The new series of catwalk star search Britain’s Next Top Model has kicked off with a star-studded launch event.

Former contestant-turned-judge Abbey Clancy was joined by her panel mates male model Paul Sculfor, fashion writer Hilary Alexander and celebrity photographer Nicky Johnston to celebrate the programme’s return on Thursday.

Britain's Next Top Model
Hilary Alexander, Paul Sculfor, Abbey Clancy and Nicky Johnston (Ian West/PA)

The show’s first transgender contestant, bar supervisor and trans rights campaigner Talulah-Eve Brown, assembled with her competition and the four judges at East London’s Village Underground to mark the series debut on Lifetime.

Britain's Next Top Model
Talulah-Eve Brown (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Jennifer Malengele (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Abby Heaton (Ian West/PA)

Talulah-Eve, 22, from Birmingham, is one of 12 hopefuls who will take on a weekly challenge with the aim of being crowned the winner at the end of the show.

Britain's Next Top Model
Tallulah Bluebell (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Chloe Lockley-Middleton (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Olivia Wardell (Ian West/PA)

The other contestants include 23-year-old Victoria Clay from Liverpool, who “runs in the same circles as the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio”, 20-year-old psychology student and online gamer Chloe Lockley-Middleton from Huddersfield, and Simone Murphy, 22, from Edinburgh, who is the only Scottish contestant among the 12.

Britain's Next Top Model
Victoria Clay (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Anastasia Ellis (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Alannah Bierne (Ian West/PA)

Abbey stunned at the event in a sheer black gown over high-waisted knickers, while the wannabe models put their skills to the test by posing in front of the cameras.

Britain's Next Top Model
Eleanor Sippings (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Simone Murphy (Ian West/PA)

Britain's Next Top Model
Bianca Thomas (Ian West/PA)

:: Britain’s Next Top Model continues on March 23 at 9pm on Lifetime