Los Angeles "Footballers Wive$" do things that could make even the wives on Wisteria Lane blush.
While ABC's "Desperate Housewives" are in reruns for the summer, the series about bad behavior in the monied soccer world returns to BBC America at 9 p.m. CST Sunday for a nine-episode fourth season.
"It panders to the basic elements of any good drama, which are lust, greed, avarice, comeuppance, envy. All the sins. No sin knowingly undersold," executive producer Brian Park says, laughing.
"It's tapping into the way we all are, sadly, slightly consumed by celebrity," adds Zoe Lucker, who plays Tanya Turner, the most amoral of the wicked wives of the fictional Earls Park Club soccer stars. "We love to watch people with lots of money, lots of success, lots of power still not be happy."
Park says he's settled on "the perfect breeding ground for a tale of excess," noting that young athletes are suddenly propelled, often with wives or girlfriends, from obscurity into a "world of almost unimaginable wealth."
He also acknowledges a huge debt to glamorous prime-time soaps "Dallas" and "Dynasty" so popular in the 1980s.
But this being on cable TV in 2006, the language on the series is blunt and the sex fairly explicit.
"Those scenes are deeply embarrassing to do," Lucker said. "You just have to take a deep breath and go for it. It's terrible to say this, but I prefer playing scenes where Tanya kills people rather than scenes where she has sex!"
Turner managed to do both at one time last season, using an excess of sexual energy with her older second husband.
"This season you are going to see amazing skullduggery with Tanya at her most awful, which is going to involve swapping babies ... and a rather unfortunate incident with the family dog," Park teases.
On-screen sports action is minimal. Male cast members don't have to be able to kick a ball even two feet. "They just have to be capable of being naked in the shower," Park says, chuckling.
Lucker, 34, had almost quit acting before snagging the juicy "queen bee" role of the "cocaine-snorting, vodka-drinking vixen" with the ultralong false nails.
"We decided Tanya's nails would not be practical, to suggest she didn't lift a finger around the house," Lucker explains, "and then their length kind of got incorporated into being able to scoop up the cocaine."
The outrageous fashions and lifestyles of wives Tanya, Amber, Shannon and Chardonnay (who died at the end of the second season) have created a popular phrase in Britain: "That's so 'Footballers Wive$"' is now commonly used to describe over-the-top clothing and behavior.
"People love the aesthetics of the show ... the costumes, the cars, the houses. It's so glossy and colorful," Lucker said.
She's also starred in another TV series produced by Park, "Bombshell," in which she plays an army captain. "A very, very different role. I dyed my hair, wore it short, no makeup."
But then she went back to being the blond, scheming Tanya for season five (which has already aired in Britain but has not yet been scheduled on BBC America).
"It was an offer I couldn't refuse," she said.
The actress who famously played glamorous, manipulative Alexis Carrington on "Dynasty" was cast as Eva De Wolffe, a magazine publisher who tangles mightily with Tanya over the charms of a young Brazilian soccer star.