The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci is taking the style of his profane political hit to America’s HBO as Veep, starring Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a vice-president in Washington.
It’s not the first time America has tried to remake the show: in 2007 a pilot was made for the ABC network without Iannucci’s direct involvement and it failed.
“It was terrible,” he said at the time. “They took the idea and chucked out all the style. It was all conventionally shot and there was no improvisation or swearing. It didn’t get picked up, thank God.”
Now a second pilot, with an all-new cast and made by both Iannucci and Thick of It co-writer Simon Blackwell, has been successfully picked up for a series by HBO. The cable channel is famous both for being able to allow profanity where network TV can’t and for allowing showrunners a freer hand than networks do.
The casting of Julia Louis-Dreyfus almost certainly guarantees a large audience when the series premieres: while Seinfeld is perhaps more admired here in the UK than very well known, it was a phenomenon in the States. It’s estimated that 76 million people watched its finale in 1998 and the US TV Guide once called Seinfeld the greatest television series ever made.
But Seinfeld aired on network channel NBC: now she’s heading for cable, will America accept Louis-Dreyfus swearing as much as The Thick of It characters do?
Production on the series begins in autumn and will air in America next year.