It’s no surprise to me that some of the remade British shows that flopped in the USA are some of the best regarded here at home in the UK. There have been some huge successes – such as The Office and Veep (from The Thick of It) – but there have been some pretty big flops too, shows that have been immensely popular in the UK but just haven’t worked in their American adaptations. British writer George Bernard Shaw said that the USA and Britain are “two nations divided by a common language,” but I think we may be divided by a sense of humor on some issues too. Here are some of the remade British shows that flopped where the British equivalent was a success.
1. Fawlty Towers = Chateau Snavely/Amanda’s/Payne
The fact that the US tried to make Fawlty Towers three times underlines how successful this series was in the UK. Even though only 12 episodes were made, Fawlty Towers always features in the top three of the Best British Sitcoms. Starring John Cleese, it is the story of a hapless hotel owner who is henpecked by his wife and constantly let down by his daft waiter from Barcelona and a motley collection of guests. It relies very much on the crazy characterization of Basil and much more so, his play on the idiosyncrasies of the British – maybe that’s why it didn’t translate very well to US audiences. His constant harassment of Manuel wouldn’t play well to the large Hispanic population in America and the “don’t mention the war” is a very British thing. It is one of the most high profile remade British shows that flopped, but there’s more.