The best and worst US remakes of British TV shows

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With Broadchurch’s American remake, Gracepoint, drawing ever closer to its US premiere, we look at some of our other TV exports.

Some proved to be hits with stateside audiences, while it seems some British shows just cannot lend themselves properly to America…


The Best


The Office (2001-2003)

US version: The Office – An American Workplace (2005-13)

Without question the greatest British export. The UK version saw Ricky Gervais play the hapless David Brent, the regional manager of the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg. As a sitcom, The Office certainly stands the test of time. A decade on now and every episode is still extremely funny.

Over the pond it was Steve Carell playing the Brent inspired Michael Scott, with much aplomb. The fact the U.S. version has nearly 20-times as many episodes goes to show how well it was adapted. But, the greatest strength of the U.S. version was its popularity with the British audiences.

You cannot compare the two as the U.S. version has very much established itself as a sitcom of its own.


Little Britain (2003-2006)

US version: Little Britain USA (2008)

The comedic team of David Walliams and Matt Lucas gave us the hugely popular characters of Vicky Pollard, Marjorie Dawes and Dafyd, to name but a few. The sketch show was hilarious and the viewing figures reflected that.

HBO took Walliams and Lucas over to the States to make Little Britain USA. The duo kept the beloved characters of the original but changed their environment. Dafyd was at university, Pollard was at a boot camp and Marjorie was working at the American branch of FatFighters, while well-known faces such as Sting and Paul Rudd guest-starred and David Schwimmer (Ross Geller from Friends) featured prominently.

HBO wanted a second season, but Walliams and Lucas declined which was a shame as it was enjoyable seeing the Americans get ripped on.


The Worst…


The Inbetweeners (2008-10)

US version (2012)

images_Blog_2012.05_inbetweeners us

The foul-mouthed, expletive filled show took Britain by storm in 2008. Focusing on the trials and tribulations of four students studying their A-Levels it was something we could all relate to. But what made The Inbetweeners so special was its broader appeal. Despite on appearances looking like a show that only the youth of Britain could enjoy, its witty writing combined with outlandish buffoonery made it a popular choice for many adults. The fact that it managed to attract 2.4million viewers to E4 (12.5% of the audience share) was simply stupefying and now the four affable lads are about to release their second movie, their first grossed nearly £60m.

As a Brit, if you manage to get through one episode of the US version you do not deserve your eyes. It is awful. To make it censorship friendly all the expletives of the original were removed, so they practically made it devoid of the main element. It is a watered down version that is excruciating at times. Luckily, the Americans did not like it either so there are just 12 episodes in existence – but that’s still 12 too many.


Footballer’s Wives (2002-2006)

US version: Football Wives (2010)

The tumulus behind the scenes drama that occurs not just in the world of footballers, but in the lives of their wives’ as well debuted in 2002 and after five seasons and four years of run time it can undoubtedly be considered a success. Brits thrived on the internal dramas that occur in the various fictional sporting celebrities – which seemed like a straight-copy of the sort of dramas that are picked up in the ‘gossip’ sections of almost every magazine on the newsstand.

The US version, however, left little to be desired. The sport was changed from football – or soccer – to American football and lasted a meagre 10 episodes. Disputes with the NFL were highlighted as possible reasons as to why the adaptation – which featured some big names such as Lucy Lawless – waned in comparison to its predecessor, but the truth is it simply didn’t live up to the billing.

The sheer reality is that a bet on a real sporting event such as the recent Football World Cup in Brazil – which you can do with bookmakers such as Bet365 – would have been a safer bet if you were looking for excitement and drama. Just ask Tim Krul, James Rodriguez or any of the German national side, who all had their moments of sheer magnificence this summer.


These are the four stand-out adaptations, hopefully Broadchurch – sorry, Gracepoint – will be one of the successful ones.