He’s the father of modern Melodifestivalen and the man attributed with helping to make Sweden a power nation of Eurovision. Now Christer Björkman has revealed that he will step down as Melfest boss. He has signed on for only four more years, with Melodifestivalen 2021 set to be his last.
SVT reports that Björkman told the postcast Schlager-Micke and his Friends that he has decided to quit as the producer of Melfest. “After this year, I will continue for another four years. Then I’m finished,” he revealed.
While his successor has not been appointed, Björkman already has someone in mind: Karin Gunnarsson. The experienced radio P3 staffer has worked alongside Björkman as the associate producer of the contest and this year was the chairperson of the Melfest selection jury.
Björkman says, “She has potential, she understands the format, the scope and especially knows hit music. She has an established respect of the players, the record companies.”
But he notes that ultimately it is up to Karin whether she wants to take on the Melfest role.
The Björkman years
Björkman’s departure in 2021 will mark 20 years at Melodifestivalen. He first joined the Melfest team in 2002. There he was responsible for transforming the show from a one-night national final to a multi-week event using four semi-finals and later a second chance round.
He has never been afraid to tweak the Melfest formula. After Anna Bergendahl failed to qualify for the final of Eurovision 2010, Björkman scrapped the regional Swedish juries and introduced international juries.
On his watch, Sweden has won Eurovision twice, and placed in the top three a further two times. It’s long been known that Björkman is intent on securing another win for Sweden, to match Ireland’s record of seven wins. The pressure will be on to achieve that win before he departs.
Björkman is currently working on his autobiography, which has the working title of Regnbågsdiktatorn (The Rainbow Dictator).