Footballers' Wives

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Footballers' Wives
FootballersWive$.jpg
Opening credits title
Created by Maureen Chadwick
Ann McManus
Starring Zöe Lucker
Gillian Taylforth
Laila Rouass
Sarah Barrand
Helen Latham
Susie Amy
Katherine Monaghan
Phina Oruche
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 42 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Brian Park
Producer(s) Liz Lake
Claire Phillips
Sean O'Connor
Cameron Roach
Running time 44 mins
Production company(s) Shed Productions
Broadcast
Original channel ITV
Original run 8 January 2002 (2002-01-08)  – 14 April 2006 (2006-04-14)
Chronology
Related shows Footballers' Wives: Extra Time

Footballers' Wives (stylised as footballers wive$) is a British television drama surrounding the fictional Premier League football club Earls Park F.C., its players, and their wives. It was broadcast on the ITV network from 8 January 2002 to 14 April 2006. The show began with a multi-lateral focus on a variety of different types of relationships explored; however, from the third series onward, the primary focus was on a complex love triangle between Tanya Turner (Zöe Lucker), Amber Gates (Laila Rouass) and Conrad Gates (Ben Price).

Background[edit]

The show centres around the fictional 'Earls Park Football Club' (nicknamed 'Sparks'). The series was produced by Liz Lake, Claire Phillips and Cameron Roach. Its executive producer was Brian Park. The show began as an ensemble of three different 'types' of football couple. However, from the third series on, the show more or less revolved around the character Tanya Turner (Zöe Lucker). Lucker left the series halfway through series four, though she returned midway through the next series. However, by this time the series ratings had fallen significantly, therefore certifying Lucker as the main star of the show even though the series was cancelled in 2006.

On 11 January 2007, Channel 5's sister channel Five Life bought up the rights to broadcast the entire series. It has so far shown the first series, with the first episode shown on 7 March 2007 at 9pm. The series was then taken over by ITV. Fiver then started showing episodes from the second series. From June 2010, Footballers' Wives began appearing on the new channel CBS Drama being followed by a huge marketing campaign in print media and on the sides of buses.

In the earlier series, Earls Park Football Club's home games were played at the real life Selhurst Park, which is the home of Crystal Palace Football Club. From series three onward, stadium shots were filmed at White Hart Lane.

The U.S. ABC television network ordered a pilot for an American version, named Football Wives. Lucy Lawless, Gabrielle Union, Eddie Cibrian, Kiele Sanchez and James Van Der Beek were confirmed as part of the cast but ABC cancelled the show due to "potential conflicts with the National Football League".

Cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2002)[edit]

Series one was shown between 8 January and 26 February 2002 with eight episodes. The series follows a group of footballers' wives whose husbands play for Earls Park (nicknamed "Sparks"). Ian Walmsley, Sparks' latest signing, deals with his up-and-coming success. His wife Donna is more concerned with getting their son back from the woman who adopted him after her parents forced her to give him up when she was a teenager. Trouble crops up when their 8-year-old daughter is kidnapped in the final episode of the series. Donna's younger sister Marie is staying with them, causing trouble. She has a secret fling with the Sparks' mid-fielder and ruthless bad boy Jason Turner, who is married to the beautiful, yet vile Tanya Turner. Tanya is too busy to worry about the affair as she tries to save her husband's job when club owner Frank Laslett buys 'Italian stallion' Sal Biagi, who takes Jason's job. Tanya and Jason take matters into their own hands on the way home from a club dinner, and in a drunken brawl, Tanya puts Frank into a coma. With the help of Jason, they push his car off the side of the road, making it look like a drunken accident. Series one was produced by Liz Lake.

Series 2 (2003)[edit]

Series two was shown between 8 January and 26 February 2003 with eight episodes. Series 2 begins with Tanya and Jason in court, lying on oath. The British population is convinced that Frank is deranged and that he tried to rape Tanya. Charges are dropped, and Tanya walks away scot-free. Chardonnay Lane-Pascoe and Kyle Pascoe raise Jackie Pascoe's baby son, Paddy, as their own. At the end of the series, Jason sits on the rooftop, drunk and feeling sorry for himself, but as he slips and desperately grasps for a life-saving hold on the ledge, an unseen (by the audience) assailant hits his hands with a champagne bottle, causing Jason to fall to his death. Series two was produced by Claire Phillips.

Series 3 (2004)[edit]

Series three was shown between 11 February 7 April 2004, with nine episodes. The series begins with Chardonnay's funeral following her death from anorexia. It is also revealed that she killed Jason. Tanya married Frank Laslett as Jason had left her in debt. He also wanted her to admit that he did not rape her, and that Jason had made her lie in court. Kyle finds new romance. Tanya had an affair with the new captain Conrad Gates, and has to put up with his jealous wife, Amber Gates. Tanya and Amber soon became arch enemies, and have a vicious catfight. Amber Gates fakes her own kidnapping when Conrad starts seeing Tanya. Harley Lawson and Shannon Donnelly's lives are turned upside down when he becomes Earls Park's new signing. Conrad also has an affair with new signing Noah Alexander. The season ends with a shocking cliff-hanger. Tanya is pregnant with Frank's child. She killed Frank for his money by "shagging him to death" on a lethal combination of Viagra, alcohol and cocaine. When Amber Gates announces that she is pregnant with Conrad's child, Tanya tries to keep Conrad by claiming that she too is expecting his child. Series three was produced by Sean O'Connor. This series was nominated for a National Television Award in 2004, the only time the series was nominated.

Series 4 (2005)[edit]

The fourth was shown between 31 March and 26 May 2005 with nine episodes. Tanya and Amber both have their babies; Tanya had the babies swapped at birth to hide the possibility that hers could be Frank's, but this backfired when Amber's son (Tanya's, really) was smothered to death by Amber's dog. When the swap was discovered, Conrad and Amber claimed their rightful baby back and banished Tanya abroad. The footballers are involved in a rape scandal during a party in Spain. Shannon and Harley have marriage problems and eventually split up. Darius turns out to be the rapist of Katie in Spain, and has a breakdown when she kidnaps him for revenge. Jackie Pascoe marries club manager Roger Webb, who signs his son Seb to the club. Seb tries to cause trouble in their marriage, and is thrown out. Hazel leaves the club with her new girlfriend, a tennis player. New characters Bruno and Lucy Milligan have an adorable daughter, Angelica, but their marriage is eroding due to control-freak Bruno's emotional and sometimes physical abuse of Lucy. Lucy meets Dr. Giles Arrowsmith on the Internet and runs to him with Angelica in tow. He tries to kill Lucy, Angelica and himself in his car, believing he is re-creating the accident that killed his real fiancée the previous year. Bruno accidentally shoots Conrad, thinking he is Giles. The final episode was considerably edited for broadcast on ITV, though the full episode was shown in Ireland and Australia. Some cuts from the episode were featured in the first series of Footabllers' Wives: Extra Time, others were featured in series five of Footballers' Wives. The episode was restored for the DVD release. Series four was produced by Cameron Roach.

Series 5 (2006)[edit]

After Lucy leaves Bruno at the altar of their Pride and Prejudice themed wedding, Amber takes the lead as the central character and wastes no time getting revenge on Bruno as she knows he killed Conrad. She moves in with him and inflicts her own brand of psychological torture on him by making him think he is losing his mind. Becoming more desperate, Amber tries to poison, then shoot, Bruno. In Amber's last and surely campest scene, she is shown wearing what looks like one of Cher's old costumes. In the struggle, she shoots Roger Webb, who loses his sight. Amber is then sectioned and sent to a mental institute for bleeding on the brain.

With Amber out of the way, Tanya returns and immediately aims to seduce Earls Park's latest star, Paulo Bardoso, and goes head-to-head with Eva de Wolffe (Joan Collins, best known as Dynasty character Alexis Colby). Tanya's joy at snatching Paulo from Eva's clutches is short-lived; he has a breakdown and is taken to a mental hospital, and Tanya finds herself penniless.

Shannon, now divorced from Harley and feeling lonely, is delighted to hook up with the new Earls Park signing, Callum Watson. Shannon moves Callum in, but his interfering mother comes along and causes havoc.

New club chairman Garry Ryan kills Roger, and Jackie leaves to live with her son Kyle in Australia. Tanya discovers evidence that proved Garry's involvement. However, as series five ends, Tanya is trying to come to a "settlement" with Garry over the tape-recording that proves he caused Roger's death, when he offers her cocaine laced with poison.

New characters include Tremaine Gidigbi and Liberty Baker, who marry in episode 5 in an Egyptian-themed, typically over-the-top wedding. Liberty, a top supermodel with a striking resemblance to Naomi Campbell, is exposed by the press for having a lesbian affair with her P.A. Urszula Rosen, then stars in a Japanese advert that makes her look like a cannibal.

The fifth and final series was shown between 23 February and 13 April 2006 and consists of eight episodes, and was produced by Cameron Roach.

Cancellation[edit]

In May 2006, it was announced by Shed Productions and ITV that no further series of Footballers' Wives would be commissioned. Its cancellation had been blamed on falling ratings, particularly during the fifth series when it was frequently beaten for audience share in its timeslot by BBC One's Hotel Babylon during the first half of the series. Despite a comeback to win the competition against BBC One's The Family Man (lead-in from Hotel Babylon), the figures did not reach expectations.[1][2]

Sport Relief special[edit]

On Saturday 15 July 2006 in the UK, the BBC made a spoof mini-episode entitled The Last Ever, Ever Footballers' Wives as part of Sport Relief that was broadcast during the live telethon. The six-minute episode featured four cast members from the last season, Zöe Lucker, Sarah Barrand, Laila Rouass, Halacy Kurenski and Ben Richards, who played their respective roles, with Sport Relief host Graham Norton playing new Sparks captain Brendan Spunk.[3]

Synopsis[edit]

The episode opens with Tanya waltzing into a swanky expensive restaurant, with her face covered in 'powder'. She is having dinner with Shannon, who has ordered for her from the children's menu. Tanya finds it hard to use the cutlery because of her longer nails and instead, uses her fingers. A waiter then arrives with a telephone call for Shannon, but she takes the phone and puts it into her purse. Shannon then claims to have "gone" and asks what has happened. Tanya tells her that "Paulo has had a sex change and shacked up with James Blunt, oh, and Bruno Milligan has been sacked from Earls Park and has been replaced by a brand new hunky captain, Brendan Spunk". We then see Amber over at the bar and Tanya soon notices her. The three then gossip about Brendan Spunk, but when the girls argue over who is going to get with him, Shannon claims him but Tanya warns them that he is hers. He then arrives, revealing himself to be Halacy Kurenski. When Tanya tries to get her claws into him, he reveals he is with Amber. He then lets them know she will soon be Mrs. Spunk and Amber accepts.

Halacy Kurenski is then in bed grinning and moaning. Tanya appears from under the covers, as does Amber, complimenting his sexual score. Shannon also appears and realises that "someone has put one in the back of her net". The waiter from the restaurant then appears. The door blasts open and Bruno enters holding a machine gun. They all scream, but when everyone has stopped Halacy is still screaming. Amber slaps him. Bruno then relates to the last series, that Halacy has bedded his girlfriend (Amber). She then says that they split up. Bruno then reveals that there will be no series 6 and he then shoots the gun. The group are then shown uninterested and reading Heat magazine. Bruno then blows up the room by setting fire to hair spray with a lighter. A title card reading "The End" is then shown but a question mark shows after and an alarm clock goes off.

Tanya wakes up relieved by the fact that the last series was all a dream. She then lights a cigarette and due to hairspray still being in the air she blows herself and the room up.

Inspiration and connections[edit]

Between the third and fourth series of Footballers' Wives, Zöe Lucker's character of Tanya Turner was convicted of possession of drugs and was sent to jail for six months. The company which produces the show, Shed Media, also produce Bad Girls, which centres around a women's prison. For three episodes of Bad Girls' sixth series, the character of Tanya Turner crossed over and was seen being her usual self and causing mischief for others in jail, including being arrested for poisoning inmates. Turner was eventually released when a series of events lead to the Governor forcing a criminal to confess to planting the drugs on her.

Many of the principal characters are thinly veiled caricatures of famous UK footballers, including Justin Fashanu and David Beckham, and their associated wives. Several of the players' antics are based on real life news stories based on footballers' lives, similar to the modern day footballer tabloid tales, or the 1990s Liverpool F.C Spice Boys side, with everything ranging from scandals to the indulgences of being rich and famous.

A number of celebrities made cameo appearances in the series, appearing as themselves. They include: Sol Campbell, Peter Stringfellow, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, Jordan, Antony Worrall Thompson, Peter Andre, Lionel Blair, David Seaman, Richard Madeley, Judy Finnigan, Teddy Sheringham, Nigel Quashie, Calum Best and Rula Lenska.

Spin offs[edit]

Footballers' Wives TV[edit]

Footballers Wives TV was a spin-off mockumentary comedy series that was broadcast to tie-in with the original broadcast of the fourth series of Footballers Wives. It aired on Thursdays at 10:30pm on ITV2 and only lasted for one series consisting of eight episodes.

The series was loosely based on the book How to be a Footballers Wife and centred around a chat show presented by Katherine Jakeways and Glenn Hugill as TV presenters Gary Fox and Lorna Miller. Characters from Footballers' Wives appeared in interviews as did parody celebrities.

Footballers' Wives: Extra Time[edit]

With the success of Footballers' Wives came the spin-off series, Footballers' Wives: Extra Time that began on ITV2 on 26 May 2005. It appeared after series four of the original and several characters, including Bruno and Lucy Milligan, Seb Webb, Harley and Shannon Lawson, Katie Jones and Amber Gates, appeared. The first series features the sister of Tanya Turner, Anika Beevor. Series two began on 23 February 2006 with Peter Ash as Darius Fry and Julie Legrand as Janette Dunkley from the original series as regular cast members. Nicholas Ball, who portrayed Garry Ryan in the series, crossed over to Footballers' Wives for series 5 as the new Chairman of Earl's Park Football Club. The series' executive producer was Cameron Roach. It was shown in the United States under the name Footballers' Wives: Overtime.

Foreign audience[edit]

Footballers' Wives has been shown in Portugal, Brazil, New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Republic of Macedonia, France, Estonia, Finland, South Africa, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Denmark and the United States. The Swedish broadcaster Kanal 5 retitled the show "Fotbollsfruar", which translates to Football Wives.

It began in the United States in the summer of 2005 on BBC America. The channel has shown series 1-5 and both seasons of Overtime.

In South Africa the show appeared on SABC 3 on Monday nights at 21h00. It was very popular. Aall five series have been shown.

The show appears in Ireland on TV3. Many Irish viewers receive Ulster Television (UTV) (a subsidiary of ITV) and also watch it on that channel. Often, the same episodes air at the same time.

In Turkey, Footballers' Wives is on e2. e2 has shown the first four series; the fifth season will be shown in spring[when?].

In 2007 in the Netherlands, a similar series, Voetbalvrouwen (a literal Dutch translation) was launched. It was a huge success and in 2010 season 3 will appear on the Dutch channel RTL4. The original Footballers' Wives series were also shown in the Netherlands with Dutch subtitles.

In Germany, RTL made an attempt in 2005 to recreate the look and feel of the show with an adapted version, called Das geheime Leben der Spielerfrauen (The Secret Life of Footballers' Wives).[4] The original scripts were rewritten to appeal to a German audience. The show failed terribly and was cancelled after only four episodes. The original show is currently[when?] shown on TIMM.

In Slovenia, Footballers' Wives is appearing on Kanal A as Žene nogometašev.

In Italy, Mediaset produced its own version of the series, Ho sposato un calciatore. It was axed after one series.

In June 2007, the show was being shown in Latin-America on the Fox Life channel.

The show is received in various parts of Asia (for example Singapore) on the BBC Entertainment cable channel.

In Canada, CBC Television launched MVP in early 2008. That show's creator acknowledged Footballers' Wives as an inspiration, but chose to create a similar series about ice hockey rather than directly adapting Footballers' Wives, as she felt that some elements of the original series — particularly the broad campiness of some British humour — would not translate well to a Canadian audience.[5]

DVD releases[edit]

Series 1-5 have been released on DVD in the United Kingdom and Australia and Series 1-3 have been released on DVD in the United States.

All 5 series have now been re-released by Acorn Media. All DVDs feature brand new artwork. Acorn Media have now announced they are due to release a 'Complete Collection' boxset featuring all 5 series and both series of Footballers Wives Extra Time.

Footballers' Wives: The Complete First Series
Set Details Special Features
  • 8 Episodes
  • 3-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: No
  • English (Stereo)
  • "Cast Interviews"
  • "Outtakes"
  • "Exclusive trailer"
  • "PC Wallpapers
  • "Gallery"
Release Dates
United Kingdom Australia United States
27 January 2003 3 February 2003 7 June 2005
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Second Series
Set Details Special Features
  • 8 Episodes
  • 3-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: No
  • English (Stereo)
  • "A Day on Set with Tanya"
  • "How to be a Footballer's Wife"
  • "Outtakes"
  • "Exclusive trailer"
Release Dates
United Kingdom Australia United States
9 February 2004 16 February 2004 6 December 2005
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Third Series
Set Details Special Features
  • 9 Episodes
  • 3-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Stereo)
  • "Cast Interviews"
  • "Outtakes"
  • "Hazel Bailey's Earls Park"
Release Dates
United Kingdom Australia United States
25 April 2005 2 May 2005 19 September 2006
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Fourth Series
Set Details Special Features
  • 9 Episodes
  • 3-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Stereo)
  • "Photo Gallery"
Release Dates
United Kingdom Australia United States
20 March 2006 27 March 2006 [unknown]
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Fifth Series
Set Details Special Features
  • 8 Episodes
  • 2-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Stereo)
  • "Photo Gallery"
Release Dates
United Kingdom Australia United States
9 October 2006 10 October 2006 [unknown]
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Series One
Set Details Special Features
  • 8 Episodes
  • 2-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Dolby Digital)
  • Showreel
  • Cast Interviews
  • Outtakes
  • Photo Shoot
Release Dates
United Kingdom
20 June 2011
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Series Two
Set Details Special Features
  • 8 Episodes
  • 2-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Dolby Digital)
  • On Set Photo Shoot
  • Outtakes
  • Promotional Montage
Release Dates
United Kingdom
27 December 2010
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Series Three
Set Details Special Features
  • 9 Episodes
  • 3-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Dolby Digital)
  • Subtitles
Release Dates
United Kingdom
7 February 2011
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Series Four
Set Details Special Features
  • 9 Episodes
  • 3-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Dolby Digital)
  • Photo Shoot
  • Subtitles
Release Dates
United Kingdom
19 September 2011
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Series Five
Set Details Special Features
  • 8 Episodes
  • 3-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Dolby Digital)
  • Photo Shoot
  • Subtitles
Release Dates
United Kingdom
16 January 2012
Footballers' Wives: The Complete Collection - Footballers' Wives Series 1-5 + Footballers' Wives Extra Time Series 1-2
Set Details Special Features
  • 72 Episodes
  • 17-Disc Set
  • 16:9 Aspect Ratio
  • Subtitles: Yes
  • English (Dolby Digital)
  • Showreel
  • Cast Interviews
  • Outtakes
  • Photo Shoot
  • On Set Photo Shoot
  • Promotional Montage
  • Subtitles
Release Dates
United Kingdom
August 2012

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/entertainment_1831377.html[dead link]
  2. ^ BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Time called on Footballers' Wives
  3. ^ Footballers' Wives - SportRelief.com
  4. ^ Unterhaltung bei RTL.de: Kino, Musik Tickets, Bücher und mehr! - RTL.de
  5. ^ "Sexy MVP worries NHL", canoe.ca, 8 January 2008.

External links[edit]