The UK commercial broadcaster has been attempting to crack the show, which is described as Wife Swap-meets-Divorce Hotel, since commissioning it in June 2016. However, a series of missteps has meant that it has struggled to find contestants willing to appear on the show, which sets out to explore the dynamics of divorced families with children by sending one parent to move back in with their ex and their new partner to see if they could create a happy, healthy family environment.
Vice-owned Pulse Films, best known for producing feature docs including Shut Up and Play the Hits and XY Chelsea, originally developed the show through its Emma Cooper-run television division. However, the show was put on hold in June 2017 after struggling to find contributors.
A week after this move, Channel 5’s own in-house production division Elephant House Studios, best known for producing entertainment formats such as Mexico-set Make or Break?, give the series a go.
Now, I hear that Channel 5 has partnered with ITV Studios, the in-house production division of rival broadcaster ITV, for a third attempt. The company’s entertainment unit is producing a broadcast pilot after seemingly having cracked the casting curse.
Viacom evidently believes is worth the wait; C5’s Director of Programmes Ben Frow called the format “brave and exciting” at the time of commission but admitted that casting would be difficult. “We all want the holy grail of a show like Wife Swap, which brings viewers in year after year,” he said that the time.
Frow is obviously keen on the show, which would likely be easier to cast in a market such as the U.S., where Viacom could attempt it on one of its cable properties such as MTV, and shows no signs of letting this one go.
Divorce is always hard on the children, but now it seems that it’s just as hard on broadcasters.