UK TV channel Five has commissioned Flame TV to produce Celebrity Swap, a new three part series following two different celebrities each week as they undergo the ultimate makeover: one star couple will swap gender, another age and a third class. They then try to fool close friends or family. The series follows the pilot Gender Swap, which saw Carol Smillie and Shaun Williamson transformed.
Model Melinda Messenger swaps ages with Mike Reid: she becomes 83 year-old Margaret Doyle, supposedly Melinda’s old ballet teacher. The other two lucky female celebrities are TV presenter Vicki Butler-Henderson (becoming a bald geezer) and actress Linda Robson (becoming a very posh lady).
… this was the first time I’d ever done anything quite like that, where I felt very exposed and unsure of myself. Being on TV in a black lycra suit after I’d just given birth, with no makeup on was pretty daunting… I didn’t think for a second that my mum would ever fall for it and was absolutely gobsmacked when she did… I did enjoy it. I loved the idea of becoming another character; for the first time, I could really see why people got something out of acting, which had never really appealed to me before. I was quite sad at the thought of never being ‘Margaret’ again. It was quite difficult to stay in character, but it was so much fun.
The makeup is in the more than capable hands of Neil Gorton and Vanessa White. Neill claims that: ‘You will see these stars transformed to the point where their own mothers don’t recognise them in close proximity.’ Melinda’s transformation involves extensive prosthetics, as you can see above, and her final appearance is remarkable.
A further one-off programme Jordan Gets Even featuring Jordan (Katie Price) has also been filmed and is likely to be shown in early 2005. So far there is no information available on the nature of her transformation (other than Neill Gorton’s claim to have disguised her ‘biggest assets’).