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Cutting edge hope of Exmouth hair stylist Kobi

06:55 28 February 2014

Kobi and Abigail Kirby pictured at home in Exmouth this week. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 4317-09-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to

Kobi and Abigail Kirby pictured at home in Exmouth this week. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 4317-09-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to


A YOUNG amateur hair stylist from Exmouth has high hopes that a new BBC TV reality show will be a platform to launch his career.

And his mother – also a hair stylist – is backing him all the way, saying that he has ‘natural ability’ and ‘the drive to succeed’.

At 16, former Exmouth Community College student Kobi Kirby is the youngest of the eight contestants in BBC Three’s new show Hair.

The Exeter College student said he was shocked to be appearing in the six-part series.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said Kobi, who has been honing his coiffure skills since the age of ten, taught by his mother Abigail.

“I was helping out at a parents’ evening at college, saw my phone vibrating, answered it, found out, and it was like, ‘Oh my God!’ It was crazy.”

Described as a “gripping competition that showcases young British amateur skills in hair styling”, each week the contestants tackle three technical and creative challenges against the clock.

The show, presented by Steve Jones, kicked off on Tuesday (February 25).

“The first episode was hard,” said Kobi. “It was the first time meeting the judges and the other contestants. That built up the tension, but I think it went well. Obviously the first week is the first week. They’ve not shown everything I can do.”

“I was chuffed to bits when I heard he’d been chosen for the show,” said Kobi’s mum Abigail. “It was amazing.”

Having chaperoned her son to the filming in London, Abigail has seen the series unfolding. Reflecting on Kobi’s opportunity to progress as a stylist, she said, “He’s got so much potential to give… it’s really exciting.”

Kobi, who started training as a hairdresser six years ago when Abigail was also training, is the first to acknowledge how much help his mum has been.

“She started me off, with my basics,” he said. “I didn’t know anything. So she was learning as I was learning. She would teach me things, And we would work off each other.”

Kobi hopes to use the TV show as a platform for his career.

“Hopefully it will give me some jobs, opportunities, stuff for courses, and get myself out there so people can see what I can do,” he said.

“He’s got the artist’s flair,” said Abigail. “He’s always had that gift and natural ability. He’s got that drive to succeed and the drive to take him further. I don’t think he’s going to be staying in Exmouth for long. His sights are higher.”

Next Tuesday’s episode of Hair (9pm, March 4, BBC Three) sees the remaining seven stylists create a long, layered cut and a style using braids and plaits. They also compete to make a hat out of hair, hoping to impress judges Denise McAdam (who’s styled the heads of royalty) and Alain Pichon (who’s styled Madonna and Claudia Schiffer), and to stay in the competition.

“The second round – the cutting challenge – was the one I found most difficult,” said Kobi. “There’s more whacky hairstyles and hopefully good TV! Some of the stuff is over the top, so it should be quite fun.

“Hopefully that should continue, further and further along in the competition.”


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