- Dates – Grand Final: Saturday, 09 May, 1998, 21:00 CEST
- Host – Venue & Location: National Indoor Arena (Utilita Arena Birmingham / Arena BIrmingham), Birmingham, 🇬🇧 United Kindom
- Presenter (s): Terry Wogan & Ulrika Jonsson
- Musical Director: Martin Koch.
- Director: Geoff Posner
- Executive Producer: Kevin Bishop
- Executive Supervisor: Christine Marchal-Ortiz
- Multicamera Director: —
- Host broadcaster: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
- Opening Act: Birmingham, Old and New
- Interval Act: Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity
- Participants – Number of entries: 25 [🇬🇧 United Kindom (38ª), 🇪🇸 Spain (35ª), 🇳🇴 Norway (35ª), 🇵🇹 Portugal (31ª), 🇸🇪 Sweden (36ª), 🇫🇷 France (39ª), 🇮🇪 Ireland (30ª), 🇬🇷 Greece (20ª), 🇨🇾 Cyprus (17ª), 🇲🇹 Malta (11ª), 🇭🇷 Croatia (6ª), 🇵🇱 Poland (5ª), 🇸🇮 Slovenia (5ª), 🇹🇷 Turkey (20ª), 🇪🇪 Estonia (4ª), 🇳🇱 The Netherlands (37ª), 🇨🇭 Switzerland (39ª), 🇩🇪 Germany (39ª), 🇭🇺 Hungary (4ª), 🇲🇰 FYRO Macedonia (1ª), 🇧🇪 Belgium (38ª), 🇫🇮 Finland (32ª), 🇮🇱 Israel (19ª), 🇷🇴 Romania (2ª), 🇸🇰 Slovakia (3ª)]
- Debuting countries: 🇲🇰 FYRO Macedonia (1ª)
- Return: 🇧🇪 Belgium (38ª), 🇫🇮 Finland (32ª), 🇮🇱 Israel (19ª), 🇷🇴 Romania (2ª), 🇸🇰 Slovakia (3ª)
- Non-returning countries: 🇦🇹 Austria (35ª), 🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina (5ª), 🇩🇰 Denmark (28ª), 🇮🇸 Iceland (12ª), 🇮🇹 Italy (33ª), 🇷🇺 Russia (3ª)
- Vote – Voting system: Each country awarded 12, 10, 8–1 points to their ten favourite songs.
- Nil Points: 🇨🇭 Switzerland (3ª)
- Winning song: “Diva” – Dana International – 🇮🇱 Israel (3ª)
About. The 1998 Eurovision Song Contest from Birmingham culminated in one of the most thrilling voting sequences for years and reminded us that Europe is a more open-minded place than we might have thought.
Taboo breaking year. 25 countries competed in the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest. All countries that were relegated in 1997 Eurovision Song Contest returned and FYR Macedonia entered the contest for the first time. Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Russia and Iceland were relegated in 1998 as their 5-year-average points were lower than those of the other countries. Italian broadcaster RAI decided to withdraw from the contest indefinitely. Televoting took place in the majority of participating countries for the first time. Only countries that did not have a fully functional telephone system were still allowed to vote through the national juries. There was a problem with the Spanish televote as Spanish voters had awarded 12 points to Germany, but while announcing the points, the 12 points went to Israel! However, the mistake was quickly unearthed after the show and you have the correct rankings and points on our scoreboard here. It was a taboo-breaking year for the contest which saw the performances of Israeli transsexual Dana International, whereas Germany brought balding singer, Guido Horn to the contest. Dana sang the fitting “Diva” while Horn climbed all over the stage during his crazy performance.
A diva is born. The trophy of the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest went to the Dana International from Israel with her winning song “Diva”. To date she remains the first and only openly transgendered person to have won the Eurovision Song Contest. During the voting process, it quickly became clear that either Israel, the United Kingdom or Malta were going to win, but the FYR Macedonian vote did not give a single point to Malta’s Chiara, giving the victory to Israel. The United Kingdom came in second for a record 15th time, and the Netherlands obtained their best result since 1975 – finishing in fourth place.
Facts and figures. A watermark showing which country was performing appeared on-screen during the performances for the first time. This innovation is still in place today; Presenter Terry Wogan directly addressed the fans of the contest in the audience, the first time that this had happened; Imaani, the UK’s representative, was the first ever black singer to represent the country.
|o/r||country||PaRticipant(s)||SONG – TRANSLATE – LANGUAGE||Points||rank|
|01||🇭🇷 Croatia HRT||Danijela (Данијела)||Neka mi ne svane (Нека ми не сване, May the dawn never rise) Croatian||131||05|
|02||🇬🇷 Greece ERT||Thalassa (Θάλασσα, Dionysia and Thalassa group)||Mia krifi evesthisia (Μια κρυφή ευαισθησία, Mia Krifi Evaisthissia, A secret sensibility) Greek||012||20|
|03||🇫🇷 France FT2||Marie-Line||Où aller? (Where to go?) French||003||24|
|04||🇪🇸 Spain TVE||Mikel Herzog||¿Qué voy a hacer sin ti? (What am I going to do without you?) Spanish||021||16|
|05||🇨🇭 Switzerland SSR SRG||Gunvor||Lass’ ihn (Let him) German||000||25|
|06||🇸🇰 Slovakia STV||Katarína Hasprová||Modlitba (A prayer) Slovak||008||21|
|07||🇵🇱 Poland TVP||Sixteen||To takie proste (It’s so easy) Polish||019||17|
|08||🇮🇱 Israel IBA||Dana International (דנה אינטרנשיונל)||Diva (דיווה) Hebrew||172||01|
|09||🇩🇪 Germany ARD||Guildo Horn||Guildo hat euch lieb! (Guildo loves you! / Guildo loves you all!) German||086||07|
|10||🇲🇹 Malta PBS||Chiara||The one that I love English||165||03|
|11||🇭🇺 Hungary MTV||Charlie||A holnap már ném lesz szomorú (Sadness will be over tomorrow) Hungarian||004||23|
|12||🇸🇮 Slovenia RTVSLO||Vili Resnik||Naj bogovi slišijo (Let the gods hear) Slovene||017||18|
|13||🇮🇪 Ireland RTÉ||Dawn (Dawn Martin)||Is always over now? English||064||09|
|14||🇵🇹 Portugal RTP||Alma Lusa||Se eu te pudesse abraçar (If I could embrace you) Portuguese||036||12|
|15||🇷🇴 Romania TVR||Mălina Olinescu||Eu cred (I believe) Romanian||006||22|
|16||🇬🇧 United Kindom BBC||Imaani||Where are you? English||166||02|
|17||🇨🇾 Cyprus CyBC||Michael Hajiyanni (Μιχάλης Χατζηγιάννης, Michalis Hatzigiannis)||Genesis (Γένεσις, Genesis) Greek||037||11|
|18||🇳🇱 The Netherlands NOS||Edsilia (Edsilia Rombley)||Hemel en aarde (Heaven and earth) Dutch||150||04|
|19||🇸🇪 Sweden SVT||Jill Johnson||Kärleken är (The love is) Swedish||053||10|
|20||🇧🇪 Belgium RTBF||Mélanie Cohl||Dis oui (Say yes) French||122||06|
|21||🇫🇮 Finland YLE||Edea||Aava (Open landscape) Finnish||022||15|
|22||🇳🇴 Norway NRK||Lars A. Fredriksen||Alltid sommer (Always summer) Norwegian||079||08|
|23||🇪🇪 Estonia ERR||Koit Toome||Mere lapsed (Children of the sea) Estonian||036||12|
|24||🇹🇷 Turkey TRT||Tüzmen (Tarkan Tüzmen)||Unutamazsin (Unutamazsın, You can’t forget) Turkish||025||14|
|25||🇲🇰 FYRO Macedonia MKRTV||Vlado Janevski (Владо Јаневски)||Ne zori, zoro (Не зори, зоро; Dawn, don’t rise / Somebody Stop The Dawn) Macedonian||016||19|
• 🇭🇺 Hungary: “Csak Neked!” (Hungarian) – Erika Zoltán. 2 schools of thought on this one. Firstly that Erika was heavily pregnant and was unable to make it to Birmingham. Secondly it’s also been rumoured that the song had been previously released as early as 1991. Also strangely the Hungarian song that went to Birmingham had not appeared in the Hungarian NF.
• 🇷🇺 Russia: “Solntse moyo” (Солнце моё) () – Tatiana Ovsienko (Татьяна Овсиенко). Russia did not broadcast the event due to withdrawals. In 1998 the Russian broadcaster ORT prepared to run internal preselections, but soon organisers realised that because of low average results in previous years Russia would not qualify to compete in 1998 (though there were rumours that Channel One had planned to name Tatyana Ovsienko as their representative, performing “Solntse moyo”). Because Russia did not participate, Channel One decided not to broadcast the 1998 contest. According to other sources Channel One had expected Channel Russia to broadcast the contest.
Participating countries Countries that participated in the past but not in 1998
The Eurovision Song Contest 1998 was the 43rd edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest, held on 9 May 1998 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, United Kingdom, and presented by Irish television and radio broadcaster Terry Wogan and Swedish television presenter and model Ulrika Jonsson. Organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and host broadcaster the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the contest was held in the United Kingdom following the country’s victory at the 1997 contest with the song “Love Shine A Light” by Katrina and the Waves.
Twenty-five countries participated in the contest. Six participating countries in the 1997 edition were absent, with Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Iceland and Russia relegated due to achieving the lowest average points totals over the past five contests and Italy actively choosing not to participate. These countries were replaced by Macedonia in its first contest appearance, and previously relegated and absent countries Belgium, Finland, Israel, Romania and Slovakia.
The winner was Israel with the song “Diva”, performed by Dana International, composed by Tzvika Pick and written by Yoav Ginai. The United Kingdom, Malta, the Netherlands and Croatia rounded out the top five, with the Netherlands achieving its best result since 1975 and Malta equalling its best ever result. It was also a record-extending fifteenth time that the United Kingdom had finished in second place. It was the first contest in which the results were determined predominantly through televoting, and would become the last contest in which all participants were required to perform in the language of their country and the last to feature an orchestra and live music accompaniment for the competing entries.
1.Location. The 1998 contest took place in Birmingham, the United Kingdom, following the country’s victory at the 1997 edition with the song “Love Shine a Light”, performed by Katrina and the Waves. It was the eighth time that the United Kingdom had hosted the contest – setting a new contest record – with the nation having previously hosted the contest in London in 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1977, in Edinburgh in 1972, in Brighton in 1974 and in Harrogate in 1982. The selected venue was the National Indoor Arena, a sporting venue and indoor arena opened in 1991 which prior to the contest had previously hosted the 1993 IBF Badminton World Championships and 1995 World Netball Championships, as well as being the principal venue for the recording of UK television programme Gladiators.
Many cities across the United Kingdom expressed interest in hosting the contest, the first to be held in the country in sixteen years, with venues in Aberdeen, Belfast, Bournemouth, Brighton, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Harrogate, Inverness, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield being considered. Following visits by the production team to each city, Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, London and Manchester were shortlisted as potential host cities, and Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena was subsequently announced as the host venue on 8 August 1997.
2.Production. The Eurovision Song Contest 1998 was produced by the British public broadcaster British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Kevin Bishop served as executive producer, Guy Freeman served as producer, Geoff Posner served as director, Andrew Howe-Davies served as designer, and Martin Koch served as musical director, leading the 60-piece BBC Concert Orchestra and arranging and orchestrating the music for the opening and closing sequences and the interval act.
Construction within the National Indoor Arena began on 19 April 1998 to build out the stage and orchestral area for the contest, as well as creating space for the green room, the dressing rooms, the press centre and accreditation area, and small rooms for use by each country’s individual commentators. Although the arena could hold up to 13,000 people, the assembled audience during the contest was limited to around 4,500, with tickets for the dress rehearsal and live show awarded by ballot. The contest organisers also engaged with fan groups, and tickets in the front rows of the arena were distributed among these groups for the first time.
The green room was situated behind the stage, and was designed to resemble a nightclub. The arena featured three large video screens to enable the audience to follow the voting, and video walls were also constructed for use on stage, in the press centre and the green room. A 400-seat auditorium for press conferences and 38 booths for journalists equipped with phone lines were installed within the press centre, and 40 commentary boxes were constructed in the arena to accommodate the teams from the various broadcasters, with 28 built for television and 12 for radio. Much of the press centre facilities constructed for the contest were subsequently retained and augmented for use during the 24th G8 summit held in Birmingham the following week.
Orchestral rehearsals and rehearsals of the main elements of the interval act took place on 2 and 3 May, with rehearsals for the competing countries beginning on 4 May. The first rehearsals for each country, lasting 40 minutes in total followed by a 20 minute press conference, took place on 4 and 5 May, with second rehearsals for each country taking place on 6 and 7 May and lasting 30 minutes. Three dress rehearsals were held on 8 and 9 May, with an audience in attendance during the evening dress rehearsal on 8 May, which was also recorded for use in case of problems during the live contest that resulted in the broadcast being suspended. Stand-in studios were also prepared in Studio 4 of BBC Television Centre, London and in the Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham in case of an emergency at the National Indoor Arena that resulted in evacuation.
2.1.Presenters. Television presenter and model Ulrika Jonsson and television and radio presenter Terry Wogan were the presenters of the 1998 contest. Wogan had previously provided television and radio commentary on the BBC since 1971, and performed this role once for the contest’s broadcast on BBC One from a separate commentary booth erected behind the stage in addition to his role as the contest presenter.
The draw to the determine the running order, held on 13 November 1997 in the National Indoor Arena, was compered by Wogan and Katrina Leskanich, lead vocalist of the 1997 contest winners Katrina and the Waves.
2.2.Opening and interval acts. The contest began with a video entitled “Birmingham, Old and New”, which presented overlapping images of present-day Birmingham with archive footage of the city, including shots of Brindleyplace and boats on the city’s canal network, to music from the BBC Concert Orchestra. A fanfare from the trumpeters of the Life Guards greeted the contest’s presenters as they entered the stage. Also featured during the opening section of the broadcast was a summary video of the 1960 contest, the first to be held in the United Kingdom, with that year’s presenter Katie Boyle – the only individual to host four contests – in attendance as a special guest. Special appearances were also featured from Katrina Leskanich and Carrie Crowley, the co-presenter of the 1997 contest, who appeared via video link from Dublin.
The interval performance was entitled “Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity”, based on music from the movement of the same name from the orchestral suite The Planets by English composer Gustav Holst. A medley of vocal and instrumental pieces inspired by English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Indian and Zulu cultures, the segment included over 200 performers and featured music from the BBC Concert Orchestra and performances by soprano Lesley Garrett, violinist Vanessa-Mae, the Sutherland Pipe Band, Andrew Findon on tin whistle, Carys Hughes on harp, the bhangra dance group Nachda Sansaar, the Canoldir Male Voice Choir, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, trumpeters from the Band of the Blues and Royals and an excerpt of Patti Boulaye’s Sun Dance.
2.3.Trophy. The trophy awarded to the writers of the winning song was designed by Anongkarat Unyawong, a student at the Birmingham School of Jewellery, who had won a competition conducted at the school for the occasion. The winning performers received a glass bowl designed by Susan Nickson bearing the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 logo. The winners were heralded by the trumpeters of the Life Guards as they entered the stage, and the awards were presented by Katrina Leskanich.
3.Format. The rules of the Eurovision Song Contest 1998 were published in November 1997. The document set out the overall aim of the contest and provided detail on the organisation of the event, the qualification process, the criteria for the competing songs and performers, the voting system to be used to determine the results of the contest, as well as the rights and responsibilities conferred by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) onto the participating broadcasters.
3.1.Entries. Each participating broadcaster submitted one song to the contest, which was required to be no longer than three minutes in duration and performed in the language, or one of the languages, of the participating country. Short quotations from another language, no more than a single phrase repeated a maximum of three times, were permitted. Each entry was able to utilise all or part of the live orchestra and could use instrumental-only backing tracks. This was the second edition of the contest in which the entire song could be performed with a backing track, following the 1997 contest; previously any backing tracks which were used could only include the sound of instruments which featured on stage being mimed by the performers. A maximum of six performers were allowed on stage during each country’s performance, and all performers must have reached the age of 16 in the year of the contest.
Selected entries were not permitted to be released commercially before 1 January 1998; entries were only permitted to be released after being selected for the contest, and were then only allowed to be released in the country they represented until after the contest was held. Entries were required to be selected by each country’s participating broadcaster by 15 March, and the final submission date for all selected entries to be received by the contest organisers was set for 23 March. This submission was required to include the score of the song for use by the orchestra, a sound recording of the entry and backing track for use during the contest, and the text of the song lyrics in its original language and translations in French and English for distribution to the participating broadcasters, their commentators and juries.
For the first time a watermark was included on screen during each entry with the name of the country being performed, an innovation which now features every year. This edition of the contest would conversely be the last in which countries would be obliged to perform in their own language and the last to feature an orchestra accompanying the competing entries; from the following year’s contest participating countries were able to send entries in any language and the organising broadcaster was no longer obliged to provide an orchestra. In subsequent years the rules would be modified again to remove the option for entries to be accompanied by live music entirely.
3.2.Voting procedure. The results of the 1998 contest were determined through the same scoring system as had first been introduced in 1975: each country awarded twelve points to its favourite entry, followed by ten points to its second favourite, and then awarded points in decreasing value from eight to one for the remaining songs which featured in the country’s top ten, with countries unable to vote for their own entry. For the first time each participating country was required to use televoting to determine their points, with countries with weak telephone networks that prevented them from holding a large-scale televote being granted an exception. This followed a trail held in the 1997 contest where televoting was used to determine the points from five of the twenty-five competing countries. Viewers had a total of five minutes to register their vote by calling one of twenty-four different telephone numbers to represent the twenty-five competing entries except that which represented their own country, with voting lines opening following the performance of the last competing entry. Once phone lines were opened a video recap containing short clips of each competing entry with the accompanying phone number for voting was shown in order to aid viewers during the voting window. Systems were also put in place to prevent lobby groups from one country voting for their song by travelling to other countries.
The points from countries which were unable to use televoting were determined by an assembled jury of sixteen individuals, which was required to be split evenly between members of the public and music professionals, comprised additionally of an equal number of men and women, and below and above 30 years of age. In addition countries using televoting were required to appoint a back-up jury of eight members which would be called into action upon technical failure preventing the televote results from being used, with the same equal split of gender, age and occupation. Each jury member voted in secret and awarded between one and ten votes to each participating song, excluding that from their own country and with no abstentions permitted. The votes of each member were collected following the country’s performance and then tallied by the non-voting jury chairperson to determine the points to be awarded. In any cases where two or more songs in the top ten received the same number of votes, a show of hands by all jury members was used to determine the final placing; if a tie still remained, the youngest jury member would have the deciding vote.
3.3.Postcards. Each entry was preceded by a video postcard which served as an introduction to the competing artists from each country, as well as providing an opportunity to showcase the running artistic theme of the event and creating a transition between entries to allow stage crew to make changes on stage. The postcards for the 1998 contest continued the theme of the opening segment, with each clip focussing on a particular theme – either an object, place or concept – and creating a juxtaposition between its past and present-day versions. Each postcard was accompanied by extracts of Britpop or classical music, with a pattern featured in the final moments of the footage forming into the flag of the country which was about to perform. The various themes for each postcard, and the musical accompaniment which featured, are listed below by order of performance: