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Bringing Miss Great Britain into 21st century

Feb 23 2006

Aled Blake, Western Mail


THIS is the traditional scene we associate with the beauty pageant - a huddle of judges watching a parade of bikini-clad 20-somethings parade on stage.

But a former Miss Great Britain from Wales wants to turn the competition into a contest fit for the 21st century by using people rather than panel power to pick the winner.

Model and TV presenter Liz Fuller - a former schoolmate of Catherine Zeta-Jones - has bought the rights for Miss Great Britain. She wants to turn it into a programme along the lines of hugely popular series like The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing where viewers get their say on who stays in and who gets thrown off.

The Cardiff University graduate, who is a presenter on digital channel Quiz Call, says that after a practice run this year, the new-format public vote show will go live in 2007.

Liz, 30, was crowned Miss Great Britain in 1996 - when she was at university studying journalism, film and broadcasting.

Today she is presenter of ITV1 Wales' Pop Factory and has also fronted Record Of The Year .

And she has a burning ambition to make beauty pageants acceptable again.

"Beauty contests lost their way in the 1980s and 1990s because they weren't thought to be politically correct," she told Hello magazine.

"But now they seem to be coming back in fashion. The non-PC thing only came down to the swimsuit round, but now we see page three girls every day in the tabloids.

"So I was keen to rebrand the Miss Great Britain package for an audience that's grown up in a more enlightened, tolerant and laid-back age.

"There'll be no upper age limit, mothers and even grandmothers are welcome to enter as long as they can compete in the beauty stakes.

"My aim is that Miss Great Britain will be signed to one of the biggest model agencies in the UK and US and win a speaking role in a Hollywood film.

"I want to reveal the inner woman beneath the glamour, show that she is more than just a pretty face."

Liz co-owns the rights to Miss Great Britain with fashion entrepreneur Robert De Keyser.

She calls herself an "entrepreneur by nature" and says she was "born to run beauty pageants".

Looking back at her Miss Great Britain win, she said, "What sticks in my mind more than anything was worrying about whether I looked all right.

"You're not always ready to just strut around in a bikini. My weight fluctuated and still does."

This year's Grand Final of Miss Great Britain will take place on Saturday at the plush Grosvenor House Hotel in London where 50 women will compete for the title.

Welsh candidates in the running include Miss Wales runner-up Lisa Lloyd-Hughes as Miss Swansea, Miss Llandudno Laura Livesey, Miss Newport Julie Rees and Miss Glamorgan Kim Tashara.

The event will be hosted by TV presenter Jenni Falconer and alongside Liz on the judging panel will be Michael Ball, Faria Alam and Lord Brocket.

Liz, from Swansea, also revealed she is to start a company designing women's bags.

She said, "I'm setting up a company to design handbags, I've been asked to push my own range of clothes."

Oscar winner Zeta-Jones was six years ahead of her at Dumbarton House School, Swansea, but she remembers getting some good advice from the future Hollywood A-list celebrity.

She said, "Catherine said never give up, and I haven't. It's been a long, hard slog, and I'm happier for it."

Page 2 - Winning Welsh beauty


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