Channel 4’s Peep Show is set to become the latest British sitcom to be adapted for a US audience, with Community writer Karey Dornetto lined up to helm a female-led pilot at FX.
- David Mitchell and Robert Webb hint Peep Show could return ten years down the line
- Brian Cox’s Logan Roy is back on top in the first trailer for Succession season 2
History would suggest she’s got her work cut out for her. Peep Show alone has had three attempts at a stateside remake – an unaired pilot from 2005 with The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki is the closest they’ve come to getting it right – and plenty before it have tried and failed.
But then there’s The Office…
Below we take a look at the shows that hit and missed in their transition from the UK to the USA.
There are two key factors behind the success of this adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s classic sitcom. Firstly, there’s creator Greg Daniels, who managed to take the basis of the US sitcom from a lowly shot-for-shot re-do to something of its own, with broader – but no less brilliant – jokes and turned the awkwardness down a notch to make it palatable for a massive audience (its highest rated episode was watched by 22.9 million people).
And then there’s Steve Carrell, who, over the course of a seven-year arc, brought new levels of pathos and depth to the middle management fool.
Armando Ianucci shook up his own formula for this take on The Thick of It, swapping sweary advisor Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) for sweary Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis Dreyfus) and shifting the action from Whitehall to Washington DC. It became a massive hit with audiences and critics alike, bagging the best comedy Emmy three years in a row for its fourth, fifth and sixth seasons (the seventh and final run has just concluded on Sky Atlantic).
All in the Family
This sitcom, which revolved around Carroll O’Connor’s “lovable bigot” protagonist Archie Bunker, was the most-watched show in the USA from 1971-76. It was an adaptation of BBC’s Till Death Us Do Part – Bunker was modelled on Warren Mitchell’s Alf Garnett.
Sanford and Son
BBC’s Steptoe and Son – centred around the inter-generational conflict between rag-and-bone man Albert Steptoe and his offspring Harold – made it over to the USA as Sanford and Son. In the latter, schemer Fred Sanford would drag his straight-laced son Lamont into hair-brained plots. It was second in the ratings to All in the Family in the mid-70s.
In 2012, MTV launched a sanitised remake of the belovedly filthy teen comedy about a group of dorky students at the fictional Rudge Park Comprehensive. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t manage to capture the spirit of the original and was cancelled after one season.
In a statement, Simon Pegg said the following of this attempted remake of the very British slacker comedy he co-created with Edgar Wright and Jessica Hynes: “My main problem with the notion of a Spaced remake is the sheer lack of respect that Granada / Wonderland / Warner Bros have displayed in respectively selling out and appropriating our ideas without even letting us know.”
The decision not to involve the show’s creators didn’t work out. It never made it past the pilot stage.
Men Behaving Badly
Rob Schneider, Ron Eldard and Justine Bateman replaced Martin Clunes, Neil Morrissey and Leslie Ash in this ill-fated take on the comedy. It ran for one and a half seasons, with all-but Schneider dumped out at the beginning of season two in an attempt to save a sinking ship. It was then cancelled six episodes into the run, with seven unaired episodes left in the ether.
The IT Crowd
Three attempts have been made to bring Graham Linehan’s sitcom (above) about IT geeks to life in the USA. The first, and most notable, starred Community’s Joel McHale, with Richard Ayoade reprising the role of Moss from the original. A full series was commissioned by NBC after a pilot had been recorded, but it was later canned before the other episodes (many already written) had even gone into production.