When Comedies cross The Pond – US remakes of British shows

Some things are best left alone, and I include TV sitcoms in that statement. On this side of the Atlantic we seem to display a canny knack for producing some great sitcoms but, what usually happens is that these shows are dragged stateside for a remake.

Current rumours have Gavin and Stacey put down for a remake for an American audience. I can’t say I jumped for joy when I heard that. The reason for my lack of enthusiasm lies within the fact that American remakes very rarely hit the mark.

The most recent remake of a British comedy show was The Inbetweeners. MTV got their claws into the Channel Four show and turned into an unfunny clump of crap.

Sticking with Channel Four shows, Shameless is one which oozes grit, grime and a good dollop of outrageous comedy set in Manchester but then someone for some reason thought it was a good idea to remake it in Chicago with the prime character of Frank being played by William H Macey. It is a hit and miss show. Mostly miss.

Absolutely Fabulous was a long running favourite on British screens but it failed to make it in America when a pilot created by Roseanne Barr failed to progress into a series. Perhaps we should be thankful that it failed to go any further than episode one.

Cold Feet was re-created in the States but unlike the original British series, the American one only made it into eight episodes before it was cancelled.

If you thought old favourites were immune from being remade in America then look away now because the next thing I tell you may cause you to keel over.

Dads Army was remade in America in 1976. It was renamed the Rear Guard and never saw life beyond its pilot episode.

Steptoe and Son was an old time favourite on television screens this side of the Atlantic but in the 70’s when it went across the pond and was renamed Sanford and Son. It received mixed reviews.

Of course that greatest of great British sitcoms, Fawlty Towers, also fell victim to an American remake. It was brought across the Atlantic not once but three times and three times it failed. Betty White starred in Château Suavely and it failed as a pilot episode. Another Fawlty Towers remake was called Amandas and was cancelled after ten episodes. The third attempt at a Fawlty Towers remake was a show called Payne. It only managed to air for nine episodes.

While the majority of British shows have failed and failed miserably in their second life in America, some have thrived such as The Office and The Thick Of It which was remade for American audiences as Veep.

When UK sitcoms get tried and tested in America and with some only making it to the top, it goes with great relief that one of the greatest of all comedies was never made endure the embarrassment of an American remake. For now Fr Ted remains untouched by those who tarnished the likes of Fawlty Towers and Dads Army with a stateside remake. If that were to happen it would be sacrilegious!

When Comedies cross The Pond – US remakes of British shows – words Lily Murphy


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