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Wife Swap: Wikis


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Wife Swap
Format Reality television
Starring Various couples
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel Channel 4
Original run 1 January 2003 – November 2009
External links
UK Official website

Wife Swap is a reality television programme, originally produced by UK independent television production company RDF Media and created by Stephen Lambert. It was first broadcast in 2003 on the UK's Channel 4, although it has now since been dropped.[1] Since 2004, a US version has also been broadcast on the ABC network. On 12 November 2009, Channel 4 announced that they had axed Wife Swap, meaning that no new episodes of the show will be made for the channel.



Two families, usually from vastly different social classes and lifestyles, swap wives/mothers (and sometimes husbands) for two weeks. In fact, the programme will usually deliberately swap wives with extreme, polar opposite lifestyles, such as a dramatically messy wife swapping with a fastidiously neat one. Despite 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 exactly the 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 the wives, along with their husbands, discuss how they felt about the two weeks. This often descends into personal insults and has degenerated into violence at least twice. More often than not, however, both families reach toward a middle ground and express that they have learned from the experience. Sometimes, the table meeting is a very heartfelt and emotional time for the two families who sometimes have complete and mutual respect for each other.


In 2006, in the USA version, a new twist was added whereby the wife can bring in someone (a family member or a friend) to help on one day of the swap. The twist was not quite twisted enough, and consequently only appeared in a few episodes before being discontinued early in the third series.

USA broadcast

On 28 February 2008, ABC announced that it had renewed Wife Swap through the 2008–09 period;[2] the 100th episode aired in March 2009.[3] The show also airs in syndication in the U.S. on Lifetime.


Other countries and versions

Localised versions of Wife Swap were produced by Viasat and broadcast in Croatia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. Viasat was the first company in the world to adapt the format locally.

The first adaptation was broadcast in Denmark in autumn 2003. A version in Serbia is shown 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 14 March 2006. The series is produced by Canal 13 and hosted by Cecilia Bolocco. The Croatian version is broadcast on RTL Televizija. There is also a Dutch and a Belgian version of Wife Swap. The version shown in the The Netherlands is called "Jouw Vrouw Mijn Vrouw" (Your wife My wife), and in Belgium, it is called "De Nieuwe Mama" (The New Mum/Mam/Mom). There is also a Czech Version, hosted by NOVA TV, called Výměna Manželek (Wife Swap). In Germany Wife Swap is called Frauentausch and premiered on 14 July 2003 on RTL II.

Celebrity Wife Swap

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

Other special editions

Wife Swap has aired several unique episodes in its history.


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

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


For their hundredth episode on 13 March 2009, the USA version selected 24 families to participate in a contest to reswap. Viewers voting in October 2008 picked the artistic/psychic Silver family of Florida and the storm-chasing/UFO hunting Heenes of Colorado.[4] The Heenes later gained notability in the national media when their son was involved in the Colorado balloon hoax. According to Denver Blogger Bill Husted, "It sounds like a good match."[5] But, "distressingly," LA Times writer Jon Caramancia wrote, "it's clear they haven't learned a thing."[6]

Boss Swap

A spin-off, Boss Swap, was broadcast as a series in the UK.[7] A pilot for a US series was shown on ABC but was not commissioned. Husband Swap and Vacation Swap pilots were also broadcast in America, but were not picked up for series production. At least once, however, a husband and a live-in boyfriend swapped while the women stayed with their families.


Legal issues

Trading Spouses

In early 2004 ABC in the USA announced its version of Wife Swap, to be called Trading Moms, having outbid the Fox Network for the USA rights for the format.[8] In June the same year Fox publicized a program with an almost identical format to Wife Swap entitled Trading Spouses, which it began broadcasting on 1 July.[9] ABC then reverted to the original UK title for their series, which began on 29 September. In December 2004 RDF Media sued Fox for copyright infringement for reproducing the Wife Swap format without their permission.[10] In 2008, FOX sold the rights to the show to CMT, ending the run.[11]

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.[12] In February 2007 she was convicted of child cruelty charges, receiving an eight month suspended sentence and a two year supervision order.[13]

Same-gender swap

In November 2005, Jeffrey Bedford, a participant in the American series, 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 his lessons at college. He claims that when he ceased participating with the production of the episode 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, although a spokesperson revealed that the contract stated the spouse could be of either gender.[14] In 2007, the UK version began a search for more same-sex swaps.[15]

See also


External links

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