It’s a Hair raising experience on the BBC

Kettlemag, TV, BBC, Hair, Gemma Hirst
Written by GemmHirst

Hair (or The Great British Cut Off as I like to call it is) back for a new series.

The standards are higher this year. The competition has become arguably classier as it is now broadcast on BBC2. The personalities are bigger and bubblier and there are more elastic bands than you could shake a curling tong at.

Let me break it down for you

Hosted by one of the funniest women in comedy, Canadian Katherine Ryan brings her quirkiness and long blonde hair to the show. Ten amateur hair stylists have to impress royal hairdresser, Denise McAdam, and stylist to the stars, Alain Pichon. They undergo a series of challenges each week.

Basically, it’s Bake Off but without the soggy bottoms.

The judges

The Mary Berry of hair, Denise, is not afraid to give her opinion. She has styled hair for Princess Grace of Monaco and the Duchess of York and knows perfection when she sees it. The Paul Hollywood figure, Alain, started working for Toni & Guy at the age of 23 and is now Artist Director. Both have a lot of experience under their styling belts.

How it works

There are two episodes each week, and the amateur stylists have to live up to expectations. The judges look for perfection – no hair can be out of place.  The contestants also go through a freestyle round, where they have to create a style based on a theme of the judge’s choice. The style is then ranked and those with the lowest scores are sent to the Eliminator. Here, they are tested on their knowledge and skills. This could be anything from perfecting cornroes to mastering the sleek high ponytail. Under pressure, contestants often miss the finishing details.

The Eliminator challenge is demonstrated by the judges first on Katherine’s hair. This is the one section of the show that doesn’t quite fit – it makes it seem like this is the only reason Katherine is on the show.  The second section of the show is well worth a watch, however. We see the hairdressers take on professional tasks like styling a vintage dancer or being a stylist for London Fashion Week. It really shows the competitors in a new light and highlights their skill sets.

On the show this week

Episode 3 was ‘history of the world’ themed during the freestyle section. It was a great chance to see the contestants creative flare come to life. I was a great fan of Belarusian, Maryia, who created a Greek goddess hair style: it was regal enough to get her to the top of the ranks.

But some challenges have not always been positive tasks for people.


Meggan, 21, from the North East and 58 year old Lesley have both been in the lowest rankings. Meggan won the battle for safety in the competition and Lesley had to go home. As something of the underdog as a trainee hairdresser, I reckon she will be the one to watch.