24 May: The Very First Eurovision

Spectacle, camp and glamour were NOT on the agenda in Lugano, Switzerland on 24th May, 1956: the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest was broadcast mostly on the radio, and featured a whistling duo as its interval act. Who had to perform twice.

Voting controversy, however, was enshrined in the institution right from the outset – as Judges were permitted to award points to their own nations, and vote in absentia.

In this episode, Rebecca, Olly and Arion reveal which countries have most consistently scored the famous ‘nul points’; consider why the future of the contest seems to lie Eastwards, and revisit Israel’s entry from 1999, ‘Happy Birthday’…

Further Reading:

• Lys Assia wins the first Eurovision for Switzerland: 

• Facts and Figures from the 1956 contest at the official Eurovision website:


• Full list of 1956 voting and points from Eurovisionworld: