The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Move over Casta, here is France’s new heroine

Paris, Oct. 18 (Reuters): Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Laetitia Casta, step aside — France has turned its back on classic Gallic belles to pick the host of a US-style TV talk show as the new symbolic face of the French republic.

A panel of mayors has chosen Evelyne Thomas, 39, France’s equivalent of American Jerry Springer, to replace supermodel Casta as the new “Marianne” national heroine, whose bust hangs over every town hall in the country.

Thomas, whose afternoon TV show C’est mon Choix (It’s my Choice) often descends into raucous slanging matches over topics such as: “I live with two men” or “I don’t like blondes”, said she wondered if it was a joke when she first heard the news.

“It’s flattering to follow legendary beauties like Brigitte Bardot or Catherine Deneuve,” she told the Friday edition of France Soir newspaper in reference to previous Mariannes.

“(But) in choosing me, perhaps Marianne is being taken down from her pedestal.”

The nomination has sparked a lively debate in the media with other newspapers reporting a deluge of angry phone calls and complaints since the decision on Wednesday that Thomas should succeed Casta after her four years in the job.

Marianne is regarded not only as the emblem of the nation but also the country’s ideal of womanhood.

Thomas, who likes to wear accessories such as studded leather dog-collars, was selected by a panel of 400 mayors, representing the country’s 36,779 local mayors.

The mayors said they picked Thomas over potential candidates such as graceful singer and model Carla Bruni or classy actress Sophie Marceau because of her dynamic personality.

The criteria they were looking for were “a strong gaze, high cheekbones and an original hairdo”, the panel of mayors said.

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