[11/16/09 - 09:38 AM]
U.S. Premiere of New Reality Format - Britain's Missing Top Model
The network's latest import premieres Tuesday, December 1 at 9:00/8:00c.

[via press release from BBC America]


- Can the fashion world accept disabled models? -

Britain's Missing Top Model, a new and unique reality format, sets out to challenge the stereotypes of the fashion industry - can the catwalks of New York and Paris accept a model with disabilities? Eight girls, all aspiring models, have made it through the auditions to reach the reality show but each has a disability. Over the weeks of competition, their struggles, successes and personalities are laid bare as prejudices are faced and the judges have tough eliminations to make. Britain's Missing Top Model premieres Tuesday, December 1, 9:00p.m. ET/PT on BBC AMERICA.

As the girls move into their shared apartment in London it quickly becomes clear there are personality clashes and some painful memories associated with their disabilities. They each face various challenges in daily life - challenges that are further tested when it comes to the catwalk and the lens of fashion photography. Jonathan Phang, their mentor, brings in a number of experts to help them learn to walk like a model, pose for photo shoots and sell themselves at a casting call.

The weekly assignments include modelling lingerie in a store window, walking the catwalk, recording a television commercial with male models and a photo shoot in the rain. To most models these are straightforward tasks but the girls know they have to produce work that�s above the normal standard to have any chance of success.

Each of them is tested in a different way on the assignments. Sophie, paralyzed from the neck down due to an accident, uses a wheelchair but agrees to be carried up three flights to the photo shoot location. Jenny, born without part of her left arm, must show it while modelling lingerie. Kellie, born deaf, is pushed to her limits when told the client wants her to speak the dialogue on the television commercial. Tensions build as the aspiring models argue about what �disabled� actually means, alleging some of them are less �disabled� than others � Sophie claims Kellie has an easier task when doing the catwalk, but Kellie has issues keeping up with the discussions in the apartment as they forget to face her when speaking.

The judges include fashion designer and founder of label Red or Dead, Wayne Hemmingway, then-editor of Marie Claire Marie O�Riordan, writer, actress and presenter Lara Masters and award-winning casting director Mark Summers. Each week they assess the performances of the girls, both on and off assignments, and decide who�s going to be sent home. Opinions are so split the cameras are switched off at one point. There�s a fundamental difference over how they�re judging the girls � as a disabled girl aspiring to be a model or an aspiring model who happens to have a disability.

Arguments aside, the girls all have their eyes firmly set on the prize - a photo shoot with Rankin, one of the UK�s best known fashion photographers, a four page spread in Marie Claire and an introduction to the head of a top modelling agency. With the training and experience gained from the show, the aspiration is to give the winner a foot in the door of the fashion world and a life changing opportunity to break down barriers throughout the industry.

Britain�s Missing Top Model won the Factual Media Award at the RADAR (Royal Association for Disability Rights) People of the Year Human Rights Awards in 2008. The show was also nominated for the Royal Television Society award for Best Constructed Factual Series in 2009.

  [november 2009]  


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