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As an avid fan of the show I have to admit I'm extremely excited by the new series, and I can't imagine I can be the only one. Last week, at the press preview screening of the newly titled Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model, I was lucky enough to sit down alongside Australian supermodel, Elle McPherson (AKA The Body) - she's even more depressingly gorgeous in real life.

Take my word for it, the new series, starting tomorrow, is set to be a scorcher; having widened the net further a field for a nationwide model search, the highly esteemed judging panel including stylist supreme Grace Woodward, male model Charley Speed and leading fashion designer Julien MacDonald, hit the road for X-Factor style auditions. In my opinion it's worth tuning in for Elle's outfits alone - we all know how hot she looks on the school run, but you haven't seen anything yet!.

After the screening I managed to catch up with the judges to get the lowdown on the new series....

What's different about this series compared to the others before?

Elle: "The most interesting thing is that we have these three or four episodes on the road where you see the elimination process. The girls are such amazing characters. They're interesting, beautiful and you get to see them. You learn about their personalities and you see how they blossom across the series. I love watching the journey."

Click below the jump to read the rest of the interview

The new series starts tomorrow on Monday 4th July on Sky Living.


How did the open auditions go?

Elle: "Well we started off putting the girls in bathing suits and when I saw the first lot come in after the filming, I thought, 'I can't do this to them. It's not fair'. I'm really interested in the whole personality of the girl and it just felt inappropriate. It is very uncomfortable for a girl to stand in front of us, naked, freezing cold. We just said, 'nah, it's not fair'."

What can we expect from the girls this year?

Charley: "They are quite feisty this year. They all live in fairly close proximity to each other so it's bound to get heated. It's definitely worth watching."
Julien: "We don't just pick typical models. This time there is a variety of shapes, sizes and models. For me as a fashion designer, this show changed the way that I perceived women and I think it was a learning curve for all of us. I think through that journey it changed all our lives, personally, emotionally and the way that we perceive models."

What inspired the change to include Ireland?

Grace: "Being part Irish myself, I was very proud. They don't get much sun over there, so they tend to be quite pale and interesting."
Elle: "It was a mutual decision and it was only a matter of time. We've always had beautiful Irish girls. We have a lot of fans in Ireland and I just felt we needed to include them. Why not? We had beautiful girls there. When we went to Ireland, we met with Ronan Keating, who pointed us in the right direction for where we could meet some great girls on the street. Beautiful fans, beautiful countryside and beautiful girls are over there."

Which guest judges did you use?

Elle: "Tyson, who was a supermodel in my era. We had Sophie Ellis-Bextor and she was really interesting because she's successful and unusual - she's not a stereotypical beauty. And she gave great feedback... I'd love to have someone like Lily Cole come on next time. She has managed to have a career and school. What I wanted to be able to say to the girls was here's a girl who is unusual, she's very successful and she didn't give up her education. She's a great role model and I'd love to have her on next year."

Were you pleased with the outcome from last year's series?

Grace: "We all kind of won last year. Tiffany won the public vote. Joy got taken on by Models One anyway as well. And Charlotte, who was the resounding public favourite, [who didn't make it to the final] was the trophy girl at the Brits. They are all doing really well for the brand."

What was your favourite challenge that you set the girls this series?

Elle: "The makeover was really fun. We divided the girls into teams and we had three girls each. We couldn't tell each other what we were going to do. That was really, really fun."
Julien: "Elle gave the most dramatic makeover, believe it or not. I said, 'I can't believe you did that'. She said, 'well, she looks better now'. It was a shocking one. Shocking."

Can we expect lots of drama and tears this year?

Julien: "To be honest with you, they cry all the time. There is a tendency with young girls, you say anything to them and they start crying. As soon as you say anything to them, they burst out."
Grace: "Some know if they cry they will get on telly."
Charley: "Real castings are pretty nasty and pretty savage. If you're standing there with your bikini on in a real casting, it's a pretty tough business."
Elle: "Some of the things we say in there are to break the tension rather than to be hyper-critical. It gets pretty intense."