Millions across the world zap onto their national broadcaster each spring to watch the cream of the European music scene perform the annual musical Olympics. In 2013, Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest lived up to her favourite title in Malmö, Sweden to bring the contest to Copenhagen.
“Come and Join us,” says Head of Show Jan Lagermand Lundme.
By Julian Isherwood
Some profess to hate it, most love it and many families and friends gather around the TV sets and put their bets on it. Irrespective of whether or not you are a devotee, the annual Eurovision Song Contest remains a must of the TV year and brings out the nationalist in some 170 million people across the globe. 2014 will be no different.
“It is, of course, not the Olympics – but it’s close,” says Jan Lagermand Lundme, the 44-year-old Head of Show of the next show, which in 2014 is to be launched from the as yet unlikely housing of the old Burmeister & Wain shipyard halls. “Believe me. By the time Copenhagen Council is finished with the halls, and we have moved in with our set designers and lighting experts, it will be one of those locations people will remember,” he adds.
Sitting in a glass-walled meeting room in the midst of an ever-bulging editorial area at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s brand new headquarters, Lagermand Lundme says his is the job of a lifetime. With a career sporting a string of senior jobs in the private and public TV sector, Lagermand Lundme’s credentials seem ideal for the massive event that is to descend on Denmark on May 6, May 8 and May 10, 2014.
The Eurovision editorial office at DR. From a staff of 2 to a staff of 400
“When I was chosen for the job, it was my dream come true. I’ve been involved in the Eurovision Song Contest on site for the past couple of years, and also done the Danish X-factor show at the national stadium. But this is of a dimension you cannot imagine until you’re in it. You can’t prepare for it because it’s so big, and when you’re in it – as we are now – it’s a whole new learning curve of trusting the people you work with,” he says.
From an initial two staff just a few months ago, by the time the contest is under way, a total of 400 specialised staff will be involved in the myriad of tasks and details that make up the year’s Number One broadcast entertainment show.
“As Head of Show you have to trust everyone who comes on board. You can’t involve yourself in every single detail. Luckily, we have the best in the business working on the project. What we want is to showcase what we Danes can do. As far as is at all possible we want to have Danish specialists, some of them domestic, some of them international, running the show and to make it a watershed for the new age of broadcasting,” says a confident Lagermand Lundme.
2014 will be the third time that Denmark has won and then hosted the Eurovision Song Contest – London in 1963 with Grethe and Jørgen Ingemann, Stockholm in 2000 with the Olsen Brothers and in Malmö last year with Emmelie de Forest. But the challenge for the Danish team will be to fulfil the expectations of an increasingly demanding audience.
“Television viewers expect more now. What we did 13 years ago was good for its time. But in the past 13 years viewers have come to expect more from their entertainment. And when television stations compete to be the best, the technical quality and presentation gets better and better,” says Lagermand Lundme.
“This means that all the various levels of television have moved upwards several steps. If we did the same sort of show now that we did 13 years ago, it wouldn’t be able to create the same atmosphere. Nowadays, people expect a spectacular opening ceremony,” he adds.
Potentially, a total of 44 countries can take part in the Eurovision Song Contest, with 30 having already entered and a total of some 40 expected in Copenhagen for the two semi-finals. And although the European Broadcasting Union EBU has definite overall rules as to how the contest should move forward, the Danes plan to make their mark on the show.
“There’s lots we can do. Scenography, graphics, the stories we tell in between the songs, how we open the show, the values we choose and the anchors. But all of this has to fit into the overall Eurovision Song Contest project and we cooperate closely with them,” says Lagermand Lundme.
“But what we also want to do is to cooperate closely with the countries who are taking part. We want to welcome them and make them feel that we take their wishes and their cultures seriously. What is it that they want to show and express. And we are at hand to help them do it,” he adds, saying the show’s slogan is ‘Join Us’.
Nonetheless, the show itself will ooze Denmark – but not simply a show using the traditional stories of Hans Christian Andersen and the Little Mermaid.
“There is so much more in Denmark that we also want to show. A more nuanced picture than simply fairy tale Denmark,” he says concluding: “We want to make the Danes proud of what we can produce. I am sure we will.”
Jan Lagermand Lundme – his second Eurovision Song Contest and first as Head of Show “It’s going to be a great show and a great experience”.
EBU itself seems confident that Lagermand Lundme’s promise of a modernisation of both the technical and entertainment value of the show is safe in his hands.
“We are always encouraging the Host Broadcaster to come up with modern, creative solutions, and by that to bring the Eurovision Song Contest forward,” says EBU Executive Supervisor Jon Ola Sand.
“DR has a lot of ambition, and the very fact that the competition will be held at the B&W Hallerne has ignited imaginative and inventive ideas with the creative team. Their overall vision and values are closely connected to our heritage, but they are indeed looking forward,” he says.