Song contest alliances founded on anything but musical merit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 April, 1998, 12:00am

A new book claims to have uncovered suspicious voting patterns in the Eurovision Song Contest which prove awards have little to do with talent.

Lyricist - and one-time unsuccessful British entrant - Tim Rice, together with DJ Paul Gambaccini, researched 40 years of decisions made by the panels of juries from each country to conclude results were based on alliances.

Friendly nations were shown to consistently award one another high marks, however bad their entry.

The Complete Eurovision Song Contest Companion examines every song entered since the televised competition was first held in Lugano, Switzerland, in 1956.

'What they have done basically is go through all the years and look at the votes that have been cast. It sort of shows music doesn't really have much to do with it,' said Eleanor Cadbury of publishers Pavilion.

The survey finds, for example, that Cyprus has never voted for Turkey, with whom it has been on a warlike footing for more than 20 years - although the authors admit Turkey has seldom received many votes from any jury.

And Turkey has seldom given Cyprus any support.

Britain often awards top marks to Switzerland and Austria, which have responded by almost always giving the highest points to British entrants, the book adds.

But with entrants typified by songs such as Boom Bang-A-Bang by British star Lulu in the 1960s, many have long accepted quality plays little part in the Eurovision songfest.

'I must say some of the competitors are quite talented but some are absolutely appalling,' Ms Cadbury said.

This year's contest will be held in Birmingham on May 9.