Top Model Academy
TX: 5th July 2010
Hello, and welcome to a bit of an experimental project - that experiment being "is Britain's Next Top Model actually watched by enough people to justify blogging about it?" We'll find out soon enough. First of all, I want to make a little disclaimer. Years ago, I watched the first series of this show, back when it was hosted by Lisa Butcher and each episode was made on a budget of about 48p. And I loved it, despite its many failings. Unfortunately, after that I no longer had access to Living, so I've pretty much missed everything that's happened since then. I caught up on series five last week during a rerun marathon, so I know that the budget did get increased eventually, and also Lisa Snowdon turned into a giant and stomped all over the contestants, and also that there was someone called Sophie who was excellent television but also a bit of a cow. So, essentially, my working knowledge of the history of this show is a little sketchy, but in my defence, I know the Tyra Banks original inside out and can smize with the best of them, so hopefully that will be enough to get me through. Shall we get on, then?
We open with a shot of new host Elle Macpherson with a sequinned piano glued to her torso, smiling at the camera but also looking like she knows where the bodies are buried. This is an excellent start. Then we go to black, and some soundbites about the show from various publications are listed. Apparently the Daily Telegraph considers the show "a cult hit...on both sides of the Atlantic", which seems a little odd to me, as America's Next Top Model is pretty mainstream, and was one of the highest-rated shows on the CW network last time I checked. Then again, this is the CW network we're talking about, which is generally watched by ten teenage girls and a few cats. Thousands entered, we are told, and the final 25 have been chosen. We cycle through their pictures quickly, and then are told these people must impress the new judges, who are briefly shown giving it some stern attitude for the camera (we'll go into a bit more depth on the new judges later), and they must also impress the Brand New Host (sic): "But there can only be one Britain's Next Top Model," says Elle. Except: haven't there already been five? Details, details.
Extraordinarily brief title sequence. Elle marches towards the camera and then swings her hair at us. Eep.
25 girls wait at a bus stop somewhere in the countryside. In the pouring rain, because this is Britain. Alisha (18, London) says that when she first saw the other girls, she was a bit shocked at how many there were. Oh, Alisha: I haven't watched this show in years, and even I know you start off with a shitload of contestants, a sizeable sum of which will be sent home by the end of first episode never to be mentioned again. Please try to do your reality show homework. Rachelle (20, Surrey) admits to sizing up the other girls. Hannah (22, Cheshire) thinks that everyone is unique and has their own style. A big green bus arrives to deliver the girls to Top Model Academy. There is a frankly unwarranted amount of squealing. Alize (21, location hidden by an on-screen pointer telling us the show is also available in HD - thanks, guys!) thinks the bus was fantastic, while Sophie (20, Buckinghamshire) thinks there were a lot of excitable girls on the bus and they gave her a bit of a headache. The girls board the bus. Nicola (19, Coventry) tells us that she is 19 and from Coventry. Ahh, the long, illustrious list of reality show contestants from Coventry, including Bex from Big Brother 9 and Jo Cameron from the second series of The Apprentice. (Sidebar: I don't have an unhealthy interest in Coventry, but that's where my boyfriend is from and he is well aware of the standard of the city's reality show representatives.) Nicola says that being on the bus was overwhelming at first because there were so many loud people. And also because there are no buses in Coventry. I speak from experience. Charlotte (21, Cornwall) enjoyed the bus, while Harleen (19, Midlothian) thinks the experience was quite loud. Kirsty (21, Cardiff) is a youth worker and a dance teacher as well as a fashion student, and giggles while reciting that a few of the other girls told her that they thought they were loud until they met her. This is reality show code for "I will make the Top 13", by the way. She's not lying, however, as we see snippets of confessionals from the other girls, including Alisha, Rachelle and Harleen, all saying that Kirsty was loud. "But not in a bad way," Harleen clarifies. (I liked how Kirsty wore a fancy hat to show us all just how edgy and fashionable she was. Good to see them sticking to the old reality show code. Also, I'm pretty sure it was the same bus that took the girls to the Dorothy Farm in Over the Rainbow, can anyone confirm? - Helen)
The bus pulls up to Top Model Academy. It is still pissing it down. Alisha marvels at the size of the house. Olivia (19, London) finds it all overwhelming. Hannah just wants to get stuck in. "The jokes are over now. This is, like, serious," says Alisha. I scroll back through the recap so far looking for the presence of jokes and find few, other than the presence of a few of these girls in a modelling competition in the first place. The doors open, and two people emerge. Why, it's new judges Charley Speed and Grace Woodward. Charley has been modelling since he was 17, and according to the portfolio we're shown, has been asked to wear sunglasses a lot. A random voiceover tells us that Charley has experienced the "emotional and physical challenges that come with being a Top Model from such a young age". Delita (18, Liverpool) thinks most of the girls fancy Charley. A selection of confessionals back her up on that point. Delita, however, does not agree. We move on to Grace, who has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years, and is a top stylist working a lot with the Sunday Times style magazine, and has worked with Florence And The Machine and Green Day, as well as winning a Fashion Stylist Of The Year award in 2009. Charley informs the girls that they are two of the new judges. Grace tells them that Elle chose them out of thousands of applicants to attend Top Model Academy, and they must now demonstrate for her that they have grace, poise and determination. "Do you think you've got what it takes?" she asks, and they scream in the affirmative. Charley tells them to get into their new uniforms and report to class. (All it takes is poise...*scream* Oh dear.- Helen)
The girls run, screaming (in general, assume that they do most things this episode while screaming), in to collect their uniforms, which are white vest tops, black trousers, and black high heels. Jennifer (21, Fife) says that the uniforms put them all on an even footing with each other. Rachelle agrees that because they're all nice and tall and slim, they have to work extra hard once they're in uniform. Charlotte tells the camera that she loves her modelling outfit, especially the shoes. Also, they all have name badges, so now they know who everyone is. And so do we, hopefully. The ones who are going to get any camera time worth discussing, anyway.
They stand around getting to know each other for a bit. Kadian (23, Birmingham) is a single mum, and has a big scar on her arm from when she was run over when she was 16. Apparently there was a considerable risk that she could've lost her arm - but, obviously, she didn't, which is handy - though I'm sure this show would've loved the opportunity to push the whole "she's got one arm, but she's still fiercer than the rest of you bitches" angle given half a chance. Kadian says that the experience has made her stronger. Delita's shoes are a bit tight, but she'll survive. Rachelle is excited because she loves shoes. Hannah explains to us that she has an irrational phobia of her toes touching each other. Wow, and I thought I was crazy. Apparently it all stems from the time when she was younger when someone bought her some socks which were like gloves, and now her toes naturally sit splayed because she's "trained them to do that over the years". Weirdo. Getting her shoes on proves to be a traumatic experience for Hannah, but she manages it with a bit of assistance, and the others cheer. She had to "lube [her] feet up to get them in", though. She's going to be a bundle of laughs backstage at Fashion Week if she wins, isn't she?
A classic car approaches. We have a voiceover from Elle, who I imagine is a little out of practice at doing ADR, because she's going a little overboard with the huskiness and sounding a bit weird. Anyway, she tells us she's very excited to meet the girls, and that the winner will need confidence and versatility. She's going to guide the girls to be the best that they can be. The rain has stopped for Elle, by the way, because she is better than us.
Elle walks into the classroom, and the girls squeal. While I'm sure they were told to react like that, I daresay it's a lot easier to generate that sort of response for Elle Macpherson than it is for Lisa Snowdon. No offence, Lisa. Elle stands behind a lectern and writes her name on a blackboard. The girls applaud this obvious strike against illiteracy in the fashion industry. We get a glossy intro to Elle's career, although in fairness, this lady needs no introduction. Simone (21, East Yorkshire) is dumbstruck at seeing Elle in real life. Elle tells the girls that she intends to get to know them all, and guide them on their path with the help of her fellow judges. Kirsty enthuses a bit more about Elle in a confessional, and Joy (20, Leeds) admits to welling up. Amelia (21, Port Talbot) says that she's everything they aspire to be. Elle tells the girls that they are choosing 13 girls to move into the model house, but they all have the potential to win. She asks who the winner is going to be. "ME!" everyone screams. Elle looks a bit scared. Elle informs them that it's time for their first photoshoot with Grace, and departs on those giant legs of hers. Alisha admits that it didn't feel entirely real to have seen Elle, and seeks verification that she was indeed actually there. Susan (23, Dublin) sing-songs that she loves Elle. And then it's time for an ad break.
Commercials. I really feel that Dating In The Dark is the best place for The Apprentice's Ben Clarke, if only because there is yet no show called Dating In Total Fucking Silence. (at Sandhurst - Helen)
We return to the show, and Charlotte's the first one to go for her photoshoot. She admits to being nervous, and Grace tells her that there's no need to be nervous here, in a tone of voice that suggests there is absolutely every need to be nervous here. I love Grace already. Charlotte confessionalises that the first shot was scary. Grace advises her to put her hair back, and tells her that there's a bit of Brooke Shields going on there. Charlotte tells us that she was going for natural and trying to smile with her eyes. I give Charlotte a gold star for her reality show genre savviness. Grace thinks Charlotte's a natural beauty with the potential to do well in the competition. Francesca (20, Essex) is instructed to throw her head forwards and mess up her hair by Grace. She does so, and Grace is impressed by the change in her face. Kirsty is told off for giving too much attitude. Susan is told not to look so stare-y in the eyes. She confessionalises that she talks a lot when she gets nervous. Kadian says that she's trying to be subtle but strong. Jennifer is told that she wears her model uniform well. She confessionalises that she has been drawn back to modelling and art throughout her life and she feels that this is her moment. Amelia is told that she looks like an actress, and Grace advises her to pull it back. Marie (22, Manchester) does well: Grace says that she bounded in with loads of energy and focused it straight down the camera, which is exactly what they want. Marie tells us about her girlfriend, who she's lived with for five years, and who was one of her mum's best friends, who was getting married to another one of her mum's best friends before they got together. "It caused big drama," she admits. Delita says that she was shocked to hear about Delita's girlfriend, "because you don't really expect pretty girls to have full-time birds". Oh, Delita's just going to be an absolute treat, isn't she? Marie says that she doesn't think of consequences very much, which explains why she is on reality TV in the first place. Emma (20, Liverpool) tried to come across as natural, but is told to improve her posture by Grace. Delita's cheeks start wobbling in her shoot, which Grace ascribes to nerves, and suggests that Delita do the horse-mouth thing with her lips to relax her face. Constructive advice on the Top Model franchise - who knew? Chloe (19, Manchester) was clearly terrified of Grace: Grace asks Chloe if she's "done this before". "Done this?" asks Chloe, blankly. Grace motions vaguely to the photographer, who holds up his camera. Crickets chirp. A tumbleweed rolls past. Pages are torn off calendars by unseen hands. Eventually, Chloe's like "oh yeah, I've done some test shoots." She cringes in a VT. Grace advises her not to be so pouty and sexy. Chloe appreciates the feedback. Rachelle says that Grace is terrifying. Amba (20, Dorset) sums it up quite well by saying that Grace holds a hold of power in her presence, which can be quite intimidating. Harleen asks a lot of questions about what sort of picture Grace wants from her, to the extent that Grace is pretty much "just stand there and take a fucking picture and stop wasting my time". I start doodling "Steve 4 Grace" on my notepad and drawing little hearts around it. Tiffany (18, Malta) enjoyed the experience. Joy says that she finds photographs easier than catwalk, because it's not difficult to have your photo taken. Oh, Joy is so going to be the series bitch. Grace says that Joy has perfect bone structure and is very tall, but she needs to know what to do without being told. She admits to being "blown away" by Joy, though.
The girls assemble in another room, with Charley and a catwalk. Insert your own gag about there always being charlie in the general vicinity of a catwalk here. (Charley SPEED no less - Helen) Charley tells them that Elle wants them all to be versatile, so he wants them to show him real strength and confidence on the catwalk. Kirsty says she felt "stush" (and if, like me, you've never heard this word before in your entire life, this may help) when she saw the catwalk. Charley likes her walk and her attitude. Kadian also has a good attitude. Harleen wobbles like nobody's business, but Charley seems to approve. Delita has good energy. Jennifer is told that she's flailing a bit. Amelia "came out with a bang", but was apparently "running before she can walk". The girls all say that Amba really stood out, and Charley thinks she could be winning material, but she needs to tone it down in her face a little. More girls walk. Charley thinks Joy came out with a "lads' mag" attitude, but took direction well. Rachelle is warned that she was walking too straight and stilted. Marie lurches down the catwalk like a zombie, with her arms at half mast and doing some sort of figure of eight with her hips. Samirah (21, Stockton-on-Tees) has a lot of attitude, but needs to channel it in the right way because she's a bit sinister at the moment. Francesca (I think) makes it to the end of the catwalk, but stumbles on her final step, and recovers (after a fashion) by throwing her arms out in a sort of 'ta-dah!' pose, which makes everyone laugh. Hannah rates her catwalk skills at about two out of ten. I think she's being overly generous. Charley tells her she doesn't look comfortable. She tries again with her shoes off, and is better, but still a bit awkward. Charley says that she's a bit "crab-like". Simone was excited when she saw the catwalk, but unfortunately trips and falls halfway across it. Chloe interviews that her heart stopped when she saw Simone's ankle "snap", though I think that's a slight exaggeration. Alisha interviews that some of the other girls laughed when it happened, which isn't nice because they wouldn't find it funny if it happened to them. I think Alisha is going to be very SRS BSNS about everything that happens in this competition. Sophie admits that it was bad that they laughed, but it was entertaining. Simone picks herself up and keeps going. Charley checks she's okay, and advises them all to get up and carry on if this ever happens, and then Simone walks off the wrong side of the catwalk. Oh, Simone. Charley advises them all to keep practising, and allows them to take their shoes off.
After more commercials, the girls are back in the classroom, waiting patiently. Julien MacDonald enters, and they cheer. Harleen and Kadian are very excited. Julien introduces himself for the benefit of those who don't know who he is, but neglects to mention that he was a total bitch on Project Catwalk (my boyfriend reliably informs me). He gets the same overly-drooling intro that all the other judges got. Susan says that meeting Julien was a delight. Julien says that "head boy and head girl" Charley and Grace told him that yesterday was not a good day for some of the girls, but shortly they will have the chance to meet Elle and the panel for a "one-on-one" audition. Except it's hardly one-on-one when the panel consists of four people, is it? Mind you, let's not expect the fashion industry to be good with numbers: it thinks zero is a good size for a dress, after all. He wishes them all luck. (I feel I need to make mention of the fact that one of Britian's foremost fashion designers was wearing a green tinfoil suit for all of this. Don't even get me started on the hair - Helen)
The panel sit, waiting expectantly. Susan goes in first. "You look like you're about to have a heart attack," Grace tells her. Elle compliments Kadian on her swimsuit, which is very Grace Jones. Julien agrees with me, and asks her if she can sing. Elle is pleased to see Harleen, because it's "refreshing" to see an Asian girl in the competition. In a direction that is not at all riddled with unfortunate implications, Harleen is asked what her family think of her taking part in the competition. Fortunately, Harleen's family are thrilled for her, though I'm sure the producers were cursing their misfortune at the abandoning of a perfectly good "I'm battling against my cultural heritage" narrative arc in one fell swoop. We also address how unusual it is for a Sikh girl to have cut her hair. Olivia gets good feedback from Elle. She's asked about her background, and says that she's half-black, but doesn't know what her other side is because she was adopted, and her biological mum doesn't know who her dad is. Julien tells Charlotte she's got a got a weird-looking face. Apparently she is commercial-looking, but with a twist. She decides to view her weirdness as an asset. Marie admits to being terrified of seeing Elle. Joy didn't think she could be a model, but Grace says that she would book her for sure. Delita is advised to ditch the giant blue bow in her hair by Julien. Sophie, who is rocking a serious cross-eye, admits to having been a bit of a bad girl when her parents split up. Amba is asked what sets her aside from the others, and she cites her versatility and her willingness. "No, they're all saying that," snaps Grace, and she asks Amba to give her another answer. Amba manages to say something about this being where she's meant to be. Emma (20, Liverpool) is the people's choice, apparently - I assume there was some sort of online vote? Grace asks her why she's wearing a one-piece rather than a bikini, and Emma explains that she had an operation and has two small pieces of plastic under her skin, and while she's not embarrassed about them, she doesn't want to be defined by them either. Well, it's a good job she's not trying to get into an industry that's completely obsessed with physical appearance, then. Rachelle struts for the judges, who likes her face and her walk, but not her hair. Julien says that all he can see is a girl with a big head. Elle thinks Alisha is gorgeous. Alisha tells the panel that she was bullied as she was younger for being tall and dyslexic. Elle asks Alisha why this is so important to her. Alisha cries, and says that she doesn't want to do anything else. In an interview, Alisha says that she's happy the panel knows how much this means to her.
Montage of girls walking. Simone is relieved that her walk in the room went a lot better. Suzanne is told she needs to be more confident. Kirsty has a good walk, but also a nasty tramp stamp. Night falls. The girls are waiting in the classroom again, as Grace and Charley return to speak to them. Charley says that they will soon be moving on to their first major photoshoot, but there are only 20 places available, so five girls will not be going forward. Grace explains that in the next room they will find 25 lockers with their names on, and the lockers contain blazers to add to their model uniforms. However, if there is no blazer in your locker, you have not made the grade and you will not be continuing. Kirsty interviews that she's sad someone will be going home, but she doesn't think it's her. Amba interviews that the idea of not getting it was overwhelming.
The girls line up in front of their lockers. The first group open the doors. Suzanne does not find a blazer, and cries. The second group open their doors, and all proceed. The third group are next, and Emma does not find a blazer. People's choice! Group four: Chloe does not find a blazer, and actually searches the locker from top to bottom, as if expecting to find a teeny tiny blazer secreted in a corner somewhere. Group five survive. Francesca and Alize are cut. Alisha sings and dances in happiness, even though Emma is standing behind her looking crushed. AWKWARD. The booted girls say their goodbyes. Francesca says she expected it. Alize says she was upset at first, but is fine now. Chloe says it takes your breath away. Suzanne says she's worked so hard for it, and it feels like it was all for nothing. Emma says that getting the people's choice was a massive confidence boost, and she doesn't want to take a knock from this. Also, may I say that this bodes BRILLIANTLY for the public getting a say in the winner this year. Charlotte says it was horrible, and more of them will have to go, but she's staying right here. In the interview room, apparently. The eliminated girls depart. Commercials.
The be-blazered girls return to the classroom to await further instruction. Amelia interviews that the mood was split between those who were happy (the bitches) and those who were sad for those who had gone (the liars). The door opens, and it's...a bald guy. Actually, he's Nicky Johnston, who's a photographer, and has worked on previous series of the show. Susan hopes this means they're working with him. Nicky lists some of his recent celebrity clients, and he hopes that the girls will be as easy to work with today as the celebs were. The theme of the shoot is back-to-school, which makes Simone think of St. Trinian's. They'll be divided into groups according to where they're sitting: the geeks, the prefects (Joy interviews that she didn't even know what a prefect was), the sports team, and the cool girls. Harleen is disappointed not to have been a geek, because she thought that would've been fun.
The girls head to hair and make-up. Alisha would've liked to be in the cool girl group, but she's happy enough with geeks. Perhaps she could swap with Harleen? That would solve both their problems, wouldn't it? Jennifer's worried that the geek group is full of big personalities, and Delita wants to be sure she isn't overshined. Overshone? I don't know. Alisha feels like a trendy geek, like geek chic. Well, yes dear - it is fashion, after all. They're not going to make you look like REAL geeks, they're going to make you look like Hollywood geeks, that's the whole point. The geeks - Kirsty, Jennifer, Marie, Delita and Alisha - head to their shoot. Nicky advises them to be sexy while also being geeky. Alisha is confused, as she's never met a sexy geek before. I make a mental note to arrange a coffee date with Alisha so she can cross that one off her list. Alisha is told to be sultry, Marie needs to be sexy, Jennifer is required to be sophisticated, Kirsty is crazy, and Delita is cute, according to the roles they've been given for the picture. Nicky begins shooting. Delita is worried that she didn't do as well as she wanted to, but thinks she did okay. We go to Nicky for the official verdict: "Delita was terrible. Absolutely useless. I have absolutely nothing positive to say about her at all. The name is so appropriate - delete her." Hee! He's unsure about Jennifer too, who looked uneasy in the pictures. He really liked Marie, though - she was working her angles and gave a lot of different poses. Kirsty gave it her all, and really worked it, though he thinks she overacted a bit. He thinks Alisha was beautiful, and had great expressions and body positions, and probably shone above everyone in this particular shoot. And that's a wrap for the geeks.
The sports group are next: Charlotte, Hannah, Rachelle, Simone and Olivia. Nicky tells them to be sexy and flirty, again - he tells them to imagine they're flirting with the coach, until it turns out that the coach is the role that Rachelle has been given. "You're not flirting with her!" he exclaims. Clearly Marie was put into the wrong group. They begin shooting, and things seem to be going well. Simone thinks it was going well, but Nicky has no recollection of her even being there. Ouch. Charlotte ticks all the boxes, according to Nicky, but doesn't deliver. Hannah hopes she stood out, and indeed she did - but because she was awkward with her arms, Nicky says. He really liked Rachelle, who had a great personality and a lovely smile. Finally, Olivia gets a good write-up, for coming along with her own ideas and trying out different poses with her hair and her cap. Olivia says she's come away from that shoot happy with her performance.
From there we go to the prefects, who are Joy, Susan, Kadian, Amba and Sophie. Susan interviews that Joy was upset with her styling, even though she [Susan] thought it was amazing. Joy, who appears to have been most mistakenly named, starts crying and complaining that she's got the worst outfit. Kadian thinks that Joy was letting them down. Joy continues to whinge that she would've been happy with the other outfits, and that even though she was told to wait and see it when she'd had her hair and make-up done, it's about her whole image, and she can't feel comfortable in her outfit. "You don't get to choose what you wear; you are a mannequin," Amba interviews sagely. "Everyone else is in high heels and a really nice dress and I've got an ugly old person's outfit," moans Joyless. Amba points out in another interview that Joyless is not doing herself any favours by complaining to the photographer about the styling of the shoot. Joyless interviews that she's probably annoyed everyone, but she's not going to act like everything's fine when it isn't. I predict a glittering future for her in the incredibly patient and understanding fashion industry. The girls head out for their shoot. Nicky says that he wants a diva look because they're in charge of the school. Kadian interviews that she's easy to work with because she doesn't think she knows it all. Nicky loves Kadian's attitude on camera and the effort she made with her posing. Susan interviews that she worked her arse off, and Nicky enthuses that she changed with every single frame. Sophie looks fabulous, but Nicky thinks she needs to be more versatile. Amba and Susan are told to stop "lezzing it up". What is the obsession with ladyhomoeroticism in these shoots? Then again, I think most cycles of Top Model do a quasi-lesbian-themed shoot at some point, so it's good to know that this lot are preparing for it already. On Joyless, Nicky thinks she's got it all, but the nerves took over. That, and the CRIPPLING OLD LADY DRESS, I imagine. Amba thinks it went okay, and Nicky thinks she's definitely one to watch.
Finally, we have the cool girls: Nicola, Amelia, Harleen, Samirah and Tiffany. Nicola worries that it will be hard to stand out, but she thinks they'll get a good group shot. They're taking the picture in a very cold room. Harleen thinks they had the best outfits and make-up of anyone. Tiffany kind of looks like Lady Gaga in this picture. Nicky loves Harleen, because she moves around a lot and looks sexy. He thinks Amelia didn't give him anything he asked for, just "an aggressive, slapped-arse look". Amelia complains that her hat is falling off. Nicky thinks Samirah is out of her depth, and may have filled in the forms for the wrong show. Nicola says that she was a geek at school, so she was happy to be a cool girl here, and Nicky thinks she was great at following direction and would be great to work with again. Tiffany interviews that it was freezing. Nicky says that Tiffany was amazing, and was the only one that gave the naughty look that he wanted. And then that's a wrap. Commercials!
The girls arrive for breakfast, and there's "E-mail" (geddit?) waiting for them. Rachelle interviews that it was very exciting because it was the first one. The E-mail reads as follows: "Good morning ladies, I hope you enjoyed your photo shoot yesterday. The judges and I will be meeting shortly to deliberate your work, and only 13 of you will be graduating from the Britain's Next Top Model Academy. Love, Elle." The girls react to this in subdued horror, because they clearly all knew it was coming.
The judges deliberate, starting with Kirsty. whose geek shot is pretty good. Julien is impressed that she looks like somebody different. Charley likes her confidence. Elle thinks we don't see Kirsty's beauty in the picture. Delita gets good reviews for her transformation too. Marie is next, who doesn't look good - though Charley thinks she looks better than he thought she would. Charley's a bit disappointed with Alisha's picture, but Julien is presently surprised and thinks it's a good transformation. With the amount of times we've heard transformation in the last thirty seconds, I think a drinking game is in the offing. Grace doesn't like Jennifer's flat-faced, featureless picture. Julien thinks she's a pretty girl, but not a top model. Elle thinks she might still have potential. Julien calls her a bitch for disagreeing with all of them. Grace is pleased that there's infighting already.
Charlotte disappointed Elle with her lack of presence in the picture. Grace thinks she could be an amazing make-up model. Elle says that there's debate over Simone, who thinks she's a plus-size model. Grace cuts this theory down, by saying that a plus-size model should be size-16 plus. I'm actually glad we take a different path from ANTM on this one, because half the "plus-size" models on there have still looked like toothpicks. However, Julien thinks Simone just looks like an average girl on the street, like something from a cheap catalogue. Rachelle is net, and Charley loves her earlier shorts, but not her group shot. Elle thinks she has a good face, but she needs to learn how to use it. Julien thinks Olivia is attractive, but can do better. Grace thinks her facial features are too clumsy for huge campaigns, because she has a big jaw. Julien doesn't get Hannah, but Elle wants to help her with her self-esteem.
Tiffany was the photographer's favourite, and gets rave reviews from the panel. Charley thinks her runway needs work, though. Samirah has a wonderful face, according to Grace, but is not a model. Julien thinks she looks like she's just off shopping. Julien likes Harleen, but thinks she's trying too hard. Elle thinks she looks uncomfortable in the shot, but that's just due to inexperience. Grace thinks Amelia needs to learn to use her face in a different way. Charley says that he didn't know what he was doing when he started. "Do you now?" asks Grace. Hee. Nicola gets a great review from Elle, and Grace thinks she's working it in the face.
Charley is impressed with Sophie's picture, even though she's not one of his favourites. Elle likes the picture's simplicity, but Grace thinks it's too simple, and believes she has nothing to offer. The news of Joyless's wobbly about her outfit has reached the panel, but Elle thinks she looks great. Grace points out that Joyless will need to either learn to not have these hissyfits, or she won't work. Julien thinks she's a perfect catwalk model, but Charley thinks she needs to learn how to walk. Amba worked hard on her shoot, but her performance gets mixed reviews from the panel, with Grace opining that the side of Amba's face looks "like a pancake". Charley doesn't like Kadian's picture, but Grace thinks she looks pretty and feminine in the picture despite her masculinity in person. Elle has a soft spot for Susan, but Grace doesn't think she's pretty, and that she should be an actress, not a model.
The girls are assembled on some stairs, awaiting the news of their fate. Elle enters, looking beautifully severe, and informs them that only 13 of them will graduate and move on in the competition. The first girl to make it through is Tiffany. Following her are Joyless, Amba, Harleen, Charlotte, Amelia, Rachelle, Olivia, Hannah (who is sporting some Grace-style glasses), Delita, Nicola, Kirsty and finally Alisha, who predictably bursts into tears when her name is read out. The losing girls console each other, but Elle announces that the judges found it too difficult to choose only 13 girls, so they've decided to give one more girl a chance to continue, and that girl is...Susan. Good, because she's stunning and really deserved another chance.
Elle leaves the lectern and walks up to the six remaining girls, and tells them not to take this as an experience of rejection, but one of courage, and she used to say to herself that "disappointment is an opportunity in disguise", so she wishes them well. Samirah interviews that she feels shocked, but that she knew she wasn't going to get through. Sophie is gutted, and says that some people got through that she didn't expect to. Kadian would've loved to continue, but it's not happening for her. Simone thinks she's done the best that she can with her face and her body. Marie cries that she wanted it so much and felt like she could do it. Similarly, Jennifer cries that she doesn't know what else she could've done. It's quite sad, but hey, them's the breaks.
Elle congratulates her final 14, and tells them that the next time she sees them, they'll be in London. They all hug each other in joy, and we leave on their first group shot of the the season.
Next week: the girls are put through their posing paces and move into the model house. Someone is told that she walks like every designer's nightmare, and Harleen worries about what her mum will think of her during a sexy photoshoot. Helen will be here to walk you through it, so be sure to join her!
(See you then! - Helen)