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Friday, November 27, 1998 Published at 14:49 GMT


Linor cruises to Miss World title

Linor Abargil, Veronique Caloc and Pick Lim Lina Teoh

Israel's Linor Abargil has been crowned Miss World.

The 19-year-old student, wearing a white strapless evening dress, burst into tears as fireworks exploded at the Seychelles resort of Mahe beach. She wins $100,000 (£62,500).

BBC's Ishbel Matheson: "The competition has had a 1990s makeover"
The pageant, which is trying to shake off its outdated image and honour brains as well as beauty, was expected to attract more than a billion television viewers in 130 countries.

In the UK it was back on terrestrial TV for the first time in 10 years with Channel Five showing highlights.

And the station boasted some impressive figures with more than three million people tuning in

Overnight estimates put the average number watching the show at 2.6 million, taking 12% of the audience.

The climax of the show, when Miss Israel, Linor Abargil, took the title, saw the UK audience peak at 3.2 million, which was the highest rating for an original programme on Channel 5.

Gone was the swimming costume parade - instead contestants strutted around the stage in "street wear".

Miss France, Veronique Caloc, 23, of Martinique came second and Pick Lim Lina Teoh, 22, of Malaysia third.

Marks for looks

The show was hosted by Ronan Keating of Irish band "Boyzone", who sang their new ballad I Love the Way You Love Me.

Judges include New Zealand rugby player Jonah Lomu, Canadian Formula One racing driver Jacques Villeneuve, and the 1981 Miss World 1981, Pilin Leone of Venezuela.

They gave marks to articulate and bright candidates - as well as stunning looks.

Miss Israel, a keen dancer who wants a career in the media, takes the crown from India's Diana Hayden.

Her duties as Miss World for the next year will include extensive charity fundraising.

The Seychelles hopes TV exposure will boost tourism to the islands.

Neither the UK's Emmalene McLoughlin, an 18-year-old florist from West Derby, Liverpool, nor Ireland's Vivienne Doyle even made the top 10 selection.

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