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Snog, Marry, Avoid

Nicola Mostyn finds out where Atomic Kittens’ careers go to die

Published on July 14th 2008.

Snog, Marry, Avoid

As a concept, 'the Makeover' has always fascinated us. From Plain Jane the Superbrain’s transformation on Neighbours, to a million magazine articles converting the lank and apathetic into bouncy and beautiful, to the recent spate of shows gripping homely, harassed, wonky-boobed members of the public and hoisting them into correctly fitting bras/better relationships/surgically-enhanced thighs.

"In the first episode we saw 21-year-old Princess Tamsin from Huddersfield getting ready to go out, unwinding a piece of insulation tape. At first you thought she was going to tape up her boobs. Then you realised – that was her top."

Snog, Marry, Avoid is part of this Makeover genre, but with a twist. As presenter Jenny Frost tells us, it’s, “the world's first and only makeunder show.”

Don’t get your hopes up. This is not a programme in which beautiful people are forced to live in poverty, eating pasties and developing blackheads and depression, (though presumably only because Channel 4 already have a patent on that one).

No. Snog Marry Avoid has as its target the plastic princesses of Great Britain. You know the ones. The girls who refuse to wear a jacket in January. The ones who can see where Jodie Marsh is coming from. The type who wear so much mascara they have to tip back their heads to open their eyes.

These girls think they are man-magnets. It’s Snog Marry Avoid’s mission to put them right, revealing via vox-popped members of the public that most men, catching a glimpse of a woman sporting seven inch heels, five coats of foundation and a bikini, would start walking briskly in the other direction, whistling nervously. Having been thoroughly disenchanted, the girls are then asked to choose a new style and are transformed instantly, by the power of television (and, presumably, a backstage crew of unsung make up artists, stylists and industrial sandblasters), into natural beauties.

But when it comes to appearance, the truth hurts and sweet, lovely Jenny Frost can’t deliver the insults, because she’s just too nice, isn’t she? So the dirty work is delegated to a computer, POD. Personal Overhaul Device.

This is a mistake. POD might just be the most aggravating simulated character you’ve ever experienced. Worse than Max Headroom. Worse, even, that Mr Chips off Catchphrase. As soon as she starts speaking, you want to beat yourself to death with the remote control.

It’s partly to do with the voice, a cross between Anne Robinson and your GCSE English teacher. It’s partly to do with the way she calls Jenny 'The Frost' for no explicable reason. It’s also because everything that comes out of her electronic mouth is completely banal and cringeable.

Even worse is that Frost, the human aspect, can’t carry off the rest of the show, being something of a charisma-free zone herself. Tasked with a few minutes linking here and there, and a segment after each makeunder in which she revisits the girls to see if they’ve stuck to their natural style, she is hopelessly out of her depth, coming over like that boring person at the party whose stories never have a punch line.

Trinny and Susannah this pair are not. And it’s a shame because the subject matter makes for pretty good entertainment. In the first episode we saw 21-year-old Princess Tamsin from Huddersfield getting ready to go out, unwinding a piece of insulation tape. At first you thought she was going to tape up her boobs. Then you realised – that was her top. Before the transformation, Tamsin looked like a racoon. After it, she was fresh, glowing, and moved to tears to know that she could be attractive without hitting the bathroom seven hours before she was due to go out. Her boyfriend looked pretty relieved, too.

In the last episode amusing drama graduate and corset lover Dominique realised that, sometimes, one layer of mascara is better than 432 while Jules, leading a march for feminism with her dual ambitions to be a pole dancing instructor and an air hostess, went from Barbie look-a-like to classic 40s blonde. Alas, she was soon back to the iron-straight hair and pink clothes, despite the 21 year old being told that the vox-popped public thought she looked 32. “Hello! People who are 32 don't have figures like this!" she said, with the arrogance of youth and lycra. POD should have vaporised her right there.

So, for any gluttons for punishment, tune into tonight (Monday), where, according to the BBC website we will see: “Larna from Newcastle, whose hair is ruined from glueing in too many extensions; peroxide blonde SJ, who loves corsets and all things pink; fake-tan addict Donia, whose tarty look attracts the wrong kind of men; and neon-obsessed Izzy, who believes she is a high maintenance woodland elf.”

I’m sure I saw all of those in the Piccadilly taxi queue on Saturday night…

Snog, Marry, Avoid, 8.30pm, BBC3, Monday

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JoJuly 14th 2008.

Awful tv - another one for the Jeremy Kyle fans.

AnonymousJuly 14th 2008.

I've not spoken to anyone who has seen this show and not enjoyed it - it's just easy-watching fun! Why not lighten up a bit and leave off Jenny Frost?! - her career is far from dead!

StephanieJuly 14th 2008.

I think this show is really good, although POd is stupidly infuriating and makes it slightly immature. The idea is good enough that you can bear the immature concept of POD, because Jenny Frost, far from having a dying career, is a charming presenter, and has herself gone from OTT atomic kitten hair, makeup and clothes to the classic beauty. I myself am going to continue watching the show every night. Including the re-runs now I've read this truly misguided review :)

PickleJuly 14th 2008.

This programme depresses me..What happened to looking nice for you own sake, instead of judging your appaerance in relation to some throwaway comments from random boys, who probably aren't being honest because they're on TV?!

ThickJuly 14th 2008.

Sorry Anonymous I'm too thick to understand

Jack FrostJuly 14th 2008.

I know why don't you all get a jolly nice book to read rather than watching non-entities like Ms Frost talking to non-entities such as these girls about nothing at all.

BecksJuly 14th 2008.

Yeah Frost is a bit wooden and some of it is a bit cringey. But i agree it's a fab alternative to all these get it out and pile on the slap shows. I think it also may help to show shows girls who go out in their bras that they are making themselves less attractive by looking such desperados. Plus, after work, i want a bit of brain dead TV, that doesn't make me 'thick'.I am particularly glad POD is a woman's voice, i would perceive it v differently if it was a bloke.

AnonymousJuly 14th 2008.

Dear Thick, just because you choose to label yourself with this name, there's no need to label me with the same, purely because I don't share your taste! I see from the comments added that I'm not alone in seeing the fun in this - and don't think it makes any of us 'thick', to enjoy a little light hearted fun!

AnonymousJuly 14th 2008.

I ADORE this programme! Finally someone has the courage to say what we've all been thinking, and the scathing comments from POD that slip under the sarcasm radar of these idiots are a sheer delight to me. As a former Southerner (who still struggles to understand how Manchester girls can venture into the bitter weather of this city without a coat, in January, with only the radioactive glow of their St Tropez for warmth) it reassures me that I'M NORMAL to be cold. I pray each time I go out that the venue will have a cloakroom facility, as I'm sure they'll eventually close them due to lack of use; it's only a pound girls - DIG DEEP! Also, in the light of the abuse that anyone who looks slightly 'alternative' suffers at the hands of people who think gym wear is an acceptable daytime fashion choice, it is refreshing to see a programme that applauds and embraces 'alternative' looking young people, as POD happily sends them on their way to continue their lives as 'individuals'. Long reign this surprisingly refreshing and much needed viewpoint on what is beautiful.

AnonymousJuly 14th 2008.

I think it's a very positive change from all the appalling and offensive "cut yourself up you old slapper, you're spoiling my view" alternatives. The concept is great and should be applauded. The presentation is, however, dire.

AnonymousJuly 14th 2008.

this is hilarious horrendously bad TV. People have to watch it to see just how bad it is, such as shame as its an excellent idea - there's far too many walking trash bags who need either a serious make-under or should be banished from leaving the house, for crimes against soiling people's eyes.Shockingly executed though, poor Jenny, how has it come to this?Channel 4 need to quickly steal the idea and work their magic, as it could be up there with 10 years younger, how clean is your house etc with the right producers behind it.I can't see a second series of this being made, best thing for POD is to get infected with a computer virus.

TimBobJuly 14th 2008.

It's absolutely amazing t.v Jenny Frost is easy on the eye too.I love it & so does my sister, good times.

ThickJuly 14th 2008.

Dear Anonymous I know why you enjoyed it. It's because you're thick.

JinkiesJuly 14th 2008.

Not sure the frost is doing quite so well, but it's easy enough watching. And anything that promotes girls wearing less makeup can only be good.

KellyJuly 14th 2008.

I don't believe it myself - if these girls are really so high maintenance and shallow, why on god's earth would they let someone chop and dye their hair, let alone be seen on national telly without any makeup (during the 'Deep Cleanse' bit)? Come on, pull the other one...still mildly amusing filler before Big Brother though ;)

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