Britain’s Next Top Model is back, and so are judges Abbey Clancy, Paul Sculfor, Hilary Alexander and Nicky Johnston, each bringing their unique expertise.
Model and Strictly Come Dancing star Abbey was a runner up on the show’s second series, Paul has been one of the world’s most sought-after male models since 1992, former fashion director to the Daily Telegraph Hilary was called an “incredible force” by designer Diane Von Furstenburg, and celebrated fashion photographer Nicky has snapped pictures of everyone from Dolly Parton and Helen Mirren to Justin Bieber.
Together, their highly regarded fashion opinions will seal the fate of 12 young women determined to become Britain’s Next Top Model (Thursdays, 9pm on Lifetime - BT TV Channel 329/384 HD).
We caught up with them to get all the insider information on the new series.
1. Picking the girls
Abbey Clancy: “We’ve got great girls and we as judges pick the girls this year so it’s something I feel really passionate about, we’ve got the girls that we wanted so expect loads of drama and big personalities.”
Nicky Johnston: “Abbey did pick the winner before she’d even seen the video. From the tiny little headshots. I chose the girl that came second.”
Paul Sculfor: “I’m looking for an excited warm feeling in my chest. It doesn’t come in blonde, tall, short, whatever, it’s something someone has and you know when you see it. We found it in a couple of girls.”
Hilary Alexander: “We want to discover the next Kendall Jenner, or the next Kate Moss.”
Abbey: “All we wanted is Britain’s Next Top Model, a fresh face. Someone who looks the part, someone who’s got the right attitude, someone who wants to work hard and loves what she’s doing really. Someone undiscovered. I want my winner to compete with all the big stars now, the Gigi’s, the Kendall’s and I think this girl definitely can.”
2. The show’s first transgender model
Abbey: “She just came up in the mix and I liked her personality, I liked her attitude, and to be honest it wasn’t really about the transgender thing, it was about her as a person and she was out of the applicants one of the best.”
Hilary: “We just judge on the photographs, or how they cope with a challenge or how they walk, their attitude when we see them. Talulah-Eve had stunning legs and she was very toned.”
Abbey: “We don’t have a tick box thing to fill in, it’s just out of the applicants these girls were the 12 best.”
Paul: “I just like to see good models that are good at what they do. I don’t get into the plus-size, small-size, whether they should be tall, blonde or whatever because it depends what they’re shooting. If you’re going to have someone who’s doing fitness they need to look like they’re a fitness person. Plus-size model Ashley Graham is just incredible and she sells stuff for most of America that want to look good in clothes.”
Hilary: “In the last London Fashion Week I saw models of all sizes, a man with a prosthetic leg, an amputee, and masses of cross-dressing, and also different ages. My God, I think one of the oldest in Simone Rocha, I think there was a model in her 80s. Definitely the tide is turning and it’s good to see that BNTM is in step with the way society is moving forward.”
Abbey: “It’s so diverse, there’s room for everyone if they’re good at it.”
4. Makeover meltdowns
Abbey: “Makeover day is always a drama-filled day. Trying to convince these girls that they’d look better with a cropped haircut when they’ve got hair right down to their bum is hard. I have a meltdown if I get a millimetre cut off my hair but you just have to try and convince them that we’re not taking this decision lightly.”
5. Judging the girls
Abbey: “I think I’m stricter now because I’m a mum and I don’t take any messing from my two, especially Sophia. She just gets away with everything with her dad so I try and be quite strict with her so for me I just wanted them to take it seriously because it’s a great platform to get a start in the industry.”
Nicky: “I think I’m probably hardest on the girls. Once someone’s been told something or this is how you should do it, or you should try this, and they don’t listen, that’s when I start getting angry. We’re not there to upset anyone in particular but it comes out of total frustration. You want to help them.”
Hilary: “Guide them, teach them. And if we criticise, it’s in order to get them to be better, to bring out the best. It’s like being a school teacher or a headmistress.”
Nicky: “It is extraordinary, it’s a real mixture of emotions as well. Hilary cried, I cried, I screamed at them, I raged at them.”
Abbey: “Our girls are all really up for the naked stuff! Times have changed so much with social media and what’s acceptable. Nowadays women are more confident, nudity’s not a big taboo like it used to be either.”
7. Personal style
Paul: “Models always have their own style, that’s how they get the job as well. Tallulah was particularly funny because you could have plucked her out of the King’s Road in the 1960s or Woodstock. She had her own unique style which worked when for most people it wouldn’t.”
Nicky: “I think they do bring their own look to elimination because then they can be themselves and then Hilary gets really rage-y at them and started having a go at one because she did look inappropriate.”
Hilary: “Sometimes it’s sort of nasty underwear, or bra straps all hanging out. I think for a model when they’re going for castings, it’s a simple t-shirt, a pair of jeans, trainers, and then a pair of heels in your bag in case the client wants you to walk. We want to look at someone and see what’s there. We don’t want it to be obscured.”
8. There’ll be plenty of drama
Paul: “There was one girl in particular that had clearly been practising one move and one move only. It was some weird pout, it was like something out of a Carry On film. We got her to get out of it.”
Hilary: “With the models a couple were answering back this season.”
Nicky: “I think we were all a bit shocked. I quite liked it because she was a bit feisty.”
Hilary: “It’s a shame that all that emotion didn’t come through with the photograph and that’s the point. If you’re going to be emotional save it for the photograph or the challenge.”
9. What’s the difference between a good model and a great model?
Nicky: “For me it’s versatility. Someone who can create something that surprises everybody on the shoot, a little turn of the head or an expression or a movement of a muscle in the eye and it just creates something and somebody who just has the ability to do that, and most girls don’t.”
Hilary: “For me it’s the ability to convey emotion and to tell a story with the face and the body. It’s an arresting thing. You look at a photograph and it’s just wow. The wow factor.”
Britain’s Next Top Model returns to Lifetime (BT TV channel 329/384 HD and BT TV Catch-Up) on Thursday March 16 at 9pm.