After a weekend of all-out boozing I can handle watching any old shit, and so it was that I managed to watch all of Shipwrecked (trustafarian, fake-tan berks bitching) and then got myself involved with Wife Swap on Sunday evening. But this wasn’t just any old Wife Swap – this was Wife Swap: When The Police Get Called In!
I’m so pleased they put that tag line after the colon there – I don’t trust myself to process information and I’d like, at this point, to thank Channel 4 for taking my idiocy for granted and telling me exactly what was about to happen, thus rendering the show pointless. Not only did they make it obvious from the title, before each ad break they showed about five seconds worth of footage from the next chunk, in each instance pretty much all you needed to know about the next fifteen minutes. Again, this made any peripheral footage redundant.
Wife Swap’s always been a parade of grotesques and last night was no different. Usually we’re served up a middle to upper class couple clashing with a working class/ poverty line partnership and then invited to watch the fireworks go BANG. This time, in only a very minor change to that formula, the middle class types swapped with a nouveau riche couple, all garish clothing and tasteless decor. Noilie, a strange man-woman with what looked like augmented breasts, leopard-skin leggings and two costumed lapdogs was the partner of Robin, a multi-millionaire. Robin beat John Inman on the camp-scale and I found it hard to believe he wasn’t out and proud – from his dangling gold jewellery to his pink pringle sweater by way of his pencil moustache. Everything about him screamed ‘screaming homosexual’. But their relationship seemed to work, she attending to his every need and he apparently charming her faux-satin socks off.
In the middle class coupling we met Adam and Melissa. She, as with many of this new generation of middle class mothers, was obsessed with all things organic, eco-friendly cleaning products and living as ethically as possible. She used a lemon to clean the toilet. On the opposing team, Noelie used a full kettles-worth of boiling water and half a litre of bleach, daily. I’m surprised her bog hadn’t dissolved. Despite Noelie and Robins’ complete lack of regard for the environment (which is more forgivable than outright snobbery), they weren’t as dumb as one might have thought.
During a polite dinner, having had a gutful of sanctimonius bullshit from the insufferable Adam, Noelie raised the hilariously apt point that Adam drove an enormous 4×4 – thus making him a complete hypocrite. He couldn’t defend himself from that accusation and this is where the swap ended. The reason the police were called in? Over in the other house, Robin and Melissa were having drinks with a friend of Robin’s called Malcolm. Malcolm was pissed out of his tree. At one point (we didn’t see this) he apparently ‘patted’ Melissa’s bottom. We did see him try to give her a peck on the cheek. She seemed amused by the whole situation and told him to go home to bed.
It would seem that, after Adam called off the swap, he and Melissa flipped out, possibly due to embarassment and decided to go to the police with this bizarre claim of a sex attack. Melissa knew that the cameras would have got everything and dropped the charges two days later, but those two days were a front-page nightmare for Robin and Noelie. Malcolm, the alleged perpetrator of the ‘attack’ was filmed in tears, worrying about his nine year old daughter.
At what point did Channel 4 think it would be best to stay out of the investigation, only voyeuristically filming with no actual input? What did they do to protect Malcolm? Apart from the tagline, this was packaged as an average, run-of-the-mill Wife Swap, when in fact it contained evidence that someone had lied to the police to besmirch someone else’s reputation. Fair enough, but where was the condemnation of the accuser who was blatantly making her story up? Watching this whole sorry, stinking farrago made me feel dirty.
But not as dirty as Pornography: A Secret History over on UKTV History a bit later.