UK : Sandie Shaw talks of how the BBC ignored her at Eurovision in Vienna when she won in 1967
Sandie Shaw gave the United Kingdom their first win at Eurovision in Vienna back in 1967 with the iconic song ‘Puppet On A String’. Earlier this week in The Huffington Post, Shaw gave an insightful look into her experience of Eurovision and her relationship with the BBC.
Shaw recalls that there were so many ‘bad memories’ of being in the Eurovision Song Contest along with good ones that make her feel ‘bittersweet’ about the experience.
She writes that the BBC presented a “cold face of moral rectitude in censuring me for being named in the divorce case of someone I believed I was engaged to and who turned out to already have a wife.”
Who was at the centre of these feeling towards Sandie Shaw?
“Rolf Harris, his manager, his director and the BBC conspired to have me removed from his TV show in which I was presenting the six Eurovision songs to the viewers. They did not want me to harm his reputation as a family entertainer.”
So Shaw was forced into performing the 6 songs in the UK national final in an empty studio to no audience. She said that she felt “humiliated” and added “Knowing what we all know now but I knew then, I found this hypocrisy, as a 19-year-old minor, very hard to understand.”
Shaw continues by saying that her emotions towards her Eurovision experience have swung from both ends of the spectrum and that she felt at the time ” helplessness, manipulation and exploitation”.
Sandie Shaw has been in entertainment for more than 50 years and since she started performing had input into the songs that she recorded. Most times she would work with the lyrics of the songs and endeavoured to make them reflect her developing feminist views.
‘Puppet on a String’ was the first time that she had no say in a song that was chosen for her by others saying “It was the antithesis of everything I was endeavoring to do in my work… It just wasn’t ‘me’ either in style or content. Certainly not the liberated young Sixties girl I was trying to become.”
However she speaks on how the song was the perfect material for countries across Europe, along with her fans to enjoy, so with that in mind she soldiered on.
In the run up and while in Vienna Shaw remembers “no-one from the BBC or Rolf Harris’s team spoke to me. Leading up to the competition neither my manager nor any part of her team was talking to me either. Only my mum and dad were there to help me through it.”
Shaw acknowledges that the contest is a remarkable event that it was created to bring a war-torn Europe together and heal the wounds across the continent.
What does she think of the contest today?
Well she has firmly stated her view on how the BBC does not value the contest saying
“It has saddened me to see it degenerate from such a noble intention into a joke where the BBC often present it as a chance to take the mickey out of other nations and for a lot of countries to vote in a partisan way. This is not the intention or spirit of the event”
Sandie actually echoes the official Tagline of this year’s contest #BuildingBridges by going on to write that the contest “is to celebrate and support our differences and discover what we have in common – in a fun and entertaining way.”
With the help of 80’s pop star Howard Jones, Shaw has reworked ‘Puppet on a String’ to a slower version that she feels helps her to appreciate her Eurovision experience today.
Shaw believes that she was suffering from clinical depression in the early years of her career and that her work ethic helped her to get through those difficult times saying “I discovered I could transcend my personal feelings of worthlessness by concentrating on representing all the hopes of people in Great Britain. Less of ‘me’ and more of ‘we’. I gave it my all. Doesn’t it show in the joy of my face despite the heartache and confusion inside?”
Shaw who not only is a singer but a highly respected psychotherapist, explains that her Eurovision experience was unique to her but that the feelings of no self value are not and are indeed surmountable. She can now look back at the struggles in 1967 and says
“I feel an enormous sense of gratitude to everyone who was part of that experience in Vienna – the writers, the BBC, the public whose overwhelming support has buoyed me up over so many years. It has given me the opportunity to learn so much about human nature, myself, true triumph. It has proved a priceless lesson in life.”
For these reasons that is why Shaw has said “That is why I offered to be part of the contest this year in Vienna. Where it all started. I just wanted to share it.”
How little do we know what goes on behind the scenes? It would be fantastic to see Sandie Shaw at Eurovision in Vienna – don’t you think? It would certainly be #BuildingBridges to the past and give Shaw that fairytale ending to her Eurovision experience.
Author/Editor in Chief Garrett Mulhall
Source : The Huffington Post