Why do people agree to appear on Snog Marry Avoid?

'Barbie twins' on Snog Marry Avoid

BBC Three's 'make-under' show Snog Marry Avoid has just started its fifth series, bringing in 20 more participants. But why would anybody take part?

The concept behind the show is simple. Someone who is deemed to be over-dressed is placed face-on to the camera while a robotic voice called Pod delivers cutting remarks about their appearance in quick succession.

They are then stripped of their make-up, blindfolded and given a new outfit all in the name of 'natural beauty therapy'. Before and after the make-under members of the public are asked if they would snog, marry or avoid the subject, invariably less would avoid them after.

While the new series replaces presenter Jenny Frost for Ellie Taylor and it goes on a roadshow across Britain, this concept remains untouched.

All well and good, but it is someone's job to find these people and persuade them to appear on the show without getting paid.

One such person tasked with the role is casting assistant producer Sarah-Lee Jones. She had under eight weeks to get 20 people to agree to feature on this series.

Cry for help

What may seem surprising to some, is that half of those 20 applied themselves through the websites for BBC Three and the show.

Jones says this is because people want to change their looks.

'They end up pouring their hearts to you, saying 'I hate looking like this - it takes me five hours to get dressed. I can't leave the house without 15 layers of foundation and spending £100 a month on fake tan. You've got to help me'.'

Charlene before and after Charlene had the full make-under treatment and got to keep the new clothes

For other contestants she scoured Facebook for target names like Barbie, Miss Princess and Baby Doll and came up with one who calls herself Barbie Helen who agreed to take part.

Jones couldn't, however, rely on Snog Marry Avoid's own Facebook page to attract new contestants as a fan's page, which the show doesn't have control over, has far more followers.

For the rest of the contestants, Jones and her team hit the clubs of Manchester's gay village, as well as venues in Sheffield, Blackpool and Leeds. They targeted students unions and fashion students, as this time round they were looking for more 'arty' people. She says the pressure was on for more extreme characters.

Mental beauty

Approaching people an revealing you're making a judgement on their clothes is a tricky subject, explains Jones.

'We couldn't exactly say we don't think you look well dressed. We just said 'we're working on a show, it's a new improved version of a show that's been running for a few years and we'd love to have a chat with you on Monday when we get back to the office'.'

But Jones says people don't drop out once they find out it is Snog Marry Avoid because they are won over by the benefits of the experience.

'It's all about mental beauty' she tells potential contestants, none of whom will get paid.

'I tell them we have our own stylists, you'll have your own lady to do your hair, you'll have someone to pick out all your clothes. You'll have a make-under for the day and you get pampered for the day. You get to try out different looks, different styles, find out what works for you, what doesn't work for you.'

The contestants also get to keep the new clothes. Whether they want them or not.

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