Hello Europe, this is Ross calling from sunny Edinburgh with a brand new blog dedicated to all things Eurovision. Launching with less than a month to go until Kyiv means there’ll be plenty of build up and previews in the run up to May 13th. And then as we then recover in our collective hungover mire of post-ESC misery there’ll be plenty of debrief and looking back at previous years to fill those cold, dark summer months
At this point I feel my credentials should be set out. My very first memory of the Eurovision Song Contest is 20 years ago. I watched it from my parents’ living room floor and saw my country win emphatically. Seeing Katrina & The Waves romp to victory convinced a young Scots lad that the UK must be great at this and we must win all the time. Nothing could’ve been further from the truth in fact, as twenty years of disappointment and heartache followed. Actually in fairness Jessica Garlick, Jade Ewen & Blue you all did good, you’re exempt from heartache.
But it was from that night in May in 1997 that my interest was sparked. Long before we ever had such a luxury of a computer in the house hand drawn scorecards were the order of the day. As the postcard played the upcoming country’s flag would be hastily drawn with coloured pens and subsequently scored. This was also the time before the scoreboard would automatically update and remained stationery in running order. Desperately I would be rearranging bits of paper representing each country to try and keep my own leaderboard at home. This system never got past 10 countries scoring, by this point the maths was just too tricky. It’s almost as if nine year olds don’t make good independent adjudicators.
From a child through adolescence and into adulthood my interest continued to grow and from my University days it developed into a full on passion. Having come from a small fishing town on the Scottish coast, University was my first chance to meet people from outside the UK. Meeting a few kindred spirits there only helped to further the Eurovision fervour. Listening to other people’s favourites from their home countries and many, many drunken…”debates” we’ll call them fanned the flames of my ardour. In recent years it more or less engulfed my life and my fandom was firmly cemented last year when I finally attended my first Eurovision. The highlight had to be seeing Katrina performing “Love Shine a Light” live in the Eurovision Village. This felt like after all those years I had come full circle seeing the woman who sparked this love affair right at the heart of Eurovision itself. Bliss.
So that’s a bit about me, now the title of the blog itself. If you aren’t in that very small crossover of the Venn diagram composed of “Eurovision Fans” and “90s Scottish Sitcom Fans” then it may be a tad lost. If you were to ask most Brits which sitcom from the 1990s parodied the Contest most would answer Father Ted and his Lovely Horse. Of course, not a wrong answer but not the one I’d give.
In 1995 BBC One broadcast the short lived Scottish airline based sitcom, ‘The High Life’. Starring the now Hollywood star Alan Cumming as camp, coiffured steward Sebastian Flight and his then comedy partner Forbes Masson as his sexually frustrated colleague Steve McCracken, it was a delightful departure from the establishment at the time. It only lasted for one series (all which is on YouTube, definitely worth the watch) but in one episode Sebastian talks Steve into entering the selection for the Scottish leg of the ‘Song For Europe’ competition. They come up with ‘Pif Paf Pof’, a title “easily understood by foreigners” containing such lyrical genius as:
“Pif paf pof, my heart goes pif paf pof
Pif paf pof, I want to have it off.
Pif paf pof, my heart goes pif paf pof
I want to have it off till I cough”
The episode itself is littered with Eurovision references as Sebastian tries to convince Steve it’s a good idea. Past winners are reeled off and before they start their entry Te Deum can be heard ringing out as it would before every Contest. In the end they are joined by their overbearing manager, Shona and their somewhat dazed and confused Captain Duff. The result of their efforts culminate with this masterpiece.
The cry of “NO WE WERENAE, WE WERE AWRITE” is normally how’ll you find me at about midnight every year after the UK end up in their customary 20+ finishing position. And if/when Scotland enters Eurovision as an independent nation I think a reunion of this would have to be on the cards.
So now I’ve introduced myself and the blog check back in the next few days as I’ll be looking at all forty thr…two songs going to Kyiv before rehearsals start getting under way in earnest. There’ll several preview articles for all the semi-finals, the big five and looking at the chances of the pre-contest favourite and his pal, Gerald.