Wife Swap

infobox television
bgcolour =
show_name = Wife Swap

format = Reality TV
runtime = 60 minutes
creator =
starring = Various couples
country = UK
network = Channel 4
first_aired = January 1 2003
last_aired = Present
num_episodes =
website = http://www.channel4.com/life/microsites/W/wifeswap/index.html
imdb_id = 0392948
tv_com_id = 23898

"Wife Swap" is a reality television programme, produced by UK independent TV production company RDF Media and created by Stephen Lambert. It first aired in 2003 on the UK's Channel 4, and since 2004 an American version has also aired on the ABC network. On February 28 2008 ABC announced that it had renewed "Wife Swap" through the 2008-2009 Season. [ [http://www.thefutoncritic.com/news.aspx?date=02/28/08&id=20080228abc02 Breaking News - ABC ANNOUNCES EARLY PICK-UPS OF ALTERNATIVE SERIES FOR 2008-2009 SEASON | TheFutonCritic.com] ] It is now in syndication in the U.S on the Lifetime Channel.


Two families, usually from vastly different social classes and lifestyles, swap wives/mothers (and sometimes husbands) for two weeks. In fact, the show will usually deliberately swap wives with extreme polar opposite lifestyles, such as a dramatically messy wife swapping with a fastidiously neat one. Though using a phrase from the swinging lifestyle, couples participating in the show do not share a bed with the "swapped" spouse while "swapping" homes.

During the first week, the new wife must adhere to the exact same rules and lifestyle of the wife she is replacing. Each wife leaves a house manual which explains her role in the family and the duties she holds. This almost always determines what rules the wives will apply at the "rules change ceremony."

During the second week, the new wives are allowed to establish their own rules, and their new families must adhere to these new household rules. It usually takes a while for the families to adjust to this policy.

At the end of the two weeks, the two couples all meet together for the first time, and along with their husbands, discuss how they feel about the two weeks. This often descends into personal insults and has degenerated into violence at least twice.

In 2006 on the American version, a new twist was added whereby the wife can bring in someone to help her (a family member, a friend) to help on one day of the swap. The twist was discontinued early in the third season and only appeared in a few episodes.


Other countries

Localised versions of Wife Swap were produced by Viasat and aired in Croatia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Viasat was the first company in the world to adapt the format locally. The first adaptation aired in Denmark in Fall 2003. A version in Serbia airs on RTV Pink, called "Menjam ženu", which premiered in July 2006. Also, Chile premiered its own version of Wife Swap called "¿Quién cambia a quién? Intercambio de Esposas" (Who changes whom?: Wife Swap) on March 14. The show is produced by Canal 13 and hosted by Cecilia Bolocco. The Croatian version airs on RTL Televizija.There is also a Dutch and a Belgian version of wife swap. In The Netherlands it's called "Jouw Vrouw Mijn Vrouw" (Your wife My wife) and in Belgium it's called "De Nieuwe Mama" (The New Mum). There is also Czech Version, hosted by NOVA TV, called Výměna Manželek (Wife Swap.)In Germany Wife Swap is called Frauentausch and premiered July 14 2003 on RTL II. In America there are two versions of the show; "Wife Swap" which is nearly identicle to the British one, and "Trading Spouses", which had two episodes per trade and also awarded each wife $50,000 to allocate to the other family as they saw fit.

Celebrity Wife Swap

There have been some celebrity versions of "Wife Swap" produced on the UK version of the show:

* Charles Ingram and his wife Diana swapped with Jade Goody of "Big Brother" and her then-partner Jeff Brazier.
* Racing pundit John McCririck and his wife Jenny swapped with politician Edwina Currie and her husband John.
* Magician Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie McGee swapped with journalist and radio host Vanessa Feltz and her fiancé Ben Ofoedu.
* 80's pop-singer and Celebrity Big Brother star Pete Burns and his partner Michael Simpson swapped with former soccer player Neil Ruddock and his partner Leah Newman.
* Comedian Freddie Starr and his wife Donna swapped with Samantha Fox and her partner Myra Strattan.
* 80's pop-singer Sinitta and her husband Andy swapped with former Coronation Street star Bruce Jones and his wife Sandra.
* Soul singer Alexander O'Neal and his wife Cynthia swapped with wine critic, journalist and television personality Jilly Goolden and her husband Paul.

Other Special Editions

In 2005, Channel 4 had aired 2 international versions of Wife Swap, one where a British family had changed lifestyles with a German family, and then one where a British changed lifestyles with an Australian family.

In 2008, Channel 4 had aired a version where two British families who happened to be living in Spain at the time swapped with one another

Boss Swap

A spin-off, "Boss Swap", aired as a series in the UK. A pilot for a U.S. series aired on ABC, but the series never got commissioned. "Husband Swap" and "Vacation Swap" pilots were also aired in the U.S., but were not ordered to series. At least once, however, a husband and a live-in boyfriend swapped while the women stayed with their families.


*"Wife Swap" was spoofed in a 2006 episode of "The Simpsons", "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife", which was written by and starring Ricky Gervais. It was also spoofed in an episode of "Hope & Faith" with Wynonna Judd guest starring.

*In 2007, Richard Thomas' BBC Two series "Kombat Opera Presents" included a musical parody of the American version of "Wife Swap", under the title "Spouse Change".

*In the Vicar of Dibley, Alice Tinker mentions going on the programme.

*An episode of the "Chappelle Show" aired a parody of the show "Trading Spaces" titled "Trading Spouses". This was filmed before the show aired. The skit featured a format similar to the show, but with sexual themes.

Legal issues

Trading Spouses

In the United States, the Fox network airs another show entitled "Trading Spouses", with a near identical format to "Wife Swap". In 2004, the RDF Media sued Fox for copyright infringement for reproducing the "Wife Swap" format without their permission. [ [http://entertainment.tv.yahoo.com/entnews/va/20041215/110317512400.html "Wife Swap" Producers Sue Fox TV Over "Copycat"] from Yahoo! News]

In 2004, ABC showcased their upcoming "Wife Swap" show including projections of its popularity. Weeks before the show's debut, FOX introduced "Trading Spouses". [ [http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117907017?categoryid=14&cs=1 "Spouse swap a fit for Fox: Net snipes at Alphabet with "Trading Spouses"] article from "Variety"] The producers of "Wife Swap", RDF Media, claimed FOX stole their concept, [ [http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04352/427976.stm "Wife Swap" sues "Trading Spouses"] article from post-gazette.com] while FOX argued that TV shows have always borrowed from one another and that FOX simply beat ABC to delivery.Fact|date=February 2007

Fraudulent activity

In her 2003 appearance on the programme, Lizzy Bardsley was shown to be living entirely on state benefits, which she continued to do without declaring payments she subsequently received for media work. Prosecuted and found guilty in 2005, she was sentenced to 80 hours community service and ordered to repay £4,879 in overpaid benefits. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4286756.stm BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Reality TV star cheated benefits ] ] In February 2007 she was convicted of child cruelty charges, receiving an eight month suspended sentence and a two year supervision order. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/6385975.stm BBC NEWS | England | Manchester | Wife Swap Lizzy escapes jail term ] ]

American version

In November 2005, Jeffrey Bedford, a participant on the show, sued ABC network for trading his wife for a gay man. He accused ABC of being dishonest, not allowing him contact with his wife, and making him miss college classes. He claims that when he ceased participating with the production of the show, ABC threatened that it would not tell him his wife's whereabouts and would not pay for his wife's return home. He is suing for over USD$10,000,000.00. [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20051124/ai_n15879594 "'Wife Swap' sued over gay guest" article] from "The Independent"] The producers of the show and ABC have dismissed the allegations and claim that his argument was simply homophobia.Fact|date=December 2007

See also

* Frauentausch (German version of "Wife Swap")*
* Holiday Showdown (like "Wife Swap", but with holidays)


External links

* [http://www.channel4.com/wifeswap "Wife Swap" UK] at Channel4.com
* [http://www.keshet-tv.com/program.aspx?ProgID=2035 "Wife Swap" Israel] at keshet-tv.com
* [http://abc.go.com/primetime/wifeswap/index?pn=index "Wife Swap" USA] at abc.com
* [http://www.rtl2.de/533.html "Frauentausch" Germany] at rtl2.de
* [http://www.channel4.com/bossswap "Boss Swap" UK] at channel4.com
* [http://www.rdfmedia.com RDF Media]

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