When did Miss World start on TV

00:00 Tue 22nd May 2001 |

A.� It was started in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations. Officially titled 'Festival Bikini Contest', it was the British press who dubbed it Miss World. It instantly attracted huge media interest and rivalled the Olympic Games and the World Cup for popularity.

Q.� Whose idea was it

A.� The founder was former bingo hall manager Eric Morley who worked closely with his wife Julie.

Q.� How was the idea of women wearing next to nothing received back then

A.� The show quickly ran into problems. Countries with strong Catholic faiths such as Ireland and Spain threatened to withdraw their delegation if they had to participate in bikinis. Bikinis were then banned. The first Miss World Kiki Haakansen from Sweden was the first and last winner to be crowned wearing a two-piece swimsuit.

Q.� How did the feminist movement react to such a programme being shown on television

A.� The feminist movement really gathered pace during the 1970s and the first show of that decade, hosted by Bob Monkhouse, was booed by protestors who claimed it was little more than a cattle market. It was shown on the BBC from 1959 - 1979, then by Thames Television from 1980 to 1988. Controversy continued to dog the programme throughout the 70s and 80s and in 1989 it moved to new stages in Sun City, Hong Kong and other glamour spots around the world.

Q.� Who is Miss World now

A.� In December 2000 Priyanka Choprace was crowned Miss World at London's Millennium Dome. The programme was shown on Channel 5 and hosted by US chat show host Jerry Springer. It attracted 1.8 million viewers. Statistics show 3.2 million people tuned into watch the closing stages of the event.

Q.� Are there any memorable moments in the show's history

A.� In some ways Miss World has been more famous off the air than on it.�In 1973 Marjorie Wallace of Indiana was dethroned four months into her reign because she 'failed to live up to the first class image of her position'. She became embroiled after accusing a British soccer star of stealing a fur coat from her bedroom. She was also seen smooching with singer Tom Jones.

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By Katharine MacColl

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