entertainment

Footballers' Wives finally gets UK streaming release

The scandalously camp and controversial ITV series arrives on BritBox later this week.

2021-08-23

Words: Will Stroude

Noughties TV classic Footballers' Wives is finally getting a UK streaming release, 15 years after the provocative ITV drama departed the airwaves.

The scandalously camp ITV series, which ran for five headline-grabbing seasons from 2002-2006, is set to arrive in full on BritBox from Thursday 26 August, reintroducing the likes of Tanya Turner (Zoe Lucker), Jackie Pascoe (Gillian Taylforth) and Chardonnay (Susie Amy) to a new generation of audiences.

The news was confirmed on Twitter last week, with BritBox revealing Footballers' Wives had been one of the "most-requested titles" people wanted to see on the platform.

"It's all kicking off! Footballers' Wives has been one of the most requested titles yet… and you can stream all 5 series (plus Extra Time) on BritBox from 26th August!," a tweet read. 

"It's all kicking off! Footballers' Wives has been one of the most requested titles yet… and you can stream all 5 series (plus Extra Time) on BritBox from 26th August!"

Footballers' Wives centred around the players of fictional Premier League squad Earls Park Football Club and their glitzy, glamourous spouses, and become an instant guilty pleasure with storylines that centred around catfights, affairs and murder.

For many gay viewers, the show provided plenty of, ahem, formative scenes in series three when series protagonist and Earls Park captain Conrad Gates (Ben Price) began an affair with his teammate Noah Alexander (Marcel McCalla).

Noah's struggle with his identity as a young Black gay footballer became a central part of series three, with the character later attempting to suppress his sexuality by undergoing gay 'conversion' therapy in series four being being quietly written out of the series.

At the time, the onging liaison between Conrad and Noah generated plenty of tabloid headlines, with some of the pair's sex scenes reportedly having to be cut after being deemed "too explicit" to broadcast despite Footballers' Wives post-watershed timeslot.

Given the amount of full-frontal nudit and sex scenes already broadcast on the series, the moment was a sad reflection of then early-noughties hypocrisy when it came to depictions of gay sex on TV.

Actor Marcel McCalla, who admitted he'd had "negative" reactions to playing a Black gay footballer on the series, later expressed his dissatisfaction at the way the Noah's exit was handled in an interview with AfterElton in 2006.

"There are so many young guys out there that are gay, find out they're gay, go through some serious issues, where they inflict pain on themselves and try to deny their sexuality. That's not a light matter," he said.

"No matter what the program is - and I know it's Footballers' Wives, and it's this candy-floss world of money and glitz and glamour and sex - but that's quite a serious issue there, it's not something to be glazed over. That's my only issue [it]."

Footballers' Wives will be available to sream in full on BritBox from Thursday 26 August.