Miss World reconstructed for TV

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HOW DO you counter accusations that Miss World is sexist and a cattle market?

The answer, apparently, is to show the girls without make-up and to reposition the contest as an exercise in girl power.

Street credibility is about to be given to one of the most politically incorrect of British traditions. The Miss World contest is likely to return to terrestrial television after years in exile, complete with rock music, trendy presenters and the most beautiful women in the world without their make-up.

In his 48th year of promoting the contest, Eric Morley, veteran impresario, has bowed to accusations that the contest is sexist and old fashioned and hired the producer of The Brits, The Pepsi Chart and The Three Tenors concerts to bring the contest into the Nineties.

Malcolm Gerrie, head of the independent television company Initial TV, said yesterday the show would be back on British screens when it takes place in the Seychelles in November. He said he was in discussion with two terrestrial broadcasters.

"I have been given complete freedom," he said. "I have insisted that the girls no longer wear national dress. I don't even know what the national dress of England is. I have insisted that we show them backstage, without make-up and actually doing activities and sports in T-shirts and jeans.

"I have insisted that we have access for the first time to the judges' meetings, so we can see what they look for in a girl. And I will want coltish presenters with a youth following, possibly someone like Chris Evans or Geri Halliwell." He added that he wanted to get across the idea that Miss World was about "empowerment".

The theory that the contest could be remoulded as a vestige of girl power was endorsed by his co-producer, Julie Cave.

She said: "I've had plenty of stick for taking on this job, especially from my friends. But I'm a girlie and I believe in a girlie's right to choose.

"And if her figure and her face are her best assets then that's fine."

The show will be directed by Hamish Hamilton of MTV, the television music channel.

Though the contest has long been infra dig in Britain, it remains one of the top-rated events worldwide with 1.4 billion viewers in 130 countries. In Latin America it gets a far bigger audience than the Oscars.

A spokesman for the Seychelles Tourist Board said that the contest would show that the Seychelles was interested in developing eco-tourism.

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