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The end of a decade: Tallinn 2002

23 December 2009 at 12:46 CET

Tanel Padar and Dave Benton were the first ones to bring the Eurovision Song Contest to eastern Europe and to the former Soviet region. Financial obstacles for Host Broadcaster ETV were sorted by the Estonian government, which saw the value of hosting such a prestigious event. In the suburbs of Tallinn, the Saku Suurhall was about to be finished, and it proved to be the perfect venue for the Eurovision Song Contest. 

The Estonians decided to give the 47th Eurovision Song Contest a theme; A Modern Fairytale. In line with the theme, Estonian Television came up with a logo existing of twelve couloured pebbles in the shape of an 'e'. During the show, the hosts would refer to the Eurovision Song Contest as "the big e".

The show

ETV appointed national selection producer and delegation head Juhan Paadam as Executive Producer. Marius Bratten directed the TV-show for the second time. The television show opened with a film presenting Estonia to the European audience and reached a climax with the performance of last year's winning song, Everybody. Hosts Annely Peebo and Marko Matvere switched live to the Raekoja Plats - the Town Hall Square - in Tallinn, Hamburg, Grenada and London. The hosts performed one of the interval acts as well, singing A Little Story In The Music.

Christine Marchal-Ortiz supervised the contest on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union for the sixth and last time.


The contestants

Originally, 22 countries would be represented at the contest, but the EBU decided to allow two more broadcasters to enter. According to calculations based on the rules, Portugal and Israel were allowed to enter. Portugal thankfully declined the invitation, so Latvia was allowed to enter. They would, ironically, win the contest by surprise thanks to Marie N and her song I Wanna. Or thanks to her performance, as some suggested, which included a sophisicated change of costume.

Rosa from Spain, who was hugely popular in her home country after winning the first season of Operacion Triunfo, was one of the main favourites for victory. Estonia, Sweden and Malta also ranked high at the bookmakers.

Denmark, winning in 2000 and finishing 2nd in 2001, suddenly had to cope with a last place; Malene and her song Tell Me Who You Are didn't get more than 7 points.


The controversies

Controversy erupted during the competition over remarks by commentators on Swedish and Belgian television, both of whom told the audience not to vote for the Israeli singer Sarit Hadad. Hadad received zero points from the Swedish audience but earned two from the Belgians, finishing 12th overall (source: Wikipedia).

During the first performance of the night by the Cypriot group ONE, the postcard for the second performance flashed upon the screen, showing the lead singer with the title of the postcard video: The Ugly Duck.

Sahlene, who represented home country Estonia with Runaway, mixed up her microphone with the one of a backing singer. Consequently, the backing vocal had one minute of fame, while Sahlene's voice could barely be heard. Nevertheless, she finished at a respectable third place.

The development

The Estonians started a tradition of sticking a theme to the Eurovision Song Contest, which was the foundation of a consistent show. Logo, stage design, post cards and even the costumes of the hosts were in line with the theme of the show.


Estonian Television also registered the domain name for the official website of the Eurovision Song Contest. Over seven years later, it's still the event's official website.

Tomorrow, will look back at the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Riga.