It was only in 2003 that the first Junior Eurovision appeared on our screens. A contest full of hope and expectation for the years to come. A contest that was the first (senior or junior) to be broadcast in widescreen. A contest that was the first to spawn its own DVD. And a contest that produced a winner that the senior version would have been proud of.
The EBU trusted DR to put on the first show. A wise choice I think for something so novel. And it attracted 16 nations. One change from the rules of the senior competition at the time was that all nations had to sing in a language to their country.
The whole show was naturally a very child-orientated affair, with bands Sugababes and Busted performing during the show. As the age-range for participants at the time was 8 to 15, some with experience of the senior ESC saw this as potentially a very hard, unforgiving affair for some so young. As it turned-out, the atmosphere at JESC has proved to be far more relaxed and all the contestants freely mixed without the pressures that seem to surround the senior competition.
The 16 participants came from all over Europe, with France and Germany being two of the notable absences. But Spain and the UK were there, and finished second and third respectively. Among the other performers were Sarah Harrison from Malta who later appeared in three Harry Potter films, the Belgian band X!NK that later wrote the theme song for the 2007 JESC, Dane Anne Gardegaard who was runner-up in the 2015 Dansk MGP, and Bubu from Romania who was a Prince Harry lookalike. Here’s the full running order (click on the links to watch the live performance):
Greece – Nicolas Ganopoulos – Fili gia panta (Friends forever)
Croatia – Dino Jelušić – Ti si moja prva ljubav (You are my first love)
Cyprus – Theodora Rafti – Efhi (One wish)
Belarus – Volha Satsiuk – Tantsuy (Dance)
Latvia – Dzintars Čīča – Tu esi vasarā (You’re in summer)
Macedonia – Marija & Viktorija – Ti ne me poznavas (You don’t recognise me)
Poland – Kasia Żurawik – Coś mnie nosi (Something wears me)
Norway – 2U – Sinnsykt gal forelsket (Insane crazy in love)
Spain – Sergio – Desde el cielo (From heaven)
Romania – Bubu – Tobele sunt viaţa mea (Drums are my life)
Belgium – X!NK – De vriendschapsband – The bond of friendship)
United Kingdom – Tom Morley – My song for the world
Denmark – Anna Gadegaard – Arabiens drøm (Arabia’s dream)
Sweden – The Honeypies – Stoppa mig (Stop me)
Malta – Sarah Harrison – Like a star
Netherlands – Roel Felius – Mijn ogen zeggen alles (My eyes say everything)
The voting was a close to start with between Croatia and Spain. The UK and Belarus also picked up their fair share, but soon Dino Jelušić ran away with it. So a very successful inaugural JESC and a first Eurovision win of any kind for Croatia. But to reduce the pressure on the contestants to win and secure the right to stage the next edition, 2004 would see us in Norway.
You’ve seen them in 2003, how did they look ten years later?
But did the right song win? Which is your favourite?
Author: John Stanton
Source: junioreurovision.tv, eurovisionireland.com