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. It is now in syndication in the U.S on the Lifetime Channel.
Two families, usually from vastly different social classes
, 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.
Localised versions of Wife Swap were produced by Viasat
and aired in Croatia
. 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:
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
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
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.
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.
In 2004, ABC showcased their upcoming Wife Swap show including projections of its popularity. Weeks before the show's debut, FOX introduced Trading Spouses. The producers of Wife Swap, RDF Media, claimed FOX stole their concept, while FOX argued that TV shows have always borrowed from one another and that FOX simply beat ABC to delivery.
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. In February 2007 she was convicted of child cruelty charges, receiving an eight month suspended sentence
and a two year supervision order.
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. The producers of the show and ABC have dismissed the allegations and claim that his argument was simply homophobia