Teleprompt: Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model

Elle Macpherson, a bunch of wannabes in their underwear and Matt Cardle's ex-girlfriend... tell me more...

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Hang on, haven’t I seen this before?

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Probably, yes. This is the seventh series of the show that claims to scour our fine country in search of the poutiest and prettiest young stick insects we have to offer. This time there is one modification – Ireland has been invited to join the fun, meaning the show is not just Britain’s Next Top Model, as it was previously known, but now Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model. It means little for the show, but plays havoc with those who like to abbreviate. What was formerly the catchy BNTM, is now BAINTM, which I think you’ll agree is a bit of a mouthful.

I’m listening, summarise it for me…

Well, it’s fronted by Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson. You take 12 incredibly beautiful girls in their underwear and then set them ridiculous challenges designed to push them to
their emotional and physical limit, prove that ‘models have
personalities too’ and provide some essential tears, tantrums and breakdowns.

Basically, the success of the show relies on the presence of a few essential characters. Firstly, a girl who is given Oliver Twist’s hairdo under the guise of an ‘edgy new look’. The whole show pretty much hangs on this girl and her subsequent hair journey.

Secondly, there must be a girl who is a size ten and thus treated like a human anomaly/the hulk (expect to see a lot of her in bikini week). Thirdly, there is the token bitch who talks about everyone until she is found out and taught to be ‘humble’. Finally, for the show to really work, the line-up must be peppered with a single mum or two, and someone who used to be really fat.

OK, so what will happen each week?

In previous series, girls have sent in boring old application forms, demonstrating they are essentially tall and good at walking and standing. This time, anyone can try their luck at open auditions, meaning maximum potential for humiliation, as 5ft housewives with skin conditions march up and down the catwalk into the onslaught of ‘constructive criticism’. This gives the show the X Factor it previously lacked.

After these open auditions, 90 lucky girls will be invited to ‘boot camp’ where they will be whittled down to just 12 in Week Five. At this point the final 12 will be tested through a series of ‘challenges’, with one contestant getting the boot each week, until we are left with the winner: she who stands and walks better than all the rest.

What kind of ‘challenges?’

Those familiar with the show will know there is a lot more to modelling than just standing upright, walking and possessing good genes. Of course, to stand and walk better than anyone else you must also excel in acting, singing, circus training, ballet and scuba diving (all genuine tasks from previous series).

These challenges also enable Elle to manifest her ‘soft side’ as she encourages the girls to ‘overcome their fears’ as they jump off a 20ft cliff into a pool of sharks (task TBC). Of course, with the competition as life changing as it is, these girls will pretty much do anything to impress the panel, even if it means crying, shaking and vomiting their way through hair and make-up.

OK, cool, but who the heck are these judges?

Well, this lot are just too cool for school – the cream of the British fashion industry. Starting on the girls’ team, we have Grace Woodward, a top celeb ‘stylist’. Grace and her thick-rimmed glasses have ‘styled’ all sorts of influential types, including the X Factor lot. Famously, she ended up copping off with Matt Cardle, the chap surgically attached to his hat, who ended up winning last year’s competition. Grace is Elle’s number one ally and regularly sticks up for her supermodel buddy, last year squealing ‘DO NOT TALK BACK TO ELLE’ at one blithering contestant.

And what about the guys?

Representing the men, we have fashion designer Julien Macdonald and ‘model’ Charley Speed. Julien is what reality TV regards as a good judge as he has a mouth that can be relied upon to make comments which, if said anywhere else, would be regarded as hugely offensive. He is the man who famously dared to denounce our dear Cheryl Cole, branding her a ‘chav’. Some might regard Charley Speed as the ‘face’ of the panel as he has a very nice one and it has even appeared in a campaign with Kate Moss.

Are there any other familiar faces to look out for?

Superscary Janice Dickinson, aka ‘the world’s first (read: oldest) supermodel’, will be turning up as a guest judge. Expect some scenes of sheer horror as she almost certainly verbally obliterates some innocent young contenders and/or exposes some of her body parts. Singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor also appears in one episode. She used to be the face of make-up brand Rimmel, so presumably had loads to say on how to walk and stand. Oh, and BBC Radio 1’s Fearne Cotton narrates the show.

So what does the winner get?

The chosen one will receive a luxury holiday in Jamaica – and boy, will they need that! They also win a contract with Models 1, a front cover of Company magazine and contracts with Revlon and Miss Selfridge. Not bad, eh?

When is it on, again?

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Mondays, 9pm, Sky Living.