Saturday, 9 July 2011

No dead parents yet, but it can only be a matter of time

Auditions 1: 4th July 2011

Well, I don't know about you, but I always like to start a new series with a voiceover from Fearne Cotton, because that always leaves me feeling calm and optimistic about what the future has in store.[Kill it! Kill it with FIRE - Helen] I'm a mere seven seconds into the recap, and already I don't like the changes that have been made to the format this series. And this isn't even the worst one. Oh man, this is going to be a long series.

Anyway, The Voice Of Fearne tells us that over the past six years, six very special girls have become Britain's Next Top Model. Sure enough, we see shots of Lucy, who was pretty much the only winner I knew anything about before last year, because I spent several years in houses where we only had Freeview channels, followed by Lianna, Lauren, Alex, Mecia, and Tuffnuh. And since I'm going to spend a sizeable chunk of this week's recap pointing out the many, many things wrong with the show this year, in the interests of balance I'm going to commend the series for acknowledging all of its previous winners. After all, it's not something the US original has ever done, because Tyra Banks breaks out in hives every time she sees the words Adrianne Curry - and let's face it, it's not like this show has a particularly illustrious history, so you could forgive it for basically wanting to pretend that half of these series never even happened. Lisa Butcher? Who's that? Snowdon? What? And yet, they've brought all of those previous winners back into our minds, and reminded us that most of them kind of disappeared afterwards. I mean, Lianna doesn't even have a Wikipedia page to call her own. So kudos to the show for accepting the teachings of Lady Gaga, and accepting that it was born this way, i.e. kind of ineffectual.

After a risibly cheap effects shot of shattering glass, we're reintroduced to the people who matter: head judge Elle Macpherson, who's looking damn good for 48, international fashion designer Julien McDonald, who's sporting a TTP (Total Tragic Perm) this year, top editorial stylist Grace Woodward, who has sadly ditched the fierce glasses, and whose recent involvement with The X Factor might perhaps have something to do with the show's ill-advised new structure, and international model Charley Speed, who still looks a bit ovine. In one of the sweeping glamour shots around him in this sequence, you can actually see him swallowing nervously. Bless.

This year, the judges will be going out on the road for the first time, auditioning across the country in London, Glasgow, Beautiful Cardiff As Seen On Torchwood, Manchester and DUBLIN WHICH IS IN IRELAND. This year's prizes are a contract with Models 1 (hilariously, this is illustrated with a shot of Tiffany's modelling card, which is next to Joy's, which is next to Mecia's. Where is Alisha in all of this, you might ask? ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOWHERE, HA HA HA)[Fire fail - Helen], a six-page spread and cover of Company magazine, a luxury holiday for two in Jamaica courtesy of Sandals, with business-class flights courtesy of British Airways, a brand-new Peugeot RCZ Sports CoupĂ©, a cosmetics campaign with Revlon, and a £50,000 international campaign with Miss Selfridge, which will feature in over 250 stores across the globe. Holy shit, those are actually some nice prizes. Can I enter? I've been practising my smize, y'know.

Over the next three weeks (three!), hundreds of girls will face the panel, and tears and joy will not be far away, Sadly, Joy will be far away, working on her successful modelling career, which Alisha does not have. Tee hee. Sorry, I swear that's the last time I'll mention that. [I'm not promising never to mention it. I do feel the need to mention her hilarious blog though - Helen] There are teaser shots of what's to come, including Bible Brenda, Julien completely ignoring everyone else on the panel repeatedly, someone doing a cartwheel, Elle demonstrating her catwalk skills, someone doing the absolute worst impression of Father Ted's Mrs Doyle that you're ever likely to hear, a girl who insists "I'm great TV, I'm sorry" (my dear girl, NEVER apologise for being good TV. Lord knows we're going to need all the help we can get), Julien's new superwoman, some nasal bitch with terrible roots who think Elle Macpherson does not have the right look for modelling. Ladies and gentlemen who like other gentlemen, this is BINTModel.

You might think we'd actually be getting some proper content now, but fat chance. Instead, the Voice Of Fearne informs us of what's coming up, which is the judges hitting Glasgow and London, everyone asking everyone else how their summer was, and Charley looking kind of creepy as he wanders arounds the streets insisting to vulnerable young women that he's totally a modelling scout. Montage of people trying to get attention, including someone taking off a wig, someone doing the splits, that cartwheel AGAIN, the "I'm great TV" girl AGAIN (this is not exactly getting my hopes up that they have a rich portfolio of interesting auditions to show us), lots of crying, and someone who wants to be whatever Elle is.

It's time for the Glasgow auditions, and there seem to be some half-decent prospects in the queue outside the arena, so perhaps this won't be a total waste of everyone's time after all. Elle Macpherson arrives in a private jet, because BSkyB bought Virgin Media's channel portfolio and now this series has Murdoch Money to throw around, and takes a private car to the auditions. En route, she informs us that she's just had a text from Grace asking what she's wearing, to ensure they don't clash. It's fine, because Elle is in black and Grace is wearing red. Hooray for averted potential fashion disasters! Elle tells us that she's excited to see the other judges, but mostly to see the "weird and wonderful, beautiful creatures" that Glasgow has in store for them. Hilariously, Charley, Grace and Julien have had to share one cab to the venue. Guess that put them in their place. Charley reminds us that it's the first time they've had open auditions, so they have no idea what sort of girl will be turning up. It's reality TV, Charley, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say "mostly mental ones". Julien "doesn't even know what Scottish girls look like - are they fat, thin, tall, do they eat haggis, do they drink whiskey? Are they very fond of their children?" Wow, I never thought I'd be drawing a direct intellectual link between Julien Macdonald and Susan Ma. These are indeed mysterious times.

We see the girls filling out forms (thrilling television!), and one of them interviews that the competition looks tough today. Elle arrives up an escalator, wearing awful leather trousers and a bizarre feathery shrug that makes her look like a tall, leggy crow. She hugs Charley and Grace, and then exclaims: "Julien! Your hair! What is it, with that haircut? My God!" Attagirl. Julien claims he's turning into Elle, bit by bit. Elle laughs in his face. The judges sit down for a pow-wow, and Elle explains that she wants to be more rigorous about height this year, and to find girls who actually have style. Julien tries to interject that they want to see "somebody that stood out from the crowd who actually looked like a model, perhaps was a bit special, perhaps a style guru--" before a visibly bored Elle cuts him off with "well, we've got a lot of girls to see." HA! I love Elle so much right now. Elle says that she needs ten minutes to get her face on, at which point the others needle her about keeping them waiting for four hours while she swanned in from her private jet. Elle's all "fuck you, I was in Geneva with people who actually matter." Makes a difference from Lisa Snowdon turning up and going "sorry, I was busy doing radio with Johnny Vaughn and saying 'breakfast' in a really strange overemphatic way on those Belvita adverts", I suppose.

They march onto the set, totally drunk on the sense of power already, and a group of girls in black towelling dressing gowns are paraded by the corridor. Man, how embarrassing that they all turned up wearing the same outfit! What are the odds? A girl in a Russian hat says that she's different, and she thinks the judges will see her sense of style and passion. Already I do not care. A moon-faced girl thinks her competitors are gorgeous, but that she's got an edge. They troop into the room, and Julien asks them to show their best catwalk, which one girl demonstrates by stomping forward awkwardly, hunched over and staring at the floor. Grace: "My yoga teacher says if you look down, that's the way you're going to go." Your yoga teacher sounds like a pervert, Grace. Julien tells Moonface that she has fantastic bone structure and a really interesting face. Elle asks how tall she is, and Moonface says she's 5'9", which Elle disputes. Moonface catwalks for us, and it's not bad. Russian Hat Girl tells the judges that she's currently a care assistant, and she's an accomplished highland dancer. Charley asks her to tell them something else interesting about herself, and she replies that she made it to the top three of Fife's Next Top Model. The top three. Of Fife's Next Top Model. Seriously, she's not even the best model in Fife [I come from next door to Fife. This is nothing to crow about - Helen]. I think we all know where this is going, as does Elle, who's cracking up already. Julien asks her to remove the hat, and then wonders if perhaps she should have left it on after all. The girls are temporarily dismissed so the judges can talk: primarily about Russian Hat Girl, who Grace thinks was "so brave" to dance for them. Julien liked the second one (Moonface) and the end one (random blonde girl whom we only saw walking), and Charley agrees. They are summoned back in, and Julien asks "Holly" (aka Moonface) to step forward, because she's made it through. Oh good God, this sub-X Factor bullshit is going to actually kill me. Outside, Holly interviews that she's very pleased, and gets hugs from the others.

In the next group is 20-year-old Tanya, whom we saw in the montage earlier, wanting to be what Elle is. Tanya wants to win the show so that she has something in her life to be proud of. In the auditions, Julien asks her what makes her better than all the people standing next to her, and Tanya says that she's really driven. Grace pushes for more details on specifically what makes Tanya special enough to win this thing, and Tanya responds "it's not all about being pretty, is it? It's about wanting to do something." Tanya struts for the judges, and since the people standing next to her are all super-dull, everyone is sent out. Tanya interviews that she's not very good in those situations with her nerves. Julien thinks that Tanya and a girl with stunning blue eyes and an adorable pixie cut from that group had potential. They're sent back in. The pixie cut girl, Tessa, is told she's through to the semi-finals, while the others are dismissed - except for tearful Tanya, who's asked to stay back for a minute. Elle tells her that they are "undecided" (read: the producers realised they could milk this one for tears if they got her to talk a bit more, dammit), so they want her to show them something to encourage them to put her through. Tanya thinks, and says that she wants to be able to prove herself to the people that put her down, and prove to them that she came out of things better than they did. DING DING DING, that is the reality TV gold the producers were looking for. Elle says that the panel would like to give her the opportunity to move into the next round. 'Just The Way You Are' by Bruno Mars plays, because that's exactly where this show's heading now. Mark my words, next year they'll be doing this exact same shit, with the "added bonus" of it all being in front of a live audience. Tanya exits, and hugs a seriously cute guy I'm assuming is her boyfriend. He look a bit like PC from NYC Prep, actually. I seriously covet the jumper he is wearing.

Adverts. I would spend a lot more time in Holland & Barrett if I thought it meant Gethin Jones would strike up a conversation with me, even if it was just about food supplements.

When we return, we're still in Glasgow (small mercies: in its efforts to imitate The X Factor, at least the show hasn't yet picked up that annoying habit of switching to a different city after every ad break). While the judges see more hopefuls, we're introduced to two "familiar faces" - Samirah and Jennifer, who made it to fashion academy last year. I recapped that episode, and I have no recollection of either of them, though referring to the recap confirms that they were indeed there, as does the washed-out weepy flashback we are treated to at this point. Jennifer explains that her failure last year was due to lack of confidence, so she's gone away and built up a good portfolio to prove to herself that she can do it. Samirah, similarly, thinks confidence is the key and wants to show the judges just how much she wants this. By a massive coincidence that is in no way contrived, they're in the same group. Elle and Grace pretend to recognise them, Charley and Julien don't bother. Grace asks them why they should put them through now when they didn't get put through last season. This is a valid point, especially since DELETE HER got put through last season. Although the correct answer here is "Krista White", who failed five auditions for America's Next Top Model, and then finally got selected for cycle 14, which she won. Samirah, however, opts for telling them that she knows she's got what it takes to be a top model." Julien: "Well, keep living the dream." Heh, he's such a bitch. They turn to Jennifer, who says she wanted to prove to herself that she could do this, and Grace is all "you mean after four industry experts told you that you couldn't?" Jennifer counters that they must have at least seen some potential in her to have let her get that far in the first place. Fair point. Julien says that she's one of the best they've seen today, and he loves her look, and she seems like a nice girl who's come back with lots of confidence.

They're temporarily dismissed, and head back outside, where Samirah tells the cameras that she thinks Julien McDonald was "a bit of...a bit harsh". You just know the word "cunt" featured somewhere in the initial version of that sentence. Back in the room, Elle wonders if they might owe it to Samirah to put her through. Grace: "We don't owe anything to anybody, she's not going to cut it." Julien likes Jennifer, though, and wants to give her a chance. Charley fakes snoring, which is kind of funny considering that he's done so little all day you really could mistake that for him actually being asleep. They're summoned back in, and Elle announces that she will be calling out two names: Chelsea, who had no airtime whatsoever, and Jennifer. They're in the semi-finals. Samirah is not. Alexandra Burke trills on the soundtrack.

20-year-old Jade announces that her secret weapon is her personality, and that's what she's going to use to become the next top model. Elle groans that they've been sat there all day and want to be entertained. Yeah, I'm sure their lives are SO HARD. One girl does the splits, while Jade does the aforeseen worst ever impression of Mrs Doyle. It's so bad. Not content with that, she launches into a slightly-better impression of Lorraine Kelly (though to be fair, you just try and find me someone who can't do a good Lorraine Kelly impression) and Heather Small, which is not even as good as the ones that Sarah Hadland does on Miranda. Elle asks one girl to take her identification sticker off her tits so they can get a good look at them. She does indeed have an impressive cleavage; Elle asks the girl if the boobs are hers, and she says they are, though that might well just mean she's finished paying for them. Julien gets super-creepy (more so than usual) and calls her a "Turkish delight". Outside, she hopes that she'll get through because the judges liked her boobs, at which the other girls giggle. Elle thinks she's definitely up there with the girls they've put through, and Julien says that she's Turkish about six more times. He's determined to become the Louis Walsh of this show, isn't he? The auditionees are brought back in, and Julien compliments them all on their personality. He calls Gisele, his Turkish delight, forward, and she has made it through. She is very happy.

The day's final group of girls were found randomly in Glasgow yesterday when Charley went street-casting. Shall we see how that went? Charley finds one likely contender: he asks her how tall she is, and she's 5'9", which is good, but then he asks how old she is, and she's 29, which is VERY VERY BAD. "Aw," says Charley. He explains that the criteria for a model is quite strict: "Looks-wise you can get quite creative, but there's a certain shape that is pretty much just a given." So you can look however you like as long as you're tall and thin: handy to know. He runs after another girl, who is interested in coming to an audition. He interviews that they've got their first one, as the girl fills in the paperwork in the shot behind him. Well, I guess it's nice that they keep us up to speed on every part of the process. He finds another girl outside The Fraser Building, but when she hems and haws about her height, he realises she's not tall enough for the show. Charley heads into some sort of café, where he finds a girl who is borderline height-wise, but he decides her look is not right for the show. Another girl recognises him from being Off The Telly, and agrees to come to an audition. He finds another tall, thin girl to audition. In a shopping centre, he finds a girl who definitely has a model-look (nice, clean complexion, tall, thin, lovely trendy haircut) who is supposed to be at college tomorrow, but agrees to try and sneak out to come to the audition. I fear this won't end well. Also, would it kill the show to give us names for any of these people? Help a recapper out, here.

So Charley found four girls in total, and now it's time for the judges to meet them. Grace is impressed and thinks Charley chose well, and Elle agrees. He gets them all to walk, and the third one found is quite timid - "but you can learn", Charley points out. The first girl found goes next, and Grace finds her walk "half-hearted". Charley shows her how to walk with confidence and strength. The girl who recognised Charley goes next, and gives them a bit of sass and a wiggle as she walks. After the girls are sent out, Grace and Elle congratulate Charley again on his good work, and Grace thinks there are two worth talking about. Julien: "Oh, there's not." Heh. The timid-walker reminds Grace of a London catwalk type, but Julien disagrees. Grace, Charley and Elle vote to put her through, but Julien remains unconvinced. The girls stomp back in, and Charley thanks them all for coming in and not phoning the police or anything. The tall girl, Catherine (/Katherine/Katharine/Kathryn), is through to the next round if she wants that to happen. She does. Hooray! Meanwhile, that last girl skipped college for nothing. See, this is a lesson to all of us: stay in school, kids!

That's it for Glasgow. Elle wants to go home and see her kids. Julien too wants to go home and see Elle's kids. Elle pulls up her trousers, having momentarily mistaken this for last year's live final. Charley likes that the new process is more interactive, while Grace likes that they're involved from the beginning, rather than being handed a bunch of girls by the producers that they wouldn't have personally chosen. Because I'm sure that isn't still happening on a lesser scale or anything. Meanwhile, Steve thinks the new format sucks, because it's basically like The X Factor, except less well put-together. I mean, I hate the comedy bad auditions on that show as much as the next person, but at least I can appreciate the narrative arc they're trying to create with heroes and villains and highs and lows and whatnot. By contrast, this so far has just been a constant stream of girls, some of whom can model, some of whom cannot, and there's very little to either get excited about or sneer at. Perhaps it doesn't help that "modelling potential" is far more subjective than "ability to sing", either. Either way, I just don't feel I'm getting anything from this process that I didn't get faster and more enjoyably last year when the selection process was about thinning down (no pun intended) 25 girls to 13 finalists. Essentially, in trying to fix something that wasn't broken, they've just made it worse.

Oh, they're still walking out of Glasgow, by the way. They're really taking their sweet time over this. Julien's belt is buckled at the back. These high-fashion people and their ways. Elle is snapped by the paparazzi as she leaves the arena.

After the ads, we're in London, where the auditions will be held at Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club. An auditionee talks about how important it is to be unique and different. I don't think we see her again, so I doubt she turns out to be either of those things. Once again, Elle turns up in a swanky chauffered car all by herself, excited to see the girls that London has to offer. She thinks the people here have fantastic dress sense, which suggests that she probably does not spend a lot of time in Shoreditch. Grace and Charley arrive together, and Grace is excited to be in her home town, though warns us all that "this better be good." Incidentally, I was monitoring Twitter while watching the show (and frequently sending updates along the lines of "GET ON WITH IT") and Grace posted that she was "ill for London not my best day", so y'know, bear that in mind for the rest of the episode. Charley does a hilariously half-hearted "Chelseaaaaa!" chant in honour of their location.I don't think he goes to football matches very often. Julien arrives having obtained a couple of trophies from somewhere. It's best not to ask too many questions, perhaps.

In the holding room, girls are being measured, and some of them are proving too short for the show's minimum height requirement of 5'8", despite their best efforts at giving themselves big hair. One such girl interviews that she's just turned eighteen and was super-keen to get here, but concedes that there was always next year, and she might have grown by then. Not impossible, I suppose, but it might be a sensible idea to have a plan B, career-wise. Other girls practice their model poses in front of the mirror. Can we get on with it, please?

One classically good-looking girl with a giant afro declares "nothing scares me, this competition don't scare me, I'm just going to work my hardest, try my best, I think that will be enough." Another girl who claims to be "quite unique" (it's not something you can qualify, dear, you either are or you aren't) and "enjoy[s], like, modelling" thinks she's in with a chance. A very tall girl thinks she has the potential to be a model, and that she could be an asset to the competition. Charley asks them if they're tough enough for the industry, and one girl (seriously, NAMES already) says that she responds well to criticism. Asked to describe herself in three words, she says "creative and spontaneous". I'm not sure you're supposed to count the "and", love. She also urges the judges that while she might seem quiet, she's really fun. Grace asks her to catwalk, and Julien thinks she has a nice face, but is hiding it behind her hair. The next girl looks a lot like Victoria from cycle 9 of ANTM, and impresses Charley with her waggle. Elle asks her about her bra size, just because (34D, if anyone's interested). Another girl does some sort of spoken word piece which she has prepared in advance, but starts crying during the delivery of it. Grace worries that she doesn't have the thick skin required for the industry. Afro girl struts for the judges, and Julien thinks she's very sexy. She asks the judges if they want to see her without the afro, because as it turns out, it's a wig, and they declare her "cheeky". I'm FURIOUS, because now what am I going to call her? The artist formerly known as Afro Girl? [She had a weave under her wig. How hot must she have been? I can't even imagine...- Helen]

They're sent out again so the judges can chat. Elle likes them all; Grace didn't like any of them. Spoken Word Girl hopes to get through. Charley likes Spoken Word Girl and Creative And Spontaneous Girl. Julien also liked CAS Girl, because she's quite athletic, and Elle agrees that she was great. Grace disagrees, thinking she has "a funny little English face; she'd do nothing in photography". TAFKA Afro Girl thinks there was a lot of things that she wanted to say, but she was short of time. Elle suggests making them all walk once more, and Charley adds that they should make them all walk together. They do this, and Grace announces that they'll be putting through Cat (/Kat), aka Creative And Spontaneous Girl, and Little Miss Afro. Apparently that is her actual name. Elle wants to put through Ana, the Spoken Word Girl. Victoria Lookalike cries outside that she's "heartbroken". Eh.

Montage of girls trying to look interesting. There's the girl we've seen cartwheeling a million times already, and someone dancing. Julien heckles: "Step-ball-change, - I could do it better than that!" He gets up and demonstrates for everyone. This brings us to 18-year-old Melanie, otherwise known as Great TV. Melanie tells us that she has the walk and the personality, that she can do commercial, beauty and high-fashion, and she's the biggest competition in this room. She's also the biggest idiot in this room, but you probably didn't need me to tell you that. [She had the ability to do everything except put on false eyelashes credibly - Helen] In front of the judges, she tells them that she's a singer and dancer, and they'll never find anyone like her, because she is (say it with me now) "great TV, I'm sorry". A horrified-looking Grace asks her why she's so brilliant, and Melanie responds that she's creative, and as a dancer, knows how her body looks. She's passionate, and determined to perfect and finish things. Charley asks her if she thinks she might be too much, and Melanie insists that she's too much "in a good way". She walks for the judges, and Julien thinks she's been practising. Charley thinks she reminds him of Lois Lane from the original Superman films. Once Melanie and the other poor sods she was grouped with have been sent out, Julien says that he liked her, but she's not a model. Elle and Grace think she looks older than 18, with Grace saying emphatically "my arse!" They all agree that she'll do something, just not this. The girls are called back in, and told that none of them are through. Melanie cries that if they just give her a chance, etc etc. Grace tells her that she's got a big personality, but she's not modelling material, and that they're trying to help her by not putting her through, so that she can find what she is suited to. They're such humanitarians, this lot. I bet it had nothing to do with them not being able to stick her.

The morning continues, and the pickings are slim, and not in a model-esque way. Presumably, with all of this show's new-found X Factor leanings, we're just waiting for The One Good Contestant Who Turns Everything Around.

Adverts. Stephen Merchant's voice-over in those Barclays adverts annoys the hell out of me. "Oh look, my voice is dripping in irony. Life is wonderful when you're never sincere about anything." Fuck off.

On our return, Voice of Fearne reminds us that so far, London basically sucks. They line up some Sia for us on the soundtrack as 22-year-old Brenda from Uganda struts down the corridor, who has always wanted to be a model and believes that dreams can come true. Presumably she owns a few Gabrielle CDs. In the audition, Grace asks Brenda what special item she'd bring if she got through to the house - presumably this is for the radio spinoff, Model Island Discs. Brenda says she'd bring her Bible, because that would be her strength. This rings some alarm bells on the panel, and Charley asks her how she would cope with the more steamy and sensual shoots, because obviously anyone who reads the Bible is a frigid, humourless fun-sponge. Brenda says that she's done bikini shoots and spoken to her pastor, and determined that it all comes down to the mindset that you have when you're doing it. Elle is pleased that Brenda's not one of those Christians after all, and Grace thinks that since God gave Brenda her body, He wouldn't mind her workin' it. Brenda walks for them, and Charley likes how relaxed she is. Elle thinks she's very graceful. Julien thinks they might have found the new Alek Wek. Up next is a Tuffnuh lookalike, and Julien asks her how she'd feel if they shaved her hair off. She would be fine with it, which Julien takes to mean she'd do anything to win. Reason No 382 Why Elle Is Better Than Tyra Banks: Elle says, "Not anything. That makes them sound like they're really cheap and nasty." Then Elle does sexyface, and it's hilarious.

The girls go out, and Elle says that she likes Girl No. 5 because of her Tiffaliciousness. Charley says that he spotted a mile away that (sing-song) "that's somebody's favourite" - I don't quite know if he meant Tiffany must've been this girl's favourite because of the look, or that she would be Elle's favourite because she looked like Tiffany, but Elle takes it to mean the latter, and says that she doesn't know if the girl's a favourite, but she's definitely a contender. Outside, Tuffnuh Redux says that she was very nervous, but that there was a lot of smiling going on, so she's hopeful. Julien liked "the Bible girl", and Elle liked that she'd already discussed the potential conflicts with her pastor. Julien whinges that Bible-bashers are boring and "don't do anything", having not even remotely made a snap decision as soon as he heard the word "Bible" or anything. Elle calls him judgmental. Take the "judg-" part off, Elle, and you might be getting there.

Time to see who goes through. First is Jordan, the Tiffalike, and she screams with joy, so Elle says she's glad she put her through if she's that enthusiastic. The other girl going through, chosen for her looks and her elegance, is Brenda. Brenda cries, and thanks the judges. Elle says that she's a little bit worried, because it seems like there's a "heavy weight" on her. Brenda just sniffs that it's so good when someone says yes, because she's already had so many rejections from agencies, and she was wondering what was wrong with her. Grace tells her to stop, otherwise she'll set Grace off crying as well. I refuse to believe that Grace cries. I know she got a bit teary last season, but that was just CGI. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. As Brenda and Jordan embrace in the corridor, Grace remarks on how "real" Brenda's tears were, more real than anyone else in that room. Because their ability to cry is what matters. This is reality TV, after all. Brenda tells the cameras she has a bright future ahead.

There's a montage of girls who were apparently too boring to get any real airtime. One of them makes a call home, saying "I think I'm going to have to be a stable girl for the rest of my life. [Pinteresque pause.] No, they said yes! Tee hee!" Oh, cram it, Horsey. Elle decides it's time to break for lunch, at which point everyone goes to the services table and cracks jokes about how no one in fashion eats anything. Charley claims that, as a model, he just has a bread roll. And then presumably throws it up afterwards, because it's full of carbs. Julien has one piece of melon. No wonder he behaves like that - his brain is clearly starved.

After that, more auditions: Julien mocks a girl's arm-out pose, and he and Grace burst into an impromptu rendition of 'Stop! In The Name Of Love'. One girl comes up to kiss Charley, at which point all of the other girls in her group quickly follow suit. Another girl, who has claimed to be a typical Essex girl, is asked by Grace if she has a vajazzle. Elle, a mixture of curious and horrified, "what is that?" The girl explains, and Elle's all "oh yeah, I wear those", having apparently not quite understood.

Elle tells the others that she has a shoot tomorrow and is off, but she trusts them to be her eyes and ears. With that, she departs, but not before Julien cajoles her into doing "her best catwalk", which Grace describes as "Fiercey McFiercey". I don't think that's going to catch on.

Up next is 23-year-old Jessica, and due to her ADVANCED AGE it's her last chance to apply for the competition, and "realistically, her last chance to fulfill her dream of modelling". It's very bold of Voice of Fearne to suggest that this show and realism have any connection whatsoever. Anyway, we're getting a bit of Rihanna's 'Take A Bow' on the soundtrack, so there are going to be tears here, obviously. Jessica interviews that she's always felt that modelling was in her, and that her mum claims she could feel her stomping around in the womb. She wants to be iconic.

In the audition room, Julien likes Jessica's coat and is getting excited about her, but Grace insists that she takes it off. Jessica suggests that she could walk as she does so, and does a little strut down the makeshift-catwalk, taking her coat off and dragging it behind her. Grace does a Darth Vader-type "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" and sighs that such things are the epitome of horrible, commercial catwalking. Oops. Julien wants to see her in her bikini, and calls her "Wonder Woman" when she takes her dress off. Jessica and chums are sent out, and the people in her group think she's definitely through, but Jessica doesn't want to count her chickens just yet. Julien thinks she has an incredible body and confidence, but thinks she's a bit mannish because her body is so athletic. However, Julien wants to show her to Elle. The girls are summoned back in, and Julien says they're looking for someone unique, and that person is..."Ms Dynamite, Jess." Jessica cries, and Julien tells her that she is "completely different", and Grace thinks she's "extraordinary, and that's what we're looking for." Jessica hugs the judges, and then goes out to break the good news to someone on the phone, because she hadn't told anyone she was auditioning.

That's it for today, and Julien reflects that it's good to find someone who's strong and confident, not just a bog-standard model. I'm calling it now: Jess makes Top 10 at the absolute most. Grace is quite happy with what they've found in London today. Montage of people who got through, most of whom we've already seen, but only about half of whom we actually have names for. I am not going to remember most of these people by the time we get to boot camp. Also: I'm guessing no one bothered to go out street-scouting in London, then?

Next week: BEAUTIFUL CARDIFF, where Julien goes street-searching, and Elle hits the road in Birmingham. More tears, and joy, but not Joy. Julien remains incoherent.

So that's it. I really, really don't care for this new format, but watching it a second time for recapping purposes did at least help a few names and faces stick in my mind. Not that they should be expecting anyone to watch it twice, admittedly. I think the next two weeks are going to be a bit of a slog, but hopefully once we get to boot camp and beyond, things will liven up a bit. New recapper Chris, of Monkseal fame, will be here to (cat)walk you through next week's show. See you then!

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