As our crowdfunding pages were launched (at escinsight.com/patreon) we emphasised that ESC Insight was in good health, and that everything was under control. As the off-season looms, that remains the case. We’re not in desperate need of funding, and ESC Insight is all set to cover the 2018/19 season.
But Patreon was able to offer our community an exciting and voluntary way to support the site. We want to be as transparent as possible, so this is how our community helped us cover the season.
Keeping The Lights On
Insight’s hosting costs are generally paid a year in advance, so even as Patreon launched, our hosting package was already in place through to February 2019. Our first milestone was raising enough support to be able to buy another year of hosting in advance. On reaching that goal, we were able to extend our annual IT support contract with Ross Barber and Electric Kiwi, which includes a commitment to keeping the website code up to date, maintaining regular backups, running our cloud-based audio archive, and being on call when we start getting database errors in Lisbon!
From a back-end point of view, ESC Insight is now good until 2020.
For various reasons, ESC Insight did not cover as many National Finals ‘on the ground’ as in previous years, but we made an effort to cover Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix (including a very special ‘docu-podcast’ of Ellie’s transformative time in Olso). A number of expenses incurred by the team were covered by the Patreon supporters.
The sound bounces all around the Oslo Spektrum (Photo: Ben Robertson)
On the ground in Lisbon, Patreon supporters helped us in a few ways. We were able to help out a little with living costs and expenses for the Insight writers on the ground and those doing sub-editing back at home away from the bustle of the Press Centre. We did have a team night out to enjoy the Lisbon food…. and how could we have a live recording from the Ilse de Bezençon Customs Desk without some Patreon Pineapples?
Eurovision Castaways Live (image: Lisa-Jayne Lewis)
Insight will not be disappearing over the summer ‘off-season’ period. We always listen to your feedback (as this article is posted our Reader Survey for 2018 is still open for submissions), so we’re delighted to confirm that Ellie’s ‘Eurovision Castaways’ podcast series will be with you right through to September 1st. We’ll also be running a new series from guest writer Marcus Keppel-Palmer looking back at some of the unsung heroes from Eurovision’s history.
We’ll also take the time to look back over your replies to our Reader Survey, listen back to all our podcasts and re-read all our contest, and decide where we need to improve for the 2018/19 season… plus we’ll dip into Eurovision Young Musicians in Edinburgh, and continue our detailed coverage of Junior Eurovision in Minsk.
A Word About Our Rewards
We’ll be sending out a double sized ‘physical rewards’ package during June to all of our higher tier supporters, but I do want to say a little note about the extra Patreon content, because it has not been as extensive as promised when the crowd funding rewards were set in December.
ESC Insight is run by volunteers, and that means real life can get in the way. This year real life caught up with Insight in a big way when Ewan was diagnosed with Epilepsy in late January (more on that here and here). That led to a reshuffling of duties during both the National Final season and our time on the ground in Lisbon, which had a knock-on effect on the content that was planned for Patreon.
In short, we decided to prioritise the content on ESC Insight, but we failed to communicate that clearly enough to our supporters on Patreon.
We’re in a better place to understand what’s needed now, and we shall do better on this over the summer ‘off-season’ and during the rest of 2018.
To re-iterate once more, ESC Insight is not going anywhere. We’ve just completed a successful season in Lisbon 2018, we are planning out the next year, and the basic running costs of the website are covered.
At the same time, we don’t hide that covering the Contest is an expensive thing to do. While everyone loves free content, the content isn’t free to make. Our community can help in many ways – interacting with us, leaving comments, sharing on Facebook and Twitter, leaving reviews in iTunes and other podcast directories, these are all incredibly helpful.
But if you want to support us, then a monthly donation through Patreon is one option – and for those of you who would prefer to make a one-off payment, we’re going to work out the best way to do that during June and let you know.
Our Patreon page can be found at www.patreon.com/escinsight, please go there for more details on what Patreon means to us, the reward levels offered, and how to sign up.
As the Altice Arena returns to normality and everyone recovers from Lisbon 2018, our hearts and minds look forward to the rest of the year. With Young Musicians and Junior Eurovision on the horizon, plus planning for Israel 2019 under way, there’s a lot of Eurovision to go round.
Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Chilled Tunnocks
Spain’s viral miss, Eurovision legends for the summer, and advice from the press room Tunnocks wafer. Ewan Spence and ESC Insight catch up on news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Keep listening to the ESC Insight podcast as we face the summer months between season. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.
There are very few songs that are remembered from the Eurovision Song Contests that were held in the fifties. Naturally the winning songs from each year are at least recognised by all, you have the utter powerhouse of ‘Nel Dipinto Di Blu’… and then you have ’Sing Little Birdie’.
Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson’s second-place entry at Eurovision 1959 is a key song in the development of the Song Contest. It was the first song that was… fun!
In an era of static singers and locked off camera angles, the UK’s second entry was a revolutionary song. When you look at the portrayal of relationships on television at the time, ‘Sing Little Birdie’ is one of the most quietly subversive two minutes in Eurovision history.
With arguably the first ‘surprise prop reveal’ in Song Contest history, it showed a couple who connected both to the audience and each other on stage. It handed the secondary passive role to the male singer, it was playful, whimsical, carefree, and most of all, it was genuine.
Teddy Johnson’s career in the public eye effectively started with his broadcasting on the English-language side of Radio Luxembourg, which is regarded as the forerunner of both commercial radio in the UK and the influx of pirate radio stations that pushed musical boundaries in the fifties and sixties.
He joined the station in 1948 and ran the English output in partnership with Geoffrey Everitt until 1950. Johnson helmed the UK Top 20 show for the then marathon duration of two hours every week, and when Johnson returned to the UK to work primarily on his singing career, the slot was taken over by another institution… Pete Murray.
For those keeping track, Pete Murray hosted the UK’s Eurovision selection show in 1959 and was the commentator for both the TV and radio broadcasts of the Song Contest from Cannes that year.
Breaking The Rules
Johnson is noted as recording one of the earliest ‘remote duets’ recording his harmonies in the UK while American Jo Stafford would record her side in America. Covering older songs meant this innovative new technique wasn’t an immediate hit, but it handed Johnson another first.
As with many entertainers plying their trade in the fifties, television and radio work was about exploring a new medium and taking chances. A true man of variety, Johnson was happy to take one for the team, including what can only be described as a rite of passage as he took to the boards at the Glasgow Empire acting as the stooge to another legend, US comedian Jack Benny.
The new medium of broadcasting was also drawing its lead from the variety shows and multi-billed theatre shows that packed venues every weekend in every major town and city around the world. If you had mastered the art of fitting in with a rotating cast, were happy to work in a live environment, and could connect to an audience down the camera, then success was within reach.
1950 saw him meet Pearl Carr on the set of the BBC variety show ‘Black Magic’. It was suggested that the two pair up to do a duet, as he explained to Paul Jordan in an interview last summer:
“I didn’t want to do it, I was a solo singer, I didn’t do duets,” he said laughing. “I was offered a variety tour after Black Magic. I told Pearl that I’d be away for the summer and that I wouldn’t see her for a while. She replied saying that she would come with me on the tour. At the time she was in a band called The Keynotes, that’s how we started.”
Although Carr & Johnson continued to record separately, they worked on their double-act. Their first joint-billing was at the top of the bill at the London Palladium. If ‘Black Magic’ was their ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, this first run at the Palladium was effectively Carr & Johnson’s ‘Dangerously In Love’.
Which leads us back to the Eurovision Song Contest. The call from the BBC to appear in the Song for Europe selection show came from the Head of Light Entertainment, but Eric Maschwitz forgot to mention that if they won, they’d need to be free to pop over to Cannes to fly the flag for the United Kingdom a few weeks later.
As Johnson recalled, that led to a moment of panic:
“I said: ‘What? What do you mean?’ I didn’t know we had to represent the country. We had no idea whatsoever. He gave me the dates for Cannes and I just hoped we had them available. As it happened, we did. Pearl flew out with three guys from the BBC but I was doing a small show for ATV and got a later flight.”
Given their status in light entertainment circles, the BBC were sending one of the most formidable musical acts to the Song Contest in its short history, and its return would be the first of fifteen second places in the Contest. It also established Carr & Johnson in the public eye, gifted them a signature song that they would continue to sing for decades to come, and create one of a handful of songs in the formative years of the Contest that changed the direction of the Contest.
Teddy Johnson was a true pioneer of entertainment, willing to try anything, and always respectful of his audience. But most of all, he was a kind, fun, and loving partner to Pearl Carr.
Edward Victor “Teddy” Johnson, entertainer, born 4 September 1920; died 5 June 2018.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, Eurovision! Let us know how you're celebrating at home and Graham Norton might give you a shout out on air during tonight's commentary from Lisbon. Let us know below; who you are, where you are, and how you are marking Europe's biggest music competition. The more detail the better!
In the meantime download our scoresheet to play along with at home. Join us at 8pm BBC One!
From zero to hero, and quickly back to zero. Portugal wins Eurovision after 49 attempts, but slumps to dead last in Lisbon as hosts of the contest. Not great but that didn’t seem to rain on the Portuguese parade.
It seems that last year’s victory galvanized the Portuguese to not only watch the show in record numbers, but also reignited some of the patriotism that sometimes seems to be forgotten.
Being a country of 11 million on the Southwestern corner of Europe doesn’t help, as the only border is with their Spanish brothers, or hermanos. For many years Portugal stayed true to its heritage and always sent songs with Portuguese lyrics which produced lackluster results.
But last year’s win changed everything and the celebration of the now immortalized Salvador (which appropriately means saviour) lasted until 2018. Claudia’s poor result was overshadowed by a revived sense of national pride for a country that history seemed to condemn as a perpetual Eurovision loser.
1 What’s another year?
2 Pink fandom
3 Reactions from the press
What’s another year?
What a difference a year makes. In 2017 Salvador Sobral carried the first Portuguese win in the Eurovision history (in 49 years of participation!), but in 2018 there wasn’t much love for the hosts as Portugal placed 26th out of 26 in the final. Even though the result was the worst outcome possible – other than the infamous nil points – fans were too proud of Claudia’s performance on stage to let the last place break their spirits.
Parabéns Israel! ✨ Estes dias de Eurovisão foram uma experiência única e nunca nos esqueceremos!! Obrigada Portugal! 🇵🇹 Estaremos sempre juntos!!! 💚💚💚 #eurovision2018 #ojardim #teamisaudia
A post shared by Cláudia Pascoal (@claudiapascoal_) on
It’s fair to say that local fans will root for their country’s act, and there were many of them as expected for the country that hosts the competition.
And one could easily recognise them!
Whether it was on the Altice Arena or the Eurovision Village, there were fans wearing pink wigs in support of Claudia, the vocalist of O Jardim.
In the end, even though local fans were disappointed with the last place, the sheer happiness of having had the opportunity to host Eurovision and its fans from across the world more than compensated.
And why wouldn’t they be happy? After all Portugal loves foreign visitors – it was named the World’s friendliest country.
See alsoAfter Austria's zero points: Other failures when hosting Eurovision
Reactions from the press
Some news outlets highlighted that despite placing last in the aggregate vote, O Jardim was not last for either the jury or the televote. Little comfort but still, not zero points. This was also Portugal’s 4th “wooden spoon” (Last place) in the Eurovision Song Contest, still far from Norway’s record 11.
According to online newspaper Observador, “Winning Eurovision with a Portuguese ballad is kind of a miracle, using the same formula to win the second looks pretty risky.”
In the video below, enjoy a performance of O Jardim at this year’s EuroClub.