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From The IT Crowd to The Office, Being Human to The Inbetweeners - British shows vs their US remakes

As Gavin & Stacey prepares for an American treatment, take a look at how some other recent UK TV series have fared stateside...

Published: Thursday, 18th October 2012 at 5:26 pm

Fox has bought the rights to Gavin & Stacey, which means a US remake of the BBC comedy series is on the way.


The hilarious, heart-warming story of a girl from Wales falling in love with a boy from Essex will be reworked for an American audience with the help of its original production company Baby Cow. Writers James Corden and Ruth Jones are on board too, though it's not thought they'll reprise their roles as Smithy and Nessa.

But adapting a British TV format for an American audience can be a risky business - sometimes something vital gets lost in translation. And though numerous shows have tried to make the move across the Atlantic, only a handful have been as successful as their original counterparts.

So while we wait with bated breath to discover what the US equivalents of Billericay and Barry Island could possibly be, here are a some examples of how, and how not, to take British TV transatlantic...


Much to the distress of UK fans, Channel 4's multi-award-winning The Inbetweeners ended in 2010 after three hilarious series.

In the very same year - after an unsuccessful first attempt in 2008 - American TV bosses got the go ahead for a US remake, with an encouraging pedigree. Arrested Development's Brad Copeland developed the show, while Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, creators of the original, oversaw it.

The 12 episode series premiered on US TV in August 2012, as the hapless foursome started their first term at an American high school. Simon (Bubba Lewis) still had a crappy yellow car with a door missing, Will (Joey Pollari) was still a briefcase, er, user, Neil (Mark L Young) was a lanky buffoon and Jay (Zack Pearlman) had a dodgy bowl cut. But while fans of the original will recognise (word for word) the contents of the US clip below, taking Will and the boys out of England has arguably lost some of the grubby charm of the original.


From the Chatsworth Estate to South Side Canaryville in Chicago, Channel 4's council estate drama emigrated to America in 2011.

The UK version first aired in 2004 and is due to end in 2013. During its 11-series run, Shameless has starred Brit acting stalwarts including Anne-Marie Duff, James McAvoy and Maxine Peake - not to mention David Threlfall as the inimitable Frank Gallagher - and won a Best Drama Series Bafta and Best TV Comedy Drama at the 2005 British Comedy Awards.

Although the obvious choice might have been to set the US version on a trailer park, US Shameless challenged that stereotype by dropping Frank (the imaginitively cast William H Macy) and his brood in a deprived district of Chicago.

The American version is definitely standing on its own two feet, being dubbed "excellent, compelling television" by The Hollywood Reporter and securing a third season earlier this year.


When Skins first aired on E4 in 2007, the series about a group of dysfunctional, hedonistic teens quickly became cult viewing. Since then, we've been introduced to a total of three sets of sixth formers, across six series, with a seventh due to catch up with some of them in 2013.

Following the announcement that the controversial Bristol-based show might be getting a stateside cousin, there were reservations about whether the drugs, sex, booze and house parties would make sense to an American audience.

And those doubts were justified. Even though the language, violence and sexual content of the UK version was toned down for the US remake, Skins still caused controversy with its scenes of casual sex between minors and was subsequently cancelled at the end of the first series.


The IT department-based sitcom threw Chris O'Dowd, Katherine Parkinson and Richard Ayoade into the spotlight. First airing in 2006, the hit comedy ran for four series (a fifth run was originally commissioned, but has since been cancelled).

Originally penned by Graham Linehan - who also wrote Father Ted and Black Books - the spot on, work-based comedy went awry when an American remake was attempted...

Even with Richard Ayoade's loveable geek Moss making the journey across the pond, plans to record a series were cancelled after this pilot was filmed...


BBC3's dark drama about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf living together in a house in Bristol was remade for an American audience in 2011.

Our beloved Annie, Mitchell and George swapped the West Country for Boston and became Aidan, Josh and Sally. The American version uses some plot lines and characters from the BBC original, but has tried to go its own way, with the writers admitting they made a deliberate decision not to watch beyond the first UK series.

American Being Human has been commissioned for a third series, which will air on SyFy in 2013.


Following the mundane lives of office workers from Slough, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's mockumentary The Office was an instant and unprecedented hit when it first aired in the UK in 2001.

It's had numerous international remakes, but the American version is the longest-running of them all. While the British original ended after two series and Christmas special, its US counterpart, which kicked off in 2005, is currently in its ninth (and final) season.


When it moved to America, Ricky Gervais's David Brent became Steve Carell's Michael Scott. Despite initially poor ratings, The Office: An American Workplace has gone on to win Emmys, as well Carell's 2006 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Comedy or Musical - the same award given to Gervais for David Brent in 2004.


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