I WASN’T QUITE sure what to expect from the format of last night’s Ultimate Debutante.
It was the finale but we have already seen the debutantes’ preparations and the night itself. Plus, we know their back stories. I was afraid we weren’t going to get any corsages, awkward dances or dicky bows. How wrong I was. So, thank you TV3. I like to think you’ve been listening.
First up, we have some exciting news. There’s a new judge in town.
Vicky (with an i), here, is the former deputy editor of Kiss Debs magazine. I wonder why they couldn’t get the current deputy editor or the former editor? Anyway, Vicky (with an i) it is.
Brendan tells her that her input will be invaluable because first impressions are very important. Indeed. ‘Always judge a book by its cover’ is the saying, right?
Before we get to the “serious competition” bit, we hear Notaro say that that if Kiss are going to give up pages in their magazine, the winning debutante will have to make it worthwhile. Pressure.
Speaking of the Kiss spread, shall we remind each other of the other prizes? There is the helicopter ride, which I realised last night I have never given you a glimpse of. So here it is in all its grey-skies glory.
There is also a stay in Dunboyne Castle for the winner, who is either 17 or 18 years of age. And €1,000 cash. But most importantly, there is the tiara.
The serious business
Now that is out of the way, voiceover extraordinaire Dara Quilty tells us that three of the finalists will be subjected to four-on-one interviews with the judges. What? Three? But there are four girls. Yes, people, we have a shock early elimination.
Tyra, Courtz, Brendan and Vicky (with an i) discuss the best bits about the girls. Summarised as follows:
- Laura: positive outlook (x4)
- Chloe: demure, stylish (x4)
- Eliza: a messer (Tyra)
- Jacinta: a livewire (x4)
Brendan believes that each of the girls tick many of the boxes it takes to be TV3′s Ultimate Debutante. “But which ticks the least?” he asks. Remember I said I was worried about the lack of dicky bows? Well, I hearted Brendan for a bit because of this:
But it was short lived as he had no problem eliminating my favourite, Jacinta. (Explainer for those of you new to this recap: I promised to eat a corsage – pearls ‘n’ all – if she didn’t win).
Poor Jacinta, you’re better off without them though! Courtz, who seems to want to usurp Tyra’s head judge role, decides that the Dublin girl has “gone as far as she can in this competition”.
Tyra’s a little upset by the decision: “I guess she was one of the standout girls for me…,” she says, looking genuinely sad – and a bit disgusted.
Pang! What is that I feel? Oh god, I think that was the beginning of a girl crush on Tyra. I might just be dazzled by that orange dress though.
Jacinta leaves the room and goes to have a nice cry and cuddle with her mum who says, “You done fantastic. You’re after getting this far.” It is awful. This programme was not designed to be heart-wrenching.
The final countdown
So, there’s just three left. But the producers leave a place setting for Jacinta, like a 1940’s British mum whose son has gone to war (or something a little less dramatic).
We also get a shot of them as their “ordinary” selves, in close up.
I’m starting to get a little anxious about what these adults could question these teenagers on. I get that they are looking for an 18-year-old girl with style, confidence, personality, demeanour, initiative and ambition*, but what could they possibly ask them to determine this.
I soon find out.
Brendan: “Do you think we give too much money to charity?”
Before we continue, do you want to see what the other judges are wearing? Of course you do. Obviously, there are new clothes because Dara keeps reminding us we are down to the business end of the competition.
Yes, that is Courtz sans head gear. Not even a glimpse of an ear ornament so I can’t show you our favourite accessory from the show. Ah, who am I kidding? Here you go, for one last time:
Before we get to the next interviews, Dara says we’re going to have a little look back at the style stakes. Yay!
And the editors pull no punches on the contestants. The montage about how competitive the girls are is quite funny but then the juxtaposition of the contradictory statements is a little mean.
Aideen – the “horsey” one: the money girls spend on their dress is RIDICULOUS. They could spend up to €500.
Another girl whose name I can’t remember: I spent €500 on my dress.
Aideen: And then they spend €40 on their tans.
Other girl: I am going to get two spray tans so I look extremely dark.
After that, Dara recalls the travesty of another girl having the same dress. “CAN YOU IMAGINE?” he screams. “NIGHTMARE.”
Eliza and friends discuss the dresses, stating that there weren’t that many “typical” debs dresses at their hotel. They realise the irony of their own statement and giggle, thank God.
We don’t know who this girl is but Dara calls her “a feisty one”. We are not privy to the reason for this.
I would like to think the final shot of the segment was directed solely at me. Conor featured in our very first recap on DailyEdge.ie and at the time, we said:
This young chap is arguably the star of the show. Conor here isn’t actually going to the debs with any of the contestants but he is a friend of Fiona’s. He’ll be the one she wished she dated when she grows up. Bet you a tenner.
Conor says lovely things about his friend, wears matching socks and is generally charming throughout. He also pulls off a mean pair of braces which Courtney doesn’t mention. Frankly, that makes me doubt her fashionista credentials.
Last night, we got a second helping and Dara quite simply – and hilariously – just said, “Socks.” Thanks guys.
After that comedic interlude, we get back to the interviews. Chloe ruins her chances by saying she is not into painting her nails and thus loses Courtz’s vote. It is well-known that the fashionista is a big fan of nail art. Which is a thing now, I have learned over this five-week ‘journey’.
Before we get too uncomfortable with the interviews, we cut to another montage. This time it is of “the most important accessory of the night”. I appreciate the hint of sarcasm in Dara’s voice as he says this. “Did the suitors of 2012 stand up to the pressure?”
This voiceover – “Of course I think my boyfriend is gorgeous. Myself and Stephen are just so comfortable with each other” – accompanies this picture:
Dara also reminds us that this pair met “on Facebook”.
And that they co-ordinated outfits so they could be like “Posh and Becks for a night”.
It also reminded us that 18-year-old boys do things like this when a camera is pointed in their faces.
Not only did the boys get their own segment for the finale, so did the other important element of any debs ball. The soup. More specifically, hotel soup with cream and underbaked bread rolls.
“For starters we got soup,” says one contestant. “We thought we were getting vol-au-vents for starters but we got soup,” says another.
“Soup as a starter. I’ve never seen the like,” retorts Quilty, the adult.
That earlier pang of a girl crush went a bit crazy for a while there…but look how pretty Tyra actually is when there are facial expressions.
Yes, this show has done something to me. Don’t worry, I have holidays owing.
After the three awkward chats are completed, the judges get down to judging. Courtz must have been in a rush to her next nail appointment as she is seriously keen on picking a winner quicksmart.
Brendan moans about how hard it is and Tyra notes that after each interview, she wanted that person to win. The deciding factor though is going to be who has “grown” the most during the competition – or their two trips to Ballymount studios.
One thing does confuse me though. Someone says that the winner will go on to represent TV3 as Ireland’s Ultimate Debutante. Does RTÉ have one too? And TG4? Is there going to be a giant showdown with Dáithí Ó Sé in the Tralee Dome?
As we ponder that possibility, we find out whose “journey” has been the most successful. As it can’t be Jacinta, I’m fairly nonplussed.
And the winner of Ireland’s Ultimate Debutante is…Eliza:
And not only is there a tiara…
There is a SASH as well.
So, it looks like I’ve to go eat a corsage now.
Can I have some mayo on the side, please?
*If you think we are taking this seriously, please have a nosy through previous recaps. We have all come together in the realisation that the premise for this programme is ridiculous but we’re embracing it anyway so huddle in.
PS. After the credits, TV3 asks: “Are you planning on being the standout debutante of your debs next year?” They’re planning to do this all over again. I don’t know if I can handle it.