Danish broadcaster DR is spearheading an exciting project aiming to bring together both vintage and recent contest material in a single archive.
While it plans the 2014 edition of the contest thanks to a Malmö victory this year, DR will be going back in time as well as looking forward as it collaborates on this major undertaking. The broadcaster plans to source and collate high-quality footage of contests from the very first decades of Eurovision history onwards. Recently, the official Eurovision.tv YouTube team has been working towards a similar goal, making recent previous contest entries available. But this new project will fill in the early gaps, and draw together some of the contest’s golden oldies alongside younger material. According to DR’s Head of Archives, Tina Pipa, this repository will act first and foremost as a one-stop-shop for DR and other TV stations seeking footage for their productions.
First reports suggest that the archive will be primarily for TV stations and professionals, but fans will hope that some public-facing portal will be made available. Efforts to publish vintage contests commercially have been suggested in the past, but hopes are invariably dashed by the complexity of the task, not least due to copyright issues. These first tentative steps by DR may offer some hope of a high-quality point of access for old contests, a far cry from the grainy, unofficial sharing of footage on YouTube and homemade DVDs that typify the vintage experience for fans.
Hopes for lost footage
Despite hoping to uncover long-unseen gems of television, DR admits that the ‘lost contests’ may never be found, namely 1956, and its own 1964 edition held in Copenhagen. Although segments of the show exist in the archives of German broadcaster NDR, the full tapes have been lost in the passage of time. It is rumoured that the contest existed as a BBC copy, but was destroyed in the 1960s when ‘wiping’ was a commonplace practice at TV stations, and the future value of recordings was not envisaged.
DR will be hoping to unearth some nice surprises in the storerooms of Europe’s TV stations, if not the ‘holy grail’ of the full missing contests.