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I Supermodel (爱上超模): Northern Ireland the backdrop for China reality TV show beamed to 280m people

By Laura Abernethy

Published 17/10/2015

The cast of the first series of I Supermodel. Below: Huang Haibao and Han Jinling with Martin Craigs and Kain Craigs, who helped to bring the production here. Above: a suite at the Culloden where the cast are staying
The cast of the first series of I Supermodel. Below: Huang Haibao and Han Jinling with Martin Craigs and Kain Craigs, who helped to bring the production here. Above: a suite at the Culloden where the cast are staying
Huang Haibao and Han Jinling with Martin Craigs and Kain Craigs, who helped to bring the production here
A suite at the Culloden where the cast are staying
Video producer Lorra

One of the world's biggest reality TV shows is secretly filming in locations across Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The final two episodes of China's version of America's Next Top Model, I Supermodel, will see models fight it out in challenges set in the Titanic quarter, Belfast City Hall and Mount Stewart, in an attempt to win a £1m modelling contract with Kate Moss's agency Storm.

The show will be watched by approximately 280m people. It has also been filming in top secret locations to try and keep the identity of the five finalists from being leaked to the millions of fans in China and 25 other countries.

The filming has already brought in over £100,000 for Northern Ireland and it is expected to provide a tourism boost.

Martin Craigs and his son Kain fought off competition from Scotland to host the show in Belfast.

They set up the Iconic Golf Group last year to promote Irish life and golf in Asia.

Martin described this as an opportunity to build positive awareness of Northern Ireland in China. He explained: "I Supermodel will be watched by 20 times more people than watched The Great British Bake Off final."

The models and crew of over 70 people have been staying at the five-star Culloden Hotel in Holywood.

The exclusive Palace Suite has been adapted to give the models a home away from home. The living room has been turned into their bedroom with five plush single beds and the hotel created a lounge area for the models to relax between takes.

Aileen Martin, sales director at Hastings Hotels, said: "We would never even be able to dream of affording something that would go out to that many people in our marketing plan. It's showcasing Northern Ireland at its very best."

Video producer Lorra also realised the opportunities that I Supermodel could bring to local people.

She grew up in Northern Ireland and moved back just nine months ago. She was thrilled when her company BMV productions was chosen to help create a video for the show.

Lorra explained: "I've had to concept and script the whole idea. It's pretty spectacular what they are wanting to do.

"I can't say much about it, but it's based on one of the biggest stories to come out of Belfast. They've really taken on the Northern Irish theme."

Visit Belfast chair, David Gavaghan, said: "It's hard to appreciate what an audience like this feels like, but it's incredibly powerful. I think this is a great way of selling the city in a contemporary world."

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