7 Things Malta From 20 Years Ago Could Never Have Predicted

Not even Nostradamus could've seen these coming

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As we tip-toe towards the three-decade mark since the 90s, there are some events that have taken place in the last 20 years that most of us wouldn't have thought possible way back in 1997 (plot twist: they did). Here's a list that shows exactly how much has changed in the past few couple of years.

No one could have guessed that...

1. ... the new Friday-night panel show would go on for two decades

Xarabank first aired on the 4th of April 1997. Back then, the premise was a small group of people discussing various topics on live TV with Peppi Azzopardi helming it all (so pretty much the same exact thing it is today, give or take a dozen or so special features on Ġiġa). 

This TV ad featuring Peppi hilariously taking the role of a couple of different characters from various walks of life gives us a glimpse at a Malta without Xarabank, which is quite surreal to think about. 

Also, the iconic 249-200 telephone number was still 318896 at the time. We're sure that many people tuning in for the first time on that fateful night in April 1997 wouldn't have guessed that Xarabank would end up becoming Malta's longest-lasting TV programme, with the show still airing every Friday in the twenty-first century.

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2. ... the singer of Pajjiż tal-Miki Maws would become the CEO of the country's PBS?

Local TV presenter and DJ John Bundy won l-Għanja tal-Poplu in 1995 with a tongue-in-cheek song on some eye-rolling characteristics that make us typically Maltese. Fast-forward to 2016, and that satirical-social-commentary-and-white-cowboy-boots combo have been replaced with a suit and the highest position at the PBS.

"Fejn ta' fuq jiġbdu l ispaga, u aħna l-pupazzi nimmarċjaw"

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3. ... a babyfaced Eurosong presenter would become the Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation

Granted, Jason Micallef was only 23 years old when he won a seat on the first Mosta Local Council, but anyone watching him timidly present the post-Eurosong Sunday programme in 1996 would be totally forgiven for not predicting Micallef's 20-year rise to power from a TV presenter about trees and flowers, to Chairman of ONE TV and Radio, before moving on to being Chairman of one of the most important projects involving Malta's capital city.

Here's a bonus video of post-V18 Chairmanship Jason Micallef commenting on John Bundy's new CEO role, bringing it all back to a full circle.

4. ... this Sliema teenager would become one of the country's biggest celebrities

Ira Losco was only 16 years old when she kicked off her musical career with her band Tiara in 1997. The band would see a successful couple of years culminating in the 2001 with the release of their album. Eventually cementing herself as one of the only legit local celebrities, and dominating pretty much every type of media for the next twenty years, Ira Losco has definitely come a long way since she sang weekly covers on Tista Tkun Int back in 2000.

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5. ... Malta would actually join the European Union

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Twenty years ago, the then newly-elected Labour Party government had just frozen Malta's application to join the European Union. And even if Prime Minister Alfred Sant's run ended up being a very turbulent 22 months, Malta's eventual referendum in 2003 was still six long years away. 

6. ... Lawrence Gray would still not have been chosen to represent Malta in the Eurovision Song Contest

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Since the mid-90s, he's participated in the Malta Song for Europe nine times, coming second twice, third once, and fourth another two times. 2016 saw Gray re-entering the competition, but he boasts a genuinely impressive musical CV outside of the Eurovision. He's won a slew of awards, and has taken part in musicals like Jesus Christ Superstars and the 10th Anniversary Concert of Les Misérables. Also, he played Mintoff in Il-Perit.

Gray's 20-year-nearly-there Eurovision experience will always be a talking point. And we're pretty sure that a lot of people back in the late 90s thought it was only a matter of time until he did win. Here's to that dream finally becoming true in the not-so distant future!

7. ... an unknown ginger journalist would become Prime Minister

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In 1997, Joseph Muscat was only 23, and had just graduated with a MA in European Studies. Considering it only took 20 years to go from that, to a journalist, to MEP, to the actual Prime Minister of Malta, Muscat has had one of the most successful decades of anyone in Malta. 

(In case you were wondering, that photo is indeed Joseph Muscat, chillin' with Franco Debono at school; squinting, smiling and gearing up for the history books). 

What would 1997 you never have thought possible? Let us know in the comments on Facebook!

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Written By

David Grech Urpani

Sarcastically ironic, Dave is a recovering hipster musician with a penchant for chicken, women's clothes and Kanye.