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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Court case stalls Italy granny show

By Frances Kennedy
BBC, Rome

A TV show featuring elderly women dancing, performing and telling jokes has taken Italy by storm.

The programme, Velone - a show to find the coolest woman over 65 - has been a surprise success of the summer.

Contestants from Velone
The show has been looking for grannies with a bit of spark
But fans awaiting the final outcome may be kept on tenterhooks for a while yet - a last-minute court case has delayed the broadcast of the last episode, in which the winner was to be announced.

A court ruling is due any day now.

To understand Velone, you have to understand velina - which are scantily-clad girls who are omnipresent on Italian television, dancing around and providing light visual relief.

Velone features the older women. They are brought on in heats, and asked to do various things, whether dancing or playing games, and try to avoid being put off by the wisecracking presenter of the show.

Court drama

The women are competing to be an all-round good performer - an older woman with chutzpah.

The idea is that they must have a bit of spark, and they are not afraid to have a go.

But the drama of the show has now switched from the TV studio to the courtroom.

The founder of a beauty pageant - called Miss Over - for elderly women has taken the TV channel to court, accusing them of stealing both his idea and his format.

A Milan court has asked that the show's final - where the most fabulous granny in all Italy is to be announced - should not go on.

However, the legal situation has been played down by the television stations. Though it undoubtedly hangs in the air, the TV company has said that will air the last broadcast.

Certainly, the popularity and the success the show, aired around dinner time in the early evening, has had to date means that people will be keen to see who the winner is.

More importantly, it will be interesting to see what will happen to the granny that is chosen - and how, well into retirement, she will handle her new celebrity status.



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