Guy Davis minded his man­ners when speak­ing to Gill Harbord, the head­mistress chal­lenged to turn Aussie Ladette to Lady’s ugly duck­lings into swans.

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - Q & A -

Some are looking for suc­cess, some are looking for re­spect, some are looking for a way to stop swear­ing all the time. They’re the lat­est group of rowdy Aus­tralian girls dubbed “ ladettes” who are trav­el­ling to the posh UK fi nish­ing school known as Here­ford Hall where, with a lit­tle bit of guid­ance, they just might be trans­formed into ladies.

Once again, Nine is pre­sent­ing Aussie Ladette to Lady, the home­grown ver­sion of the Bri­tish re­al­ity-TV hit. And in its sec­ond sea­son, the show is again aim­ing to help its eight rough-around-the-edges con­tes­tants reach their full po­ten­tial.

Help­ing them do so is Gill Harbord, the charm­ing and po­lite prin­ci­pal of Here­ford Hall. Don’t go mis­tak­ing her man­ners for fragility, though – Harbord’s not one to suff er the rude and un­ruly gladly, as the ladettes will soon dis­cover.

How was this sea­son’s crop of Aussie ladettes?

They were quite a hand­ful, let’s put it that way. They were cer­tainly more of a hand­ful than the fi rst group of girls. It took longer to di­vide them and get them to set­tle down.

Is that of­ten the case? That they will team up to take on you and the other Here­ford Hall in­struc­tors?

It was prob­a­bly the most no­tice­able among this group of ladettes, I think, be­cause they’d watched other pro­grams and de­cided they would work to present this united front.

That’s some­thing I was cu­ri­ous about, ac­tu­ally – whether past par­tic­i­pants in Ladette to Lady had seen your work on pre­vi­ous episodes and tried to fi gure out your tricks, so to speak.

I think the core is­sue is whether they them­selves re­ally want to change, and if they do they won’t be watch­ing out for tricks. They’ll be try­ing their best. And if they’re not try­ing their best, we don’t want them with us.

Can you tell fairly early on who’s there with a sin­cere will to change their ways and who just wants to get their head on the telly?

When Rose­mary [ Shrager, vice-prin­ci­pal] and I talk of an evening af­ter the girls fi rst ar­rive, our ini­tial gut feel­ing nearly al­ways pays off . It’s most ex­traor­di­nary – you can al­most al­ways tell who is go­ing to be there for just a few days and who might weather the storm. On av­er­age, you can usu­ally get rid of four straight away be­cause, quite hon­estly, they are just be­ing selfi sh and wast­ing the time of the girls who gen­uinely want to change their lives. And as we’ve seen in past se­ries, in both Eng­land and Aus­tralia, there are girls who are gen­uine about this course.

Have you found you’re able to change the think­ing of ladettes who take part in the show think­ing it’s all a bit of a joke?

Girls with that sort of at­ti­tude may leave early but within three or four months you may hear from them. And they’ll email you to say ‘ Even though I didn’t stay for very long, I now re­alise what you were say­ing’. They do come around and while I’m not sure it com­pletely turns their lives around it does get them to think. And it’s grat­i­fy­ing that they have paid at­ten­tion to some of the things they’ve been told. You’ll see that in this par­tic­u­lar se­ries – one girl, de­spite try­ing very hard, didn’t make it to the end but she is con­stantly in touch with me now, ask­ing me for ad­vice about fac­ing up to her prob­lems. And I’m con­stantly in touch with her.

How would you de­scribe your suc­cess rate, trans­form­ing ladettes to ladies?

It’s hum­bling for me be­cause I fi nd that if we even get one girl who makes a go of her life, it’s just fan­tas­tic. It makes me very happy to do it. And it makes me want to do more of this work. I’d be very happy to do this without the TV cam­eras.

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