MISS WORLD HISTORY

Miss World/Miss Universe odds

The birth of Miss World came in 1951 as a response to the new innovation of the bikini, a riske new form of swimwear that exposed more of models than had ever been seen before. Eric Morley initiated The Bikini Contest and receiving as much interest as it did decided to make it an annual event.

Bikinis were soon seen as far too revealing and were replaced with swimming costumes, but once the BBC decided to broadcast the event in 1959, its place in the modelling world became fixed. The annual Miss World contest became one of the biggest national TV events in the 60s and 70s, drawing families around their TV sets much in the same way as The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing do now.

As feminism grew and the position of women in society changed, the contest became less popular but by adding the tag 'beauty with a purpose', Morley aimed to keep the show relevant.

The BBC declined their option in 1980 as the show was seen to be less popular and whilst Channel 5 took up the option briefly in 1998 it was the last time it was aired on terrestrial TV in the UK.

Although Eric Morley died in 2000, his wife Julia is still actively involved in the pageant's rounds, which include introduction, talent, beach beauty and sports event.

The biggest controversy in recent years was when the finals were shown in Nigeria in 2002 at the same time as a local woman Amina Lawal was awaiting execution by stoning for adultery under Sharia Law. The contrast of the two events hit the world's media.

Claims are still made that the show still has a global audience of over one billion.

There are franchises in over 130 countries and fundraising topping $450 million which would indicate that there is still global interest after those early days in 1951.