Britain’s Ugliest Models Review: Drop Dead Gormless

October 28, 2009 by  
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BRITAIN’S UGLIEST MODELS: Thursday 29th October, Fiver, 10pm Alert Me

Even if you haven’t a moral fibre in your body, it’s possible this show will provoke recoil.

The latest belch exerted from Five’s random documentary title generator comes in the form of Britain’s Ugliest Models, a series following the daily goings on in the London and New York offices of alternative modelling agency Ugly.

They supply “character” models – “interesting” looking people – to fashion campaigns, magazine shoots and films.

Why are we watching this now then? Well apparently that ol’ ball-ache of the credit crunch has made it tougher on bossman Marc French and co and business is slowing down. People aren’t booking “character? models anymore, it’s cheaper to trawl the street for freaks.

We join Ugly in time to witness the shooting of the annual catalogue and Marc’s entire stock of models is on hand to have their photo taken. There are helpful close ups of the abundance of deformed legs, rolls of fat and stretched scrotums.

The normal people are all asked the same question: “what do you think of this model??, to which they’ll give the same answer: “oh, they’re such a character…?

While it’s a practical thing to have such a company that promotes difference, Marc’s condescending nature kills any chance of sincerity. He’s thrilled with one of his new models, four-foot tall actress Arti. “She’s such a little character?, he says.

To prevent coming off a little unsavoury, Marc spouts a bunch of redemptive fluff about how we’re all born unique and beautiful. For a certain “model? however (who vintage telly fans may recognise as Ugly Bloke off TFI Friday), beauty isn’t on the inside either.

The show does buck a trend, the first of its kind not to pretend that it’s not a freak show. It shamelessly bellows: Look! Look at the little man dressed in an elf costume (with bells on) being airlifted by a hundred balloons! Look!

Erm, isn’t that a bit distasteful? “It’s every kid’s dream to be lifted by balloons?, says booker Lulu. Oh, that’s ok then.

The crew parade Ugly’s veteran model, a 78-year-old tribal piercing enthusiast amicably nicknamed Prince Albert, on London’s streets to gauge the public reaction and nab some vox pops from the normal looking people. They’re funny looking, aren’t they? Well, yeah, they’re employed to be.

The one star is mandatory for programmes it’s possible to sit through the entire duration without expiring. The half star is for the spectacle factor. It may be politically incorrect to stare but aren’t you a little intrigued?


Leonie Mercedes