‘The New Hairy Mary Berry’ – Meet ‘Extreme Hair Wars’ Judge Martyn Holmes

‘Extreme Hair Wars’ is a new TV talent competition billed as the beauty version of ‘The Great British Bake Off’.

Four teams made up of a makeup artist and a hair stylist, pit their creative skills against each other in a bid to impress the judges – Martyn Holmes, creative director of Strangeways Salon and Robert Masciave owner of Metropolis Hairdressing.

The pair say they’re happy for comparisons to be drawn between their show and ‘Bake Off’, as both display “great creativity and brilliant execution”.

Holmes told HuffPost UK he’d like to think of himself as “the new Hairy Mary Berry”, while Masciave says he shares the same values as Paul Hollywood.

“Paul is a perfectionist and appreciates when the contestants displays great control over creativity vs execution,” he explained. “I do also tell the contestants the truth about what I see.”

Presenting ‘Extreme Hair Wars’ will be comedy writer-performer and presenter London Hughes, (who will also soon be looking for love on E4’s ‘Celebs Go Dating’ and appearing as co-host on BBC One’s new comedy prank show ‘Ready Or Not’).

Hughes quipped that she’s “definitely more Mel and Sue, than Noel and Sandi”.

“The competition is really stressful and I feel it’s my job to make sure the contestants have as much fun as possible, I’m also a lovely shoulder to cry on for when it all goes wrong,” she said.

“There’s a lot more drama than on ‘Bake Off’. It’s very intense and there’s a lot of hair spray flying around. One of our models even fainted.”

Each week there are two challenges, one involves skill and the other one is based on a fantastical theme.

Masciave revealed that some of the themes are “Sweet As Candy”, “Under The Sea” and “Gravity Defying”.

Interestingly, the first episode features hair braiding. A popular but hot topic as it concerns cultural appropriation. Were the team worried about any backlash?

“It’s so important to be aware of cultural appropriation, but it’s all good as long as you know your history and Robert and Martyn definitely do,” said Hughes.

“Plus as a black woman I was really impressed when one of our hairstylists who happened to be white, cornrowed her black models Afro hair. I couldn’t do that!”

Holmes’ thoughts were: “I do think it’s very important and as someone who has worked in the industry for many years, I have always respected the many different cultures that inspire hairstyles today.”

Whereas Robert stated: “Culture, art and fashion exchange has been happening for centuries. I think it’s important as it is a catalyst to cultural acceptance.  Culture/art must be shared and hairdressing falls into that.”

When asked what a winning style looks like both judges agree they are looking for the winner who has a combination of creativity and skill – as one is useless without the other.

“Creativity is translating a simple skill challenge, theme into an amazing looks,” explained Masciave.

Holmes describes a winning hairdo as one which is “executed well, mixed with new ideas and forward thinking.

“But at the same time I’m looking for something aesthetically pleasing with a good balance and beautiful shape,” he added.

Just as ‘Bake Off’ contestants fear the dreaded “soggy bottom” failure on Extreme Hair Wars will also be easy to spot.

“We have the dreaded wobbly bits,” said Masciave. “When a tall hairstyle lacks stability, when the lack of vision translates into a display of techniques only without harmony.

“Knowing when to stop is part of the skill too. Sometimes it’s just too much.

“When looking at an Extreme Hairstyle you must see and understand the artist’s vision. The message must be clear to the viewer.”

Holmes added: “If it’s flat it’s a failure! A failure would be hair that is unbalanced and unpolished, a failure doesn’t ‘scream the theme’.”

With such OOT styles on display will viewer be able to glen any useful  tips and tricks? Or will we wanting to attempt a unicorn mohawk when we’re done?

Masciave said there are skills to be learned – if you look beyond the finished creations.

“The process of creating those looks will include lots of tips that can be used at home, ie. how to create the prefect ponytail,” he explained.

“Having said that, Extreme Hair Wars is about the artist side of hairdressing and not tutorials on how to do your own hair.”

We will keep our bangs away from our face and our eyes peeled to see the looks unfurl, from scissor to scissor.

Extreme Hair Wars begins Thursday at 8pm on 5STAR