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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
Chat show host is France's new Marianne
A popular French chat show host has been chosen to be the latest model for Marianne - the mythical symbol of the French republic.

Evelyne Thomas
Evelyne Thomas hosts a popular TV chat show
Evelyne Thomas, whose TV show, It's My Choice, is watched by more than two million people every day, was chosen by a committee of 400 mayors.

She saw off competition from singer Carla Bruni, actress Sophie Marceau and the wife of France's interior minister to win the vote.

The bare-breasted, bonneted Marianne was the standard bearer of the revolutionary forces of 1789 and has been a symbol of the republic ever since.

Ms Thomas takes over from the model and actress Laetitia Casta who was chosen four years ago.

She shows that it is possible to be popular without being vulgar
Alain Trampoglieri
Alain Trampoglieri, who headed the selection committee, said: "Her daily appearance on the television has created a very strong bond of affection with our fellow citizens.

"She shows that it is possible to be popular without being vulgar."

Popular opinion

The choice of a popular television personality as the new Marianne is likely to anger the purists.

They feel that this prestigious symbol of the republic is being trivialised.

But Ms Thomas' election shows how popular opinion can overcome the Paris-based intellectual elite.

But the new Marianne is far from a non- intellectual.

Ms Thomas has a degree in constitutional law and began as a regional news presenter in Paris.

Brigitte Bardot
Catherine Deneuve
Brigitte Bardot
Mireille Matthieu
She started presenting talk shows seven years ago.

"I don't like the elitist side of things. I like the popularisation of knowledge," Ms Thomas told a magazine.

"Using a language that is abstruse and incomprehensible to all but one's peers - that is not democracy."

Ms Thomas said programmes like hers "allow real people to talk - people who talk from the heart and who have otherwise no right to be heard".

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03 Apr 00  |  Europe
Model choice for France
08 Oct 99  |  Europe

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