!" he says with a laugh.
Asked if he has any favourite moments from the shows this year, he immediately responds with Love, Love, Peace, Peace, the interval act from the Grand Final. "That was an idea that I had dreamt of realising for years. The dream was to create a loving parody of Eurovision, IN the actual Eurovision itself. We had over 40 people on stage, including old ladies baking bread and an enormous hamster wheel, and literally everything we could squeeze in there within three minutes! It was insane, but a lot of fun to do!" Love, Love, Peace, Peace proved so popular that it is even due to be released as a single!
Would Edward do anything differently? "It's too early to say. I haven't even dared to sit down and look at the shows properly. Ask me again in a few months, and I'm sure I'll have some regrets".
It is clear that Edward has genuine affection and respect for the Eurovision Song Contest, "If they'd have me back I'd be happy to do it again. Eurovision is a dream job, no doubt, but after Malmö in 2013 and Stockholm in 2016, I think it might be a while until next time. We'll see".
Special thanks to Edward for taking time to be interviewed. You can keep up to date with his work by following him on Twitter @EdwardafSillen