Made in Chelsea Season 17: The one with all the new faces…

in Made in Chelsea/MIC Series 17

A shiny bauble of posh pop culture has floated back onto our screens for its seventeenth series – but has the bubble burst for Made in Chelsea?

The longtime cast members are now reduced to Jamie Laing, Sophie Hermann,  Alex Mytton. Fredrik Ferrier, Mark-Francis Vandelli and Victoria Baker Harber.

The nymphs have (mostly) departed.

And we are currently drowning in a sea of new faces.

Some of us are starting to feel….uncomfortable.

And if you think they’re going to break us into this gently, you’re quite wrong.

The show opens with our Peroxide Prince, Jamie Laing, running after Alex Mytton and Sophie Hermann as they stroll in the sun-dappled filtered alternative reality that is Made in Chelsea.

It’s just like old times. Except it’s not.

It’s a trick, an illusion. A 10 second trip down memory lane.

Maybe that’s why the nostalgic lament that is Make Things Like They Used to Be by Safe To Swim, is blaring in the background.

Make things like they used to be,” they implore – as do we.

For we get just a glimpse of simpler times as the three walk arm-in-arm – and then our respite is essentially over.

A new order has begun.

A sleek shiny car drives into view and a sleek shiny-haired stranger steps out of it. The mysterious brunette murmurs a tantalising “Merci” to the driver before walking past us and off our screens.

For the new series of Made in Chelsea ushers in seven (7!) new cast members to viewers who are still grieving the loss of show stalwarts Sam and Louise Thompson.

Don’t you just hate change?

Just remember, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Or plus les choses changent plus elles restent les mêmes, as French newbie Maeva D’Ascanio might put it.

Throwing in a slew of new cast members is de rigueur for the series.

Always has been. 

Why Alex Mytton, no less, was part of a mass invasion of newbies in series 5…

Remember Fran and Olivia Newman-Young, Phoebe Lettice-Thompson,  Josh Acoombs and Oscar Ligenza? All of them were introduced at the same time as Mytton.

Or what about series 9? We watched on when they introduced Emily Weller, Jess Woodley, Millie Wilkinson, Fleur Irving, Josh “JP” Patterson, Nicola Hughes, James Dunmore and Elliot Cross.

It isn’t easy to let a TV camera capture your every high and low and to be the perfect blend of interesting, funny, clever and authentic right on cue. Even if you are all these things in real life, how to make it translate onscreen, in the confines of a one hour programme?

That means that the net must continually capture a good many newbies in order to find the ones that will mean something to us.

And not all of them will be instant favourites…

How many of us groaned when Lucy “bit of a player myself” Watson told people not to get in her “grill” – until the fullness of time revealed her as being one of the most brutally honest, principled and loyal characters on our screens?

Who knew back in Series 6 that dorky Sam Thompson would become fun, funny and hot – and one of the biggest breakout stars on Made in Chelsea?

Remember the days when he was still reciting bad poetry to Fran?

Who knew that the seemingly prissy blonde Sophie Hermann who was only ever seen in conjunction with Lady Victoria, would end up being such a fierce and funny character? Not I. Not you.

And so the opening episode of Series 17 continues the tradition – flitting gaily from old favourites such as Mark-Francis Vandelli to tantalising glimpses of new faces.

Jamie Laing is on chipper form this season, trying to cajole party animal, Alex Mytton, to come to a genetics lecture so he can find out “why I am the way I am!”

In reality nothing can explain the unstoppable force of nature that is Jamie Laing and we rather like it that way.

Predictably, the peerless Sophie already knows exactly who she is and has far better things to do with her time, while the laid-back Mytton humours his blond friend and accompanies him to the lecture.

Meanwhile,  Chuckle Brothers, Mile Nazaire and James Taylor are congratulating each other on “looking sharp.”

This is less controversial than the fact that the hapless pair are still talking about Eliza Batten.

To refresh your memory, Eliza is the sensible blonde who laughed at the light-hearted advances of  Miles and James in the previous season and was last seen being whisked off for a drink by their frenemy Tristan Phipps.

Apparently Miles “let” James “win” Eliza, who they talk about as if she were some kind of sport.

But if she is, we’re pretty sure that neither of the pair has managed to score a goal.

However, James has now decided that it’s time for action…

He rather likes the girl – in fact he’s so hot for her he’s going to “lay it on factor 50.”

Meanwhile, Miles confesses that he’s been having “a bit too much fun.”

Apparently a bit too much fun involves casual sex with your ex who you lived with for three years and once talked about marriage and kids with.

The key to making such situations palatable is ignorance and a curious lack of curiosity – as Miles merrily explains:

“I don’t know what she’s doing in Paris. It’s fine. She doesn’t know what I’m doing in London  – so it just works”
Miles Nazaire

You can’t help but be cheered by the knowledge that a Parisienne is now in London and Miles’ life as about to start malfunctioning in a fairly major way.

Newcomer Angus Findlay (who Georgia “Toff” Toffolo described as “a bit of a dish” on Celebs Go Dating)  rather spoils all that good bone structure of his by describing Sophie “Habbs” Habboo as an “Absolutely class bird.” which is the least classy and most laddish description possible.

Angus attempts to make eyes at Habbs, much to amusement of her friends, Melissa Tattum and Liv Bentley – but Habbs is not batting an eyelid:

Sweet as I’m sure he is, it’s a no from me.
Habbs Habboo

“Here we go again…”  groans  yet another blonde newbie, Amelia Mist, as she listens to Angus’s chat. There is something loveably quirky about this self-deprecating Bridget Jones type who brings a much-needed dollop of humanity to the proceedings.

And as you’ve guessed by now, Angus is a bit of a lad, as he is at pains to make clear…

He tells Amelia that he’s hooked up with his mentor at university who will be grading a piece of his work: “I don’t want to sound arrogant” he says in a brief moment of self-awareness, “but I think I’ve probably passed.”

That as may be, Angus, but you may have failed at not sounding arrogant.

Speaking of failure, let’s get back to James’ renewed attempts to date Eliza.

If you’ve ever felt that Eliza is too much of a grown up to consider dating a Chuckle Brother, you’ll be relieved to find her whizzing along on a child’s scooter. This perhaps makes japester James a better match than previously imagined; but the chap does seem to be lacking in game.

On asking to spend more time with her and being laughed at, he has to ask: “Is that like a laugh no or a laugh yes?”

But never mind, because James then announces a Grand Gesture…

Because it turns out that laying it on factor 50 apparently means flying a girl to Paris.

For their first date.

It’s the equivalent of starting a three course meal with cake. What do you then do for your main course…and what’s for dessert?

If that kind of gesture isn’t a red flag then what is?

After all, Spencer Matthews flew Lucy to Paris on their second date – and then promptly slept with the waitress.

If James is doing this for the first date, the consequences can only be more dire.

If James is the only one slapping on the factor 50,  Eliza is clearly going to get burned.

Meanwhile Jamie has a burning question at The Caledonian Club where he and Alex are ‘enjoying’ a lecture on genetics.

“Can I ask a quick question?” asks the blond scamp, “If your mother’s father’s bald and your father’s father’s bald, does that mean you’re out of luck?”

Mytton then does what he does best: “What about if you get a transplant, does that help?”

However, another new female of the wheat-locked variety (well, writing ‘blonde’ can get a little galling after a while) is also at the lecture. Verity Bowditch is a learned beauty who shames the frivolous pair’s questions by asking the professor about the affect of DNA methylation and histone methylation.

Don’t ask.

Once the lecture is over Verity, rather scathingly, asks the pair “Did you learn anything at all?”

However, it is Verity who ends up getting herself an education – for within 10 seconds of the introductions she has shown them a photo of the guy she is seeing…

…and the carefree pair have informed her that her man, James, is currently in Paris with Eliza….

“This is why social media sucks!” says Mytton before wryly adding: “Kind of sounds like he’s having his French gateaux and eating it.”

If they’re on a date then that’s a bit not cool?” says Verity, somewhat underreacting.

We think James will soon be eating his words too…

Someone who we’ve barely heard a word from is Mark-Francis Vandelli but now we find him holed up at The Clock gym.

Mark-Francis wouldn’t dream of sweating under any circumstances, so it is perhaps surprising to find him there. However, a little research reveals that The Clock provide 15 minute high intensity weight training sessions, which at least reduces the amount of time spent sweating to a bare minimum.

Of course, Mark-Francis is not working out in from of us – how unseemly – he is sitting fully-clothed in these luxurious surroundings face-timing Victoria Baker Harber who is in Miami sporting both over-sized sunglasses and attitude.

They dispense with their usual wit and have a small rather banal conversation which contains just one nugget of information: Mark-Francis will be visiting Victoria in Miami next month.

While the pair do deserve their own planet, as of late it feels as though Mark-Francis and Victoria are too cut off from the main action on the show, interacting almost exclusively with each other.

In many ways this isolation is possibly one of the more authentic parts of Made in Chelsea; you genuinely get the sense that the pair would prefer not to mix with the lowly ranks of the upper class. Nevertheless it feels unnatural that they are so divorced from the rest of the cast, and this has become more and more pronounced over recent series.

If the posher-than-thou pair were forced to mix with their underlings it would likely result in some heated exchanges and the resulting entertainment would surely be worth it.

But now night has fallen and the rest of the toffs are at Embargo Republica in their homeland of Chelsea. Angus is teaching the entirely too innocent Amelia about ‘sharking’ women.

“Jesus, you predator.” says a good-humoured Amelia, who clearly does not take life or Angus too seriously, and says she’ll opt to be a goldfish instead.

In the same bar (you’d think the whole thing was orchestrated, wouldn’t you…) Habbs has spotted Angus again and is telling Miles: “He literally bought a Bloody Mary next to me, it was really uninteresting to be honest,” she admits with customarily honesty.

True! So, can we please stop focusing on this non-meeting?

Fortunately Miles has spotted a more juicy piece of gossip; a past conquest of his.

“Oh god…” says the irrepressible scamp: “My god…hide me!” he begs, all of which Habbs sensibly ignores.

Unbelievably, it is the lovely Amelia that has put Miles so on edge.

It turns out that they hooked up once or twice last year and Amelia unwisely told her mates “I really fancy him and all that!” according to Miles.

All of  which means that Amelia’s mates must have shared this information with him.

Is it time to get new mates, Amelia?

“How did it end?” asks Habbs.

“I kind of just stopped messaging,” admits a squirming Miles.

Oh, look – she’s coming over! What a pity!

“Don’t act so awkward it’s okay,” says Amelia to a speechless Miles but there is some steel behind all the fluffy quirkiness.

Miles makes a quick escape but not before promising to meet her for brunch the next day – as long as Habbs and Angus come too, of course.

And then there is that dangerous femme fatale ex of his, Maeva, to contend with.

We know she is a femme fatale because her nails are painted blood red and she is shown luxuriating in a bath with a bottle of champagne, which is just the sort of thing a femme fatale would do.

It also seems that a French brunette on the show is the closest we’re getting to achieving diversity on Made in Chelsea. Baby steps, baby steps…

Miles has now received a fatal text on his phone informing him that Maeva is moving to London.

Miles, James and Liv ruminate on what Maeva’s intentions might be. It’s a cosy threesome or “the animals let loose again” as James describes it, given that in the previous season Liv snogged both Chuckle Brothers on the same night.

Fortunately, the party-loving three got over it immediately and kept their friendship intact, demonstrating high maturity levels hitherto unnoticed.

“Is it for work or is it for you?” questions Liv speculatively.

Given Miles has been “shagging” Maeva it’s a fair question.

However, Miles declares that he doesn’t want a relationship with anyone. Including Maeva.

“That’s a dark path,” says James, who may well enjoy similar expeditions on shady footpaths.

However, there is no escape for anyone in Made in Chelsea, and so it is that bright and early the next morning at Covent Garden’s swish Avobar, Amelia and Angus sit awaiting brunch with Miles.

Yet only Habbs shows up since the little vagabond who organised said outing, has found himself ambushed by the arrival of Maeva.

Naturally Miles doesn’t explain this to poor old Habbs but simply cancels on her: “It’s so awkward for me, I don’t know them at all, that’s so uncomfortable for me,” she groans before dutifully going off to meet two complete strangers.

“it’s pretty lame,” concludes Amelia.

A hot brunch is lovely, but revenge is best served cold, so Habbs decides to invite them both to Sophie’s birthday party, possibly in the hope that they will bump into Miles and he’ll get a good grilling.

“He isn’t a bad person he’s just a bit of a baboon,” Habbs can’t help but admit.

So, what monkey business kept Miles away? Miles was meeting Maeva for their own little brunch.

“It’s actually really nice to see you,” says Maeva.

“Ahh….how have you been?” replies Miles, perhaps not realising that he has failed to return the compliment.

He also looks far from thrilled to learn that Maeva (who he lived with for three years, considered marriage with, and was still sleeping with) will be in the same…country…as him.

Claustrophobia is a terrible thing but when you need a whole country to yourself, it’s time to call in the experts, n’est-ce-pas?

But Miles isn’t a bad chap, and here’s where it gets complicated: for he admits, quite openly: “Right now at this stage in my life I don’t really want to go out or have a girlfriend.”

It’s a reasonable position. However, clearly only following Miles’ lead a hesitant Maeva reluctantly agrees:

I think we should enjoy what we’re having and don’t think about what could happen…
Maeva D’Ascanio

“I completely agree,” says Miles, surprising no one.

But Maeva has one condition: “Respect me and be honest with me, that’s all,” she tells him seriously.

One fears that Miles’ definition of “respect” will differ to Maeva’s…

“We’re exes but you can see our relationship is not like proper exes,” she remarks as though this is a good thing.

But here she has unwittingly hit upon the problem; they are exes and they’re not behaving like exes – so expect all sorts of confusion, perceived betrayal and heartbreak to ensue.

Maeva may have the appearance of a sultry temptress, but she is reacting like a normal human being and uncertainty and anxiety are brewing in her eyes.

A storm may be coming for Miles and Maeva, but Eliza and James are faring somewhat better, with scenic shots of them ambling through the streets of Paris, before enjoying champagne picnic in the twilight.

It’s all very nice as is their small talk but none of it is particularly stimulating.

Perhaps Eliza feels the need for a bit more excitement for she tries to school James in how to attract a woman, advising him  to wait before texting her:

“I want to be, you know, at the point where I’m thinking when will he message?!” she tells him.

James who is an odd mixture of scrubbed nice guy crossed with jokester, says: “If I don’t like someone I’ll lead them on…but if I do like someone it will be like all out – here’s my heart, take it, make me cry if you don’t text back. I don’t know,” he adds with customary uncertainty.

Spencer Matthews he isn’t. And is that even what Eliza would want?

We get to find out at Sophie’s 1980s themed birthday party, where Jamie Laing has just made the schoolboy error of comparing her to mould:

“You are like mould – you never go off!”
Jamie Laing

He’s also showing more cleavage than any female with his shirt open to the navel. But who’s complaining? We’ve all seen Jamie wearing a lot less.

Well, Liv is complaining – because not only is Jamie wearing a lower cut top than her, but he is – as always – mischief-making.

She has discovered that he’s brought Verity to the party…so that she can confront James on his betrayal.

“Why would you invite her here, you idiot!” admonishes Liv to Jamie who is grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat.

But Miles and Maeva are first in the ring. Maeva has had the pleasure of meeting Amelia and has learned all about Miles’ history with her.

She is not amused:

“You don’t  care about me. No. You care about my ass. Not really me,” she says realising it.

“But that’s cool, that’s a good thing as well, I’m happy that you like my ass!” she add flippantly but there is an edge to her voice and reproach in her eyes.

“But if we hang out all the time and we’re friends, do you know what that is? That’s a relationship,” says Miles, and he’s exactly right.

Miles reiterates that he doesn’t want a relationship.

“I’m your favourite?” she says, seeking an easy reassurance that Miles easily gives her.

“You’re so bloody gorgeous,” he tells her, as if trying to build up her battered confidence with empty words.

“It’s going to be complicated,” ventures Maeva. This may be a language barrier as the word Maeva should be looking for is “impossible.”

But Miles is no longer looking concerned:

We do complicated, don’t we?
Miles Nazire

But it’s all so simple: Maeva is heading for heartbreak.

They smile and clink glasses, but this lopsided drama is far from over. This is one ticking time bomb…

And there’s one more bombshell to come…

Prior to Paris, James had declared to Eliza that “all my cards out…out on the table.”

If so, James hasn’t been dealing with a full deck.

For now it’s time for Verity to confront the Joker in the pack.

Yes, it turns out that not only has the little knave been seeing Verity since the summer, but Verity claims that he also called her at 1.30am to ask her if she wanted to hang out with him – on the night of his Paris date with Eliza!

There is something admirable about Verity’s unabashed, unembarrassed sincerity: “I like you so why do you keep stringing me along?”

“Because it’s easy!” James replies without blinking. Or without thinking.

“Oh well, thanks – what kind of person does that make you?” Verity asks him.

“A f**king **sehole, I know!” says James, who at least holds no illusions about his behaviour.

And here’s how it all went down…

“I’m kind of over it,” says a deflated Eliza who had genuinely believed James was “investing” into her.

But we’re not over Made in Chelsea – can’t wait until next week…

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