Saturday, 30 July 2011

The ones to watch

Auditions - Semi Finals: 25th July 2011

Previously on Bintmodel: we were on the road looking for the next winner, searching for inspiration in glamorous locales such as Cardiff and Manchester. Meanwhile, viewers across the nation gradually went from excited to appalled to deeply, deeply bored. The judges saw a variety of girls, many of whom we will never see again. Voice Of Fearne informs us that now the auditions are finally over (DANCE PARTY!), it's time to see if the girls who made it this far can actually deliver the modelling goods in a proper studio, under the watchful eyes of Charley, Grace, Julien and Elle. Maybe I'm just being awkward here, but if they were going to waste all of our time with three weeks of pointless sodding auditions held, inexplicably, in arenas across the country, could they not have held them in proper studios instead and included actual, proper modelling type challenges as part of the audition? It might have actually made better television than Grace hooting "show us a funny talent!" and Charley sitting there picking his nails.

LOGO SMASH! Apparently tonight's episode of BintModel features product placement, as the little double-P in the corner of the screen tells me. This, incidentally, is the first time I've seen that on an actual show, as opposed to in the advert telling me what the symbol means. I'm quite excited now. I just hope this isn't the most exciting thing that happens all episode. (Oops - Chris)

It's day one of the semis, and the girls are assembling in a fancy-looking studio. They chat, they mingle, they look nervous. One of them is holding a Burger King drink cup. Burger King! She'll have to forget all that nonsense if she wants to be a working model. (I dunno, I saw Beyonce in Burger King... - Chris) The cameras zoom around the studio and close in on a selection of identical LBDs, with nametags on them for individual girls. One girl tells the cameras that they've all seen the dresses, but that's all they know at this point. Another interviews that she desperately wants to get in the house. Wouldn't it be amazing if, after three weeks of auditions, I had any idea who these people were? Did the massively enhanced budget for this year not stretch to name captions for the screen? I spot Bible Brenda sassing it up in the background, so at least there's one familiar face. Hi, Bible Brenda!

Voice Of Fearne's Commentary Of The Obvious tells us that some of these girls will have been sent home by the end of the day. Thanks, Voice Of Fearne! What would we do without you? The girls are assembled at the foot of some stairs, so any Top Model fan worth their salt knows what's coming next: the judges appear at the top of the stairs, and everyone goes wild. Grace has reacquired her giant glasses, if anyone's interested. Elle tells them that they are the chosen few from their countrywide search, and now it's time to see if they are photogenic. Again: should this not have been a much earlier part of the process? Elle asks who here is photogenic, and everyone whoops. Grace is the only one of the judges to raise her hand. Heh. Elle tells the girls that next door is a studio, and they will be put into groups and required to use their imagination to produce eye-catching photographs, and after this challenge, some of them will be CUT. Moonface Holly looks a bit nervous.

The judges retire to their private quarters, where they have large headshots of all the contestants. The contestants who are currently trying to prove that they're photogenic. This show is so ass-backwards sometimes. The judges marvel at how many girls there are, and Julien thinks that one girl who stood out as looking great is the girl Elle never saw: his marvellous Amazonian Wonder Woman Jessica. She's got a new hairdo, apparently, and Julien approves. Jolly good. Charley thinks Holly (there are two Hollys, and he doesn't specify which one) looked as good as he remembers. Grace says, looking at the photo wall: "You know who stood out? Where is she...?" Obviously didn't stand out THAT much, then. It turns out she means Bible Brenda. Grace thinks it's overwhelming to see them all together. Charley points at a picture of a girl called Stacey and asks if anyone saw her; no one did.

The first group of eight girls are paraded in for their photo shoot while Julien, Charley, Elle and Grace observe via the rushes in a separate room. The director instructs the girls to choose a prop, though there don't appear to be many props beyond a couple of cubes to stand/sit on. Pictures are taken, and Charley likes a girl standing at the back who elevates herself on one of the cubes. To ensure we are emotionally committed to this contestant, she is referred to as "tall girl at the back". Someone called Jade does well. The next group gets a more enthusiastic reaction from the judges. Bible Brenda excels in this group, as does the aforementioned Stacey, whose skin Grace just loves. Elle likes Lisa The Man-Hater from Cardiff, but the others are less keen. In the next group, Julien and Grace argue about one Liverpudlian girl, who Grace thinks looks like a fishwife, but Julien thinks has supermodel potential. In the next group, Julien likes Charlotte, who might be the girl he found in the strip club, but I honestly can't remember. Seriously, I had to recap the auditions, and still that is how much attention I was paying. Dear Sky Living: FORMAT CHANGE NEXT YEAR PLZ [CO-SIGN - Helen]. Charley agrees with Julien, but Elle and Grace do not. Jessica the Glamazon proves photogenic. Moonface Holly appears to be having a go at a spot of planking. With her crotch to the camera. Elle does not approve. Julien's "Turkish Delight", Gisele, doesn't get much support from the other judges. Another girl is liked by Grace and Charley, but Grace thinks she needs to "stop over-plucking her brows". Of another girl, Grace says she needs a make-under. "Maybe we can do that!" exclaims Elle. Somewhere, Jenny Frost worries for her job security. (They should spray-paint a cardboard box silver, stick it on Grace's head and make the girls call her GOD - Chris) Another Holly gets good notes from the judges. A girl called Ufuoma rocks her shoot and basically owns all the bitches standing behind her. Team Ufuoma!

More girls, but the judges are not impressed. Lots of pretty girls, but not models. One girl who does manage to stand out is Juste, whose legs Elle loves. Once again, Julien loves a girl who he claims the others think "looks like a witch". Grace snorts that she looks more like Kenneth Williams. MODELLING ENDS!

The girls wait at the foot of the stairs once more, and the judges appear on the landing. Elle tells them that they've had a good look at their pictures, and some of them stood out...but some of them didn't. Some girls are called out and instructed to go to the studio next door and wait there. I won't list all the names because it goes on forever, but given the presence of Ufuoma, Jessica, Stacey and so on, it's clearly the girls who are through to the next round. Brenda and Juste, incidentally, appear to lack surnames entirely.

We cut to these girls waiting in the studio, looking nervous. Elle arrives, doing a fairly amateurish fake-out sad face and dragging out the process of telling them that they're continuing in the competition for as long as possible [I found this so unbelievably tiresome - Helen]. Someone was clearly hoping to make this episode a two-parter. The girls in the other room are sent on their way including Charlotte, Julien's "angelic" possible stripper. Voice Of Fearne tells us that 22 girls made the cut, but only 12 can be finalists. OR CAN THEY? (Spoilers). Elle tells the top 22 that she's looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. They're all very excited, and marvelling that the winner of BintModel is somewhere in this room.

Adverts. The guy in the advert is cute, even if the advert itself is kind of dumb.

On our return, Voice Of Fearne reminds us what happened in the first 15 minutes, because that's how highly this show thinks of its audience. Now it's day two, and the top 22 return to meet Julien and Grace in the studio for their first professional fashion shoot. Grace tells them that they'll be working in pairs, and modelling "the magic box", which is basically just a giant transparent perspex container about 2 metres tall and maybe half a metre across. It's cosy, basically. Brand Representative Tess Montgomery, who is "the current face of Sekonda watches" (I am now imagining her to have a wonky moustache made out of clock-hands - Chris), tells them that they have to create a shot which is playful, strong, and shows off the product. Grace sends them all off to hair and make-up. To fill some time, the model-wannabes express their concerns about the pressures currently facing them, including the need to work with a partner who might try and sabotage them or something. Let's hope so, it's about time we actually got some drama on this show. Grace discusses with Julien how the magic box is a very intimate space (Unlike Grace's own magic box - Chris) , so it'll be interesting to see how willing the girls are to really go for the shot.

Up first are Kimberleigh and Catherine, and Grace tells Catherine that Kimberleigh is beating her hands down at this point. Julien thinks that Kimberleigh looks like a model, while Catherine just looks like a pretty girl. "Or an ugly model," says Grace cattily. Afterwards, Julien thinks the shoot got far more interesting when they got aggressive, but there was a clear winner. Elsewhere, Catherine and Kimberleigh exchange unconvincing "I was so happy to be paired with you!" platitudes. Imogen and Hannah are next, and both try placing the watches in their mouths, but Julien points out that it just looks like they're eating them. And I'm guessing this is a bad thing, unless "NOM NOM WATCHES" is Sekonda's new marketing direction. Grace thinks Imogen is doing well, but Julien tells Hannah she's not strong enough. Hannah applies the criticism, and manages to do a bit better. Julien likens Imogen to Audrey Hepburn [I Quit! I Quit! God, whatever happened to Hepburn? - Helen]. Outside, Hannah frets that she let "our team" down.

Up next are two mums, Tanya and Holly H. Grace is impressed with them when they first walk in, but less so as the shoot commences, because Holly is not bringing it. Tanya, on the other hand, has a "model's body", therefore can make any pose look brilliant. Also causing trouble are Ufuoma and Karis, whom Julian declares "the worst" so far. Grace comes up and tells them that they need to do something interesting, and Karis needs to bring what she brought to the audition. Their attempts at "aggression" are pitiful, and Grace bemoans the fact that they never manage to get it together in the same shot. Fortunately, we have Brenda and Juste next to turn things around - Julien thinks they're the best pair of the day, and that they look like professional models. Grace was pleased to see Brenda looking so happy in the shots. The optimism doesn't last for long though, as Daniella and Danielle come in to stink the place up with their lack of angles and general pervasive sense of embarrassment over the whole situation. Joanne and Lauri (the latter of whom is the Liverpudlian that Julien liked) are next, and Julien likens their shoot to one of those photo booths you go in with your best friend on holiday. He tells them that they're not acting like models, and on reviewing their footage, decides that they've now overtaken Ufuoma and Karis as the worst. Inexplicably, Joanne and Lauri bounce out exclaiming that it all went really well. I mean, neither of them seem like the sharpest note on the piano, but did they not get the whole "you suck" angle of Julien's commentary? Grace thinks Joanne has the potential to be a model, but is too predictable in her poses. Outside, Joanne and Lauri continue to delude themselves that the judges liked them, because "the photographer was nodding". Grace tells Julien that while the girls did go along with the direction they were given, the overall shoot just shows what calibre of contestant they are, and that calibre is "not great".

Jessica and Anastasija arrive, and are told by Grace that they need to be good because so many before them have sucked a fat one. They get up to all sorts of twisty, faintly homoerotic posing, and Grace notes that they're the first pair that aren't afraid of each other's bodies, while Julien declares them "supermodels in the making". Outside, Jessica and Anastasija have a brief conversation with Joanne and Lauri which is basically there to show us how deluded Joanne and Lauri continue to be. Are we all up to speed on that now? Jolly good.

Next in are Jade and Rebecca. Grace gets a full-on ladyboner over Jade, marvelling over her body and how she's present in the picture even when she's not looking at the camera. Rebecca gets a less rapturous reception, and Grace thinks they didn't gel well as a couple. Outside, Rebecca seems to know that she sucked. Rebekah and Holly C (who I think is Moonface) are criticised for not working together, and Grace advises them to take more advantage of their similarities (i.e. both being a bit moonfaced). They get some passable shots, but nothing earth-shattering. Julien thinks they lacked energy and didn't know what they were doing. Stacey and Amy follow them, and Julien and Grace bicker about them. Grace tells Amy that Stacey's dominating the picture. Outside, Stacey sobs a bit that the nerves got the better of her. Julien thinks they could be potential models, but Grace is less convinced: she thinks they're a bit boring.

That's the last of it, so Grace and Julien head out to see the girls. Julien tells the girls that they really appreciate all the effort they've put in (seriously, I love this new, mellow Julien so much - he's creepy, but he's such fun), and hand them the very first E-Mail of the series. He asks who would like it, and Jessica's hand shoots into the air, as do several others. Julien tells them to come forward, and a redhead whom I don't recognise ends up beating her to it. They're told that they aren't allowed to read the E-Mail until Grace and Julien have gone. After they've departed, Redhead reads the message, which informs them that the judges will be making their final decisions tomorrow, but would like to see the girls one last time first, so they have to turn up in their swimwear, with their hair tied back, and wearing no make-up.

More adverts. I really hate that Tresemma ad where that hairdresser smugs about how "women come to me asking for salon-quality hair". YES. BECAUSE YOU RUN A SALON, YOU GOON. THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF YOU.

After another unnecessary recap from the Voice Of Fearne, we're onto Day 3, aka No Make-Up Bikini Day (In my world, every day is No Make-Up Bikini Day - Chris). They all line up as though being inspected by the police, as Elle and the other judges troop up and down in front of them looking for flaws. Some of the girls interview that they feel more comfortable without make-up anyway. Eventually, Elle tells the girls that they've seen all they need to see from them, and now the girls are in for the longest night of their lives while the deliberation takes place over which 12 get to move into Model Mansion.

Before all that, however, Elle has some news for Bible Brenda about her place in the competition. Elle explains that Brenda hasn't been able to present them with a Ugandan passport, or a British one, which is difficult because models need to be able to travel. As a result, Elle tells Brenda that this is as far as they can take her for now, however "devastating" that is. Elle says that she's earmarked Brenda as a special girl from day one, but hopes that she can get her passport sorted out and return for next year's competition. Brenda returns to the other girls to break the news that she's off, and they react with pleasing degrees of horror (though I guarantee you that, internally, at least half of them were like "yes! One step closer!") There are hugs, and there are tears, and Brenda puts her shades on and departs. Outside, Brenda says that the judges were very supportive and did everything they could, so she understands why she had to go. She believes that she's "unstoppable" now, passport or no passport. She even gets her own little montage to go out on. Bye(ble) Brenda!

The judges begin their deliberations with Anastasija and Jessica. Elle thinks they're brilliant together. Grace says that they might not be the prettiest girls on the shortlist, but they bring a lot to the table. Julien thinks they were "like an electric bomb", by which he means they were enthusiastic.[I'm beginning to love Julien's word roulette. It's actually quite charming - Helen] (It's fab-oo-lus! - Chris) Rebecca and Jade are next, and Elle thinks Jade has such a connection with the camera. Grace thinks that all you get with Rebecca is the demure, English girl. Then they look at Brenda and Juste, though obviously Brenda is no longer an option, so there is much wailing and self-harming and rending of garments over the missed opportunity. Fortunately, Elle and Charley love Juste as well, though Julien thinks she's merely "okay".

Then we come to Amy and Stacey, though no one ever actually mentions their names, which I feel doesn't bode well for them. Julien thinks they're the best two girls in the competition so far. After that, it's Imogen and Hannah, and Grace points out that Imogen was completely owning Hannah in the shoot, which is why they've chosen this particular shot, because this was after they pointed that out to Hannah and she took their criticism on board. Karis and Ufuoma are next, and the shot that's being considered is apparently the very first one they took, and Elle is impressed with the attitude they're showing. Charley worries that Ufuoma only has one expression, and Julien and Grace agree. Tanya and Holly H follow, and Elle loves them both, but Grace points out that Holly struggled. Julien thinks that Holly needs to forget about being a housewife and become a model. Catherine and Kimberleigh provided one of Elle's favourite shots, but Grace tells her that it was like pulling teeth to get that far. Rebekah and Holly C are next, and Holly C is viewed as a disappointment by the judges. Julien thinks Holly doesn't have the body. Joanne and Lauri (oh God) are next, and Joanne's picture gets some reasonably positive feedback from Elle, but Julien points out that in the shoot itself, she was hopeless. Elle retorts that all you need is one good photograph, though. I bet you anything at some point in the competition, someone will get sent home for "lucking into" a good shot and being told that models need to be consistent and that nobody will book you if you can't reliably turn out good pictures. In other words, Elle's argument is thinner than Kate Middleton. Grace points out how Lauri and Joanne thought they'd done brilliantly when they hadn't. Danielle and Daniella are next - Grace loves their voluptuous bodies, but neither of them knew how to use them, and Daniella in particularly just stood there and smiled.

Only 12 girls can go into the house, and Elle doesn't know how they'll narrow it down, because they've got great girls here. "Some great girls," Julien corrects her. Heh. Elle claims to love them all. Grace tells her she's full of shit. At this point we segue into the obligatory reality show sequence where they all stand around pointing at pictures on a table, talking about "she" and "her" and never actually revealing any of their decisions, so I don't think we really need to devote too much time or energy to this bit. It happens, it is enigmatic, et cetera. My favourite part of it is Charley contributing absolutely nothing and just looking really bored. (You picked out this 5 seconds of him doing that as opposed to the other...all the other seconds? - Chris) Sometimes I think Charley is the voice of the viewer on this show. Eventually, they come up with their Top 12. Grace worries that she'll wake up tomorrow regretting someone they didn't put in. Elle, on the other hand, is really pleased with their choice. Voice Of Fearne tells us that 21 girls will return tomorrow, but only 12 have been picked to enter the model house. (Spoilers: Voice Of Fearne is a liar.)

Commercials. I'm not normally a fan of Jared Leto, but in that Hugo Boss advert he looks positively edible. [JORDAN CATALANO 4EVA - Helen]

When we return, Voice Of Fearne runs through the list of prizes that we normally get at the start of the show, presumably because they were running a little short. We also have a recap reminding us of Bible Brenda's untimely exit, and the judges' deliberations. Now the 21 hopefuls are back, and in another stupid X Factor-style fucking with the format, there will be no procession in which Elle hands out a series of photos to the girls who made it through; instead they will all have a one-on-one audience moment with her where she informs them of their decision. God, show, STOP RUINING ALL THE GOOD BITS. Lauri thinks her positive attitude will help her. Daniella is tearful.

Up first is Tanya, who's just so grateful to have got this far, etc. We're reminded of her audition in which she was told she had too much make-up around her eyes, and then of yesterday's shoot, in which she had about six times that amount of make-up around her eyes. *facepalm* Elle reminds Tanya of her audition, and prefers to stick to the narrative that they always intended ("when you [took your make-up off], we found this extraordinary face") rather than what actually happened ("you couldn't get your make-up off but we pretended you looked different anyway, because we actually wanted to put you through all along and we were just being dicks about it"). However, they were worried that Tanya was not a classic beauty (You know, like Tiffnuh was - Chris). Voice Of Fearne reminds us that at the positively decrepit age of 23, it's Tanya's last chance to enter the competition. Is she through? Yes, she is. Tanya celebrates in a muted fashion.

Next in to see Elle is Jade, who says she just wants to learn how to model. Elle tells her she's very present in her pictures, but they're not sure she has the versatility to continue. Jade says she wants to prove to them that she can improve and do different things. And she's going to get the chance, because she's through. Danielle goes in next, and Elle tells her she's gorgeous, but she's not through. Elle blames this on "the other judges", incidentally. Danielle cries, and heads home. Some of the others get shorthanded, and because I still can't recognise all of these people yet and THEY STILL DON'T HAVE FUCKING NAME CAPTIONS, I can't tell you who is in this section apart from Jessica and Daniella. Jessica gets through, Daniella does not.

Next it's the turn of Hannah, whom Elle found in a shop in Dublin. Elle tells Hannah that she's always championed her, and "convinced the other judges to keep you on", so Hannah's through. I like how Elle has turned everything into a "me vs them" battle, so she always looks like the hero whatever the outcome: either she personally talked all the other three into putting someone through, or she fought valiantly for someone but was shouted down by the other three witches. I guess that's the bonus of being the executive producer. Anyway, Hannah's very excited to be through.

Amy is next, and we're reminded that the judges have always found it hard to agree about her. Elle tells Amy that Julien loves her, but Grace and Charley do not, and asks Amy what she should do. STOP AVOIDING RESPONSIBILITY FOR EVERYTHING, MCPHERSON. Amy wisely remains silent. Elle thinks Amy is quirky and interesting, so she's in. Joanne goes through to see Elle, and we're reminded of hers and Lauri's folie à deux, so Elle finally tells her that the judges though they were the worst. She breaks the same news to Lauri, who is looking TERRIFYING. Elle tells Lauri that the judges' initial fascination hasn't translated to photographs. Lauri is not through, but Joanne is, for some reason. Don't ask me, I'm just the recapper. Karis, Holly C and Rebecca are also booted, while Stacey, Anastasija and Holly H get through.

Apparently this means there's just one place left, and it's between Imogen and Ufuoma. Because we're all about the Idol/X Factor rip-offs right now, they're sent in together to see Elle. Elle says it's really hard to tell one of them to go and one of them to stay. Imogen has made it through, and Ufuoma congratulates her. Elle says that looking at Ufuoma, she can't let her go. SHOCK TWIST! She doesn't know what she's going to do because they've only got 12 beds, but because they're both so beautiful, she wants to put them both through. They exit, and celebrate. Ufuoma refers to herself as "lucky number 13", and then laughs somewhat resentfully in an interview that "I shouldn't be number 13, I should be number one!" Hee. I think I'm going to like Ufuoma.

So that's it, then: we have our finalists. They're all very excited. Hopefully at some point next week we'll actually manage to be able to tell them apart, but the budget might have stretched to name captions by then. Elle hands over the keys to the top model house, and Jessica catches them. GROUP HUG! We're treated to some previews of what's in store, including falconry, underwater stuff, cheerleaders, crying, swearing and Janice Dickinson telling people they walk like truck drivers. Also, Ms J and The Wanted appear somewhere. One thing of interest? There's a clip of Elle saying "the winner of Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model...", which gives me hope that we won't be subjected to another catastrophic live finale like last year. Unless the second half of that sentence is "...will be decided in a live finale in which Dave Berry will repeatedly ask people how they are feeling and I'll adjust my underwear in full view of the cameras". Let's hope not, eh?

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