NRK have restored the fortunes of the national selection Melodi Grand Prix in Norway in recent years, making it a more attractive competition and attracting bigger, more established names. But all things must come to an end and so the ways of NRK and Sundes will part.
Following varying results from mediocre to catastrophic in the years 2004-2007, and with the failure of Guri Schanke to qualify to the final in Helsinki in 2007 with Ven A Bailar Conmigo, enough was enough for NRK. The broadcaster realised that they needed to go back to the drawing board, to take a fresh approach at the contest and to think outside the box. Per Sundnes was draughted in by NRK to take responsibility for developing the Melodi Grand Prix programme concept and to take the national selection in a new direction. He had previously enjoyed a fairly high profile at NRK as a television music journalist, thus bringing the national selection a much needed dose of credibility and musical clout.
His time at the reigns of what has been one of Norway’s most watched programmes, both loved and hated by many began with a boom, as Maria Haukaas Storeng shimmied her way to a 5th position for Norway – one of their best results in recent years. The highlight however was to come the following year with the tsunami like victory that was Alexander Rybak with Fairytale. It seemed as if Per Sundnes could do no wrong. But the fairytale (sorry, no pun intended!) began to fall apart, with repeatedly dire results at the contest. A dissapointing 20th place with Didrik Solli-Tangen followed by an even more disastrous showing from Stella Mwangi and Haba Haba in Düsseldorf, failing to advance to the final. They say accidents come in threes and thus the third accident on his once faultless track record became fact when Tooji only managed to limp home in last place with Stay at this year’s final.
Sundnes recently revealed his plans to quit the show mere days after Tooji’s defeat. He could also confirm that he has now signed a contract with rival channel TV3 with a major role in the series Homsepatruljen, based on the American concept Queer Eye which has previously met with great success in Norway. Sundnes was quite simply ready for new challenges as he told tabloid Kjendis.no: "I want toget to grips with new challenges and when Åse Bendiksen from TV3 called, I just couldn’t turn her down. Their plans for me sounded so exciting. We’re going to develop things and meeting new people will be great" he said.
Although Melodi Grand Prix has failed to deliver the goods in terms of results the last few years, many Norwegian Eurovision fans are indebted to Sundnes’ efforts in rejuvenating the concept and are no doubt grateful to him for all of his efforts in developing the show and help create its popular status in Norway today. He has managed to inject new life in to the contest and has got many people talking about it, which let’s face it, love it or hate it, all PR is good PR. We at Eurovisionary wish Per Sundnes all the best in his future career and hope that NRk manage to find a worthy successor.