âNo matter what happens to Charlotte, I think sheâs going to be big. Sheâs got the personality to do whatever she wants to do.â? These are not words you expect to hear from the mouth of 18-year-old Britain’s Next Top Model finalist Alisha, given all her apparent issues with her former rival. But when I join her, along with Joy and Tiffany ahead of Monday’s live public vote, Alisha insists that there really wasnât as much tension between the pair as everyone made out.
âTo be honest, it was just that one occasion. Everyone thinks I hate her, or that Iâm jealous of her. Iâm actually not. Thereâs nothing about her that I want and thereâs nothing Iâve got that she wants. I talk to her now and weâre fine; weâre civil to each other. The viewers saw this huge argument, but when it actually happened, we were sitting around and literally just talking like weâre talking right now.â?
Weâre used to reality TV stars alleging that theyâve been portrayed in the wrong way and that clever editing has made them look mean/two-faced/spotty, but in this case, Alishaâs claims are backed up by the other two girls. As Alisha talks (and boy, does she talk) about that argument with Charlotte, the girls quietly nod and then launch into their own attack on the way in which the show was edited.
âEach episode takes four days to film, from the crack of dawn âtil one in the morning, so you can imagine how much viewers are missing out on if itâs only a one-hour episode,â? points out Joy. So perhaps some incidents were exaggerated by the showâs editors, but are the girls really still that chummy with each other? âIâm also in a lot of contact with Charlotte,â? says Tiffany in her strangely unsettling lilt. âSheâs been helping me find a place in London.â? But then, as she admits, she never had any clashes in the house anyway. Surely Alisha – who was always more of a fiery and divisive character on the show â hasnât kept in contact with everyone?
âWe all speak now and again. Well, I havenât heard off Amba, Delita and whatâs her name?â? The other girls giggle and both try to help her remember who she means. âI know who Iâm talking about, but I canât remember her nameâ¦Oh, Kirsty! We were never friends in the house anyway.â?
âThe only one I donât speak to is Harleen,â? chimes in Joy, âand with good reason! Iâve kept in touch with Tiffany the most. Even when weâre staying in hotels, we end up spending the whole time in each otherâs rooms, sleeping in the same bed because we just got so used to it.â?
Well, isnât this a cosy little love-in? Even when I ask the girls to pick another model out of the three to win, they answer immediately and without a fuss, pointing to one another to indicate who their chosen winner would be. Tiffany and Alisha both say Joy and she picks Tiffany. âAh, bless youâ?, she says and they all smile. So, do these girls really have a refreshingly sisterly attitude towards each other, or is it all a concerted effort to stave off the “bitchy models” label?
The thing is, it doesnât really seem put-on; the three girls genuinely seem to like each other and even Alisha isnât nearly as contentious as some would have us believe. You sort of start to feel some sympathy for the BNTM producers, who had to try and make a gripping show with such nice girls as the subjecst.
However, if the girls werenât as nasty as they might have hoped, some of the judges definitely took on the Simon Cowell role to help up the programmeâs ruthless factor. Julien Macdonald is clearly the girlsâ least favourite judge. Alisha seemed to take his biting comments personally: âI think he literally was trying to break me. One week, I thought, âif he says anything to me this week, I might lose the plotâ. I thought he was actually trying to damage me. Then I realised that was just him. He was just trying to be the funny guy.â?
âMy problem with Julian wasnât that he was mean,â? adds Joy, âbecause we were all expecting that, but that he never actually gave you any constructive criticism and a way to improve and move forward. He just insulted you and expected us to get better, but that obviously lowers your confidence.â?
All three girls agree that Julienâs notorious âfatâ? comments about Charlotte were âdisgustingâ?, but Tiffany notes that, âJulian just made a really good show. When youâre watching him, heâs really funny. In doing the competition, you do have to be aware that these things are going to happen.â?
âI think thatâs fine,â? says Alisha, âbut sometimes he does have to consider peopleâs feelings. After the catwalk challenge, he called me a Curly Wurly and he called Joyâ¦â? Joy interrupts: âHe called me a monkey! He said I looked like I was from a council estate. I am from a council estate!â? Alisha then misses the point of Joyâs anecdote slightly, adding, âhe said I look like Iâm walking down Brixton Road. I donât live in Brixton!â?
But on the whole, the girls are positive about their experience so far, revelling in their new-found status as role models. âIâve had girls asking me certain things and Iâm more than happy to tell them. I find it really sweet,â? says Tiffany, and Alisha agrees: âThe day you decide to give up, youâre letting down so many people behind you; so many girls who look up to you and want to be like you.â?
So are they getting recognised in the street? Well, sort of. âSomeone shouted âBritainâs got talent!â at me the other day,â? laughs Joy. âYeah, people always do that!â? says Alisha, looking a bit perturbed. So, it looks like the girls still have a few things to keep their feet on the ground as they prepare for next weekâs live final.