Footballers Wives' Zoe Lucker says she has banned her daughter from watching the sex-fuelled show as it makes comeback
NOUGHTIES telly favourite Footballers’ Wives showed more sex than goals, while lead star Zoe Lucker was the show’s top scorer . . . in the bedroom.
But with the cult series being released on streaming service BritBox nearly 20 years after its explosive debut on ITV, the actress is banning her teenage daughter Lily from watching it.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Zoe — who played original Wag and mega-bitch Tanya Turner — says: “There was so much sex, and people remember it for that.
“You just didn’t see things like that on telly back then, especially at nine o’clock on Wednesday night on terrestrial TV. But my daughter is 13 next week and I don’t want her to see it, because of the sex.
“I’ve told her it’s coming out but I’m just going to get her to avoid watching it. Nobody wants to see their mum doing something like that — it’s not right.”
Zoe’s reservations are understandable.
Indeed, in one famous scene, her feisty character “shags to death” evil footie boss Frank Laslett, triggering a heart attack also fuelled by a mix of Viagra, alcohol and cocaine beforehand.
It was one of the many outrageous storylines that made Footballers’ Wives such a hit with viewers, making stars out of Zoe, Susie Amy, who played Page 3 girl Chardonnay Lane-Pascoe, and Ben Price (Conrad Gates), who went on to play Nick Tilsley in Coronation Street.
Lavish homes and flash cars
Laila Rouass, who played Amber Gates, was later seen as Sahira Shah in Holby City, while Gary Lucy (Kyle Pascoe) was already known for playing Hollyoaks hunk Luke Morgan.
The series captured the public’s obsession with footie Wags such as Victoria Beckham, Louise Redknapp and later, Coleen Rooney, showcasing the glamorous lifestyles of Premier League footballers, their lavish homes and flash cars, and of course, their bed-hopping antics.
Zoe, 47, says her man-eating character Tanya was so true to life that when she met real Wags at showbiz parties, they often told her there were lots of similarities between her and other real-life footie partners.
Footballers’ Wives attracted eight million viewers at its peak, before the final whistle blew in 2006 following its fifth series after ratings dropped to just below four million — which is still a decent figure by today’s standards.
Coleen and Rebekah Vardy’s Wagatha Christie courtroom battle last year, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Footballers’ Wives script meeting, triggered hopes that the show could get a fresh reboot.
And Zoe says the drama worked because the exploits of its characters often reflected real-life escapades — sometimes completely by coincidence. She says: “The reason it worked was because even though the stories were really far fetched, we’d be filming and then suddenly in the Press things would come out about real-life footballers that were equally bizarre.
It was not a PC show at all and certain points of reference that were being used then certainly wouldn’t be allowed now.
“There were times in script meetings when we thought, ‘Can we really get away with this?’ But we did — and we never heard any complaints.”
Tanya’s unusual way of killing Frank Laslett, manager of fictional side Earls Park FC, was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of ambitious plots. In series one, Chardonnay’s fake boobs caught fire after a drink was thrown over her at a post-match party, and when Jackie (Gillian Taylforth) — the mother of her fiancé, top striker Kyle — became pregnant, the couple paid to adopt her baby, Paddy, who turns out to be a hermaphrodite.
And perhaps the most shocking of all storylines, and Zoe’s personal favourite, was when heart-throb Conrad fathered children by his wife Amber and lover Tanya at the same time. Unsure of her baby’s real parentage, Tanya swapped her child for Amber’s, covering the newborn in fake tan to match her love rival’s darker skin.
In terms of reviving the show, Zoe has doubts over whether it would have the same appeal if writers were to tone down their material to satisfy today’s increasingly PC telly chiefs. She says: “I’m not sure we could get away with as much, and any writing team would have to tone things down a bit.
“It would be a real challenge for the writers to keep the original feel of the show and for it not to offend people. It was not a PC show at all and certain points of reference that were being used then certainly wouldn’t be allowed now.”
But if Footballers’ Wives did return, Zoe is certainly keen to reprise her famous character.
Scheming Tanya was on the verge of being killed off in the final series, contemplating a drug overdose, but viewers did not see her actually die.
And she points out that Chardonnay, who died of anorexia in series two, could also be brought back in typical soap style as her lifeless body was never seen by viewers.
Zoe says: “Tanya was just about to take that poison, but I don’t think she’s dead. I don’t think there’s any way Tanya would have been so stupid as to do that. She’s savvy. It was a cliffhanger. I doubt very much she would have gone through with it and taken it.
“She was intuitive when it came to most things, and certainly when it came to drugs. Chardonnay died, but we never saw the body — we saw the funeral. But that doesn’t mean that she was in there. The brilliant thing about the show is nothing is too much. It’s like Dallas and Dynasty. People die and come back all the time and we just went with it because we wanted those characters back.
“I love Chardonnay — I’d love it if she came back. Who knows? Susie is still a great friend of mine. I know a lot of the cast would love it to be remade and I get asked all the time if there’s going to be a remake.”
But any comeback would depend on whether the job fitted in with Zoe’s family life. She has taken a career break from acting to be a stay-at-home mum, to ensure she does not miss out on daughter Lily’s childhood, and to spend time with partner Jim Herbert.
Indeed, she has not taken on an acting job since 2016 when she left Hollyoaks, in which she played Reenie McQueen. Zoe, who also starred in EastEnders as Vanessa Gold after Footballers’ Wives, says: “I’ve not worked for almost five years now, because I’ve been at home looking after Lily — I found juggling home life and work a real struggle. I’ve got huge respect for anybody who has been able to do that.
I found juggling home life and work a real struggle. I’ve got huge respect for anybody who has been able to do that.
“I was constantly flying or getting on trains for jobs, which I found incredibly hard and I missed her too much.
"I didn’t want to get to the point where I look back and think, ‘I don’t remember her being eight, nine or ten’, and these years are so important to me. She’s the absolute love of my life, her and Jim.
“They’re the most important thing for me now, so unless there was something that worked around them, I think I will keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
- Footballers’ Wives is now available on BritBox UK.
BONKERS LIVES OF TV WIVES
FROM blazing boobs to curried dog, Footballers’ Wives was never afraid to push the boundaries of what a TV saga could say or do on screen.
Here are just a few of the weirdest and wackiest storylines that risked a red card from the taste referee . . .
- Tanya walks in on comatose football boss Frank being raped by an unhinged female nurse on his hospital bed. The Wag agrees to keep silent, but only if the nurse persuades Frank’s ex-wife and son to turn off his life support machine so they would never find out Tanya had tried to kill him.
- Bride-to-be Chardonnay is preparing for the showbiz wedding of the year but a stray drink thrown during her hen do causes her fake boobs to explode in a ball of fire. The Wag was the target of a group of rival fans who were taunting her.
- Amber’s dog is killed and served in a curry at a welcoming bash at her house after she faked being kidnapped by Triad gangsters in a desperate bid to get some money from husband Conrad, who she discovers is having an affair with Tanya. All they left behind was the poor mutt’s collar.
- After discovering that her boyfriend Conrad has been having an affair with his closeted team-mate Noah, Tanya sets up her love rival with a male sex worker and live-streams the steamy session at a party. The footage outs Noah and he never goes near Conrad again, much to Tanya’s pleasure.
- Conrad believes he has got wife Amber and mistress Tanya pregnant, not knowing that Tanya lives in fear that her baby is her late husband Frank’s (who she had married to get out of her late ex-husband Jason’s debt). Tanya switches the baby boys at birth, so she can prove to Amber that Conrad is the dad of her child by his DNA. To make the swap convincing, she covers the baby that Amber takes home in fake tan to match her rival’s skin tone.
- Tanya’s baby swap plot comes crashing down when Amber’s tot Pundarik is smothered to death by her dog Krishna. However, a police investigation discovers the baby was not really hers, after the fake tan is noticed. Amber then gatecrashes Tanya’s christening of “son” Troy and reclaims her biological son.
- Newlyweds Harley and Shannon’s star-studded wedding, which includes a mag deal with HelloNew, is topped off by a romantic hot air balloon ride. However, their excitement is short- lived as the balloon drifts away from its intended target, landing in a lion enclosure.
- Joan Collins’ character Eva has a son, Paulo – who is also her lover. Tanya, who also has an affair with the young Earls Park FC star, grows increasingly suspicious about their relationship and discovers Eva adopted Paulo abroad when he was a child.
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