Sunday, 25 July 2010

Doing the 'Do's

Top 13 - 19th July 2010

Hello, and welcome to the week three recap of Britain's Next Top Model. Apologies for the delay. I've been crying about my haircut...Not really, I'm not completely daft. But this is the best episode of any Top Model Series, the Makeover episode. Place your bets for the first one to cry.

The episode begins, as always, with a recap. Last week the contestants were put through their posing paces, moved into the model house (which ironically looks like it is a model of a proper house) and Julien LETS RIP in the catwalk challenge. We see Hannah crying again and relive her ELIMINATION SHOCK.

This week we are promised that Miquita Oliver will set a style challenge (yes, really) and that there will be tears at makeovers and we don't have to wait long to find out who's getting the boy's haircut. It's Tiffany! And she cries. Lots.

Titles, and it occurs to me that Susan is going to be one of those contestants with a posing face. I've noticed that her face in the titles is the same one she's pulled in all her photographs so far. We'll have to wait and see if she pulls the same one tonight.

Delita kicks us off proper by giving her side of the SHOCK DEPARTURE storyline. She said that the elimination was really horrible. We see Hannah depart for the second time tonight. Delita thinks that what Hannah did was a really nice thing to do and she really appreciates it. Tiffany thinks it's better Hannah has gone because everyone in the competition knows what they want now and everyone can compete seriously. Nice.

The girls get the first E-Mail of the episode. "A model needs to rock any look, but can they pull off their Granny's wardrobe. Tomorrow is your chance to see if you can pull of any style". I briefly ponder if this means any as in lots of different ones, or any as in any at all. I'm going for the former.

Harleen helpfully describes what we can see for ourselves. They are in some warehousey place. Olivia is excited, and she doesn't have a clue what's going to happen.

The girls are met by Miquita Oliver! This is another cue for lots of screaming. Nicola is excited because she's a Style Icon. Harleen is excited because she loves her, but Harleen says she loves everything. Miquita is here to set them a challenge, which is not about not punching her, it's about vintage clothes. Miquita loves vintage clothes, but acknowledges that it's a look that can go seriously wrong. She handily offers us a visual description of this via her outfit. Miquita has brought them to the Rocket warehouse to see if they can do vintage without looking like their grandma. The warehouse is full of clothes and they have five minutes to create one stylish outfit. They will be judged on what hey are wearing when the time runs out.

The girls immediately run off, screaming of course, and rifle through rails of garish stuff in sequins. Charlotte panicked slightly. She got to the clothes rail and was unsure where to start.

Joy found the challenge hard because there was, like, so many clothes and she had to, like, put them together. She's no good at shopping anyway, it takes her, like, two hours to find an outfit she likes so she finds this, like, quite difficult. Like. [Joy: aptly named as ever. - Steve]

Miquita spends the whole time with a stopwatch, laughing behind her hand. Poor dim Alisha didn't know what vintage was, so she just told herself to pick something nice. Something nice was some "Batty Rider" shorts, black and gold shoes and a black top. Alisha thinks she looks nice but tell us the other girls told her she looks like she is going to Carnival.

Tiffany tells us she had to find all the jewelry and the shoes and everything. Everyone was taking their clothes off and putting things on. Yes, Tiffany, that's the challenge. Tiffany got a bit panicky because five minutes isn't enough.

Miquita does some more laughing behind her hand. [Disingenuous cow. - Steve]

The result is varied. Kirsty is wearing a belted white shirt with some chains over her shoulder. Nicola has come as one of Bananarama. Tiffany is wearing a red and black fringed Go-Go dress. Alisha does indeed look like she is going to Carnival. Rachelle is wearing denim, shades and a polkadot scarf. Amelia has come as a French stereotype, Susan is wearing the national dress of an unidentified country. Joy appears to be six and dressed in her Mum's best clothes and Charlotte is in a red shirt and leggings. Only Harleen and Amba don't look like they dressed in the dark.

Honorary mention goes to Olivia who is wearing high waisted jeans, a tartan shirt and a leopard print shirt. Amelia rightly says she looks like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Another goes to Delita, who says she is going for a young Michael Jackson look (I thinks she means 80's, not the Jackson Five years, bless) but ends up with the old Su Pollard. This 'look' comprises of a huge sequined jacket with a clashing scarf. Miquita openly laughs in her face. Delita says that she would wear the jacket. Miquita can't help herself and splutters out a "really?!". Rachelle is worried by Delita's outfit.

However, the winner is Amba. She is wearing a hat and a granny blouse with some shorts and looks a bit like Mary Poppins. She is Well Shocked, surprised and really happy. Amba is told that she will get five extra minutes of shooting time on this week's photoshoot. Miquita tells her to use it wiseley. Thanks, model Miquita. The catch, Miquita gleefully tells her, is that those five minutes will be taken from another contestant and she has to chose now in front of everyone. Amba chooses Kirsty, as she has done so well in the previous weeks and is the most competition. Kirsty is flattered by this as she didn't see herself as competition. Miquita tells everyone well done.

Coming up! Soft focus Elle announces the makeovers! Elle tells a crying Tiffany that her hair is going to be REALLY SHORT, like a Pixie!

After the break it's E-Mail time again. Cue lots of whooping. Kirsty reads it to us. "I think it's time you saw a Supermodel at work. Be ready at 11am". The girls arrive at a studio and Elle is getting her photo taken whilst swishing a white dress around. The girls come in and noisily interrupt before regarding her with reverence.

Elle tells the contestants that she is shooting for Marie Claire and it's been brilliant for her today, but what she really wants to talk about is style. She's been going through magazines looking for pictures and images that relate to each and every one of the girls. They're all going to celebrity hairdresser Daniel Galvin, who has done the hair of Madonna, Catherine Zeta Jones and Twiggy, for their MAKEOVERS! Elle is keeping schtum, but she will tell them that one of them is going blonde, one is getting extra hair and one is going short.

Amba is worried, her worst nightmare is getting her hair shaved off. I could think of worse things, but I can appreciate that this is at the forefront of their minds. Tiffany has the feeling that she's going to get the short hair. she just knows it. Amelia thinks that she's in for a bob or a slap head.

All is revealed as the girls sit in their chairs. Harleen is getting more hair, after she said in the first week that her short hair defines her. Charlotte is getting Glamorous Supermodel hair, which she calls the Mini Elle. Kirsty will be going blonde. Joy will be losing a lot of length and she holds up her ponytail to, like, prove it. Amba is getting her natural colour lightened and is told to think Leona Lewis.

Nicola will be going dark, which she is told will make her hair look more glamorous, thicker and give it more depth. Susan will be going redder, and is told to think Julianne Moore in A Single Man. She gives out the least happy "yay" ever. Delita is getting a sophisticated and beautiful do, but doesn't know what a sophisticated length is. [I think we're going to end up naming a lot of things that Delete Her doesn't know by the time of her eventual elimination. - Steve]

Rachelle is getting a Naomi, despite being told last week that trying to be Naomi was her downfall. She's really happy, of course. They like Amelia's hair, but she's getting more gloss.

Now we come to poor Tiffany. Tiffany doesn't want short hair. She doesn't like short hair. She's had it before and it doesn't suit her. She really hopes it's not her that's getting short hair. Oh dear... She's crying before the hairdresser even touches her. Charlotte feels bad because she's so upset but thinks it will look good.

At this very moment Elle herself comes swanning down the stairs to Fergie's "Glamorous". Rachelle can't believe it. Susan says she's a goddess. She appraises the girls. She loves x three Harleen's new do. Charlotte gleefully tells her she's getting a "Baby Elle" hairdo. Elle tells her that it's more a Baby Giselle. I get the feeling that's not what Charlotte wants to hear because Charlotte LOVES her.

At this point Tiffany is still crying and is red faced. Elle is sympathetic. I get the feeling that Tyra Banks is sitting in America at that very moment with the feeling that something, somewhere is VERY WRONG. Elle tells her that she's the only girl with the jawline to carry off that kind of haircut and that she should take it as a compliment. Tiffany says she knows this, and is sorry. Elle helpfully regales her with a tale about one time when she got her hair cut and it was orange and buzzed up the back, and she looked like a boy but she never worked so much in her life. Tiffany starts to look better and perks up a bit enough to ask how short. Elle then gleefully tells her "really short, like a pixie!" and she immediately dissolves into tears again. [Hee. - Steve] They hug.

Alisha says she feels a bit sad for Tiffany, but she needs to dry her eyes, because in the fashion industry your hair has to change so you can stay in fashion. Alisha is worried that she's last. She should be. She is told she's losing the weave and getting her hair cut short. The hairdresser asks if that's OK. It's clearly not. Alisha isn't happy at all and cries throughout the whole thing. That's swift justice for you.

There is lots of hand holding across the sinks and another shot of Tiffany crying. Harleen says they'll just have to get used to it. From behind her copious weave. Tiffany says the only reason she let them cut her hair is because Elle wanted her to have it done. At least I think that's what she said. That girl doesn't half mumble.

Alisha's never had short hair before, and feels like she has nothing to hide behind and now all she has is her face. We return to Tiffany who is still crying. Kirsty laughs in her face as she is getting her hair cut.

Amba tells us that she had an amazing day, first Elle turns up at the salon, then Grace! Grace arrives and shouts "Girls in the House!!" I proper love her now. Kirsty echos me by calling her fiiiaaarce, and saying she's her kind of woman. Grace doesn't know who to go to first. She loves Susan's hair, calling her a glamourpuss and telling her that she looks expensive and luxurious. Grace acknowledges that Rachelle has been through a big change and calls her brave. I can't see what's different apart from the fringe but I'm not a Creative Director. We cut again to the tear filled faces of Tiffany and Alisha. Charlotte swishes around. She LOVES her hair!

Grace points out Nicola's lovely cheekbones and jawline that her new hair colour has apparently given her. Nicola is over the moon. Joy's hairdo moves Grace to dance. She's got a short bob and looks on the verge of tears. Amelia tells Grace she thinks her hair has more style, but would have kept it longer. Grace wants to know how long she wants it. Amelia gives the only correct answer, that it's about what they want, not what she wants. Grace thinks Harleen's hair is beautiful and that Olivia has a femininity she hasn't seen before. Amba has indeed morphed into Leona Lewis. [Amazing. - Steve] Grace thinks it's well posh. She also thinks that Delita's hair is a lot sleeker and she sees her eyes before she sees the do. Grace then moves on to Alisha, who she says is now a big eyed girl and that she looks really beautiful. Alisha says that it will take some getting used to but she does like it. Grace tells Kirsty to Rock Out her blonde hair.

We then move on to poor, poor Tiffany. Grace thanks the hairdresser on her behalf because she thinks it's an amazing job and that Tiffany will like it soon. Tiffany doesn't look so sure and neither do I. It's boys hair. Tiffany can't believe she let them do it, and she hopes Elle can see that it shows she really wants it.

Grace now has a message from Auntie Elle and gives it to Susan to read out. She has to scoot off, but she'll see them at elimination.

"Can you handle the world of Couture?" the E-Mail asks, "Be ready nice and early for some high fashion!"

COMING UP! Nicola looks like La Roux and Tiffany looks like she's going to cry (again).

We're back. It's Oxford Street! It's somewhere warehousey! Bad Romance is playing, and the bit about "wanting your ugly" is cunningly cued up with a shot of some astoundingly ugly jewelry. Elizabeth Galton, the Creative Director of Links of London is here with her couture collecting. She wants the girls to do a strong editorial shoot with her unique pieces of jewelry that are worth up to £50,000. She wants the girls to channel an Urban Warrior look for the shoot and sends them off to hair and makeup.

Nicola thinks she can do this, she's been waiting for a shoot like this. She arrives and tells Galton and the FitPhotographer that she's nervous but excited. They want her to give a strong look, throw some good angles and get the cuffs she's wearing into shot when she can. They think that she did really well and has set the bar high for the other girls.

Joy is out next, wearing a cage which she tells us is worth more than anything in her house. Galton and the FitPhotographer find her difficult to shoot and apparently she's not thinking of her face enough, which is tense with no variety.

Delita's outfit, which she calls a costume, has giant spikes on it, and she feels like Lady Ga Ga. She also doesn't give enough variety. Galton and FitPhotographer think they've got the shot but there's not a selection to chose from.

Amelia is told she's doing her "Rabbit in the headlights" face again, which she said put her off because Grace brought it up last week.

Charlotte told us that there was lights, jewellery and hair on her shoot. she said it helped her get into warrior mode. Galton and FitPhotographer think that she was good, easy to work with, capable and relaxed in front of the camera.

Kirsty's next, and we're reminded that she has five minutes less this week. Galton and the FitPhotographer tell her not to let it work against her, as they would expect a professional to be able to get the shot in five minutes. No pressure then. Kirsty said that she didn't want to think about having less time and carried on as normal. Galton and FitPhotographer said she didn't have anything to worry about, because they got their shot within the first few frames and they like her face and hair.

Rachelle says that she was told to hold the lights to illuminate the jewellery and be interesting and make shapes. She said she used her flexibility to achieve this. Oh Rachelle, have you never watched this before? You have to forget how to be a dancer because modelling is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. She complained about not getting much feedback and they didn't say if she was doing what they wanted her to do. She left the shoot thinking she did terribly, and I have a terrible sense of foreboding for Rachelle. Galton and FitPhotographer think that she was hard work and expressionless, and that she gave the same face in every frame.

Tiffany is still distraught over hairgate. I feel that it deserves -gate status at this point. Susan thinks that she's under the weather. Tiffany proves that her haircut is really bad by saying that they've had to re-wet it three times because they can't find a good style for it and it's getting to her now. FitPhotographer says that she's looking unhappy in the shot. Tiffany later explains that she had been crying all day and all night and this was coming through in the shot. Galton and FitPhotographer say that although she looks like she was going to cry in the first few, her elfin features really worked in the shot. They like her look but say that she has to commit to it.

Susan says she felt like a new person after her hair and makeup, but she goes into the studio and pulls the same face as she always does. Galton and FitPhotographer like her because she is bouncy and brings energy to the shoot, and they like that she's brought her personality.

Alisha next. Alisha has been waiting for this day since the beginning of the competition, and she's sick of sharing the limelight. It's her time to shine. They like her. They say that her attitude is good and that she was keen to please. She worked it.

Harleen said that she was trying to do high fashion, high energy poses but she didn't think they came across like that. Galton and FitPhotographer think that she needs to remember her face more and give more versatility. They also say that she has a bit of an upside-down mouth and that she needs to adapt her face so she doesn't look upset.

Amba gets her extra five minutes, but she doesn't want the judges to say that she needed them. She thinks the extra time is a blessing and a curse. [Someone's watched this show before. Well done, Amba! - Steve] She doesn't need it after all, because they love her. She knew what she was doing, she knew what to do with the dress and she was generally amazing.

Finally we have Olivia. Galton and FitPhotographer tell her to soften her face, then she looks to happy. She answers them back and sniggers. They think that she needs to be more careful she doesn't rub people up the wrong way. Olivia thinks that they didn't explain themselves properly in the beginning, and if they did, she'd have understood.

Adverts! Elimination after the break.

Break over, we arrive in the eliminaton room. The girls are all impossibly co-ordinated and well turned out. Elle is wowed by the fantastic transformation of all the girls, and it's wonderful to see them all looking so beautiful. We are reminded that it's the second elimination and Elle has her panel to help. It's international fashion designer Julien MacDonald, Grace Woodward, Creative Director and stylist who is looking fab in a red ruffley shirt and international model Charley Speed. Tonight's guest judge is completely randomly Noemie Lenoir, who has been in French Vogue, Sports Illustrated and the Marks and Spencer's ads in her pants.

We are reminded of the prizes, although the chance to participate in a Revlon campaign is decidedly different to winning the part on a Revlon campaign.

Charlotte is up first. She loves her makeover, obviously. Julien doesn't like her picture. He wants to, but he doesn't. He says that she looks like a normal Cornish girl who should be eating a pastie, and nothing else. [And Julien earns the ire of the entire Cornish people *rolls up sleeves* - Steve] Charlotte mumbles something about her choker being uncomfortable, and instead of a Tyra-like speech about "working it" or suchlike, Elle and Charley sympathise and said she did a good job looking comfortable.

Next up is "beautiful Tiffany". Elle reminds her that the last time she saw her she was in tears. Tiffany says she is still shocked by her hair. Elle says that everyone has had times when their hair colour (length surely?) hasn't worked and that Tiffany shouldn't let it take over who she is and her personality. They love her photo though, they think she looks like Edie Sedgewick. Charley thinks that the shock of her haircut comes through in the photo. Julien disagrees and thinks it's current and worthy of an editorial.

Then we have Delita, who isn't required to talk. Grace isn't convinced by her photo. She thinks that her feet should be two feet wider apart and she should be showing some crotch. Noemie tactfully explains that she would have given more "front" and opened her legs more and made her face more angry.

Alisha is told that she has a beautiful, neat head now. she admits to crying when she had it done but now she thinks she looks fierce and she really likes it. Her picture is awful, but Elle thinks it's amazing. Julien has seen it before and thinks it's not interesting but Elle loves the simplicity, her face and body look great and the jewellery looks great.

Next, Rochelle. The judges think she could have gotten more strength into the shot by facing the camera. Julien says that she needs to practice in a mirror to see how she looks in photos. I think that if that is the best shot, I really don't want to see the worst.

Nicola's photo is brilliant. She looks loads like La Roux, but in a good way, really. They all love it and say well done.

Harleen's turn. Julien says that love is in the air and he loves her. Grace loves her eyes and legs. She's not blown away but thinks she's starting to work with what she's got. Noemie loves the face.

Susan is unsurprisingly pulling her usual face in the photograph, and it's extremely awkward. It's what the American version of the show would call Broken Down Doll. Julien doesn't like the dress or the pose but likes her face. Grace doesn't understand what she's tring to put across, and that if she is going to play a role, she should play it.

Olivia doesn't fare much better. The female judges think she looks uncomfortable. Charley then goes off on a ridiculous fantasy tangent about how she basically looks like a prostitute in a dirty alley and it's really good. Grace thinks it's tense, and she doesn't believe that she's wearing an expensive necklace that makes her feel gorgeous and sexy.

Amelia's photo is terrible. She is holding a light on her face and it's casting a shadow over all of it. Elle grudgingly admits that she didn't handle herself to the best of her ability. Charley doesn't think she gave it 100%. Noemie says she would have held the light differently.

Julien thinks that Joy has gone from council to chic and that she looks really good, but doesn't like the picture. Grace thinks her hands are in the wrong place and her head is too far back. Elle tells her that she should have put her hands on her hips and looked straight into the camera.

Amba is the challenge winner, and the judges are keen to see how she used her extra five minutes. They love the picture. They think it's simple and elegant. Noemie says she's got strong eyes and when Amba looks at the camera you can see what she wants inside. Julien thinks that she looks expensive, and it's just as well, because he likes expensive things and that Beyonce should move over.

Kirsty is last. Despite her lost five minutes, Julien thinks her shot is Vogue worthy. Grace wouldn't go that far. Kirsty tells her off for ruining her moment, as does Elle. Grace says she won't say it again.

During deliberation, the judges will make the hard decision about who is going home. Charley likes that Charlotte isn't smiling in her picture but feels she could have gone further. Grace thinks that although Tiffany hates her makeover, it was the making of a style icon. Julien loves the photo of Alisha but thinks that she knows she is beautiful and that comes across. They agree that Delita's picture is horrible, but that she's a great girl, but Charley wonders if she's got the strength to go further. Rachelle's face is strong but they don't like her body. They think that Nicola looks incredible. Julien thinks that Harleen looks like Wonderwoman, and that she's gone from a nobody to a superhero hottie. They call Susan Julianne Moore. Julien says that she's nice but he wants to see her go nuts.

Grace thinks that Olivia's picture is so boring she wants to go to sleep. Charley is still enjoying his prostitute/punter fantasy and leaps to defend it. Amelia didn't know what to do with the light and Noemie thinks this may be a confidence issue. Julien says that were there is joy, there is pain, and that Joy's picture is definitely pain. Everyone loves Amba. Noemie says that it's tres chic. Elle then speaks French and says très belle. The love is extended to Kirsty. They love her look, her attitude and she sets the standard for the other girls. It's a difficult decision.

So we're back with the girls. There are 13 girls before Elle, but only 12 will still be in the running.

Nicola is called first. Her makeover made it. Followed by Amba, Kirsty then Tiffany, who needs to embrace her hairdo as her attitude will change everything. Next is Charlotte, Delita, Alisha, Susan, Joy, Harleen and finally Amelia.

This leaves Rachelle and Olivia. I couldn't pick who was worst between them, but Rachelle had the photoshoot of doom so my money is on her. The girl who isn't called has to go back to the house, pack her things and leave. The girl in the photograph is...Olivia. Rachelle is going home. Elle knows it's not the end of the road for her, she has doen well and is a beautiful girl who will definitley continue to work.

Rachelle is sad that she's been eliminated, but knew it was her weakest week. She's not surprised, but she gave it her all and knows she tried her hardest.

Next Week! Go sees end in a SHOCK ELIMINATION! Elle mentors the girls and they meet a pop idol on the photoshoot, although I'm sure she was Popstars: The rivals.

Steve will be with you for next week's recap.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Angst In Your Pants

Top 14: 12th July 2010

Hello! Helen here to ease you into your second week of Britain's Next Top Model, following on from Steven's excellent appraisal of week one. Being an avid watcher of all series, I must state that it's clear that they have upped the time and the money spent on this show, which has historically been a much poorer cousin of its other main international counterparts, and I say it's about time.

And so to business.

We start with another whispered intro from Elle, and a fierceshot of the judges from an angle clearly lifted straight from the X Factor. We are shown, as is now the rule for every programme, a recap from last week. We are told that the girls were pushed to their very limits. We get to see Alisha crying again. We are then told that this week the girls moved into the Top Model house. Olivia tells us that she is blown away by by it. Julien put the girls through a catwalk challenge, and someone is going to be a nightmare, and a lingerie shoot will prove to much for some. We then get a shot of Hannah crying on the telephone, with FashionGlasses on. Remember this, this will be important later.

I for one am confused about these "Coming up" sections, I really can't see the point of being told what we are about to see, especially if it's the biggest events from the evenings show, before we see them. [I think it's just generally the "Viewers Are Morons" school of editing that assumes we need to be reminded there's something worth sticking around for. - Steve] But I digress, back to business.

Fourteen remain to face the judges! We see all of the girls in a monochrome studio, wearing monochrome clothes and pulling their fiercest poses. Kirsty is the most notable in this section for having what can only be described as hair topiary on her head. Elle swishes into view for the titles and leaves her mouth slightly agape for the final shot.

It's not attractive.

Then it all speeds up, we have LONDON shots, a Ke$ha soundtrack and lots of shots of fashion shops, in case we have forgotten that we are in Britain and we are in TRENDY LONDON.

We begin in a loft somewhere IN LONDON. Charley Speed is waiting for us. Hannah handily tells us what we are looking at, two giant frames and a set of props. Charley congratulates our contestants for making the final fourteen, but if they thought that the Model Academy was tough, you haven't seen anything yet, because the competition is really going to KICK OFF.

We see that there are six props to chose from. These are a bunch of flowers, a handbag, a fur stole, a hat, an umbrella and a banana. Yes, an actual, real banana. Charley tells us that the girls will be split into pairs and strike their best poses inside the frames using the props they have chosen, and the poses have to change every time. Now we have a Top Model first as far as I am aware. I have always been confused as to how these girls walk off the street and are expected to know how to pose. Charley actually tells the girls that they are to use what they have seen in fashion magazines to give him their best poses to prove that they can really cut it in this industry. Joy, who is shaping up to be a bit of a car crash - knows better than the judges, lots of misplaced self belief - thinks it's daunting, and she's confused that there's no photographer.

First up are Amba and Charlotte. Amba picks the hat and Charlotte hilariously nearly chooses the banana but chickens out at the last minute. Charlotte says that she was thinking High Fashion and editorial. Big tick for Charlotte. Charley thinks they are pretty good.

Next up are Olivia and Joy. Olivia is invoking bad luck by choosing the umbrella and opening it indoors. Joy opts for the handbag. Charley wants them to think about what they are holding and use it in context. Harleen thinks that Joy didn't seem confident and that she was wobbling loads. Harleen says that Joy thinks of herself as a dark horse but she doesn't think so. Miaow.

Susan and Amelia are up next. Susan wackily picks up the banana because she is so wacky and Amelia the hat. Charley inexplicably tells them to "Arch" and get into it. Rachelle thinks Susan did well.

Next up are Tiffany and Hannah. Tiffany goes for the flowers, and Hannah is kooky so she goes for the banana. She immediately pretends to slip on it. Charlotte thinks that this is hilarious. Tiffany is less impressed and tells us in her unique brand of monotone that she thinks that Hannah doesn't give a bleep. [Seriously, what is up with Tiffany's voice? Is that what a Maltese accent actually sounds like, or is she just kind of...unusual? - Steve]

Alisha and Kirsty up next. Alisha knows that this is survival of the fittest, and she knows who the fittest is. Modesty has no place on this show. Kirsty chooses the hat. Rachelle is next to pick the banana, and poses alongside Nicole and her handbag. Charley tells them that posing is not just about your face, it's about your whole body.

Rachelle says that she is trying to be creative and use posture because she has done *klaxon* ballet for twelve years. Of course, she is told that it is to dance like and she needs to be more editorial. She admits she got carried away with the shape thing. I was left wondering at this point whether Rachelle has ever seen this programme, because if she had, she would have known that being a dancer never gets you anywhere on this show.

Delita chooses the flowers because she likes flowers and it was harder than she thought it would be she had a lot of ideas but when she got up there nothing came out. I decided to forgo punctuation there, because Delita has apparently never come across any in her life. Harleen felt the hat was natural for her and she felt that she nailed it.

The contestants are put into two groups. Rachelle says what we are all thinking - one is clearly the winning group. The winning group consists of Harleen, Nicola, Alisha, Tiffany, Kirsty, Susan and Joy. Charley has the keys to the Top Model house, and in a stroke of absolute genius, the winning group will be first in the house and they will get to decide when the losers get to come in. Cue much screaming and jumping around from the winners. Tiffany thinks that being in the winning team is fantastic. We are introduced to the Top Model house, which quite frankly looks a bit like a fancy Portacabin. Alisha reminds us that she is the bitchy one by telling the losers that they can't come in yet, SORRY! Harleen is stunned by the house, it's so much better than anything she could have imagined. There are goldfish! Mannequin heads! Beds!

Olivia is still shocked and blown away. There are goody bags for the winning girls. Joy tells us in her particularly emotionless voice that she's over the moon. Susan said that she felt like a beast creaming off all the best stuff from the goody bags. [I heart Susan. - Steve]

We cut to a shot of 7 miserable, cold-looking girls sitting outside of the house. Delita tells us that they have made them wait a full 45 minutes before letting them in. Kirsty enjoys this power, and Tiffany feels justified in this as the other girls would have probably done exactly the same. Rachelle thinks that this is not the case, and it should only take five or ten minutes to look round a house. Susan is the first in the pool and the first to feel guilty about leaving the others outside. Once they're in, Charlotte is uber-jealous about not getting her hands on the goodies. Amelia puts some cliches in the meter by saying that she doesn't like losing and that you need to put 110% into the competition.

COMING UP (this is starting to annoy me already) Julien sees if the girls have got what it takes on the catwalk.

We have an ad break. Is this all the work Martine McCutcheon can get these days? Adverts for tummy yogurt? [Presumably her spectacularly dreadful novel isn't fully paying the bills just yet? - Steve]

And we're back. Delita opens the first E-Mail. It is finally acknowledged that walking isn't that hard. They've been doing it since they were toddlers, but can they do it in style? Start limbering up girls, because tomorrow they are going to have to put their best foot forward for a catwalk challenge.

This section starts with a tribute to poor, fallen Sophie from the Model Academy - Broken Heels by Alexandra Burke.

We are in a warehouse. Kirsty realises when she sees Julien standing there that this is going to be a catwalk challenge, because the E-Mail clearly wasn't explicit enough. Julien greets the girls and tells them that if they are going to be top models, they need to master the art of the Catwalk. We are going to find out who has it and who doesn't. We are introduced to our first expert, International Casting Agent Sarah Murray. In a lovely twist, the girls will have to wear gold shiny catsuits so the judges can properly see their bodies and appraise their walks. Susan thinks her outfit is AWESOME. Julien says that there is nowhere to hide in this outfit, and he's right.

Susan is up first. Sarah wants to know what is going on with her feet. Susan gives Sarah a dirty look behind her back. Excellent. Susan thought that there was more to walking the catwalk, she thought it was more posey and vain, but she didn't realise that it was just about walking normally. I'm gratified to note at this point that Susan has a bit of a Sidegob.

Charlotte is up next. Apparently the top half of her body is too "forward". [If I were Charlotte, I would've so tried the "but it's fashion forward!" argument. - Steve] Harleen is apparently the one that is every designer's nightmare, she walks like she is coming out of a nightclub. Harleen thinks that this is hilarious. Amba is too sexy, Rachelle trots and is not taking it SERIOUS. She responds to this accusation by laughing. Olivia thinks that she is criticised too much for only looking in the wrong direction, trying to run and not being able to walk in a straight line.

Amelia fares better. She loves the catwalk and she loves Julien because they are both Welsh. Even though she makes this statement in front of a different camera and in a different room, it appears Julien loves her too, immediately saying that she's the best and everyone should copy her.

Amba is graceful and easy. Harleen thinks that she is a dark horse, one to look out for AND a triple threat (thank goodness, that cliche meter was running low.) Nicola says she never wears heels and her walk is awful, and it is. Sarah says it's interesting, but not in a good way. Hannah isn't wiggling her hips enough. Hannah says she knows she's a terrible model but it's OK because she's a good person. I really like Hannah. [Me too! - Steve] Tiffany has work to do, and leaves Sarah speechless. Delita, as ever, needs practice. Alisha has too much wobble and is described as a Curly Wurly. Alisha doesn't know what a Curly Wurly is.

Joy is awful, but it doesn't matter because she thinks that Julien doesn't know what he's talking about because there are plenty models out there who don't do the catwalk. [There are also, coincidentally, plenty of models out there who never get any bookings, Joyless. Chew on that, eh? - Steve] She is told that she walks like a monkey.

Kirsty is up next. She says that she feels good because Julien is smiling. Julien thinks that she has something the other girls don't. A believable attitude. Tiffany doesn't want a walk with an attitude anyway. Julien has personally arranged for the two best girls to walk in a real catwalk for the London Fashion Weekender at Somerset House. Julien and Sarah both agree that Kirsty and Amelia are the best. They both get to pick a friend to watch. Amelia picks Susan and Kirsty, Nicola. The show is this afternoon and they have to LEAVE RIGHT NOW.

Cue more shots of London, and a hair and makeup montage, in which the girls have their hair and makeup done. Kirsty thinks that this was AMAZING. Amelia tells us that it took two people to her hair because it was so long. Nicola has never been to a fashion show before and feels like a celebrity in the front row. Kirsty is excited but she's ready to go. Nicola thinks that she is better than all the other models. Kirsty enjoys being the centre of attention. Susan tells us that she didn't recognise Amelia because she looked really cool. Amelia felt like she was on fantasy island.

COMING UP (grr!) We find out the girls will be modelling in their underwear with male models. There's pant biting! Ear biting! and Boobs! Hannah cries again.

The girls are congregated in the lounge in a school-photo-like arrangement that they couldn't have possibly gotten into by themselves for their next E-Mail. Apparently it's a fine line that turns a Supermodel into a Glamour model, will the girls stay on the right side?

Susan gleefully shouts out that they are going to be in the nip. Joy wonders if it's going to be lingerie. She's not sure about this but if she wants to win, she'll have to do it.

We see a big country house and gardens. Olivia is alarmed that she can smell animals. We meet Victoria Holt of Fred and Ginger LONDON who tells the models they will be modelling her underwear. She tells them that it is important they know that her underwear is glamorous but sexy, seductive not sleazy and this is definitely not a Page Three shoot.

The girls will be shot in pairs in different locations around the house and the male models are brought out for perusal in their pants. Amba is impressed but Harleen is worried about her Sikh culture. She is fine with lingerie shoots but lingerie shoots with men make her apprehensive.

We have another hair and makeup montage, which lingers frankly a bit too long on the boys being greased up. We meet our photographer, Shane Woodward, who has a vague air
and accent of a pornographer.

Joy and Kirsty are up first. Joy is happy about this because she says it's easier when you don't know what's going on. Eh? Their non-sleazy scenario is a post-party threesome/hot lesbian orgy. There's lip biting and kissing between them. Joy thinks Kirsty came across well, and thinks that she has to get into it otherwise she will have a crap photo. Victoria thinks that Joy struggled and was too aware of her hair. she's not sure if Joy has a good shot. She thinks Kirsty was strong and confident. Kirsty thinks it went well and this is the kind of thing she might be asked to do in the industry.

Harleen and Nicola are up next. We have a gratuitous shot of Nicola's bum. The brief is girly but sexy. Nicola's boobs keep falling out. Harleen is then told to take off her Kimono. She is clearly distressed by this and says she feels degraded because Sikh girls don't really do things like this. She says all she could think about was what her mum and boyfriend would think about her rolling around half naked with a man.

Olivia and Alisha are up next. Alisha thinks that the male model is pleased to have them. She told us last week that she was born to model. She was also clearly born to be on this show. Their theme is Lady of the Manor and her servants. Olivia has to bite the male model's shorts. Alisha initially plays one of the servants but finds this hard as she doesn't have the limelight. The roles are swapped eventually and Alisha enjoys getting the upper hand. [I was quite glad they swapped roles halfway through, because having Alisha as the servant did seem to be a concept riddled with Unfortunate Implications. - Steve] Victoria thinks that this is the strongest shoot yet (out of three) and she loves both but especially Alisha who thinks her poses through and followed direction well.

Next up are Susan and Amba. Susan doesn't want to be too glamorous and wanted to give her picture a rougher edge. Amba is a fan of the male model, Susan is not. Victoria thinks that they didn't seem comfortable, possibly because they may have boyfriends at home. Susan says she has never felt less sexy in her life but hopes that she looks good.

Tiffany and Delita up next. Tiffany looks like something from another planet. A perfect planet. Tiffany feels that Delita struggled. She did. Delita was finding it hard to co-ordinate standing up, a wine glass and an expression. The photographers frustration is palpable. Tiffany is asked to look down the model's boxer shorts. Tiffany says she doesn't want to that and I certainly wouldn't argue with her. Victoria thinks that they did well but tactfully says that there are some issues with Delita. She loves Tiffany, however.

Rachelle and Charlotte are up next. They seem very giggly, playing about with ribbons and doing lots of grinning. Charlotte thinks that they get on well and are having fun. Rachelle offers to kiss Charlotte when it's clearly not necessary. Charlotte thinks Rachelle fancies the model, but she didn't say that. Of course you didn't, dear. Victoria thinks that they were a pleasure to shoot. She reflects what the girls said regarding the energy. She thinks Rachelle brought lots of poses and Charlotte is lots of fun, but wonders what she would be like in a different shoot and whether she could look different.

Amelia and Hannah are up next. Amelia isn't happy. She thinks that the shoot is one big orgy and that some of the shots are inappropriate but she echoes the comments of the other girls about this kind of thing being what is expected of you. They both look uncomfortable. In the VT's, Hannah is wearing a jumper that covers her up completely, with a big penguin on front, seemingly trying to cover up in retrospect. Her boobs keep falling out on the shoot. Victoria feels that Hannah is uncomfortable because she's a "bigger girl" and the garments don't fit her as well. [Which I'm so sure was a COMPLETE accident. - Steve] Hannah says she doesn't normally take things too seriously, but she took the shoot seriously. Cut to Hannah crying on the phone to her mum, saying that she can't do it, and modeling just isn't for her. It's hard to believe that this part isn't staged because she is not wearing her FashionGlasses when the conversation begins but she's wearing them when it ends. Good job, continuity people. [I think they were sitting on the top of her head at the start - she must have just pulled them down at some point. - Steve] She tells her mum she felt exposed and disgusting. It's hard not to feel uncomfortable on her behalf.

COMING UP (aside from me breaking my television) The Judging! Hannah wants to say something! What on earth could it be?

Pondering during the adverts, it becomes clear to me that there definitely hasn't been enough Grace in this episode. I'm actually looking forward to seeing her.

Hurrah! We're in the ALL NEW judging room. Elle is channeling Tyra, complete with new hair and standing as the girls enter. She introduces the judges and welcomes the models to the ALL NEW judging room. One thing to note here is that the girls all look impeccable. I get the feeling they've been styled, but I'm speculating. We have Fashion Designer Extraordinaire, Julien. Award winning Stylist and Art Director Grace Woodward who has worked with Noemie Lenoir and Gorgeous Supermodel Charley Speed who has worked with Prada, Gucci and Many more. Guest Judge this week is The Gorgeous Fashion Casting Director Sarah Murray.

We need to know about the Prizes. A Models One contract, a Revlon campaign and a cover and six page spread of company magazine.

First up are Kirsty and Joy. Kirsty is congratulated for winning the catwalk challenge. She's wearing an odd bandana. She says that the models backstage were friendly and gave good advice. Who said the modelling world was bitchy? Elle loves Kirsty's jawline and the connection to the camera. She also thinks the bra looks fabulous. Grace says she believes Joy and is proud of her. [I hated Joy's picture. She looked like she was in a completely different shoot to everyone else, and not in a good way. - Steve]

Then it's Hannah and Amelia. Hannah says she has been having a kerfuffle, in that she finds being sexy and poised an uphill battle. Elle can empathise with this as she used to feel taller and bigger than everyone else, but learned to work with it. She advises Hannah to embrace her body and not to be embarrased. Charley thinks Hannah's picture is smouldering, serious and sexy. He is surprised. Amelia is asked how she's feeling. Of course she's feeling great because she won the catwalk challenge, which was one of the best days of her life. Elle thinks Amelia's picture is amazing. I think she looks a bit mad. Grace, however, loves her faraway look. Julien thinks that they have scrubbed up well from ordinary girls to beautiful creatures to be desired. Charming.

Olivia and Alisha are next. Julien thinks that Olivia is beautiful but when she's done up too much she looks forced. He finds her natural look more intruiging. Elle asks how it was having her face so close to the male model's boxers. Olivia didn't like biting them. Charley asks what the issues were on the shoot, grinning in a very creepy way. Elle asks him what problem did he think that there would be with a girl in her underwear having her head close to a man's boxers. Charlie claims that it has never happened to him and the whole thing is exceedingly uncomfortable. Alisha is shocked with her picture. Julien likes it. Grace doesn't. She thinks it's awkward.

Amba and Susan are up next. Julien says that Amba could turn a gay man straight. Susan's picture is awful but they all seem to love it. Sarah thinks that Susan could be naughty... [Amba's picture was terrible too. She looked like a blow-up doll with a puncture. - Steve]

Tiffany and Delita are up next. Tiffany's shot is sexy and hot. When it comes to Delita, Elle clearly doesn't want to say anything to negative in the first week so she opts to describe the photo. Julien is disapointed because he wanted to see a great picture from Delita. Charley thinks that something is lacking in the eyes. Pot, kettle, etc.

Harleen and Nicola are up next. Harleen is clearly unhappy. Harleen explains that she wasn't keen on the shoot. She knows she said that she was happy to do lingerie shoots but she had a problem straddling the male model. Harleen begins to cry. Elle can imagine that it would be a stretch for her. At this point I'm standing up and shouting at the TV about how Tyra wouldn't stand for this. [I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU, WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU, HOW DARE YOU?!?! - Steve] Harleen says she doesn't want to dissapoint her mum. Elle thinks she looks amazing. Grace, however, doesn't care about the whining. She says it doesn't matter how you were brought up, you have to get on with it. That's what I'm talking about. Nicola's shot is the favourite. Elle says she's never seen Nicola like this, which is easy to believe because she's she's seen her twice. Charley thinks it's interesting because she's not the most flamboyant of the girls.

Finally, we have Charlotte and Rachelle. Grace was concerned that Charlotte is too Smiley Girl but likes the shot. Rachelle has missed the camera. If she had found it, the shot would have been killer. Julien would buy the pants if he was a girl. He thinks they have sex appeal and the photo is fun.

It's time for the judges to deliberate. One girl has to go.

Elle thinks that Joy is beautiful. Sarah thinks she needs more confidence. Julien thinks Kirsty has transferred from ugly duckling into swan. The judges feel that Hannah needs to want to be there and embrace her potential. Charley wonders if they have the time to waste on her. Sarah feels that Amelia could easily be stereotyped as a whimsical redhead and needs to be more modern. Grace isn't convinced by Olivia. Julien thinks Alisha is a black beauty but she can't walk. Sarah believes she is most determined out of all the girls to get it right. Amba surprised Charley but he thinks she needs more time. The judges think that Susan is very Julianne Moore. Elle thinks she has the personality of an actress. Tiffany is a Maltese sex bomb and is one for the men. Charley is surprised by Delita's picture but isn't sure she has what it takes. Elle sees something in Harleen an dthinks her family wouldn't be disapointed int he shot. Nicola is mousy in real life but gorgeous in the picture. Grace thinks it's "Whatever". Charley likes Charlotte's body and Rachelle is trying to compare herself to Naomi, and apparently there's not the space for another one.

Back to the judging room. Elle has 14 beautiful girls in front of her, but only 13 photos in her hand representing the girls that will continue.

Joy is called first, followed by Amelia, Kirsty, Harleen, Charlotte, Amba, Susan, Alisha, Olivia, Tiffany, Nicola and finally Rachelle. This leaves Hannah and Delita up for the chop.

But Hannah wants to say something. Whatever could it be? She'd rather not know who's photo Elle is holding, but if it's her, she'd rather it was Delita. She's really thought about it and really isn't her. Elle actually asks if she wants to step down. She hugs Hannah and wishes her luck. I'm baffled. This isn't what I'm used to. I'm waiting for the lecture about taking a place from another girl and it just doesn't come. [I know, I just kept picturing how Tyra would've reacted. Probably something along the lines of "HRRNK! WRONG ANSWER!" and dropping Hannah into a tank full of sharks. - Steve] Hannah says Delita wants it more and doesn't want to take her place. She was worried she was losing sight of who she was. The experience has taught her that what she really wants to do with her life. She wants to teach English.

So Hannah wheels her suitcase out of the house and Delita is thrown a lifeline. I'd like to tell you what Delita had to say about this but I watched it a few times and I still don't know. [Apparently Hannah gave a post-show interview and revealed that she was told she would've been given a picture if she hadn't eliminated herself, just in case anyone's wondering. - Steve]

Coming up next week. Miquita Oliver leads a style challenge (really) and MAKEOVERS! It is also totally spoiled who gets all their hair cut off, but I'll save it for next week. Join us then!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Elle's belles

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)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


To those of you who've found this blog already, we will be recapping the new series of Britain's Next Top Model. If all goes according to plan, expect the first recap to go up at some point on Sunday. (Yes, I know that's a little late, and it hopefully won't always take that long, but given that it's a 90-minute episode this week and I'm in the middle of moving house, please humour me.)