Related Videos

Top 10 American Remakes of British TV Shows

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by George Pacheco These were the little remakes that could. Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 American Remakes of British TV Shows. For this list, we'll be looking at the most popular and successful American television shows whose origins can be traced back to programs that first aired on British TV. Special thanks to our user Kat Willis for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Script written by George Pacheco

Top 10 American Remakes of British TV Shows

These were the little remakes that could. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 American Remakes of British TV Shows.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most popular and successful American television shows whose origins can be traced back to programs that first aired on British TV. Drama, reality competitions, comedy series and game shows will all be considered for this list, as long as the initial iteration of the program started its life in the UK. They don’t have to be direct remakes or spin-offs per se, as long as they were based on previous British TV series.

#10: “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (1999-)

In America, quiz shows have been immensely popular since the 1950s, yet the format seemed to have stalled sometime in the mid ‘80s. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” changed all that almost instantly when it began airing at the turn of the 21st century. Based on its Britishcounterpart that debuted back in 1998, the show featured multiple choice questions which varied in difficulty and dollar amounts, but got increasingly harder as the rounds went on - culminating in a $1,000,000 final question. Meanwhile, the series’ iconic “Life lines” and catchphrases like “would you like to phone a friend” or “is that your final answer?” left audiences hooked.

#9: “Shameless” (2011-)

The U.K. version of this coal-black comedy/drama earned a rabid fan following during its initial run from 2004-13, as it followed the severely dysfunctional Gallagher family and their day to day struggles in working class Britain. Not much was changed for the American remakeof Shameless, which made its debut on the Showtime network in 2011 and starred William H. Macy as patriarch Frank Gallagher. Other than swapping Manchester for Chicago,Shameless made the jump with much of the sex, drugs and dark humor intact, while also driving home the show’s realistically dramatic portrayal of Frank’s alcoholism, and how it affects the entire Gallagher clan.

#8: “Queer as Folk” (2000-05)

The current landscape of television is a far more accepting place for the LGBT community to tell stories; but this wasn’t always the case. Enter Queer as Folk, a groundbreaking television program that was one of the first to smash the boundaries of how gay men and women were portrayed on the small screen. Remade only a year after the original British version hit the airwaves, the American-Canadian co-productionof Queer as Folk followed the lives and loves of a community of gay men and women living in Pittsburgh, and did so on a weekly basis without the sort of stereotypes that had dominated other gay characters on TV until this time.

#7: “Veep” (2012-)

Smart, satirical and often biting humor categorizes this smash HBO comedy series, which follows fictional U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer, as she navigates the treacherous waters of the political world. Though not a direct spin-off, the series was developed by Armando Iannucci, the Scottish writer and producer responsible for its British forebear from 2005, the Peter Capaldi-led “The Thick of It.” Both shows earned high praise from fans and critics for their simultaneously funny and sarcastic views on such subjects as political cabinets, advisors and spin doctors, and both feature a similar shooting style, mean-spirited characters and lots o’ profanity. Meanwhile, the American remake’s star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has earned multiple awards for her performance as Meyer.

#6: “American Idol” (2002-16)

It may be difficult to imagine a world in which “American Idol” didn’t exist, but it wasn’t actually that long ago when a little vamp on the classic “Star Search” talent show formula took America by storm. It was actually only a year prior to “American Idol’s” 2002 debut that “Pop Idol” first set up shop in the UK. After that show’s success, original “AI” judge Simon Cowell brought the 2004 singing competition “The X Factor” to the States in 2011. Fast forward to 2016, and “American Idol” finished what as an incredibly strong and influential run as the world’s premiere reality star contest.

#5: “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (1998-2007; 2013-)

Improvisational comedy earned a spot in the limelight with this hilarious and irreverent American spin-off of a classic British television staple. It took ten years for America to develop its own version of the UK’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, but when host Drew Carey and a cast ofversatile, talented comedians took the stage in 1998, they made the laughs worth the wait. Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady and a rotating fourth guest slot riffed and improvised based on audience and host requests, making this a comedy show where truly anything and everything could happen.

#4: “Three’s Company” (1977-84)

This one may come as a surprise. The sexy, jiggly 1970s comedy known as “Three’s Company” first made waves in Britain under the name “Man About the House,” following a young man living with two single women. The premise proved controversial at the time, but was amped up even further for its 1977 American remake. This version made excellent use of star John Ritter’s physical comedy, while simultaneously earning headlines for its depiction of frank ‘70s sexuality via stars Suzanne Somers, Joyce DeWitt, Jenilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes. Truth be told, however, “Three’s Company” was funny enough to last both the test of both time and critics.

#3: “All in the Family” (1971-79)

This is the controversial Norman Lear show that challenged bigotry, discrimination, and the status quo, much like the British show it was inspired by, “Till Death Do Us Part.” Like the character of Alf Garnett before him, Archie Bunker was a symbol of bad middle class attitudes and political incorrectness; there was no target he was afraid to upset. But despite his outdated philosophy and prejudice, Edith, Gloria and her man Mike stood by him and tolerated his outrageous behavior. Audiences did too, as it was number-one for five years, won awards and had multiple successful spinoffs. But most importantly it brought real-life to the sitcom format.

#2: “House of Cards” (2013-)

This next entry actually differs from other remakes on our list, in that the original UK version of “House of Cards” was a novel and mini-series before it was developed for a full, thirteen episode season for the online streaming service, Netflix. Ruthless political intrigue and drama mark this increasingly popular series, which stars Kevin Spacey as a Democratic representative with one serious hunger for power. Spacey has earned multiple award nominations and wins for his performance as Frank Underwood, and it doesn’t look like “House of Cards” will lose its creative steam any time soon.
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions!

“Being Human” (2011-14)

"Life on Mars" (2008-09)

"CA$H CAB" (2005-12)

"Hell's Kitchen" (2005-)

#1: “The Office” (2005-13)

Endless internet debates aside, there’s no denying that the American remake of Ricky Gervais’ British series “The Office” has been enormously successful and one of the most popular comedies of the last ten years. Whether it’s the series’ documentary-style narrative, the outrageous performances or ridiculous scenarios, “The Office” has made audiences laugh, cry and cheer right alongside its classic cast ofcharacters. The series also served as a launching pad for bigger projects for such talented actors as Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell and Mindy Kaling, ensuring “The Office” is a place where, like the proverbial water cooler, we all can meet for a good laugh.

Do you agree with our list? Which American television remake do you think made good on their British origins? For more must-see Top 10 lists published every day, be sure to subscribe to!


Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs