The Untold Truth Of The Real Housewives Of Cheshire

On March 21, 2006, "The Real Housewives of Orange County" premiered on Bravo, starting one of the biggest reality TV franchises ever. So far, there have been installments in nearly a dozen American cities, multiple spinoffs, and regular after shows. The women have become superstars in their own right, some boasting millions of followers on various social media platforms, others taking the stage on Broadway and across the country to perform. Even NBC's streaming platform Peacock is benefitting from the franchise's popularity, gathering fan favorites from various installments and taking them on vacation for the 2021 series "Ultimate Girls Trip."

With that level of success, it's obvious why the franchise went international. And in 2015, Great Britain joined, and "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" premiered.

New information about the "Real Housewives" in the United States is available nearly every news cycle. We know everything there is to know (or at least what's reported) about their lawsuits, their between-season feuds, their off-color remarks. But with a franchise overseas, it's a little harder to keep up. Here's the untold truth of "The Real Housewives of Cheshire."

The show was modeled after the Real Housewives franchise in the United States

"The Real Housewives" in the United States is huge. How huge? For starers, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" has been known to rake in over 4 million viewers in a single night. And the Georgia ladies aren't the only ones who've won audiences. Per Us Magazine, almost all of "The Real Housewives" shows brought in over a million sets of eyeballs week after week in 2020. "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" followed that same formula to find their own cult following in Britain, per Digital Spy.

Season 1 introduced viewers to Ampika Pickston, Dawn Ward, Lauren Simon, Leanne Brown, Magali Gorré, and Tanya Bardsley, and the show followed the tried-and-true formula: A group of wealthy women who lead glamorous lives enjoy boozy lunches, attend and host lavish parties, jet set to exotic locations, and, of course, fight. The women share their unfiltered opinions in confessionals and gather at the end of the season to rehash the drama, just like 'wives in the United States.

What sets apart "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" from other cities, according to the ladies themselves, is their sense of humor. "This is definitely the funniest 'Real Housewives,'" Dawn Ward, a member of the original cast, told Digital Spy in an interview ahead of the series premiere. "We are definitely the best Housewives."

Before Cheshire, England didn't have a Real Housewives show

There are "Real Housewives" installments across the world, from Brazil to New Zealand, but "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" is the only installment set in Britain. And in Cheshire, the casting department had quite a few people to vet. "There were 200 people that they actually spoke to and we were chosen out of that," Leanne Brown, another original cast member, told Digital Spy.

"The Real Housewives of Cheshire” does their county proud by showing off the swankiest locations across what's known as Cheshire's Golden Triangle. How swanky are we talking? Well, as Manchester Evening News noted, a lot of big name footballers have purchased homes there. (Perhaps the name Cristiano Ronaldo rings a bell?)

"The Real Housewives of Cheshire" doesn't just film across the county, though; the ladies are often seen taping in their own homes, nay, their own mansions. Fans of the American cities know seeing the Housewives' abodes is part of the viewing experience, and the same goes for the "Cheshire" chapter.

Cheshire wasn't the first location chosen for the installment

There are plenty of glamorous locations in Britain, but Cheshire stood out to the people creating the series. That said, it wasn't their first pick. "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" was originally going to be set in Knightsbridge, an incredibly luxe area nestled between Westminster Abbey and Kensington Palace, but was moved to Cheshire's Golden Triangle instead.

As for what inspired the change in plans? Though the Knightsbridge neighborhood is "one of the poshest neighborhoods in the world," according to Investopedia, it was not quite the posh they were looking for. As ITV executive Paul Mortimer told RadioTimes.com, "They didn't have swimming pools or the large kitchens we were after so we went to Cheadle Hulme." 

The ladies of "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" see it a little differently, though. "It's Northern and the one thing you get from the North of England is a real warmth, a real sense of humor," Dawn Ward told Digital Spy. "You'll get to see six real women," she added. And viewers do get to see real women. Real women who happen to be really wealthy.

The Real Housewives of Cheshire cast has a lot of dough

"Real Housewives" is nearly synonymous with "rich," and the ladies of "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" are no exception. According to CheshireLive, Lauren Simon is worth over £6 million, and castmate Leanne Brown's net worth sits at £10 million. And let us not forget Dawn Ward who, as the outlet noted in 2021, is reportedly "worth upwards of £42 million." We wouldn't turn our noses up at that chunk of change.

A former star of "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" is about to outrank them all in terms of finances, though. Cosmetics queen Ampika Pickston, an original cast member who was on the show for five seasons, got engaged to a billionaire in September 2021, per Manchester Evening News.

"The Real Housewives of Cheshire" ladies maintain that most of them worked for their wealth, though. "None of us were born with a silver spoon in our mouths," series star Tanya Bardsley told Digital Spy in 2015. Later on in the interview, she called their series "inspirational," adding, "I was a single mum with no money and I think it shows you can do it."

The Real Housewives of Cheshire cast takes fashion very seriously

Every city in the franchise loves fashion. Dorit Kemsley of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" nearly makes it a sport, and Leah McSweeney of "The Real Housewives of New York City" owns her own line with celebrities like Rihanna wearing her clothes. At this point, it's almost a prerequisite for Housewives to love fancy duds, and "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" ladies are no exception. "We like to doll up, dress up," Dawn Ward told Digital Spy. "Feel good about ourselves."

Like McSweeney and other 'wives around the world, "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" star Tanya Bardsley has gotten into the clothing line game. My Glam Style's Tanya Bardsley Collection is, as the online shop promises, "the epitome of Cheshire luxury." To loosely paraphrase one of her taglines, the clothes from her range will make life a dream and a wardrobe anything but a nightmare.

But it's not all glamour all the time, as the women also like to dress down. "We still love our jeans and wellies," Lauren Simon said in Digital Spy. And they like a good deal, too. "I actually like a bargain as well as being extravagant," she shared, with Bardsley adding, "We all shop at TJ Maxx all the time."

One of the Real Housewives of Cheshire reunions was unlike any other

At the end of each season, the cast members of "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" come together for a reunion. Fans of the American versions know these gatherings can get pretty heated, but anyone who's watching for the drama looks forward to the end-of-season episodes. Reunions may not be every fan's cup of tea — especially those reunions where nothing actually gets resolved — but some of the most epic "Real Housewives" moments have taken place at these post-season get-togethers. Don't agree? Well, in the words of Tamra Judge, "That's my opinion."

For "The Real Housewives of Cheshire," swap Andy Cohen for Brian Dowling and you would think you're watching an American city (save the accents).

One season, however, the ladies forewent the traditional format. Typically, the ladies don lavish gowns, sit next to one another on couches, and rehash the biggest plot points of the season. For Season 5, though, "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" cast instead met individually with Dowling at their own houses. "This series we just wanted to mix it up a little," an ITV source told Manchester Evening News.

The unique talents of the Real Housewives of Cheshire

It's hard to become a Housewife, and it's hard to stay one. "You have to have a great, interesting personality," Andy Cohen said on "Watch What Happens Live" when "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" alum NeNe Leakes asked what it takes to be a Housewife. As for what'll get a cast member axed from the show? "If they become a turn-off to viewers, for whatever reason — they appear too fake, they're not interesting, they're not entertaining," he shared in a 2019 interview with Paper. Thankfully for viewers, the ladies of "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" are both very interesting and entertaining.

"The Real Housewives of Cheshire" cast members always bring the drama. They confront, offend, and confide in each other. They are multifaceted women who are mothers, wives, and entrepreneurs. But they also have a slew of unique hidden talents. As "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" cast members told CheshireLive, Lauren Simon can stretch out into the splits, Debbie Davis has a knack for making wild faces, Seema Malhotra knows karate, and Hanna Kinsella was an extra in "Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets." 

Only two of the original Real Housewives of Cheshire are still around

"Real Housewives" tenures vary greatly. Some come and go after only one season, and some stay on for a few years before bowing out gracefully. Others will hang on until they're forced out (looking at you, Vicki Gunvalson). The select few who join the cast the first season are known as OGs (again, looking at you, Vicki Gunvalson). Most cities have at least one veteran who has been there from the beginning. "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" has two.

Tanya Bardsley has been on "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" since Season 1, and she's the only 'wife who's never left or been demoted. The former model and fitness guru has experienced the downside of reality TV fame, telling Revive Magazine she's received nasty comments. She joked, "don't do it!" when asked her advice for anyone with hopes of becoming a reality TV star.

Lauren Simon is another OG on "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" roster. She, however, left for a few seasons, and rejoined in Season 11, per The Sun. "It felt amazing to be back," she told Female First of her return. "It felt like I never left and I was super excited how welcoming and happy the girls are to have me back," she shared.

Psychic by day, Real Housewives star by night

As previously mentioned, a "Real Housewives" star needs to be interesting and entertaining. Thankfully, all these seasons later, and "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" continues to find cast members who fit those criteria. And at least one knew that she would be a part of the roster. 

Deborah Davies joined "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" in Season 13, and she introduced viewers to her life as a psychic medium. She is, as ITV put it in a press release, "the super-glam medium who loves the finer things in life and certainly causes a stir!" So you know, perfect for reality TV. She runs a live psychic chat line that connects clients with "highly intuitive psychics" who, according to her website, can provide "a message from a loved one or insight into what is about to happen in your life."

According to Manchester Evening News, "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" newbie said that at a young age she "realised that nobody else could see what I see." On being part of "The Real Housewives of Cheshire," Davies said in ITV's press release, "I always had a feeling that my future would involve the show but I could have never imagined how much I'd love every minute of the filming."

Dawn Ward is in the midst of a legal battle

Some of the biggest names in the Housewives franchise have had serious legal woes. Teresa Giudice of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" set the tone when she spent time in jail after being convicted of fraud, and "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star Jen Shah wound up embroiled in legal trouble after she "allegedly profited by generating lists of victims for targeting and directing co-conspirators to defraud them," per the United States Department of Justice. In 2019, "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" cast member Dawn Ward joined the list of 'wives who have gone head-to-head with the law. 

Per the Evening Standard, following an incident involving two brothers at a train station, Ward was accused of "racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm, or distress" as well as allegedly having cocaine on her person. "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" star denied these charges and will face trial in March 2022.

In December 2020, Ward announced she and "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" would be going their separate ways. "Everyone who knows me knows I'm all about my family, so I've decided that after 12 seasons on the show I would like to concentrate on projects with them," she wrote on Instagram. "It's a great show and will only go from strength to strength as it's done since season 1."

Lauren Simon celebrated her divorce by burning her wedding dress

Contrary to the name of the franchise, not all the stars are even wives; over the years, viewers have seen many "Real Housewives" stars weather the ending of their marriages, while some have never actually been hitched. "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" star Lauren Simon was part of a nasty divorce for years, on par with some of the American stars' splits.

After Season 8, Simon stepped away from "The Real Housewives of Cheshire" to deal with her personal life. As she shared with OK! in 2020, "I took a year off filming to try and finalise the divorce." Noting that the dissolution of her marriage "was a huge life change," she said she "needed a year off to relax." The years-long battle seemed to end when she got a £3 million settlement, but as the Manchester Evening News reported, her ex claimed the payout "discriminated against the husband as breadwinner and in favour of the mother as homemaker."

When the divorce drama was over once for all, Simon wanted to, as she told OK! in 2021, "do something flamboyant" to close this chapter. So, she torched her wedding dress. Flamboyant? More like flame-boyant.