Flashback: Ann Sidney remembers winning Miss World in 1964
The former Miss World recalls how her life was transformed the moment after this picture was taken.
BY JESSICA SALTER | 04 NOVEMBER 2011
Ann Sidney being crowned Miss World in 1964
This is the moment that I was crowned Miss World, and I think you can see from my face that I didn't quite believe it. I was 19 years old, from Poole in Dorset, and before this my travel experience consisted of going to the Isle of Wight with my bicycle. I didn't expect to win; I was meant to start a new job in a hairdressing salon in a John Lewis department store the Monday after the competition. The first thought that went through my mind was, 'I'd better call John Lewis and tell them I won't be at work.'
It all started when I unexpectedly won a beauty pageant in Bournemouth in the spring of 1964. After that I was sent lots of brochures about beauty pageants and I saw that you could make money just by entering the heats. So I went up to Blackpool for the heats, and within three weeks I was crowned Miss United Kingdom, which put me in the running for Miss World. Three months later I was in London, staying at the Waldorf hotel and competing against 65 other girls all hoping to be crowned Miss World.
We had 10 days of rehearsals and going on trips, including one to the House of Commons to listen to a debate, and we were treated like royalty. In those days Miss World was the most-watched programme on television. One night we had a big ball with everyone from Sean Connery to Roger Moore among the guests. I got some flowers from Paul Getty with a card saying, 'You're my choice, good luck in the competition.'
After this photo was taken we were whisked away to Café de Paris for the coronation ball. By the end of the evening I realised that I hadn't called my mum and dad, so I kept trying to call them from a phone booth in the lobby, but their phone was permanently engaged. I finally managed to speak to them about two in the morning when I was back in my room - they had had all the neighbours round to watch the show.
As Miss World I was awarded a year's contract as ambassadress for the International Wool Secretariat, which involved promoting the industry across the globe. That year was a blur. I travelled five times around the world in first class with my 15 suitcases, and a limousine always greeted me as soon as I stepped off a plane. I was on television shows everywhere and it was a great experience.
But at the end of the year suddenly I was the ex-Miss World, last year's model. I had always wanted to be an actress so I joined a repertory theatre in Manchester, which paid me £12 a week. It was the best thing I could have done because it brought me straight back to earth. From then on I continued to act. I'm not saying I made a big break, I didn't, bu I did have roles in television programmes including The Avengers, Are You Being Served? and in the Bond film You Only Live Twice, and I've been lucky enough to do a job I love ever since. annsidney.com