It is precisely the premise upon which Channel 4’s new show Drawers Off is based, with contestants swapping clothes for brushes as they battle it out to win the £1,000 prize.
Complete with a suitably tongue-in-cheek title, the 20-episode series, which starts on Monday at 5.30pm, is presented by comedian and Grumpy Old Women star Jenny Eclair and might just make you view the term paint stripper in an entirely different light.
“It’s a life drawing show in which five contestants compete against each other for a cash prize,” says Eclair, 60.
“They all come along knowing that at some point during the week, they will be stripping off and sitting on a podium.
“There’s a lot of draping; there’s nobody that is standing or sitting exposing anything. It’s an afternoon show on Channel 4, you know, there are rules and regulations.”
A simple yet entertaining premise, a new episode of Drawers Off will be broadcast each weekday, with five amateur artists taking on the challenge of life-portraiture— from both sides of the easel.
“If they’re wise, they’ll be sitting; if they’re daft, they’ll be standing, because it’s an hour long pose,” says Eclair of the challenge.
“So, I always think, well, if it was me, I’d be lying down — get me a chaise long and I’m on that.”
In each episode the life model picks their favourite portrait, with the prevailing creation going through to the winners’ gallery.
And with a secret vote among the contestants taking place at the end of each week to decide the best overall portrait, one competitor will find themselves walking away with the jackpot.
Guided by artist Diane Ali, the improvements in the contestants’ final pieces is visible from one episode to the next, with the amateur artists showcasing creativity untrammelled by formal teaching.
“I’m ably assisted by my beautiful assistant Diane Ali, who brings some class and respectability and some knowledge to the show because she’s a bona fide artist and curator and mentor,” says Eclair.
“She’s the one that will occasionally lean over a shoulder and go, ‘remember the feet, remember feet’ or ‘hands are bigger than that’ or ‘check your measurements, make sure that there’s still some room left on the paper for the head’.”