Harrogate calling: When town hosted the Eurovision Song Contest

The 1982 Eurovision song contest in Harrogate
The 1982 Eurovision song contest in Harrogate
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It's that time of year again, when we bask in the magnificence that was Harrogate's hosting of the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest...

We're always hopeful of a strong British performance at the contest in this newsroom, but, just in case Lucie Jones doesn't win over the hearts of the continent in Kiev this weekend, here's our annual reminder of the time the show came to North Yorkshire.

David Behrens, who was there on the evening, said: "Squeezed inside the newly-opened Harrogate Conference Centre were fans, artistes and representatives of 18 participating nations.

"Throughout the evening, the host, newsreader Jan Leeming, treated TV viewers to stunning travelogue shots of Yorkshire, specially filmed for the occasion by the BBC.

"It was public relations gold.

"For a week leading up to the big night, Harrogate was awash with music people, journalists and broadcasting executives, who sloshed their way from one drinks reception to another - the biggest at Castle Howard, location for the recently-screened (on ITV) Brideshead Revisited and the ancestral home of the BBC’s then-chairman, Lord Howard.

"Each national broadcaster and record company took it in turn to host a junket, at the rate of two or three a day, and there was scarcely a bar in town that didn’t benefit.

"Britain had earned the right to host the contest following the 1981 victory of Bucks Fizz with their skirt-ripping number, Making Your Mind Up. Harrogate had been picked as the venue by the BBC because its conference centre was one of the biggest auditoriums in the country.

"Hopes were high for Britain’s entry, the boy-girl duo Bardo, put together by Bucks Fizz’s manager Nichola Martin.

"The critics fancied their chances but news editors were interested more in whether vocalists Sally Ann Triplett and Stephen Fischer were romantically involved.

"In the event, they finished seventh and went their separate ways.

"It was the German singer Nicole who emerged victorious with her gentle protest song, A Little Peace - while the Finish band Kojo left with an ignominious nil points for their appropriately-titled song, Bomb Out.

"Though it was one of the BBC’s biggest outside broadcasts, the video tape of the event makes it look like a house party compared to the vast and expensive Eurovision finals of recent years."

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