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'Emotional Blood on the Undusted Carpets'

The Citizen as Subject in Wife Swap

James Walters

Wife Swap, made for Channel 4 by RDF Media, began in January 2003 and has so far reached its seventh series, with a further eighth series already planned. The relatively rapid spawning of new series is indicative of Wife Swap's popularity: the programme has become one of Channel 4's undisputed successes, attracting audiences in excess of 6 million viewers. The basic premise of the programme involves two wives swapping households for two weeks and living with each other's family. This article aims to examine the ways in which Wife Swap uses the citizen as its central focus. More generally, I seek to situate the programme within the context of RDF Media's output, the Reality television genre and the Swap format on British television, before providing a more sustained analysis of the programme's themes and conventions as they relate to the role of the citizen as subject.

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Susana Araújo, Bronagh Clarke, Rayna Denison, Paul Edwards, Lincoln Geraghty, Joanne Hall, George Lipsitz, and James Walters

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