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Washed up at 21 - the stunning Irish models who are simply 'too old' for RTE's model scouts

Who would have thought it -- some of our most beautiful girls, washed up by 21?

That's the opinion of the world's biggest model agency and it's bad news for the Ireland's top models.

According to IMG, Ireland's best known young models are "too old" to participate in RTE's new series, The Model Scouts.

Co-hosts Jeni Rose and David Cunningham claim leggy beauties, including Georgia Salpa, Louise Kavanagh and Nadia Forde, need not apply for the forthcoming show, as the cut-off point for participants is strictly 20 years of age.

Vice President of IMG Models, David says there is nothing ageist about their requirements, insisting that modelling is an industry where you need to start honing your skills as a teenager in order to be truly successful.

"We will be looking for girls in the region of 15 or 16 years of age, 20 is definitely the oldest we would go," David told the Herald. "It's not ageist at all, that's the way the industry is. Sometimes what people see as an overnight success has actually been in the making for five or six years before that.

"It takes years to get into the golden ring of modelling and be at the centre of multi-billion dollar deals and if you haven't started in your teens you might as well give up, because you'll never make it to the top.

"There is a window of opportunity and it has to be seized, I mean Maria Sharapova didn't start playing tennis in her twenties. You have to start young.

"We're not interested in these girls who are already established in whatever capacity in Ireland, the idea is to find fresh talent," he added.

Prize

David and fellow vice-president of IMG Models, Jeni began their search for Ireland's next big thing last Saturday when they took to Dundrum Shopping Centre to find contestants for the show.

The prize on offer to this year's winning girl is a one-year contract with IMG Models, who already represent Giselle Bundchen, Heidi Klum, Naomi Campbell, Lily Cole, Mischa Barton and Liv Tyler. Those who are short-listed to take part in the series will have to be prepared to spend a lot of time away from home, as the majority of the programme will be shot abroad this year.

"We're planning to shoot a lot of it at our Paris office so the girls need to be ready to live away from home for weeks at a time," said David. "Obviously their school work has to take priority and we will have provisions in place to make sure they don't fall behind.

"We're not looking to make one of those shows where the girls are used for the viewer's amusement. We really care about our girls and that will come across on TV. We've been approached to do a lot of programmes over the years and this was the first one we've agreed to, because we were very impressed with the last series and the sensitive manner Ellis dealt with the girls."

lnolan@herald.ie