There’s absolutely no doubt that Miss UK is a board game from the 1970s. When else was it so allowed to be sexist and misogynistic in public and on television? I have to admit that I gasped with shock when I found this at a recent jumble sale. I obviously knew of Miss UK and the various other beauty pageants that used to happen in the run up to Miss World, but I had absolutely no idea that there was a board game version of it.
For anyone who wasn’t around in the 1970s or has missed it from those various nostalgia shows that have titles like “It was alright in the 70s” then let me fill you in.
Miss World and Miss UK
Miss World is basically an international beauty pageant that started in the 1950s (by a Brit, Eric Morley) and became known for the way in which women were judged in it. The whole thing started from a bikini competition at the Festival of Britain. A competition that was designed to promote the bikini initially, but went on to create something so much bigger.
The Miss World completion, and hence the national pageants that sit under it, consisted of several rounds. The most famous of which was the swimsuit round, but contestants also took part in rounds that judged their talent, their personality, and what they looked like in a evening gown. I’m delighted to say that Mis World finally ditched the swimsuit round in 2015, but you have to wonder why it took them so long!
Here in the UK there were a number of regional competitions which then culminated in a grand final and one of the regional winners being crowned Miss UK. I seem to recall these regional competitions being somehow linked to local television regions, but I might be making that up. Certainly I think some of the personalities from local television where the types who went on to host the regional competitions.
So, enough about the competition and on to the board game.
Miss UK – the Board Game
Miss UK is actually quite a long-winded board game with players having to go through six different regional finals before getting on to the grand final and the crowning of Miss UK herself. With between two and four players, each player has an entry into each regional final. As you work through these regional finals the winner of each one goes on to represent their region at the grand final. So, in terms of players in the game, you could technically end up with one player being responsible for all the entries into the grand final.
There are six regions in the Miss UK competition:
- Miss England (North)
- Miss Scotland
- Miss England (Midlands)
- Miss Wales
- Miss England (South)
- Miss Northern Ireland
Each player choses one girl from each region and places the contestant cards into their own coloured base holders. They then play a round for each of the regions in the order above, so starting with Miss England (North).
Players place their contestant somewhere on the board and then, in lieu of a die spin the TV camera at the centre of the board to determine how many spaces they should move. They then move their contestant from their starting position, in a clockwise direction and see where they land.
If they land on a Swimsuit, Talent, Personality or Evening Gown square then they need to take one of the appropriate cards from that pile. It will tell you how you did in that round and how many points, if any, you were awarded and the player has to reveal that to everyone. If you instead land on the Judge’s box square you may take the top card from any of the packs.
Play continues around all the players until one has collected at least one card of each colour (i.e. swimsuit, talent, evening gown and personality). Players tally up their points and the one who has scored the most wins the regional final and their place in the grand final. That girl’s playing piece is then placed on the relevant regional spot in the centre of the board.
Then, if you can face it, you start all over again with the next regional final – Miss Scotland.
Play continues until all the regional winners have been decided and then you move on to the grand final. At this stage it could technically be possible that you have just one player who “own” all contestants in the final. Certainly if you’re playing with four players I would have thought it possible that one may not have qualified at all.
The grand final is played in a very similar way, but this time each contestant plays one round of the board alone, in the order that they qualified, and starting and finishing at the Judges Box. As they go round they pick up cards as before, but this time what is on them is not revealed to the other players.
Once all players have been they should then in turn reveal the cards they collected during their round of the board and how many points they gained. The player with the highest score is crowned Miss UK.
Miss UK – Our verdict
I have to admit that this is in no way a thrilling game. One round alone is enough for me to lose interest, but as a bit of history it’s fascinating to think that people actually bought this and wanted to play it. But then again, I guess it was the 1970s. It certainly has a certain nostalgia value and in that way I’m glad to have found a copy. Things could have been worse though – my research into this game has shown that the year before it was published (which was 1975) the same company (Denys Fisher Toys Limited) brought out a Miss World Game that involved dolls dressed in swimming costumes! I kid you not.
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