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Thursday, November 26, 1998 Published at 08:27 GMT


Miss World goes PC?

Back in the good old days - Miss Brazil wins the crown in 1971

On Thursday the goggle box becomes the ogle box once again as Miss World returns to UK TV screens.

The show is being aired on UK terrestrial TV for the first time in 10 years.

But the grand old dame who made a career out of getting her kit off is now 48 and must surely be too wrinkly to attract interest?

[ image: Will the tears still roll like in 1998 like they did in 1967?]
Will the tears still roll like in 1998 like they did in 1967?
With the help of technology the old bird has been rebuilt. The bits that were worn out have been disposed of while other aspects have had the equivalent of a silicon enhancement - an uplift for the new millennium.

Channel 5, which will be broadcasting the contest four hours after it is filmed live in the Seychelles, says the national costumes, skimpy swimsuits and high heels of old are out - this year's contestants will be seen in a "more natural environment" relaxing in jeans and T-shirts.

The purists have no need to worry though, there will be lots of shots of the girls swimming and playing volleyball and the winner still gets a sparkly crown to wear.

Sequins and sashes

[ image:  ]
Launched by Eric Morley in 1951, the show's halcyon era was in the nudge-nudge, wink-wink days of the 1960s and 1970s, when carry-on films were funny for the wrong reasons and the world roared in delight at the antics of the diminutive Benny Hill.

But as we all moved on, Miss World got left behind. She was finally booted out at the end of the 1980s by TV bosses responding more to plummeting ratings than claims that the show was a sexist portrayal of women.

But now she's back, and - in truly 1990s fashion - offering something for the ladies too.

Heart-throb Ronan Keating of the band Boyzone will be compering the show as well as providing some musical entertainment.

The contest also has a female producer for the first time, Julie Clive, who promises that it will have "a vibrant and contemporary feel".

Grrrl power?

[ image: India's Diana Hayden, Miss World in 1997 wants a movie career]
India's Diana Hayden, Miss World in 1997 wants a movie career
The 86 contestants have spent the past three weeks getting used to the humid climate in the Seychelles.

Surprisingly this was no problem for Miss Russia, Tatiana Mokrouchina, 17, from Kirov, who said: "I have a nice tan, it's not too hot." But many of the others have found it a little overwhelming.

Still the show must go on, and with this in mind, the contestants did their bit for the environment on Tuesday by each planting a tree on the beach.

[ image: The UK's Emmelene McLoughlin (left) with France's Veronique Caloc]
The UK's Emmelene McLoughlin (left) with France's Veronique Caloc
The Seychelles Government is spending millions of dollars on the event, which it is hosting for the second year running, in the hope that world-wide television coverage will encourage more tourism.

The UK's hopes for victory rest with Emmelene McLaughlin, an 18-year-old florist from Manchester.

By Thursday UK bookmaker William Hill had slashed the odds against Miss UK to 5-1, following a flood of bets, Miss Venezuela is second favourite at 12-1, while the Belgium, Cayman Islands and New Zealand representatives are ranked at 20-1.

You've come a long way, baby

[ image: All that glisters ... the Miss World crown]
All that glisters ... the Miss World crown
Many of the girls voice loftier ambitions than their predecessors ever did.

"We've moved away from the stereotypical image of Miss World," said Miss South Africa, 25-year-old Kerishnie Naiker, a qualified pharmacist who said she hopes one day to be her country's minister of health.

Miss Russia said: "I am studying economics at university so if I become Miss World I could go back and help with the economic problems of my country,"

Perhaps more traditionally Miss Chinese Taipei, 19-year-old Yi-Ju Chen, revealed she is most interested in travel and kindergarten teaching.

All the girls have to do now is get out there and impress the judges. These include New Zealand All Black rugby player Jonah Lomu, Canadian Formula One racing driver Jacques Villeneuve, model Sophie Dahl and Miss World 1981, Pilin Leone of Venezuela.

The lucky winner will be expected to spend her year's reign doing charity work for underprivileged children and travelling the world promoting environmental concerns.

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