It's ten years since entire families sat around the telly and picked their favourites for MISS WORLD. Now in the anti-PC, post- Loaded world, the pageant to end 'em all is back. And with beach volleyball too. Words: Ellie Carr
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME
FATHER TED HAS DONE IT. STEVE COOGAN as Alan Partridge has done it. And probably every other comedy writer on the planet has at some point seen the laugh potential of the beauty pageant, where girls in high heels and swimming cossies are judged on the symmetry of their features and the size of their, er, smiles.
In the ten years since it was removed from British terrestrial TV, the pageant of all pageants, Miss World, has indeed become a joke. Relegated to satellite and distant memories of pre-politically correct family viewing, it has become a byword for trash TV.
And so, in this age of irony and backlash against all things PC, it is no surprise to see the cheesiest show of them all return to mainstream television. Neither is it a surprise to discover that Channel 5, otherwise known as the Melinda Messenger Channel, is doing the honours.
For Julie Clive, the first female producer of the contest/TV show, getting her hands on Miss World is the gig of the century. Responsible for the turnaround of The Brit
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Awards and British Fashion Awards, Clive’s production company Initial is ideally placed to rid the infamous beauty contest of its 80s baggage. If, of course, that is what’s required.
‘I think you can repackage anything,’ says Clive of Miss World. ‘We’re thrilled because it is one of the last sleeping giants.’
It is, however, slumbering no more. Clive, who admits she would have killed to get the Eurovision Song Contest, is expecting huge interest in the new-look Miss World. Relocated to the Seychelles after protests forced the beach and evening wear sections to decamp there from India last year, the contest is getting a 90s’ makeover.
Roughly translated this means that some of the cheesier aspects, like national costumes, are eliminated, while a faster pace and boy power is injected in the himbo form of presenter Ronan Keating from Boyzone. The boy band also provides part of the entertainment, with a world exclusive airing of new single ‘I Love The Way You Love Me’.
When it comes to the lovely contestants though, party pieces have hit a losing streak.
‘There will be no stupid singing and dancing,’ Clive is keen to emphasise. ‘I just think it makes them look silly. That’s always been my argument against these things, and it’s exactly the same as my argument against Page Three girls. I think the female form is a gorgeous thing and I don’t particularly mind looking at it, or men looking at it. It’s just those ludicrous fake grins and ridiculous captions. We’re trying to get away from that and make the girls look really cool. We want to make it into a really good entertainment show with more of a fashion show vibe about it.’
To that end, even the pivotal swimwear round has been tampered with. Wipe the sweat from your palms, boys: it’s still there. It has just been moved to the beach ‘where it belongs’, according to Clive. More good news for swimwear fans — the girls display their assets in this round by indulging in sporting activities such as volleyball. Let’s just hope the Misses have packed support bras.
All things considered, Baywatch and bouncing are the two words that spring to