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Charley Speed talks Elle, 'Top Model'

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Charlie Speed, judge on Britain's Next Top Model
Earlier this week, we brought you a chat with Britain's Next Top Model's new Mr Mean, Julien Macdonald. Today, we bring you a chat with another new addition to the panel - former Calvin Klein model Charley Speed. Keep reading to find out what Charley had to say about working with Elle Macpherson and the possibility of a male version of BNTM.

Had you watched the show before?
"Yes I had. It's something that I've always been aware of because my agency have worked for them for a few years. It's a great show."

How did you become involved in the new season?
"Essentially they came and met a few of the guys from Models 1 because I think they wanted someone with some experience on the panel. We got on really well, did the screen test which went really well, and that’s essentially how I got on there! With all the experience I've had in the industry, hopefully what I can bring to the girls is letting them know how it really is. When Elle [Macpherson] saw my video, she really liked it and that was it! It's a great privilege."

How did you feel when you had to critique the models?
"Oh God, it's really difficult. The calibre of the girls this year, from what I've seen on previous years, is the strongest they've ever had without a doubt, which makes our job even more difficult because the quality is so high. Critiquing is really difficult, especially when you have been on a shoot with the girls and you know how hard they worked. But at the end of the day, if the shot hasn't come out that’s what really counts."

So being a model, can you really empathise with how they are feeling at panel?
"Yes! I can completely relate! You have to have a thick skin because you will be criticised and critiqued all the time, but at the same time it’s very important not to let that turn you into a bitter person. It’s a fine line you have to work. I can relate and in a way I think it makes me more sympathetic to them."

Did they come to you for advice?
"To a certain extent you have to dish it out equally and you can’t get close to one or two of the girls because it looks like favouritism, and you have to be very careful. You have to walk the balance. But of course if you’re approached on a shoot you have to let them know what not to do, what’s a good thing to do. Most of the advice comes from when we are on the panel. They hang on your every word so we have to be very careful what we say, but at the same time it’s great preparation for the real world of modelling because obviously if they do castings there will be a hell of a lot more girls there."

From your experience, what do models need to succeed in this industry?
"You've got to be confident and not arrogant, it’s a big difference. You have to have quite a thick skin because you will be faced with criticism. You can’t turn into a bitter person or take too much to heart because it’s just an industry and just a business. The most important thing is to be healthy. Eat well, look after yourself, exercise. If you’re healthy then you’re positive and you feel good about yourself and it oozes out of you. It makes you stand out in the casting. Lots of beautiful or edgy or interesting people are out there, but you need to be defined by something and I think being healthy and glowing goes a long way. It’s really important."

We’re used to seeing drama between the girls. Is the modelling world really that bitchy?
"It can be. It can be really tough for the girls and for the guys, from my perspective. You're thrown into model apartments, situations with complete strangers and you have to get along. It’s a very competitive industry. I think a lot of the bitchiness and a lot of that stuff has been talked up. When you are making it, you are working with similar people all the time and you tend to get on because you are on the road so much."

What can we expect from Elle?
"She's been great! She’s Elle Macpherson! She's such a big name and when I found out she was the new host I was jumping up and down! She's been very professional and really nice to work with. Unbelievable. We're talking superstar here really, aren't we? I've worked with a few high-end people in my time and some are lovely but some are just a nightmare because of the ego! It's not always these people's faults, because they have pedestals day in, day out, they’re told how great they are day in, day out and eventually everyone starts believing their own hype. You can’t help it, but Elle is so great! Lovely to work with."

What do you think about an all-male version of Top Model?
"Why not? I know a lot of guys watch the programme with their girlfriends or wives, and I’ve got friends who really like it, without a doubt. It’s definitely a possibility!"

Would you have applied if there had been one?
"That's difficult because I fell into the industry. It was never really a conscious decision to be a male model. My girlfriend at the time sent me in for a competition I didn’t know about and I was one of the finalists then won it and that was it! The whirlwind all started! I don’t know. Possibly, maybe, depends what I was doing with my life!"

Britain's Next Top Model begins on Monday, July 5 on Living

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