As this weekend’s Junior Eurovision looms in Kiev, TV Tonight hears from South Australian-born Kath Lockett, co-producing the event with Executive Supervisor Vlad Yakovlev.
Lockett (pictured, left) was first swept up in the song contest the year that Buck’s Fizz won with ‘Making Your Mind Up.’
But in May this year, while based in Switzerland, she was contacted by EBU to help bring Junior Eurovision back into the fold of EBU after it had been externally managed for several years and left in a sorry state with only seven countries signed up. Lockett had previously worked on the Rose D’Or Awards for the EBU.
I’ll let her tell the rest of the story:
A day later I found myself at the Steering Group meeting and was made more than welcome to ask my share of blonde questions: if Emmelie de Forest won ESC earlier in the year, was she like a Miss Universe and encouraged to take part in other Eurovision events throughout the year?
Victoria Romanova’s presentation to the group saw cynical old me instantly hooked and all preconceptions of what a Ukrainian TV show would be (all the post-communism, grim cliches) instantly disappeared. They wanted to celebrate creativity and add as much humour, colour, magic and fun that was possible. They actually wanted the kids to enjoy themselves and to show that Ukraine was ready to put on the biggest live show in living memory.
August and September saw me listening to more Eurovision songs than I’d ever heard in my entire life before as well as finding stories on what countries were joining, how they were selecting their contestants, what the kids themselves were like and what sort of music was selected. Yet again I was impressed by the imaginativeness and differences between each entry….
October saw us visiting Kyiv and being dazzled even more by their plans, organisation and, just as importantly, sense of humour. Vlad and I could not stop talking during the three hour flight back to Geneva – imagine that; a 33 year old man and 45 year old woman chattering on and on with real excitement about a children’s singing show?
We were not permitted to use the existing Eurovision twitter account (137,000 followers) but given our own, brand new and separate account. Zero followers. What else could we do but tweet photos of chocolate and coffee (power foods), our dog, crazy photos and as much humour as was permissable for a childrens account……..?
Instagram followed and ‘likes’ on Facebook kept increasing….. Starting with nothing, we virtually had nothing to lose and wanted, above all, to be accessible. We responded to queries from writers, bloggers and fans and the responses were immediate: ‘thanks for writing back,’ ‘OMG, Junior Eurovision Twitter retweeted me’ etc.
I had my knuckles slapped a few times by the group that used to manage JESC – ‘why are you retweeting him? He’s just a blogger’ or ‘that’s not our video, that’s a homemade one’ – yes, but from a fan, and isn’t that who we want to involve?
Vlad has created a show with twelve countries that are participating and four others who are broadcasting it (Australia, Greece, Kosovo and UK) and another two countries who are attending the event with a keen interest in participating next year. Essentially an almost-dead show has been not only revived but reinvigorated.
As for this Aussie? A case of being in the right place (Geneva, EBU headquarters), right skills (able to write, seek out the humour, use my Australian-ness to be irreverent and break down European-style barriers). Being a blonde Aussie has in fact helped and not hindered me – Australians aren’t associated with Eurovision, so I can ask all sorts of questions and query why, just because things have always been done that way, we don’t try another way….. I even described a fellow writer on Twitter as being ‘busier than a blowfly at a barbecue’ which got a big response!
How’s THAT for you to work with?
Junior Eurovision aires 6pm on SBS2 this Sunday.