Wannabees line up to be the right one

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The Independent Online

For the casting director Lucinda Rayburn he was a bright one. Maybe even the right one. She could not pronounce Massimiliano Vitulan's name but he had bags of personality. "I thought Mass was great," she said. "And he's got a good body as well."

Her fellow judges giggled. "I'm looking from a purely professional point of view," Ms Rayburn said. At the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly, London, yesterday, 250 egos were jostling for a place in a revived and rejuvenated advertising campaign for Martini - the "any time, any place, anywhere" drink of the Seventies.

Each would-be star had a few seconds only to prove they were as right and bright as the jingle for the world's best-selling wine-based drink. "I just thought it would be a complete giggle," said Annie Grantham, the first to stand before the judges and make a bid for fame with the words: "Of course I drink Martini. I know I look good and you know I look good."

She was not recalled. Neither was Kenneth Norris, 26, who had travelled 13 hours through the night from the Mull of Kintyre to bare his tattoos. Learning he did stripograms, Ms Rayburn asked whether he was an introvert. "I'll show you if you want," he said. The offer was declined. When the drinks company launched its hunt, it asked television viewers: "Are you the best looking person you know?" They were given a number to call for a chance to appear in next year's commercials. More than 34,000 people rang; 5,000 sent in a photograph, around 250 of the "most visually pleasing" were called for casting and 10 will be shortlisted.

Chris Meredith, the company's spokesman, said: "We want somebody who is classically very attractive, because Martini is a classic brand. And somebody who has that on-screen presence." After the first two hours, the list of maybes was fartoo long. "Be more brutal," Ms Rayburn said. But there was already at least one star in the making. "Wasn't she lovely? The girl in the hat?" she asked, referring to Sonya Lee, 26. "She's the best so far."

Letter to hopefuls, Section Two