Is ‘Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model’ Up For a Fight?

“It’s all about the girlsâ€? asserts the impossibly long-legged Elle Macpherson as she launches the latest series of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model. Yet we reckon that the new judging line-up could be part of a push to make the show a little more spectacular.. and by spectacular, of course we mean ‘jam-packed with bitch-fights and slagging matches’.

Whatever it’s about, the judges emphasise that it’s not just about beauty. It’s an odd thing to say about a modelling programme and I’m interested to hear what other criteria they are looking for. Full driving license? Excel experience?

Elle “The Bodyâ€? McPherson mentions “heartâ€? and “spiritâ€? many times, but these seem quite vague, too wishy-washy, and completely different from the strict, objective criteria that people need to meet just to get a chance of appearing on the show. (Shorter then 5’10? You’re outta luck!)

But when we spoke to someone who tried out for the new series a couple of months ago, we found out that they also wanted to know how candidates got on with other girls. Basically; “How likely are you to annoy everyone else in the house?”

To be honest, we can’t really blame the producers. For a start – and unlike a lot of other talent shows – the quality of the contestants can’t be questioned and we all know that a bit of rivalry makes things a lot more interesting.

BINTM does have a reputation of being more vocational than shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, something which panellist Julien Macdonald agrees with, saying that the winners of the aforementioned programmes “never really go onto anything that great.â€? As such, the show revels in being niche and Sky Living ad execs probably do a roaring trade out of some the most targeted advertising real estate on television.

Fighting talk indeed, but ultimately, Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model is not a talent firm, nor a recruitment agency, but a television show. Whilst it appears to be working well for the winners, you get the feeling that producers would like to see a bit more action.

And so to our new judges..

Whilst they are perfectly qualified for the job, they both have a much needed attribute – the ability to ‘speak their mind’ – which in the context of a talent show means only one thing: Fight!

Grace Woodward and Charley Speed certainly weren’t afraid to give their opinion last year, but it was all a bit pedestrian and they were quite reserved. This year’s panel-newbies certainly won’t be..

Joining the two Macs are Whitney Port, as seen on bitch-fests “The Hillsâ€? and “The Cityâ€? and male supermodel Tyson Beckford. Beckford is loud and brash, and talks frequently of his “passion for fashionâ€?. He has already gotten into shouting matches (or in his words; “getting into itâ€?) with some of “the girlsâ€?, and whilst I believe him when he says he does it with the best intentions, I can imagine the producers rubbing their hands in glee. As fellow judge Macdonald says, this confrontation makes for “a more interesting showâ€?.

Macpherson may say it’s “all about the girlsâ€?, but now, it seems that it’s more about the judges as well. The emphasis has shifted, and now it appears that more focus has been put on conflict. Aside from their legitimate credentials, have Port and Beckford been put on the panel to make waves? Might the “heartâ€? and “spiritâ€? which MacPherson mentioned actually be code for “argumentativeâ€? and “prone to tantrumsâ€??

Let’s hope so..

Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model starts on Monday, July 9 at 9pm on Sky Living.