Lennox beauty in cruel TV debacle

SHE was robbed. Lennox Head-born beauty Kelsey Martinovich was awarded the honours in reality television series Australia's Next Top Model on Tuesday night – only to have it snatched away from her moments later.

In what seems to have been a counting room stuff-up – or, it has been suggested, a cynical publicity stunt – celebrity presenter Sarah Murdoch did a backflip on the public vote that gave Kelsey the top prize.

No, Ms Murdoch said, clapping her hand over her mouth, there had been a mistake. It was Amanda who had won.

Showing the natural grace and charm that took her through to the final – despite being the outsider because of her diminutive 172cm height – Kelsey took the shock news well. She hugged her rival in congratulations and even reassured an upset Ms Murdoch that ‘it's all right'.

Queenslander Amanda Ware, 18, a favourite with the judges, and in particular the outspoken Alex Perry – was naturally thrilled, and seemingly unsurprised at her rapid turn-around in fortune.

In a statement, a Foxtel spokesman said Amanda and Kelsey had been ‘neck and neck' in the voting all night.

“At the time of theresult announcement there was a miscommunication between the broadcast truck and the stage,” the spokesman said. “Sarah handled what was a difficult situation with utmost professionalism and grace.”

As a consolation prize, Kelsey was given a $25,000 cash payout and an all-expenses paid trip to New York.

The internet yesterday was deluged with calls of outrage as news of the blunder flew around the world.

Conspiracy theorists, including many reality show experts, blogged that the mistake had been a carefully scripted strategy to boost the show's publicity around the world. It has certainly succeeded in doing that, but for the wrong reason.

The channel has vigorously denied any manipulation, saying the miscall was due to‘human error'.

It will take some time for the tens of thousands of fans who voted for Kelsey to forget the cruel clanger – least of all in her home town.

In an email received by The Northern Star, Leone and Mick Marrs, of Lennox Head, said: “Let's see what would happen if the officials at the AFL or NRL grand finals tried the same stunt. Absolute bull crap. Kelsey will always be the winner in our hearts.”

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