Eurovision: a word coined by (appropriately named) BBC staffer George Campey
As fans brace themselves for the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 showdown, we pay tribute to the man who stopped it being called the Continental Television Exchange Contest
It’s called nominative determinism – when you are known for something that suits your name, almost as if you were born to do it.
And while there are plumbers called Tapp and famers called Field, there was perhaps no more fittingly monikered person in the world than George Campey, the man who made Eurovision possible (pictured below).
Yes, George Campey was the TV critic (who later became a BBC press officer) who coined the phrase “Eurovision” in an article for the Evening Standard in 1951, in which he imagined a pan-continent singing contest. His phrase made it to the headline of the piece and the word never went away.
Sadly the BBC didn’t see eye-to-eye on the name front; the then director of television called it a “bastard” term and banned its use in internal communications, insisting that the contest be called the Continental Television Exchange.
Campey ignored this edict and carried on calling it Eurovision in his articles and when he joined the BBC in 1954 as a press officer. BBC staff followed suit, using it in all their memos.
His dream finally became a reality at a meeting of the European Broadcasting Union in Monaco in 1955 – when thousands more dreams were born. Ladies and gentlemen, this was the moment the career of Bucks Fizz was set in train.
The first broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland, in May 1956 with just seven entries. The Brits weren’t among them. Not content with trying to spoil the name of the thing, the BBC mucked up and didn’t put an entry forward until it was too late.
Here’s hoping there is more professionalism on Saturday.
Whatever happens on the day, fans of Eurovision should raise a glass to Campey – a great man who passed away in 2010 at the ripe age of 94. (He is also remembered for his scoop as a journalist; he was the first to report that the 1953 Coronation would be broadcast live).
So remember: you would be watching the Continental Television Exchange Contest on Saturday night if it weren't for this man. Quite a mouthful, especially if, like many people, you choose to watch proceedings with a glass or two...
Eurovision Song Contest: Grand Final airs on BBC1 at 8pm on Saturday May 23rd
Watch George Campey talk about his career here