Reality shows fall in U.K. ratings

U.K. hybrid pubcaster Channel 4 is axing flagship reality show “Wife Swap” as part of a creative overhaul at the web.

Also canceled is “How Clean Is Your House?,” which like “Wife Swap” has helped redefine reality TV in Blighty and overseas.

Move follows the decision, announced in August, to jettison “Big Brother,” the reality skein that’s dominated the summer schedules of both Channel 4 and its digital weblet E4 for the past decade.

Channel 4 head Julian Bellamy said “Wife Swap” and “How Clean Is Your House?,” made by local shingles RDF Media and Talkback Thames, respectively, had been “huge hits,” but his focus was now on “finding the next generation of groundbreaking shows.”

“The decommission of ‘Big Brother’ earlier this year has been the catalyst for a process of creative renewal right across Channel 4,” he said. “When ‘Wife Swap’ launched, it was a truly ground-breaking program, which heralded an era of new factual formats right across television. It was challenging, impactful and connected with a large mainstream audience.

“Wife Swap,” which bowed in the U.K. in January 2003, remains part of ABC’s schedule in the U.S.

“Of course, we are disappointed ‘Wife Swap’ will not be continuing on Channel 4, but internationally, the brand goes from strength to strength with a weekly primetime slot on the ABC network in America and the format now sold to more than 70 countries,” said Grant Mansfield, group director for factual, entertainment and comedy at RDF Media.

Ratings for both “Wife Swap” and “How Clean Is Your House?” had fallen of late in the U.K. At its peak “Wife Swap” drew almost 6 million viewers, a huge audience for Channel 4, but recently the aud had plunged to 2 million.

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