It’s fair to say I’ve been a bit of fan of the Eurovision Song Contest for years; even last year, when the final coincided cruelly with the final weekend before my university exams kicked off, I still found myself being drawn to our college TV room with a group of fellow enthusiasts for an evening of good old europop. It wasn’t until most of the douze points had been announced and Conchita’s power ballad had all but been declared victorious that I realised her triumph would bring the following year’s final to Austria, where I’d already arranged to spend my year abroad. Excited was an understatement.
Several months later, around November, a friend sent me an advert for people to apply as volunteers for Eurovision, so I immediately set about updating my CV and attempting to formulate my love of an annual highly cheesy TV competition into a serious letter of application.
They must have liked it because a month of so later I was invited to the first of two rounds of ‘Casting’. Despite the name implying I was being trialled as a backing dancer, this was actually a round of interviews. My slot was bright and early at 8.30am on a Sunday, the day after Valentine’s Day/Faschings Samstag, although the struggle of setting an alarm for so early was made up for by the fact that the Casting took place in the ORF Funkhaus, meaning I got to have a sneaky look around the building where lots of Radio Wien and local TV programmes are recorded. The interview itself consisted of a group interview and an English language test which, as a native Brit, I’m proud to say I passed with a solid 100%.
This was followed a month later by a second Casting, this time with personal interviews, which seemed primarily to be to check our language skills. I’d been pencilled in for the Irish Delegation so was immediately confronted with “well, can you speak Irish?” a claim I’d never made and which I didn’t intend to try and bluff. My honest “um… no, sorry. Why?” prompted a hurried phone call between one of my interviewers and Eurovision HQ as to why I’d been earmarked for a delegation I wouldn’t be able to speak to, whilst I chatted to the other interviewer. As soon as it became clear that I’m from England, the conversation immediately turned to William, Kate, the then soon to be newest member of the British Royal Family, as well as that old chestnut of what the British think of the Windsors. I translated a couple of paragraphs to prove my English skills, confirmed my availability and was told I’d got the position!
Steph is a British languages student currently spending a year abroad working in Vienna.
As a long term Eurovision fan, she jumped at the opportunity to get involved behind the scenes and is thoroughly enjoying her role as an Irish Delegation Host.