Wife Swap

10:00pm Friday, October 22 on E4

What happens when a house husband faces a few home truths? And how does it feel when a new wife spends time with a man who has a very different approach to working and the work/life balance than she is used to?

11:10pm Friday, June 11 on E4

It’s the end of an era. After 11 series and 83 episodes, Channel 4’s iconic reality programme in which wives trade places to see what they can learn about themselves is coming to an end.

Friday, April 9 on E4

It’s the end of an era. After 11 series and 83 episodes, Channel 4’s iconic reality programme in which wives trade places to see what they can learn about themselves is coming to an end. In the very last episode of the series, Bentley-driving lady-of- leisure Torre Carter from Kent, swaps with mum of seven Sam Dale who lives in Hull on one of Britain’s largest council estates.

Saturday, December 19 on 4

It’s the end of an era. After 11 series and 83 episodes, Channel 4’s iconic reality programme, in which wives trade places to see what they can learn about themselves, is coming to an end. Farewell night for Wife Swap showcases the very last episode, as well as rewinding some old favourites. In the very last episode of the series, Bentley-driving lady-of- leisure Torre Carter from Kent, swaps with mum of seven Sam Dale who lives in Hull on one of Britain’s largest council estates. A classic episode, featuring a celebrity swap between Freddie Starr and Sam Fox, follows as well as the first-ever edition.

Channel 4’s Wife Swap is about to throw its last hissy fit ever. The trailer for the last-ever programme plays stirring music and proclaims that this is the end of an era.

Really?

The show has been aired for 6 years and in that time, there’s been some staggeringly crass broadcasts.

One of the first stars of the show was the walking urinal-cake that was Lizzy Bardsley. Remember her? She thrilled TV viewers by claiming £37,500 a year in benefits and using language that would make a chair cry.

Thanks to Wife Swap, the nation got to see Lizzie showing her mammaries in The Sunday Sport. So yeah, the beginning of an era of golden television.

The show, basically, thrived from getting people who would clearly despise each other and making them live in each others houses until they snapped. They purposefully picked the most prickly gits they could find and then set them loose while we all brayed and honked at the TV like animals.

It goes without saying that, occasionally, we like berating our brothers and sisters. We like to see people we think are idiots… or too stuck-up… or too dippy… or whatever… humiliated in a public forum. However, what happens when the joke wears thin?

Well, then the show becomes a lesson in cruelty. That’s why Channel 4 decided to get celebrities involved because, as everyone on Earth seems to agree, it’s okay to put famous people through abject misery. They’ll get over it because they own massive houses, right? They’re not even human, right?

So we got to see John McCririck living with Edwina Currie… we got Freddie Starr living with Samantha Fox… Rhona Cameron and living with Stan Boardman… and a whole lot more.

Tuning in for these shows would supposedly allow us to see the foibles of the kinda-rich and kinda-famous. This would make us all feel better wouldn’t it?

Well, no.

You see, what Wife Swap (and the spin-offs) did was to actively make us self-harm. Instead of laughing at someone, we saw how horrible human being intrinsically are. We don’t get along with each other. We’re prejudiced against people on grounds of colour or class. We take sides and hope the other fails. Failing that, we just hate everyone concerned and that’s more depressing than singling one group out.

Wife Swap turns your averagely sweet person into a misanthrope.

So now that’s it is vanishing from our screens forever and ever, will we miss it? I hope not. I certainly won’t. Whilst I have enjoyed the hate it conjures up in me, I’m glad that it is getting buried in a lead box six miles into the soil. It didn’t start a debate, rather, picked a fight. I’d like to think that this is the endgame for HateTV. Big Brother, another show that provokes hatred for mankind, will be joining it soon. The immediate outcome is that tabloid rags will have to look elsewhere for people who will get their baps out… and maybe our self flagellation will stop just long enough for our sores to heal up.

Pass us the ointment when you’re done with it.

When a celebrity… or otherwise… signs up for Wife Swap, they surely know what they’re letting themselves in for? The only surprising thing about the show is that Jim Davidson hasn’t featured on it yet as, essentially, you could almost pick anyone on Earth with a brain to buddy up with him and he’ll offend.

Channel 4 are probably a bit too chicken to take on Davidson, so they took a punt on Ron Atkinson, who is by no means in the same category… but he did say something very dodgy about black people, which you’ll no doubt be aware of already.

So with that, the producers of the show threw Tessa Sanderson his way, who was once one of Britain’s finest Olympians. She’s also a very pleasant woman. Together, Tessa and Ron went about their business with all the predictability that you would expect of a show like this.

Tessa was slightly gobby and good fun whilst Ron looked like a man who had been hitting himself with a 1970’s stick every morning, giving him a Costa Blanca tan, dripping gold bracelets and a penchant for big band swing and an aversion to salad.

However, like most Wife Swap shows, the teeth grinding irritation was smoothed slightly by the non-famous coupling. Ron’s wife, a very sweet lady who has clearly fallen foul of the surgeon’s knife, leaving her looking like one of those toy severed heads that girls used to practise hairdressing and make-up on.

Anyway, she showed Big Ron how it’s done. Instead of being overly defensive about everything and refuting everything that comes your way, she opened up and allowed us all to see beneath the Cheshire veneer.

In most of her segments, we saw her as bored and frustrated at how little she does with her life… she didn’t mind being embarrassed on camera and with that, we almost got some compelling television.

These shows are meant to be a look behind the curtain at the lives of famous people… instead, what we get is to look at the normal people that surround them and enjoy how grounded they are… or at least, how touching the real world can open up their eyes.

As such, the whole show was effectively broken down into two parts. The first being Big Ron refusing to talk about the slur and the second being that he’s a bloody lucky bloke to have such a lovely wife.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking that I enjoyed the show. I didn’t really. It’s formulaic and annoying and jumps through the same old hoops regardless of who features… but that said, in amongst the sods of earth are some jewels and it’s nice to be able to sneer at some rubbish programme and occasionally be given respite with something genuinely pleasant. However, like Come Dine With Me, it’s a show that definitely works better when there’s no celebrity involved.

Wife Swap: 99% dross, 1% gooey warmth.

Friday, July 17 on E4

Laid-back, liberal real-life wife-swappers Chris and Ray Ramsey meet fit, ambitious and disciplined Tracey and Ben Green, who devote all their time to their goal of their daughter swimming in the Olympics. How does a disciplinarian dad cope when he is forced to spoil his daughter, and can a laid-back dad get tough with his kids? And what happens when Tracey confronts the Ramseys about their real wife swapping antics?

Friday, July 10 on E4

Self-confessed wannabe WAG Andrea Hornby swaps places with Kathy Berner, a working mother whose busy life doesn’t leave much time for herself or romance.

Friday, June 19 on C4

A bohemian wife who lives on a farm in West Wales swaps lives with a confirmed urbanite, whose family likes to be waited on hand and foot.

Sunday, June 14 on 4

After last week’s Celebrity Wife Swap , Wife Swap returns for a new series. Sue and Kevin Burke live on a 200-acre farm in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. They live with three of Sue’s five children from previous marriages. Beverley and Derek Howes live in the new town of Telford in Shropshire, and have five children. Enjoying life outdoors is far more important for born-again Christian Sue and her family than how things are indoors. How will a bohemian wife cope with a family who likes to be waited on hand and foot? And how will a confirmed town-dweller cope living “the good life”?

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