Alex Perry, Sarah Murdoch, Charlotte Dawson, Josh Flynn

Over the past 6 seasons, we’ve seen Australia’s Next Top Model become a massive reality ratings hit for subscription TV channel FOX8. This seventh season sees the production values through the roof, marquee judges returning and a complete lack of rocket scientists in the contestants. But did we expect anything less?

The first episode focuses entirely on cutting the Top 100 down in a modelling ‘boot camp’ (which one of the contestants thought would mean an exercise boot camp), starting with a runway competition in their swimwear. No time for prissyness or poutyness, girls, time to show the judges what you got.

It’s a very punchy episode and the breadth of girls is amazing. An indigenous competitor. Pink hair. Surprise hair. Massive weight loss. There are some spectacular stories to tell in the coming weeks. But don’t get too attached to any of them just yet, as this first episode takes the Top 100 and cuts them down to 50, then 30, then 20.

The girls are stretched as they are put through their paces with a photo shoot AND a catwalk show to help the judges decide who stays and who goes. There are some stunning girls – some that are naturally beautiful, and some that look a million dollars when give the treatment. It’ll be a whirlwind for the Top20, as not only will they learn more about the modelling business in Australia and be challenged to stretch themselves week after week, but they’ll be competing for a pretty serious prize at the end of the series.

Charlotte Dawson and Alex Perry battle it out for best/bitchiest line of each episode -round one goes to the man in the sunglasses: “If you don’t stand up straight, I will run up on the runway and flatten you.”

All the judges are great. Sarah Murdoch is relaxed, authoritative and comfortable as host. Alex Perry is at his insightful and scathing best, as is Charlotte Dawson (who looks fiercely gorgeous) – no holes barred. Even model mentor Josh Flynn is deliciously straight with the girls.

Without question the biggest surprise is held over for the girls at the end of the first episode… and sets them up for an equally massive 2nd ep. If you’ve access to FOX8, ANTM will be one to watch in 2011.

Australia’s Next Top Model – Mon 7:30pm, FOX8.