I’d like to make one thing clear before I start. There wasn’t a lot on TV last night. And no, that wasn’t a ‘Carry On’ influenced link to the swimsuit round from BBC2s nostalgic nod to Miss United Kingdom and the like.
Back in the 1970s and 80s, long before the dawn of political correctness, such beauty pageants would regularly attract audiences in excess of 20 million.
Back then the viewing public didn’t have the luxury of laptops, DVD players or digital TV with its countless programmes. Perhaps a top-loading Betamax video with a remote control on a two foot piece of cable if they were lucky, but how many times can you watch a fuzzy pirate copy of ET? In a nutshell the public had little choice.
The nation was spoon-fed by brandy-swilling, foie gras chomping, TV execs - most likely lecherous bores who felt this is what the working man wants. Whether they were right is up for debate.
So the question posed by last night’s show was simple – what happened to the beauty queens after their 15 minutes in the spotlight?
First to tell her tale was Tracy Dodds. Crowned Miss Great Britain 1982, Tracy quit over the revelation she had topless photos taken just prior to the competition. Having settled in Australia with her businessman husband, at the age of 38 she was dumped for a 26-year-old.
At 40 she became a mature student and got a first class degree and went into teaching. She was right to be proud to achieve something that wasn’t for her looks, but instead for her brain. She then got fed up with that and jacked it in. Shame.
Tracy now lives with daughter India, an aspiring model, and dog Bob. India has a professional footballer boyfriend and was filmed at a Miss Liverpool contest. Must be in the blood.
And did I spot a young Fred Dinenage interviewing Carolyn Moore on stage before being crowned Miss Great Britain in 1971.
“You want to be a bank manageress?” asked Fred quizzically. “I didn’t know there was such a thing.” A very different era.
Carolyn has fared rather better than many of the other ladies interviewed. She has been married 35 years, and now lives in Central London with husband Mark, running a successful property business.
Now approaching 60, Carolyn is a sophisticated business lady, who still turns heads.
Another Carolyn seemed less at ease with her past. Carolyn Seaward, Miss United Kingdom in 1979, went on to be a Bond Girl in Octopussy.
Following several high profile flings, she became distrustful of men. Occupation-wise, she is now a house sitter and has a strong love of animals. She now lives back with her mum.
Another rags to riches to rags story followed in the form of Madeleine Stringer, Miss United Kingdom 1977. Having married Chas Chandler from 1960s act The Animals, following his death, Madeleine inherited the former pop star’s debt and she now lives in a flat in Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Finally, Della Dolan, Miss United Kingdom 1982, was a savvy young lady who bought clothing business off ex-boyfriend Craig Druper, who she dumped following a meeting with then Manchester United goalkeeper Gary Bailey.
In typical documentary style we are led down several dead-ends with this story. The big reveal being that after a brief relationship with the goalie, Della went back to Craig. They married and have two daughters.
Yes, things have certainly changed. In the 70s and 80s a third of the country would tune in to see dozens of ‘girls next door’ put themselves through the most inane couple of hours of scheduling – well until X Factor was invented that is.
These days, 20 million viewers for any one TV programme would be inconceivable. You could put it down to a change in taste or indeed political correctness, but in reality it is down to the fact that there were only three channels 30 years ago.