Woo! So we are now just 18 days to go till semi-final one, and just 10 days to go till they start rehearsing! Today I’ll be doing my three favourite hosts; an integral part of Eurovision for the necessity of producing good television. The hosts often seem not unforgotten, but pre-contest they fail to take any real spotlight. I say that in relative to their impact; a good host can make a show, a poor host can have a more negative influence than apparent.
Take last year as a classic example. Why Austria felt the need for three wooden hosts is utterly surreal, and the decision to then have a fourth host in Conchita interviewing in the green room was just an overload. Compare to the Danish hosts, or even Petra Mede on a solo in 2013 and there’s no comparison. So there’s no better start to my top 3 than with Queen Petra…
#3 Malmö 2013 – Petra Mede (with help from Lynda Woodruff, and Eric Saade in the Green Room)
Petra did this alone, bulked by hilarious Lynda Woodruff cutaways and sexy motherfucker Eric Saade interviewing artists in the green room. But Petra held an incredibly difficult show by herself, including a fantastic interval which will stay in the mind of more than the fandom for many years to come. And she’s hosting again this year too, so excited!
#2 Millstreet 1993 – Fionnuala Sweeney
When Ireland decided to host one of Europe’s biggest TV shows in a “cowshed”, they took many risks – but they pulled it off. They pulled off a magnificent show, and much thanks has to go to some brilliant hosting by Fionnuala Sweeney. And what a magnificent host she was. Incredibly natural and incredibly funny, she has gone on to have a fantastic career in the US as a news reporter.
Take a look at this voting segment from 1993 below. It features a famous call to war torn Sarajevo, in which somehow they managed a phone line connection to tiny rural Millstreet; it features the well-known moment of Fionnuala getting “carried” away with the Dutch vote; but most of all, it features Fionnuala carrying the show during the voting in its last year as a telephone line. These days countries use their video line to produce more fireworks than a Chinese firework shop (cough Baku), club nights (Malta), or the same well-known landmarks every single year (cough Paris). Back in 1993, the host had to do much of that work to keep voting entertaining, and a big hats off to Fionnuala.
It seems silly not to mention some other absolute hosting greats. Lill Lindfors did a terrific job for Sweden back in 1985; Zelijko Joksimovic for Serbia in 2008 of course; every girl gay fell in love with Mikko Lempilampi for Finland in 2007; I enjoyed Meltem Cumbal for Turkey in 2004; Toto Cutugno is just hilarious, and was a great host for Italy in 1991; of course there is the legendary Katie Boyle who hosted no less than four times for the UK in 1960, 1963, 1968, and 1974; and while we are on Britain, Angela Rippon was a wonderful host for the UK in 1977; and who could forget Terry Wogan’s sheer brilliance for the UK as host AND commentator in 1998. Rest in peace Sir Eurovision! And now for my favourite all time hosts…
#1 Dusseldorf 2011 – Anke Engelke, Stefan Raab, and Judith Rakers
Take note hosts: this is how it’s done. I thought these three did an amazing job and I’m not alone. I need not say anything, we all know the fabulous job they did. Stefan Raab is hilarious alone, and well Anke Engelke was just flawless. The Dusseldorf show went on to win awards for being just a wonderfully produced and directed live television show, and a huge amount of that has to go to these hosts for their stereotypically brilliant Deutsch efficiency in hosting.
Interesting that from my three choices, none hosted from a capital city. Well it’s not that interesting…stay tuned for tomorrow when I’ve changed my plans for Day 18 and will be tackling a much harder challenge! With love.