The hosts and girls may change, but Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model (BNTM) is firmly embedded in SKY’s seasonal programme. We’re just about a third of the way through Season 9, and the girls have their claws firmly out as they battle to be the best clothes horse in the face of judges Danni Minogue, Elle Macpherson and Tyson Beckford’s critiques.
If you’re not familiar with BNTM you need to get on it. And fast. One of the many spin offs from the juggernaut that is America’s Next Top Model, the Tyra Banks owned and produced modelling competition show that took off like a rocket when it launched in 2005, BNTM brings the bitching, backstabbing and sometime modelling to Britain’s shores as the judges search for the next Big Thing. Or at least potential Big Thing – I actually couldn’t tell you who any of the past winners have been, and I love this show.
As with America’s Next Top Model, week by week you get to learn about the girls as they’re all dumped in a house together and forced into a fiercely competitive competition which is basically based on their looks. I mean, what could be volatile about that situation? Tyra knows a formula for great TV when she sees it and the franchise has spawned shows all over the world.
The best way to get in on the act is get involved right at the beginning of the season – don’t worry, you still have time for this one. Get to know the girl’s personalities (at least how they’re portrayed by the production team), marvel out how very tall and thin they all are and watch them perform in various challenges and photoshoots. Episode 3 of this season had the delectable Olympic silver medal winning gymnast Louis Smith take part in photoshoots with the girls, challenging them to match up to his flexible best (bit of a tall ask that one), and it also featured the infamous makeover episode.
Whichever country’s version you’re watching and whichever season, this always goes along the same lines. Girls who are already gorgeous and have gorgeous hair are forced to have it all chopped off/dyed a different colour/styled in a really odd way and then heartily chastised when they blub about it. I have definitely seen at least one episode where the girl looked way worse than before, so I think this is all a bit of an experiment in ‘character building’ by the judges. This season two of the girls – Abigail and Saffron – actually outright refused (this just isn’t done) and brought down the ire of a Minogue and a MacPherson onto their heads. Danielle is the latest girl to get the boot (an arduous and lengthy process at the end of every episode which you can almost see crushing various contestant’s self esteem) thanks to her ‘monotonous poses’. So about now would be a good time to get involved and lay a bet on who you think will win – by now the edit is clearly showing the different characters (there’s always a bitch, a good girl, an over enthusiastic one, the one who knows it all, the one who just clearly isn’t cut out for it etc etc), work out which one you think will win (remembering, of course, that it won’t be the most obviously pretty one – look out for a quirky look, these generally do best) and slap a bet on. You can also create an excellent drinking game based around the likelihood of a girl crying, arguing with her ‘best friend’, saying she’s too fat, freaking out… the fun is endless.
Think of it as similar to betting on your favourite sport – you have to pick your team based on the odds of them winning through a specified amount of rounds (or games, or in this case episodes), apply the same cold hearted logic that serves to win bets, don’t get attached to a favourite unless they can actually win. Take some tips from sports betting Freebets blog at www.freebets.org.uk if you’re not quite sure about the best way to weigh up your odds and get involved. The drama is worth it and it’ll give you even more of a reason to emotionally invest your time in watching a group of girls sashaying about and crying a lot. Awesome!