Saturday, 5 November 2011
Yes, a child I was always aware that, like a visit to the funfair, the search for the planet's best-looking woman was a tacky treat. On the big day we would glance at the 'runners and riders' lists in the tabloids. Miss United Kingdom would have been installed as favourite to win, even if she looked like Janet Street-Porter. By 8 p.m., the household would be seated and glued to the screen as shots of the Royal Albert Hall were replaced by a dazzling array of mismatched hosts. Would it be Michael Aspel in a dickie-bow, Esther Rantzen in a chiffon tent or Judith Chalmers with her lacquered skin?
Then the real fun began as the 'bevvy of international beauties' clomped on stage to sing an ill-judged anthem. For several years this was the nauseating 'For only a day', a ditty so inane that it actually finished last in A Song for Europe. Of course, it was always fun to spot the non-English speakers opening and closing their mouths on the back row but enough of Miss Australia.
After the girls had been crooned at by Sacha Distel (usually 'The Most Beautiful Girl in the World'), Esther, Judith or someone would ask each contestant something non-threatening ('So Miss Israel, what's it like to be a beautiful girl in the army?') whereas we wanted Judith to smile and ask Miss South Africa what she thought of the oppressive regime of her homeland.