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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Springer's date at the Dome
Yukta Mookhey with Eric Morley at the event's London launch
Miss World Yukta Mookhey with founder Eric Morley
Talk show host Jerry Springer is to host this year's Miss World contest from the Millennium Dome in London.

UK-based Asian broadcaster Zee TV, which holds the rights to the veteran beauty contest, says it is hoping to attract three billion viewers for the pageant.

Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer will host the event
This year's event will be the 50th, and 82-year-old organiser Eric Morley told how the first contest was concieved to promote the Dome's predecessor, the 1951 Festival of Britain.

"I came up with an international beauty contest for one year only - we put all the girls in bikinis which at the time was a shocker because there weren't any Page 3 girls," he said.

He said the pageant continued the following year to compete with the US Miss Universe competition, but bikinis were banned because "many of the people didn't want to see girls parading around in next to nothing".

But he added: "We did bring back the swimwear category but we filmed them on a beach to keep things in context, and this year we're going to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean."

Around 100 women make it into the event's finals, with the reigning Miss World being Indian Yukta Mookhey.

Pierre-Yves Gerbeau and the Dome
Warm welcome: Pierre-Yves Gerbeau and the Dome
Miss World attracted huge audiences on television up until the 1970s, but was dropped by ITV in the 1980s as fashions changed.

Morley dismissed criticism of Miss World as sexist, claiming that 60% of its TV audience are women.

After several years off mainstream television in the UK, Channel 5 is now showing the event, which will be held on 30 November.

The Dome hosted the International Indian Film Awards - Bollywood's equivalent of the Oscars - last month, and the south London landmark's chief executive Pierre-Yves Gerbeau said he was looking forward to Miss World.

"As we are both controversial and both fighting back I am very excited about this partnership," he said.

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See also:

24 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bollywood comes to the Dome
05 Dec 99 | World
Miss India takes World Crown
12 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Ministers admit Dome numbers error
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