Former Vogue photographer Willie Christie has pulled out of the project, leaving the show’s executive producers, Back to Front TV, to search for another presenter.
Christie resigned his position as a Back to Front TV director on 9 May, according to Companies House records.
Christie – who worked extensively for British Vogue during the 1970s and early 1980s – today told Amateur Photographer (AP): ‘Yes, I did resign and I’m no longer part of the company. As for the others [in the project] I really don’t know what’s happening.
‘Just for the minute, it’s all a bit in limbo.’
The photographer did not give AP a reason for his resignation.
The show was originally set to focus on fashion and style photography.
under the revamped format, the concept will be widened to cover other
areas of photography, according to Haider Mannan, who created the
original concept for the yet-to-be-named nine-part series.
Speaking today, Mannan said: ‘We are working on agreeing a timeline for production and we have had to make some changes to the concept.’
The show has garnered up to around 400 applicants, around a third of whom have paid a fee of up to £25 to be involved.
Mannan said none of the applicants have yet been interviewed. He confirmed that their names will go forward to the new format, but that they can opt for a refund if they no longer want to take part.
Around 250 of the potential contestants – who included university students – were invited to apply for free.
Up to 150 applied through the Back to Front TV website, which is not currently accessible, as Andrew Matthew, one of the applicants discovered. ‘They were supposed to have completed interviewing and shortlisted candidates months ago now,’ he wrote in an email to AP.
‘I applied (presumably without success) but their website never provided any updates after listed deadlines had long passed. And now it [the website] has disappeared.’
Back to front TV is owned by London-based investment firm Mannan Capital Partners.
Haider, a director of the firm, says the website was taken down to allow for changes to text following the resignation of Willie Christie.
‘We hope to have an announcement on the show and further details on the progress of production by mid-end September.’
Haider says the project has not suffered from funding issues, telling AP there has been additional interest from investors.
The project has won support from a major camera maker.
The show will now extend ‘beyond fashion and cover other genres’, he added.
Mannan says the new presenter does not need to be a photographer, stressing the importance of ‘an interpretation of the artistic evaluation of photographers’.
Speaking last October, programme makers said they hoped the project would inspire a new generation of photographers.
‘Each episode will be produced into an educational and thrilling challenge for contestant and audience alike.’
In an interview with AP, at the time of the project’s launch, Mannan described photography as an ‘up-trending activity’ in a world awash with camera phones.
Last year, the RPS said it would support the project through marketing promotions and by staging lectures, for example, but not financially.
The show’s creators hope to start filming in the spring of 2015, with some studio-based work expected to begin sooner.
‘We are pursuing the goal of having a pilot ready – that could happen sooner than all of that,’ said Haider.
Last year, Mannan described Willie Christie as ‘possibly one of the only remaining true greats of old-school photography’.
Christie has shot portraits of numerous personalities and film stars including Cary Grant and Sir John Mills.