Pukaar News premiered their documentary: Miss England: A Serious Business at The Curve Theatre in Leicester last night.
Guests put on their best wear for the star-studded red carpet event in the city centre and were welcomed by photographers and drinks reception in what was a celebration of both Leicester City’s Premier League win and Pukaar News’ documentary release.
ITV News Central presenter, Sameena Ali-Khan, hosted the evening along with documentary producer, Romail Gulzar.
Mr Gulzar said: “Around 15 to 20 years ago Miss England was a huge deal – it was even televised, but suddenly it disappeared overnight.
“While there is both support and opposition to beauty contests like Miss England, it is our job as documentary makers to present the facts in a clear and non-biased manner, which is exactly what we have tried to do.”
The evening began with a performance from Leicester’s Got Talent winner Lydia Unsudimi who sang beautifully for our guests.
The documentary follows the journey of five winning hopefuls; Stephanie Hill of South Yorkshire, Krishna Solanki of Redbridge, Rosie Thomson of Birmingham, Jade McQueen of Surrey and Holly Desai of Leicester.
The beauty pageant industry has circulated a considerable amount of stigma over the years and it was Pukaar News director, Romail Gulzar, who wanted to give the public an insight into all that is involved in creating the UK’s largest pageant: Miss England.
Miss England Pageant Director, Angie Beasley, is among those that features within the documentary, speaking of her experience of organising the national event and what the competition means to her personally.
Current and past regional Miss’ and Mr’s were shown within the film, talking of their highs and lows of the competition.
Miss Yorkshire, Stephanie Hill, said: “The opportunities that have come through the Miss England experience has been incredible.
“It promotes you to be the best version of yourself.”
Previous Miss Leicestershire, Holly Desai, said: “I did have a few friends that didn’t speak to me when I won, they found it slightly controversial, but you have to take those criticisms on the chin.”
As well as spokespeople for Miss England, you also hear from critics of the contest who believe it to be backwards, sexist and demeaning – an opinion that may be shared by a large percentage of the population for those that merely see it as a body worshipping contest.
Dr Jacqueline Sanches-Taylor from University of Leicester had some opposing comments: “I believe that it is hijacked feminism – a lot of the ideals that are being promoted through the beauty industry are being distributed into a wider community.
“This is a billion dollar industry, one of the problems I have is it isn’t a feminist agenda, you should be able to be who you are and wear what you want not feel the need to always put on a smile and look pretty.”
However, there is so much more to the contest than depicted in the media, and from this documentary alone I learnt so much more about what these young women go through in terms of commitment and hard work to get to the regional finals let alone the national shortlist.
I was amazed by the large amount of money raised by some of the generous contestants during the half an hour documentary, and this was only a handful of the ambitious young ladies.
In the past six to seven years, Miss England has raised £1million through it’s contestants and their charity work in their local communities.
The evening ended with a question and answer session which created a rather divided audience.
There were questions from Sameena and the audience addressed to the panel of which consisted of current Miss England Natasha Hemmings, Ms Beasley, Mr Gulzar and Dr Sanches-Taylor.
Some issues that were raised were plus size models, race and the trials of photoshop, which caused a little conflict among those attending, but flared some great conversation.
Are you intrigued to learn more? – you could be seeing the documentary on your TV screens at home very soon, but for now take a moment to think about how you wished you had been at the premiere last night.
On behalf of Pukaar News I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attended this evening’s event. It was very warming to have such great support from family and friends of our news agency and we hope you all enjoyed the show.
By Imogen Harry