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Wednesday, September 9, 1998 Published at 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK


Miss World gets a makeover

The contenders line up for another Miss World

Everyone agreed she was looking a bit dowdy for her age. She was laughed at and the big TV networks didn't want to know her. Miss World was looking all washed up at 48, and it looked like there would be nobody left to travel the world, meet people, and do good deeds for charity.

Then her ideal man stepped in, and now he's got all kinds of plans so she can face the millennium with pride.

Top TV producer Malcolm Gerrie is sure he can rejuvenate the Miss World competition and return it to the glory days of the 1960s and 70s, when it commanded huge TV audiences around the world, and was a ratings winner for both BBC and ITV.

Launched by Eric Morley in 1951, the contest faded into obscurity during the 1980s, and ended that decade being axed by ITV bosses who deemed such delights as the swimsuit contest and the parades of national outfits sexist.

"More MTV than ITV"

Now Mr Gerrie promises Miss World 1998 - to be held in the Seychelles on 26 November - will be more "MTV than ITV" as he attempts to revamp the old show, now only seen in Britain on satellite TV.

The new look show sees the scrapping of the national dresses - and the chance to see the contestants relaxing backstage.

He said: "It seems timely to do it now. Miss World needs dragging into the 1990s. I think the Spice Girls have a lot to do with it, in a positive way.

"People are empowered and if somebody wants to show off their body they should be able to.

[ image: The crown: Reprieved]
The crown: Reprieved
"We intend to continue with elements of the show that are successful. The important things is we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water and we'll keep the glossy kitsch things, such as the crown.

"The girls will be filmed in jeans and T-shirts relaxing and mixing with each other back stage. They will be filmed doing activities in their swimming costumes instead of just smiling to camera like visual wallpaper."

The original founder, who is now 80, is "thrilled" with the plans. Eric Morley said: "I have got one of the top TV producers this year, and boy are we looking forward to working with him."

[ image: Current Miss World Diana Harvey: Travelling the world and meeting people]
Current Miss World Diana Harvey: Travelling the world and meeting people
"Room for improvement"

The current Miss World is 24-year-old Diana Hayden, from India. She is planning to launch a movie career in Hollywood when her year of seeing the world and raising money for charity is over.

She said: "I had no complaints about how the competition was run last year. I loved it, but there is always room for improvement."

But she had a warning for Mr Gerrie: "I just hope if they do film backstage they let the girls know or it won't be fair."

She insists there's nothing outdated about the contest - and is fiercely proud of her title.

"Being Miss World is all about being feminine but you have to have more than good looks and a good body. You also have to have brains.

"I have had a brilliant career raising money for charity and I am only sad I have only got three months left."

However long Miss World has left, though, may be down to how Malcolm Gerrie treats her.

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Aishwaria Rai's Castle: fan page for Miss World 1994

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