THE X FACTOR format has done more than give us a decade of newly manufactured pop stars. It’s also responsible for the televised discovery of dancers, ice skaters, street strikers, chefs, models, apprentices and now even hairdressers.
Addictive and insufferable in equal measures, never has there been a more fitting Twitter trend name than #GBH for a programme with a Freddy Kruger lookalike clutching a tail comb at the helm.
E4’s Great British Hairdresser series, sees hairdresser to the stars (and coincidentally Kate Moss’s BFF) James Brown starring as the Simon Cowell of the salon.
Editor of Glamour magazine, Jo Elvin, is his Cheryl Cole. Where many may question Cole’s singing skills on X Factor, the same could be said of Elvin’s choice of mop crop in what is supposed to be a hairstyle show. Abbey Clancey also presents. Badly.
But let’s not forget James, his ‘stratospheric’ career and the incredulous list of celebs of whom we’re reminded of week after week. He is the focal point of the show, and boy does he know it. Addictive and insufferable in equal measures, never has there been a more fitting Twitter trend name than #GBH for a programme with a Freddy Kruger lookalike clutching a tail comb at the helm.
In the third episode of the show, the final ten high street hairdressers were put into a house because, as Big Brother 1-11 taught us, shoving strangers together can make for entertaining TV. However, we didn’t get to see much of the house action because no sooner had they downed tools, then they were hoisted back to the salon for their next challenge – avant-garde hair.
James dropped the bomb that he expected them to incorporate a stuffed animal into their creation and “think of John Galliano”. Unsurprisingly none of the contestants morphed their dead animal into a swastika shape, so that fashion faux pas from James clarified that the show must have been filmed some time ago and he’s not totally oblivious to the world outside the salon. Phew.
As the contestants clambered for their choice of woodland animal, James told them to “think outside the box” and, presumably, inside the hutch. Josh nabbed the squirrel, Keris picked the pigeon, and Daniel grabbed the magpie, whilst poor old Aileen was left with the frog and the fairytale fragmented during James’ tirade.
“Beautify the rat.”
“It’s like a magpie has landed on her head.”
“It’s a disaster Keris.”
Alexander bravely asserted that “avant-garde is my thing” to then be told by James seconds later that his creation “is boring”. And so the cycle of hairy heroics and humiliation continued for the entire hour.
The second part saw the contestants on location in a forest with real models - no more of this ‘just walked in off the street to get a free haircut and get on telly’ malarkey.
More of the same antics as the first challenge. Attempts at animal inspired hairstyles, followed by James pissing on their chips and telling them it’s vinegar. Tough love in a tough industry, apparently.
The best part of the episode, saw James getting impatient with poor old Aileen again. She’d gone from a frog to a swan for this task, but her lack of creative vision forced James to show her how it’s done. He proceeded to rag the models hair out of the bobble two minutes before the end of the task and backcomb like a maniac whilst shouting “It’s a hippo not a swan. A swan needs length, come on you’ve not got much time.” Bet you don’t get away with that madness on Moss, James.
After an overall less than successful attempt at avant-garde, they had to do whatever it took to get the best photographic shot. If that meant a model was eight foot up a tree with a strand of hair out of place then, according to James, you need to make like Tarzan, climb and coif. Coif, damn it.
Meanwhile, Nichole de Carle - the designer whose lingerie was being modelled - decided to join forces with Clancy in the cat stakes. As a professional, I had higher hopes, but she happily joined the pantomime all for the love of James - or more likely in the hope Kate Moss will wear her undies.
Aileen was forced to wade with no waders in the hope that she’d secure her place in the competition. She didn’t of course. A dragged out, Willy Wonka meets Jesus elimination process involving James placing his hand upon the shoulders of the chosen ones, left him with his bottom three.
James then told Alex off for trying to sell himself too much but kept him in and then contradictorily asked Daniel and Aileen to sell themselves to fight to stay. In the end, despite making James angry because he did all the work for him (a few seconds of frantic finger combing to be precise), Daniel stayed. Aileen was sent packing for lacking passion and being too needy. She got the frog. Give the girl a break.
As with most TV shows of this nature, it’s a guilty pleasure for viewers. However, what sets this particular trashy TV aside from the talent show heavy weights we know and love, is that it uses a recycled format which, like James’ choice of headgear, is old hat.
“Would you please leave the salon,” asks James at the end of each elimination. Gladly.
The next episode of Great British Hairdresser in on E4 at 10pm on Monday 21 March.