In 1968, Massiel, a 20-year-old, last-minute substitute for Joan Manuel Serrat, represented Spain at the Eurovision Song Contest in London’s Albert Hall. With Cliff Richard singing Phil Coulter’s song ‘Congratulations’ and on ‘home ground’, nobody was ready for the shock of Spain’s first Eurovision victory!
As Sandy Shaw had won the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest with the Phil Coulter song, ‘Puppet on a String‘, the United Kingdom was the host for the 1968 competition. The UK was widely-expected to win an unprecedented second victory in a row with one of its biggest international artists, Cliff Richard, and a tried and proven songwriter, Phil Coulter.
Of the 17 participating countries, only France seemed to represent a threat in the run–up to the competition. And, indeed, as each country’s TV station announced how their ten votes would be distributed (TV companies, not the public, voted in those days), at the halfway stage, it did seem like France might win.
That’s when the UK took the lead, with France in second place and Spain in third place. Then, Germany, the second-last country to give its votes, awarded six points to Spain, two to the UK and none to France. Suddenly, Spain was in the lead, but by a single point. With only one more country to vote (Yugoslavia), it seemed like anything could happen. As Yugoslavia’s final 10 votes came in, and none were awarded to France, Spain or the UK, the scoreboard’s top three remained unchanged and Spain won the Eurovision for the first time in its history!