Bonsoir la Suisse 1965

Swiss Domestic Series

Presenters / Commentators:
Guy Ackermann and Lyliam Berger (SSR - CH)
Ernst-Ludwig Freisinkel (SRG  - CH)

Director: Roger Gillioz (SSR)

Produced by: SSR-SRG-TSI (CH) • Made in Black and White

Bonsoir la Suisse
l = Heat Trophy Winner


Bonsoir la Suisse 1965

Swiss TV Special

Event Staged: Saturday 27th March 1965
Venues: Ponte Tresa, Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland,
Saint-Gingolph, Monthey, Valais, Switzerland,
and Stein am Rhein, Schaffhausen, Switzerland

European Transmissions (Local Timings):
Saturday 27th March 1965, 9.25-10.40pm (Live)
Transmission date and time unknown
TSI (CH): Transmission date and time unknown
Not transmitted in Great Britain

Teams: Ponte Tresa v. Saint-Gingolph v. Stein am Rhein

Games: Fire the Rockets (in Saint-Gingolph), Firefighters on Roller Skates (in Stein am Rhein), Pedalos on the Lake (in Ponte Tresa), The Customs Search (in Saint-Gingolph), The Old Coffee Pots (in Stein am Rhein) and The Fishing Contest (in Ponte Tresa) and Game of Questions (in all three venues).

Game Results and Standings




Final Scoreboard


 Ponte Tresa
 Stein am Rhein


The Host Towns and Venues

Ponte Tresa, Ticino

Ponte Tresa from Lake Lugano


Ponte Tresa is located in the district of Lugano in the Ticino canton. The village is very small in size and poulation with around 800 inhabitants. It has an area of only 0.41km² (0.16mi²). Of this area, 0.14km² (0.054mi²) or 34.1% is used for agricultural purposes, while 0.18km² (0.069mi²) or 43.9% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 0.19km2 (0.073mi²) or 46.3% is settled (buildings or roads) and 0.03km² (7.4 acres) or 7.3% is either rivers or lakes.

The history of the town is closely tied to the Tresa river crossing, which was first mentioned in 590 by Gregory of Tours (538-594). The name of the municipality, and the neighboring Italian town of Lavena Ponte Tresa, both come from the river.

During the summer months, the Società Navigazione del Lago di Lugano (Lake Lugano Navigation Company), originally founded in 1873 as Società di Navigazione e Ferrovie per Lago di Lugano (Railway and Navigation Company for Lake Lugano), operates a boat service to and from Lugano from a small landing stage in the village. The fleet of 11 boats have Italian names which include Paradiso, Milano, Ceresio, Italia, San Lorenzo and San Gottardo. The largest of the fleet, Lugano, is 47.25m (155ft) long x 9.1m (29ft 9in) wide and operates at maximum speed of a leisurely 27km/h (16.8mph). The company’s original motor vessel, SNL1 built in 1905, is still in operation to this day, whilst a 12th boat, Ticino, now serves as the Lord Nelson Pub, permanently moored on the lake at Porto Ceresio.

Saint-Gingolph, Valais

Saint-Gingolph from Lake Geneva


Saint-Gingolph is a small town situated on the south bank of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and sits on the Swiss-French border and is administratively divided into Saint-Gingolph, Switzerland (Swiss) and Saint-Gingolph, Haute-Savoie (French).

The name of the town is derived from the 8th century saint Gangulphus, who is said to have lived as a hermit in this region. Its division at the Morge, a frontier mountain stream, dates from 1569 and is one town consisting of a single parish (the church and cemetery are on the French side) with two municipal administrations and two distinct legal systems. It is accessible by road, rail or boat and is surrounded by mountains and has approximately 8km (5 miles) of shoreline along the lake.

The town played an important role during World War II when Haute-Savoie was occupied first by the Italian and then by the German Army. The fact of large-scale intermarriage and business and family connections across the frontier made it possible for the Resistance to smuggle goods, arms and refugees (including many French Jews) across the border, often using a secret tunnel (which was actually a drainage pipe and is no longer in existence) located near the lake.

Intermarriage across the frontier is less frequent in the modern age because there are separate primary schools and French lycéens (high school students) are bussed into Evian, whilst their Swiss counterparts take the train to Monthey. Thereafter, each tend to seek employment in commercial centres in their own country. In any case, the town is so small there are only two or three weddings recorded each year.

Stein am Rhein, Schaffhausen

Aerial view of Stein am Rhein


Stein am Rhein is a municipality in the Schaffhausen canton and has a well-preserved medieval centre, retaining the ancient street plan. The site of the city wall and its gates are also preserved, although the former now consists of houses.

The medieval part of the town has been pedestrianised and many of the medieval buildings are painted with beautiful frescoes. Around 1007, Emperor Henry II (972-1024) moved St. George’s Abbey from its former location in Singen to Stein am Rhein, at that time little more than a small fishing village on the river. This was in order to strengthen his presence at this strategic point where major road and river routes intersected. He gave the abbots extensive rights over Stein and its trade, so that they could develop it commercially.

The town has an area of about 5.8km2 (2.2mi²). Of this area, 29.9% is used for agricultural purposes, while 42.4% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 22% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (5.7%) is non-productive (rivers or lakes).

The population is around 3,500 of which 21% are foreign nationals from Germany, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Turkey and Macedonia. Despite this, most of the population (89.2%) are teutophones (German-speaking).

The Games in Detail

Game 1 - Fire the Rockets

After the introductory speeches, the first game - 'Fire the Rockets' - was staged on the waters of Lake Geneva in Saint-Gingolph. The game involved the three teams approaching floated rafts by boat. Each raft contained a rocket and was surrounded by balloons. As the boats were edged with barbed wire, competitors had to leap from the boats from a small distance so as not to burst any of the balloons. The idea was for the teams to fire their rockets as fast as possible without bursting the balloons. The Saint-Gingolph team were successful in the former but burst too many balloons, finishing in third place on the game.

Game 2 - Firefighters on Roller Skates

The second game (the first in Stein am Rhein) - 'Firefighters on Roller Skates' - saw Saint-Gingolph finish in second place.

Game 3 - Pedalos on the Lake

The third game (the first in Ponte Tresa) - 'Pedalos on the Lake' - was staged on the picturesque Lake Lugano and witnessed the first win of the night for the Saint-Gingolph team, giving them fresh hope in the competition. The remaining games, however, saw Saint-Gingolph tumbling down the rankings.

Game 4 - The Customs Search

Game 5 - The Old Coffee Pots

Game 6 - The Fishing Contest

No detail regarding these games is currently available.

Game of Questions

This final game was staged in all three venues, where a team of intellectuals representing each town had to complete crosswords within a set time.

Presenters, Officials and Production Team

TV Romande (SSR) sent a team of nearly 30 people to Saint-Gingolph to facilitate the transmission of Bonjour la Suisse, comprising technicians, cameramen and assistants. Also among this number were presenters Lyliam Berger and Guy Ackermann and director Roger Gillioz. The production saw the use of 4 video cameras, 3 sound and vision monitors, microphones for the presenters and also to pick up general atmosphere around the venue, plus several hundred metres of cabling. Master Control for the production was based in Zurich, where the neutral jury - who scored the competition - was also located. The town of Saint-Gingolph was bedecked with a large number of small flags and placards, lending a party feel to the proceedings. Fellow broadcasters SRG and TSI sent similar teams to Stein am Rhein and Ponte Tresa respectively.

The SSR team were present in Saint-Gingolph for several days leading up to transmission. Two dress rehearsals took place, one on Friday and another on Saturday morning, ahead of the live transmission later that day. Both dress rehearsals were well attended by Saint-Gingolph locals, who cheered their team on to success in both run-throughs. Sadly, the promise that the Saint-Gingolph team showed to begin with evaporated on the night of the actual competition when they finished a distant third.

Returning Teams and Competitors

Of the three team that participated in this special programme, only Ponte Tresa would go on to feature in Jeux Sans Frontières, though the town would have to wait 31 years before they made their appearance in the 1996 series!

Additional Information

This one-off competition was designed as a taster for the forthcoming Swiss broadcasts of Jeux Sans Frontières (in which they would provide neutral juries, but not actually participate until 1967). The programme used the Intervilles format as its basis - in fact, it was described in the Swiss press as 'petit Intervilles' (small Intervilles) - and featured one team each from the Swiss-French, Swiss-German and Swiss-Italian regions of Switzerland.

The competition was scored by a neutral jury located in Zurich. The three teams were playing for a prize of 2000 Swiss Francs, with prizes of 1000 SF and 500 SF awarded to the teams finishing in second and third places respectively.

The event closed in Saint-Gingolph with a performance by a dance troupe from nearby Saint-Maurice, also in the Valais canton of Switzerland.

It is not known whether Bonsoir la Suisse aired on SRG or TSI. It is of course possible that one or both of these broadcasters may have transmitted the programme live.

Made in B/W • This programme may exist in European Archives


JSFnetGB Series Guide pages researched by
Alan Hayes, David Hamilton, Neil Storer, Christos Moustakas, Philippe Minet,
Sébastien Dias, Ischa Bijl, Paul Leaver and JSFnet Websites