Former Eurovision scrutineer Frank Naef shares his backstage recollections

Dave Goodman (EBU)
Geneva, Switzerland

Frank Naef was the Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest from 1978 until 1992. Back in December Mr Naef shared his views on the evolution of the Eurovision Song Contest and today he recalls some of his favourite memories from his time in the role, including two of the most thrilling voting moments as well as that infamous wardrobe malfunction in 1985.

Frank Naef oversaw a number of changes in the Eurovision Song Contest including the introduction of age restrictions for participating artists, and the implementation of new rules to decide the winner in the case of a tie situation. In his role as Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest Frank Naef also worked as a scrutineer during the voting, ensuring that it is conducted according to the rules. 

In 1991 the tie-break rule came be to used when both Sweden and France tied for first place. In accordance with the rules, Naef and his team checked to see which country had received the most 12 points. France and Sweden had both been awarded the top score on four occasions so the amount to 10 points was included in the count. Sweden received more sets of 10 points than France (five compared to two) and so Carola was declared the winner. She presented bouquet of flowers to Frank in Malmö the following year when it was announced that he was retiring.

Another nail-biting moment came in 1988 when Switzerland's Celine Dion beat the United Kingdom's Scott Fitzgerald by just one point on the final vote. After the delegation returned to Switzerland Frank was invited to a celebratory lunch where he gave Celine the very pen that he had used during the scoring of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest. When the Official Eurovision Song Contest Exhibition opened last year in Stockholm, Celine's memorable costume was donated to the collection.

The Official Eurovision Song Contest Exhibition in Stockholm Credit Pop House/Love Strandell 2016

In 1985 host Lill Lindfors shocked the audience when her skirt appeared to be ripped off before the voting started. The sketch remains one of the most-remembered highlights in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest but did Frank know that it was going to happen? "No, I didn't know that. I had seen the rehearsal and she didn't make the joke with her skirt and it was done during the Eurovision Song Contest itself. It was not so agreeable to certain viewers", he recalled. 

The 1980 Eurovision Song Contest took place in the Netherlands after Israel won the contest the previous year but declined the opportunity to host the show twice in succession. The contest was originally offered to the United Kingdom but they declined. As a result of these delays, the 1980 contest was hastily arranged and Dutch broadcaster NOS had to re-use most of the stage from 1976, the last time they hosted the contest.

NOS chose 19th April as the date for the show, but as this was the Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, the defending champion decided not to participate which marked the only time when the winner of one Eurovision Song Contest did not participate in the next. 1980 saw Morocco participate for the first and so far, only time.

Eurovision.tv would like to thank Frank Naef for taking the time to share his memories of the Eurovision Song Contest.

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Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede hosted the two Semi-Finals and Grand Final in 2016.

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