Let the bitching begin…
By Keeley Buckley
Anyone that is a ‘Real Housewives’ fan will know that the franchise has finally hit the UK – which helps explain why TV channel ITVBe has been in a promotional frenzy.
All the advertisements have been strategically placed to tell the public that they will be exclusively hosting ‘The Real Housewives of Cheshire,’ which is the UK’s first (and probably last) flirt with a show that has gripped most of the world. But admitting to watching The Real Housewives is like admitting you love Miley Cyrus. You could be young or old, male or female, but you have all seen at least one story or been intrigued by one magazine picture. You might accidently admit to catching one episode. Or even let your work friend know your following the cast antics off screen as on. The Real Housewives has impacted television in a big way. But what can we make of Cheshire’s offering? Is it reality or make believe? Did the casting team do Cheshire justice? And is it as explosive as say its New Jersey or Beverley hills sister shows? It’s time to take a look inside the life of the real Cheshire housewives and how they really live in comparison to the cast of this show.
Cheshire is portrayed on screen as a mecca of cash, grandiose and opulence. This is a huge misrepresentation. In actual fact the county, famed for its mining and farmland, has only five towns out of twenty three that can display any kind of wealth. In last five years especially, the other seventeen towns have been hit by government changes and austerity. Cheshire as a whole, is far from being the luxurious setting shown on The Real Housewives show. The area portrayed in the show is known as The Golden Triangle and famous for its richer inhabitants. However, outside that triangle which so far hasn’t been shown, Cheshire is really a murky shade of ICI chemical grey.
It’s hard to identify with the cast as they do seem a little far-fetched. Obviously, three from the six are footballer’s wives, which is more than likely the only way the UK could compete with the spending of say, the Beverly Hills housewives. But even though we know that their husbands earn 15 thousand plus per week, it’s still comical to watch these women play at being ‘posh’. With mouths like Manchester Dockers, they try to act with all the air and grace of the gentry. They fail miserably to pull it off though. Take Dawn Ward for example. In the first episode Dawn spoiled us with her questionable party planning and ‘gypsy wedding’ home design business. Plus we had the bonus of hearing Ashley and her daughter’s school girl wannabe group trying to turn professional. She gave us an interesting take on a richer lifestyle. But even though her attitude and accent isn’t much different from a housewife in say, Crewe. Her lifestyle doesn’t show how women really live in Cheshire.
Crewe is on the south side of Cheshire and originally a railway town. Now it is home to a significant amount of Eastern European migrants. They have mostly landed in Crewe to take advantage of the huge warehouse industry that it now has. The typical housewife in Crewe will likely be shopping to a stretched budget, working in a supermarket or the likes of, and having trouble getting their kids to actually go to school, let alone be paying for their education whilst they are there. This is not to say that Crewe is all bad because everywhere has there good and bad areas. However, a Crewe housewife is possibly a more ‘real’ example of Cheshire.
Another TV ‘Housewife’ Tanya Bardsley is a self-styled life coach. She started her career in the public eye as a favorite lad’s mag model. She had a brief flash at a music career and then settled on being a footballer’s wife. Tanya was born in Wigan, Greater Manchester and you can really tell. Out of the 6 housewives in the Cheshire set, she is probably the most real. But does her lifestyle show a regular Cheshire housewife? Not really. If she lived in the Mid Cheshire area, maybe in a place such as Northwich or Winsford, she would more than likely still be a single mother. A status that she regularly reminds viewers that she was before she met her rich footballing prince Phil.
Mid Cheshire is a complete set of city overflow areas. Without a booming population from Liverpool and Manchester in the late 1950’s, these towns wouldn’t even exist. There is no ‘old Cheshire’ that ‘housewife’ Lauren Simon speaks of so regularly in the show. Certainly not in these towns anyway. They largely consist of large council estates, dilapidated shopping centres and enough charity shops to cloth a corner of Europe. Lauren Simon talks of private school, manners and being born in Cheshire like she is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth the Second. Lauren is really just a country bumpkin that married a rich man. Which again epically fails to show the reality of Cheshire life.
The rest of the cast, including probably the most well-known of the footballer’s wives, Wes Browns wife Leanne, don’t really represent any area. They are certainly not ‘Cheshire’ housewives even though they do reside in The Golden Triangle. The relevance of Ampika Pickston or Magali Gorre, is not very clear. Ampika and Migali flash wealth, but put little to no class alongside it. To be honest, they are probably that street wise they could survive in the likes of Runcorn or Ellesmere Port. These towns, again overflows are renowned for being ‘rough,’ and there is something about these two women that actually reminds you of a cat fight at the local estate boozer. Leanne barely speaks and when she does, it’s rather meek and far too mild. Again for the most part, Cheshire women could never be referred to as mild. The only mild about them is the alcohol they drink at lunchtime before moving on to Stella Artois at night.
The Real Housewives has always been a little on the embellished side. No-one really believes that the antics of Brandi Glanville or Nene Leakes can be considered every day behavior. But the Cheshire offering has gone above and beyond exaggerated. It doesn’t represent the majority of Cheshire, though it does give a very pleasant view of Wilmslow, Knutsford and the surrounding fields in The Golden Triangle. Admittedly it is a very affluent area. Especially in relation to other parts of the UK. But then, this is where Manchester Football clubs shove all their footballers and there broods year after year. It doesn’t really extend a look into the farming community that ‘old Cheshire’ is famous for. But if it did we would be watching a housewife cast that mostly live with a chauvinistic farmer husband, and get covered in cow dung all day. Also, It doesn’t really compare with the more sophisticated American shows. The cast, who are pretty much gold diggers and would be actresses, are dull and one dimensional. If casting had just stretched their arms out to somewhere like Warrington, they could have picked up some really interesting Cheshire women. Plus those women may have already claimed fame by appearing on The Jeremy Kyle show. Because that is real Cheshire, unemployment, addiction and infidelity. It’s a shame the producers couldn’t have twisted the premise of the show a little to let us see a little of that because that would have been a really interesting show wouldn’t it?