Nostalgia: Eurovision | Caledonian Hotel

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LOVE it or loathe it, cringe or clap, the Eurovision Song Contest is hitting our screens this evening for yet another year of musical delight ... or mayhem.

Along with bizarre outfits, puzzling lyrics and questionable musical worth, the talent competition comes with it mass enthusiasm from the millions of fans who avidly follow it every year.

The New Seekers, representing the UK, make their way to the Usher Hall for Eurovision 1972. Picture: TSPL

The New Seekers, representing the UK, make their way to the Usher Hall for Eurovision 1972. Picture: TSPL

Such was the case in March 1972 when Edinburgh hosted the contest at the Usher Hall, with The New Seekers battling it out for maximum points for the United Kingdom.

Speaking ahead of the event, BBC producer Terry Hughes told Evening News reporter John Gibson that logistically, hosting the event in the historic Usher Hall was “the biggest thing I’ve ever handled”.

“Where I’m going to put my orchestra I don’t know, but we’ll have hanging pieces, the Eurovision insignia – all the familiar trappings,” he said. “We’ll use nine cameras and somehow we’ll make room for the make-up people, supervisors and their assistants, stage mangers and a large administrative staff.”

Things are likely to be just as hectic tonight when the contest is broadcast live from Malmo in Sweden, watched by thousands of people across Edinburgh, many of whom may well be hosting celebratory Eurovision parties in their own sitting rooms.

Interpreters representing various countries jump for joy during the Eurovision Song Contest in Edinburgh, 1972

Interpreters representing various countries jump for joy during the Eurovision Song Contest in Edinburgh, 1972

Back in 1972, it was Luxembourg entrant Vicky Leandros who stole the Eurovision on Edinburgh soil with her song Apres Toi, written by her father, pushing the New Seekers into second place.

Before the contest went on air, a member of the audience could be heard shouting, complaining that Edinburgh school children had been unable to get tickets to the show to see their musical heroes, The New Seekers.

IT has been no stranger to the stars, welcoming the cream of the pop world and Hollywood alike throughout the decades.

Making the most of its prime location on the west end of Princes Street, its luxurious facilities and fascinating history, it has been the choice location for countless well known figures.

And now, with news of a £24 million investment, it looks likely the Capital’s iconic Caledonian Hotel may well be welcoming more famous faces as it is refurbished for maximum impact.

It was more than 40 years ago that a pack of eager New Seekers fans made the Caley their number one stop, pitching outside the hotel, autograph books at the ready, waiting to catch a glimpse of their idols.

The hot ticket of the time, the band were in the Capital representing Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest in March 1972.

During its peak, actress Grace Kelly also stayed at the hotel while she visited the city for the Edinburgh Festival in 1976.

It was during a press conference for the Festival that she criticised the trend of violence and pornography in modern films, describing it as “regrettable”.

In May 1974, it was the turn of Scottish boxer Ken Buchanan to stay at the hotel, meeting American singer Andy Williams there, who was performing at the Usher Hall.

Other well-known faces to have stayed in the Caley, built as a railway hotel for Victorian travellers, include Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, who visited in April 1954, and Hollywood star Mario Lanza, who stayed in 1958.

The facade of the hotel was given a makeover in 1982 to return it to the way it looked when it was built in 1903.

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