Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 1981

Bucks Fizz

Date: April 4, 1981
Venue: RDS Simmonscourt Pavilion, Dublin, Ireland
Presenter: Doireann Ní Bhriain
Orchestra: RTÉ concert orchestra
Conductor: Noel Kelehan
Director: Ian McGarry
Scruteneer: Frank Naef
Host broadcaster: RTÉ
Price presenter: Johnny Logan, Shay Healy
Interval act: Planxty with Timedance danced by Dublin City Ballet
Duration: 2 hours, 32 minutes
Number of entries: 20
Debuting countries: Cyprus
Returning countries: Israel, Yugoslavia
Withdrawing countries: Italy, Morocco
Winning Song: Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz, UK
Voting system: Each country awarded 12, 10, 8-1 points to their 10 favourite songs


01. Austria: Marty Brem - Wenn du da bist (17th place, 20 points)
02. Turkey: Modern Folk Trio and Ayşegül - Dönme Dolap (18th place, 9 points)
03. Germany: Lena Valaitis - Johnny Blue (2nd place, 132 points)
04. Luxembourg: Jean-Claude Pascal - C'est peut-être pas l'Amérique (11th place, 41 points)
05. Israel: Hakol Over Habibi - Halayla (7th place, 56 points)
06. Denmark: Tommy Seebach & Debbie Cameron - Krøller eller ej (11th place, 41 points)
07. Yugoslavia: Seid Memić "Vajta" - Lejla (15th place, 35 points)
08. Finland: Riki Sorsa - Reggae OK (16th place, 27 points)
09. France: Jean Gabilou - Humanahum (3rd place, 125 points)
10. Spain: Bacchelli - Y sólo tú (14th place, 38 points)
11. The Netherlands: Linda Williams - Het is een wonder (9th place, 51 points)
12. Ireland: Sheeba - Horoscopes (5th place, 105 points)
13. Norway: Finn Kalvik - Aldri i livet (20th place, 0 points)
14. UK: Bucks Fizz - Making your mind up (1st place, 136 points)
15. Portugal: Carlos Paião - Playback (18th place, 9 points)
16. Belgium: Emly Starr - Samson (13th place, 40 points)
17. Greece: Yiannis Dimitras - Feggari kalokerino (8th place, 55 points)
18. Cyprus: Island - Monika (6th place, 69 points)
19. Switzerland: Peter, Sue and Marc - Io senza tei (4th place, 121 points)
20. Sweden: Björn Skifs - Fångad i en dröm (10th place, 50 points)

Linda Williams

The Eurovision Song Contest 1981 was held in Dublin.  United Kingdom's Bucks Fizz were the winners of this Eurovision with the song Making Your Mind Up, beating Germany into second place by a mere four votes. This year is remembered for the performance of this British band, which included a dance-routine where the two male members ripped the skirts off the two female members only to reveal smaller skirts, and today stands as one of the defining moments of the contest's history. Making your mind up was written by Andy Hill and John Danter.


Having won the year before, Ireland hosted the 1981 contest - the second time they had done so. As in 1971, the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest was produced by the country's broadcaster RTE. The presenter was Doireann Ni Bhriain, who was well known in Ireland at the time as a TV presenter and for the current affairs radio show Women Today. She was chosen due to her being bilingual in Irish and English as well as having studied French, which she spoke with some ease.

The contest took place under heavy guard at the 15000 seat Simmonscourt Pavilion of the RDS, which was normally used for agricultural and horse shows. Over 250 armed soldiers and police were on hand to protect against any likely political demonstrations. It cost RTÉ over £300,000 to stage, although this included £110,000 from the EBU. From this, the Irish Government expected to make around £2,000,000 from tourism as a result of staging the show. The RDS would go on to host the next Irish Eurovision production in 1988.

Lena Valaitis


This was the debut year of Cyprus in the contest, who finished sixth. Returning to the contest was Israel, who did not compete the previous year, despite winning the two years previous to that. They finished seventh. Yugoslavia also returned to the competition after a five year absence. Italy withdrew for the first time from the contest, due to lack of interest, while Morocco declined to take part after their sole entry the year before.

Of the performers, many previous contestants returned to the contest this year. Notably, Jean-Claude Pascal for Luxembourg, who had won the contest 20 years earlier, although could only manage 11th place this time. Repeated entrants Peter, Sue and Marc returned for the fourth time, after 1971, 1976 and 1979. Performing again for Switzerland, they remain the only act to sing in four different languages (French, English, German and this time, Italian). Other returnees were Marty Brem who had taken part the year before for Austria, Tommy Seebach for Denmark, and Björn Skifs for Sweden. Bucks Fizz member, Cheryl Baker had performed in 1978 with the band Co-Co for the UK, while Sheeba member Maxi had performed as a solo artist in 1973 for Ireland.

The 46-piece Irish TV orchestra didn't have a saxophone as they didn't consider it an orchestral instrument, which caused great concern with the United Kingdom entry as a saxophone appeared heavily on their song. Andy Hill – the producer of the single - said that had they known, they would have dropped one of the two backing singers to be replaced by a saxophonist, there being two on the actual recording.



The interval act was traditional Irish band Planxty, who performed the lengthy piece Timedance, which depicted Irish music through the ages. The dancers were from Dublin City Ballet with choreography by Iain Montague. This is seen as a precursor to Riverdance, which became famous after its performance in 1994. The song, which was written by Bill Whelan, went on to be released as a single and became a No.3 hit in the Irish charts.

This mix of past and present was also the theme to the contest's opening montage, which featured shots of Celtic ruins, cliffs and castles, edited together with close-ups of art, aeroplanes, architecture and horse races.


The voting proved to be memorable for its closeness. The UK won by four points, but leading up to this, five countries took pole position at various stages: UK, Germany, France, Switzerland and Ireland. At the other end of the board was Norway, who finished last with no points for the second time in Eurovision history.

Other memorable moments included a glitch in the scorekeeping, giving host country Ireland 310 extra points instead of the 10 designated by the Luxembourg jury. Also of note, when host Doireann Ní Bhriain attempted to collect Yugoslavia's votes, after repeated attempts to contact them, Yugoslavia's spokeswoman, Helga Vlahović, who went on to present the 1990 contest, finally answered the phone and abruptly answered I don't have it, causing laughter to erupt from the audience.

Tommy Seebach & Debbie Cameron


Runner-up Lena Valaitis was in good spirits while talking to the press following the contest and largely unconcerned about losing. Swedish singer Bjorn Skifs however was more outspoken saying; This was not a song contest, it was a show – all these dancing girls, they take away from the songs. I also think there should be a change in the rules to allow us to sing in English. Then we would really be able to compete. Harold Tusberg, head of light entertainment for Norwegian television was upbeat about Norway's 'nul points' result as he claimed that their entry would be remembered above many others; Who remembers who came second or third – people will remember us!. Finn Kalvik himself conceded graciously saying that he had enjoyed the week's holiday.

Following this year's contest, France withdrew from competing the following year, with the broadcaster announcing that the songs were a monument to drivel. Indeed, many comments had been made regarding the quality of the winning group's performance indicating that the song had most likely won by style over substance. Either way, Bucks Fizz went on to have a lasting chart career over the next few years, and became one of the top-selling groups of the 1980s in the UK. The winning song itself reached No.1 in nine countries and became a top ten hit in nations such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, selling four million copies worldwide.

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