was - as to be expected - full of them.' />

High-pitched screams: the second series of New Zealand's Next Top Model, which kicked off last night, was - as to be expected - full of them.

Toe-curling shrieks from 33 over-excited girls. Where's the remote? I need to turn the volume down.

From the amazed joy of each and every girl as head judge Sara Tetro makes that magical call, to the en masse cacophony of screeches as they race through their "rilly beautiful" Wellington hotel.

Alas, there's not time to lounge about in luxury - the edit of the show sets a cracking pace as the would-bes if only they could-bes are whisked down to the Wellington waterfront, where their first challenge is to teeter in high heels in front of the fabulous second judge, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, and the not so easy-to-impress fashion designer Alexander Owen.

"You look like you're walking through a mall," exclaims Colin with obvious disdain. "You look psychotic."

Colin's quips are the highlight of the show; tough yet humorous, he has an innate ability to cut to the chase to expose each girl's individual traits.

Which, as it turns out, are wonderfully intriguing.

There's Dakota from Christchurch who, if she hadn't been picked, would have probably turned to "adult entertainment" to survive, she confesses through tears.

Hardcore Danielle from Kawerau, who has never worn heels, is glad to have made it through her teens without getting pregnant or being in jail. Brilliant.

There's Courteney, whose passions are the church and God and who is questioning how modelling will sit alongside her spiritual beliefs.

There's a young mother, another whose inspiration is her grandmother who recently passed away, and the driven and determined Aafreen, born in Bombay, also in tears by the end of the show.

The girls all gasp in appropriate awe as Sara Tetro arrives, rather regally, by helicopter.

With the raise of an eyebrow she puts the fear of God into them with the words, "Being beautiful isn't a novelty in this industry".

Tetro, in fact, is not as tough as she seems and takes an almost motherly approach with the girls, imparting words of wisdom and cliched messages of empowerment.

The cut is made from 33 to 21 and the realisation that this is serious soon sets in.

Being transformed into old-fashioned stars of the silver screen in their first fashion shoot with photographer Russ Flat turns up some surprises.

More are sent home - 14 remain. The ruthless speed in which this is done keeps you from reaching for the remote.

Hopefully the rest of the series continues at the same pace.

The truth is, I'm hooked. On first look, this programme is all about "the surface". What makes it intriguing is that it is also a fascinating look at a diverse cross-section of young New Zealand women who are on the verge of something great - discovering themselves. Whether that includes being New Zealand's Next Top Model, we will just have to wait and see.

New Zealand's Next Top Model, Fridays, 7.30pm, TV3.