Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model: New season, new look, new judges

Sky Living has gone all out to for Season 8’s Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model. They’ve added bigger names to their judging panel- Tyson Beckford and Whitney Port replace Charlie Speed and Grace Woodward. The production is sleeker with Elle McPherson and her right hand diva Julien McDonald, making it clear they’re on the hunt for a Supermodel.

The Judging panel. From the left: Tyson, Whitney, Julien and Elle.
Sky Living.

Tyson is a natural while Whitney (of US reality TV shows: The Hills and The City fame) seems a little out of her depth during the first half. Throughout the episode Ms Port thaws and eventually voices her opinions on the would-be top models. Perhaps more time is needed for her to settle into her role.

Following the runway challenge NO ONE IS ELIMINATED. Elle can’t make up her mind so she’s taking the girls to Dubai to meet up with the judges for a top model pow wow. Like I said Sky and BINTM has really upped the ante this season.

Moody, aggressive and possibly misunderstood Madeline. Sky Living,

After the commercial break we’re in Dubai and the girls are sunbathing and frolicking on a gorgeous beach. Naturally BINTM is as much about drama as it is about fashion. In a bitching fix between Penelope, Diona, Amelia and Anita moody Madeline is their topic of choice.  The other girls come to the conclusion that she’s aggressive but there to win, not make friends. Cue a sunbathing montage of most contestants, their names and pithy opinions on the top model experience thus far.

Speaking of which, there’s every model stereotype this year – from the bitch and diva to the sob-story and goody two shoes. The only disappointment was the lack of plus-sized models – in fact, most of the girls range from slim to very skinny. Not before long the first tears are shed. Vanessa is having a hard time being away from her 2 year-old daughter. Another mum in the competition, Roxeanne gives her some support and Vanessa admits she’s an emotional wreck.

Feisty and attention seeking Anita. Sky Living

Whether this was an executive decision or top model irony: Madeline is ‘rooming’ with Anita and Penelope so it’s only natural that they argue before bedtime. While I believe Madeline is aggressive, part of me thinks she’s also misunderstood. The next day begins with a bombshell. Contestant, Catherine has left the competition the stress was too much for her. Top Model’s down to 19 before the first photoshoot.The girls finally meet new judges Tyson and Whitney courtesy of Melissa Burton, Managing Director of Goody Goodstuff (an all natural,meat free alternative to traditional gummy gelatine based candy). Tyson’s all business quickly informing the girls of their bikini group photo shoot for Goody Good Stuff.

Then another wave of drama hits.
Vanessa having been away from her daughter as long as she could bear speaks to Tyson and Whitney about leaving-being filmed and hyper stressed had become too much. Tyson and Whitney make no real effort in encouraging her to be brave and stay. Vanessa heads home to Britain. The other girls reveal Vanessa’s burgeoning confidence issues and that the Dubai flight was her first plane ride. Already the show’s down by 2 girls and the cameras haven’t even come out yet.
With no time left to empathize with Vanessa’s situation, the girls begin their Tyson and Whitney directed shoot. The last group of girls-Taz, Leticia, Amelia and Lisa donned in red and white fringed swimsuits were by far the best of the bunch. Each oozed that Sports Illustrated feel.

The Dubai Swimwear Shoot: New judges Tyson and Whitney pick this group as their favourite. From the left: Leticia, Taz, Lisa and Amelia. Sky Living

One thing that I’ve never liked and still don’t is the commentary by Fearne Cotton. It’s unecessary and doesn’t even feature in the mother show America’s Next Top Model. It’s a little insulting. The producers must feel viewers need it to keep up with what’s  going on and that it adds value to our viewing. If not why?!

Moving on. Julien (my favourite judge) visits the girls with an E(lle)mail. He brings a message of dread. The girls will meet Elle for an elimination over breakfast. Nice! Before that- the judges deliberate in melodramatic style under the stars. They take care of business sat in a lantern lit tent complete with fanciful trimmings and a red carpet. Jamie Woon’s Night Air softly plays in the background…for added ambience of course. Fearne butts in to let us know that the judges deliberated long into the night? Right.

Breakfast time.

The girls munch on gourmet beans and toast or it’s equivalent in a ridiculous room with walls of aquariums full of fishes and other sea creatures.

Danielle-first to be eliminated but not the first to go.

Elle tells the girls how difficult the first girl leaving is for her even though it’s the third girl to go. Elle is always so deadpan and emotionless when she says things that require feelings- her acting skills need work. Whatever she says is obviously scripted but she could try a little harder to breathe some life into it. Danielle is sent packing. As she leaves to commiserations from the remaining contestants, Anita takes the time to draw the camera in with a teary-eyed monologue on how much this means to her and how lucky she is to still be in the running. I sense a little attention seeking.

Stand-outs:Madeleine and Anita who have more beef than an Angus cattle, Anne the edgy cropped-hair stunner and the uber sensual Risikat.

This season’s cheesier, more sycophantic, melodramatic and shallow than it’s predecessors. Yet I can’t look away. And now that Game of Thrones has ended my Monday nights need a lil’ bitchy flare.

Next week, BINTM’s still in Dubai for another photo shoot and elimination. The sneak-peak shows more drama to come headlining…Madeline who is clearly the shows go to for some loudmouth action.

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