The Best and Worst American Remakes of British TV Shows

The Office UK vs US

When it comes to television, the journey across the Atlantic doesn’t always guarantee smooth sailing.

American remakes of British TV shows are a unique breed; they can either capture the essence of their originals, adding a fresh, cultural spin that resonates with US audiences, or they can miss the mark, losing the very charm and nuance that made the British versions beloved in the first place.

Here’s a look at what worked out and what should’ve never been made…

The Office

UK (2001-2003): Created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, this mockumentary-style sitcom is set in the offices of the fictional Wernham Hogg Paper Company. Gervais stars as the awkward and often inappropriate office manager, David Brent.

US (2005-2013): The American version, developed by Greg Daniels, is set at the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of Dunder Mifflin. It features Steve Carell as the similarly cringe-worthy Michael Scott. The US version expanded its ensemble cast and ran for nine seasons, becoming one of America’s most beloved sitcoms.


House of Cards

UK (1990): Based on a novel by Michael Dobbs, this political thriller follows the ruthless and cunning Francis Urquhart, a fictional Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, played by Ian Richardson.

US (2013-2018): The US adaptation, set in Washington, D.C., stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a Democrat from South Carolina. The show was notable for its direct address to the audience and its dark portrayal of American politics. It was one of Netflix‘s first original series.



The cast of Shameless (UK)
The cast of Shameless (UK)

UK (2004-2013): A gritty and often humorous portrayal of life in a working-class community in Manchester, focusing on the Gallagher family.

US (2011-2021): Transposed to Chicago’s South Side, the US version stars William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher. The show delved into the complexities and joys of a dysfunctional family, receiving acclaim for its performances, particularly from Emmy Rossum.


Being Human

UK (2008-2013): This supernatural drama blends fantasy, horror, and comedy. It follows a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost as they strive to live together and lead normal lives.

US (2011-2014): The American adaptation, set in Boston, follows a similar premise and explores themes of identity, humanity, and belonging. It featured a new cast and diverged from the UK storyline as the series progressed.



Skins UK vs US
Skins UK vs US

UK (2007-2013): Known for its raw and realistic portrayal of teenage life, Skins featured a rotating cast of characters dealing with issues like mental health, sexuality, and substance abuse.

US (2011): The American version, which aired on MTV, faced criticism and controversy, especially for its portrayal of teen sexuality. It failed to capture the essence of the original and was cancelled after one season.


Queer as Folk

UK (1999-2000): A groundbreaking series focusing on the lives of three gay men living in Manchester. It was notable for its explicit portrayal of gay life and relationships.

US (2000-2005): The American version, set in Pittsburgh, retained the bold and unapologetic exploration of gay culture. It ran for five seasons and was praised for its character development and depiction of LGBTQ+ issues.


Life on Mars

UK (2006-2007): This series combines elements of science fiction and police procedural, following a modern-day Manchester detective who wakes up in the 1970s after a car accident.

US (2008-2009): Set in New York City, the US version stars Jason O’Mara as the time-displaced detective. Despite its intriguing premise, the show struggled to find a large audience and was cancelled after one season.



UK (2000-2004): A witty sitcom about the dating adventures and mishaps of six friends, it was often compared to Friends but with a distinctly British humour.

US (2003): The NBC remake was criticised for its lack of originality and failure to translate the British humour effectively. It was cancelled after just four episodes.


Broadchurch / Gracepoint

Broadchurch vs Gracepoint
Broadchurch vs Gracepoint

UK (2013-2017): Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, is a crime drama centred around the investigation of a young boy’s murder in a small coastal town.

US (2014): Gracepoint, the American remake, also stars David Tennant, alongside Anna Gunn. Despite the high-profile cast, it didn’t capture the same level of critical acclaim as its British counterpart and was not renewed after its initial 10-episode run.


Antiques Roadshow

UK (1979-present): A long-running television show where members of the public bring antiques and collectables to be appraised by experts. The show travels to various locations across the UK.

US (1997-present): The American version follows a similar format, with appraisers examining and valuing antiques brought in by local people. It is produced for PBS and has become a fixture of American public television.


Whose Line Is It Anyway?

UK (1988-1998): An improvisational comedy show where performers create scenes, characters, and songs based on audience suggestions. The original UK version was hosted by Clive Anderson.

US (1998-2007, revived 2013-present): Adapted for the American audience, the show initially featured Drew Carey as host and retained some of the UK cast members. The US version popularised the format further and introduced new improvisational games.


The Inbetweeners

The Inbetweeners UK vs US

UK (2008-2010): This sitcom follows a group of socially awkward friends navigating the challenges and embarrassments of adolescence.

US (2012): The US version attempted to replicate the humour of the original but was criticised for its poor adaptation and lack of chemistry among the cast. It was cancelled after one season.


Top Gear

UK (2002-present): A motoring magazine and entertainment television programme, known for its humorous and sometimes controversial approach to cars and motoring. It features car reviews, challenges, races, and celebrity segments.

US (2010-2016): The US version attempted to replicate the UK show’s format, with its own set of hosts conducting car reviews, challenges, and celebrity interviews. While it had a dedicated following, it didn’t reach the same iconic status as the UK original.


Kitchen Nightmares

UK (2004-2014): Chef Gordon Ramsay visits struggling restaurants across the UK, offering his expertise and advice to help them improve their operations and save them from closure.

US (2007-2014): The US version of Kitchen Nightmares features Ramsay travelling across America to help failing restaurants. The American edition is known for its dramatic confrontations and emotional revelations.


Love Island

UK (2015-present): Originally airing as a Celebrity show between 2005 and 2006, Love Island made a triumphant return in 2015 has become a reality TV hit.

US (2019-present): The American adaptation follows a similar format, with singles living together in a villa, forming relationships, and facing public vote-offs. The US version aims to capture the same mix of romance, drama, and humour.


Hell’s Kitchen

UK (2004-2009): A reality cooking competition hosted by Gordon Ramsay, where aspiring chefs compete in various culinary challenges and are judged by Ramsay.

US (2005-present): The US version, also hosted by Ramsay, follows a similar format. Contestants live together and compete in cooking challenges, with Ramsay’s explosive personality adding drama to the show.


The Chase

Chaser,  Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett
Chaser, Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett © ITV

UK (2009-present): A quiz show where contestants compete against a professional quizzer, known as the Chaser, in a series of general knowledge questions.

US (2013-2015, 2021-present): The US adaptation features a similar format, with contestants answering questions to amass a cash prize while competing against the Chaser. The US version brought in some of the UK Chasers, including The Beast to enhance its appeal.



UK (1990-present): An amateur cooking competition where contestants are judged by professional chefs. The UK version has undergone various revamps and format changes over the years.

US (2010-present): Hosted by Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich, the US version of MasterChef puts amateur cooks through a series of culinary challenges. The show has gained popularity for its competitive format and high-pressure cooking challenges.