Eurovision Song Contest

This section contains reviews of the Eurovision Song Contest over the past six decades. On this page we look at 1976-1982; the other pages in this section cover 1956-1966, 1967-1975, 1983-1989, 1990-1996, 1997-2001, 2002-2005, 2006-2009, 2010-2013, 2014-2017 and 2018.


1976

Host country: Netherlands
Won by: United Kingdom - Save Your Kisses for Me by Brotherhood of Man
UK entry: Save Your Kisses for Me by Brotherhood of Man
Full results: eurovision.tv

The 1976 Eurovision Song Contest came from the Hague in the Netherlands, and was introduced by Corry Brokken, who had won the second Eurovision nearly twenty years earlier. Yes, Eurovision had already been going that long...

With the BBC finding the process of recruiting a star name to represent us an increasing struggle, the UK selection process was revamped this year. From now on, a varied selection of singers and groups, a mixture of unknowns and more established acts, would be put up for selection. And due to falling numbers of postal votes in previous years, the public would no longer get any say in the matter, with the choice being made by regional juries across the UK, just as it had been in the very early years of A Song for Europe.

The new process would prove to be a triumph, producing the first UK victory at Eurovision since 1969. Brotherhood of Man had enjoyed a modicum of chart success six years earlier, but in 1976 they were back with a new, Abba-esque line-up, of two men and two women. Dismissed by some as frightfully twee, and reminiscent of 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree', nonetheless 'Save Your Kisses for Me' would not only go on to win the contest, but, since the introduction of the current voting system the previous year, it still remains the most successful winner of all time, picking up 80.4% of the maximum score possible.

France's Catherine Ferry, singing 'Un Deux Trois' also scored very well, but was pushed into second place - however, their time was about to come...


1977

Host country: United Kingdom
Won by: France - L'Oiseau et L'Enfant by Marie Myriam
UK entry: Rock Bottom by Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran
Full results: eurovision.tv

This year's contest was held at the Wembley Conference Centre, London. Nowadays, we are used to Eurovision taking place in May, but in 1977 it was unusually late, having been postponed for five weeks due to industrial action. Angela Rippon took a break from reading the news and presenting Top Gear to host the contest.

The Eurovision rules were changed again this year, with songs once again having to be performed in one of the country's own languages (though with Germany and Belgium already in the process of picking their songs in English, these were allowed to stand).

The UK entry was 'Rock Bottom' - no, it didn't finish last, it actually came second again. Performed by Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran, it was the first in a line of negative-sounding song titles from the UK. Others down the years have included 'The Bad Old Days', 'Why Do I Always Get It Wrong?' and 'Don't Play That Song Again'.

By 1977, gimmicks and novelty entries were beginning to creep into Eurovision. The Austrian group Schmetterlinge sung 'Boom Boom Boomerang', resplendent with grinning masks on the back of their heads and a dance routine that had to be seen to be believed. The juries certainly couldn't believe it, and voted it into second bottom place. We also had some yodelling Swissmen in the form of the Pepe Leinhard Band.

The voting procedure was a complete mess, with incorrect points being flung around left, right and centre and no one seeming to notice, with the result that by the end of voting half the countries showed the wrong score. What was not in doubt, however, was that the contest had been won by a gimmick-free ballad sung in the French language by Marie Myriam. France have yet to win the contest again, despite coming heartbreakingly close on one occasion...


1978

Host country: France
Won by: Israel - A-Ba-Ni-Bi by Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta
UK entry: Bad Old Days by Co-Co
Full results: eurovision.tv

Eurovision arrived in Paris in 1978, the year that Israel won the contest with one of their most popular singers Izhar Cohen and the group Alphabeta. Several non-competing countries in North Africa and Asia cut the broadcast when it looked like Israel were going to win, with Jordanian media claiming that Belgium had won.

The competition wasn't that strong, though. The winner certainly wasn't going to be Jahn Teigen, who helped Norway to their first 'nul points' on the first of his three appearances.

The most well-known entrants were Baccara, who had recently enjoyed Europe-wide chart success and a UK number 1 with 'Yes Sir, I Can Boogie'. At Eurovision they represented Luxembourg, with the remarkably similar 'Parlez-Vous Francais?' finishing seventh.

The UK contenders, Co-Co, numbered amongst them Cheryl Baker, who go on to sing as part of a much more successful UK entry a few years later. Co-Co sung about 'The Bad Old Days' but when it came to the scoring, it would prove to be more like 'The Bad Present Days', as they notched up the UK's poorest performance so far, finishing outside the top ten for the first time.


1979

Host country: Israel
Won by: Israel - Hallelujah by Milk and Honey featuring Gali Atari
UK entry: Mary Ann by Black Lace
Full results: eurovision.tv

In 1979 the Eurovision Song Contest was held outside Europe for the first time, arriving at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

Due to a strike, the UK selection show had not been televised, and the juries had cast their votes on the basis of listening to audio tapes. The winning UK entry, Black Lace, became better known a few years later once they had slimmed down to a duo, to delight us with such musical masterpieces as 'Agadoo' and 'Do the Conga'. In 1979, however, they were a plodding pop-rock band in the mould of Smokie. 'Mary Ann' was not a great success at the contest, finishing seventh, nor in the UK charts where it only reached number 42.

The Swiss trio, Peter, Sue and Marc, had made two previous appearances at Eurovision, including in 1976 when they had been accompanied by a depressed-looking clown playing the barrel organ. This time they were augmented by another trio, Pfuri, Grops and Kniri, playing on a variety of garden implements. Much better was 'Dschingis Khan', an energetic disco number performed by a group also called Dschingis Khan, who numbered amongst them a masked dancer representing the 13th century founder of the Mongol Empire. Anne-Marie David, who had won for Luxembourg in 1973, returned to the contest, but switched had her allegiance to her own country, France - the only time a past winner has come back to represent a different country.

In the end, however, no one could beat the home team - with the Israeli trio Milk and Honey, joined by singer Gali Atari, winning the contest with the anthemic 'Hallelujah'.


1980

Host country: Netherlands
Won by: Ireland - What's Another Year by Johnny Logan
UK entry: Love Enough for Two by Prima Donna
Full results: eurovision.tv

For the only time in Eurovision history, the reigning champions failed to come back to defend their title. No one had spotted until it was too late that the date selected for the 1980 contest coincided with Israel's Day of Remembrance. And so the contest headed back to the Netherlands and the Hague, where the 1976 contest had been held.

With not only Israel out of the show, but also Monaco pulling out, there was some spare room available and so another non-European country, Morocco, opted to join the contest instead. However they made a less than impressive debut, scoring only six points and finishing in second bottom place. Morocco would never be seen at Eurovision again.

The UK entered another boy-girl pop group, Prima Donna, which seemed to make little impact yet still managed to finished third. The Belgian band Telex had already made an appearance in the UK charts in 1979, with their sarcastic cover of 'Rock Around the Clock'. In 1980, they brought synthpop to Eurovision for the first time ever, with a song called, um, 'Euro-Vision'. They had hoped to finish last in the contest - although they were the last to perform last, they were to be disappointed, only making it third from last in the voting.

The most gimmicky entry at the contest, however, was probably Sophie and Magaly from Luxembourg, who sung about 'La Papa Pingouin' complete with a man jumping around the place dressed as a penguin. Meanwhile, Germany's Katja Ebstein made her third appearance at Eurovision accompanied by backing singers dressed as clowns. She finished in second place.

But Eurovision 1980 belonged to a young Australian-born man from Ireland. Johnny Logan steamrollered all the competition with his wistful ballad 'What's Another Year'. Answer - 1987.


1981

Host country: Ireland
Won by: United Kingdom - Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz
UK entry: Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz
Full results: eurovision.tv

This year's Eurovision is remembered for one thing, and one thing only - the skirt-ripping Bucks Fizz boys and girls, who brought the UK their fourth win at Eurovision. Who'd have thought at the time that this innocuous, fun group would eventually get embroiled in so much acrimony?

The Fizz weren't the only group dressed in primary colours - they were immediately followed by Carols Paiao and friends from Portugal, who presumably had been to the same outfitters. There were even more bright colours from Finland's Riki Sorsa, who sang what is probably the only reggae song ever with an instrumental break played on the accordian.

The Irish all-girl trio Sheeba sung about horoscopes, dressed in strange Flash Gordon outfits. Cyprus made their debut at the contest with the group Island, but it would be a few years before they would begin (almost) unfailingly swapping 12 points with Greece. A full 20 years after he won the contest for Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Pascal returned to the contest - but his crooning style now seemed somewhat outdated, and this time he only managed 11th place. Norway, meanwhile, propped up the scoreboard with their second 'nul points' courtesy of singer Finn Kalvik.

Although Eurovision 1981 belonged to Bucks Fizz, it was far from a clear-cut win for the UK - in fact, they only won by four points, with Germany's Lena Valaitis and France's Jean Gabilou snapping at their heels during the voting, with all three on the same number of points with two rounds of voting left to go. Meanwhile the host nation tried out a new method of boosting their score, by simply adding an extra 310 points to it. Other shenanigans that year included the Yugoslavian spokeswoman who, when asked for her country's votes declared, "I don't have it"...


1982

Host country: United Kingdom
Won by: Germany - Ein Bisschen Frieden by Nicole
UK entry: One Step Further by Bardo
Full results: eurovision.tv

'Where is Harrogate?' is not a question that would have crossed the minds of many people across Europe until it was plastered across millions of television sets in various languages one Saturday evening in April 1982. Yes, the Eurovision party had rolled into the Yorkshire town, with newsreader Jan Leeming on presenting duties. The French decided not to turn up, however, declaring the contest to be a 'monument to drivel'. They returned, with a different broadcaster, in 1983.

The show opened with Portuguese all-girl group Doce, who were inexplicably all dressed as musketeers. Two songs later, it was the return of Jahn Teigen, who clearly wasn't deterred by finishing last in 1978. This time he duetted with another former Norwegian entrant, Anita Skorgan. They finished in twelfth place, with 'nul points' this year reserved for Finnish entrant Kojo and his protest against the building of a nuclear weapons base. Politics and Eurovision have never really gone together.

Even though the UK had won the contest the previous year, this year's entrants Bardo reckoned they could go 'One Step Further'. In the event, they took six steps back. The clear winner was 17 year-old Nicole Hohloch from Germany, who sat on a stool with an acoustic guitar singing her plea for 'A Little Peace'. It would prove to be a massive hit across Europe, spending two weeks at number 1 in the UK.


Next page: 1983-1989
Previous page: 1967-1975


Text copyright © Robert Williams, images copyright © the respective broadcasters