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Top 10 British TV Shows We Hope Never Get American Remakes

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Lucas Garbera
Some things just don’t travel well across the pond. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British TV shows we hope never get American remakes. For this list, we’re considering those cornerstones of top notch British tele, which should never – under any circumstances – be remade. That’s not to say that all American remakes are bad, but these shows are uniquely British in some way or another and would be hard to adapt for the States. We’re also excluding shows that have already had American pilots made, such as “Peep Show”, “Red Dwarf” and “Only Fools and Horses”. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 British TV Shows We Hope Never Get American Remakes


Some things just don’t travel well across the pond. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 British TV shows we hope never get American remakes.

For this list, we’re considering those cornerstones of top notch British tele, which should never – under any circumstances – be remade. That’s not to say that all American remakes are bad, but these shows are uniquely British in some way or another and would be hard to adapt for the States. We’re also excluding shows that have already had American pilots made, such as “Peep Show”, “Red Dwarf” and “Only Fools and Horses”.

#10: “The Royle Family” (1998-2000; 2006-12)


We kick things off by kicking back on the sofa, for a show that’s beauty is in its simplicity. “The Royle Family” gives viewers a realistic, relatable view of a working-class family as they gather round to watch TV. Although the premise is simple, the characters and the writing make this show shine. Each character feels like someone you’ve already met, and every conversation feels like one you’ve already had. From the casual dialogue to the subtext of the whole series, a US version would fail to capture the nuances of the original show.

#9: “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” (1969-74)


Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, and nobody wants a US rehash of this classic. Obviously, a true remake could never actually happen, but it’s almost surprising that some sort of spin-off show (inspired by the original) has never actually materialised – given the global popularity of the feature films. But, swap John Cleese, Michael Palin and co. for an American troupe trying their best to imitate the absurdist brand of British humour, and it’d almost definitely fail to translate stateside. Less a ‘dead parrot’ and more the proverbial ‘dead duck’. Let’s move on.

#8: “The League of Gentlemen” (1999-2002; 2017)


Following the lives of the citizens who inhabit the fictional town of Royston Vasey, this comedy series is darkly hilarious. The main actors bring the town to life through various ridiculous characters. But, if the programme were to ever be Americanized, much of the cutting commentary on small town English life (and much of the definitely weird humour) would be lost. Can you imagine Papa Lazarou in an American TV show? Or Tubbs? It just wouldn’t work, would it. And any attempt to even try to recapture the tone would most likely be panned by fans and critics.

#7: “Countdown” (1982-)


The States have had loads of game shows (some of which we British have even stolen and/or adapted). But they shouldn’t have this one. Channel 4’s oldest show, “Countdown” is a British institution. A straightforward, yet entertaining game, it has become much more than the sum of its parts. However, if reworked elsewhere, it’d most likely fail because of its simplicity – unable to compete with the flashes, bangs and wallops of other series. And as for the Countdown clock, we shudder to think how that iconic prop would be ‘upgraded’ for modern minds.

#6: “Midsomer Murders” (1997-)


Based on the “Chief Inspector Barnaby”book series, this long-running detective drama follows its central character investigating crimes around the fictional county of Midsomer. Although the setting isn’t real, its depiction of the English countryside is a main aspect of the show and one of the things that makes it unique. There are dozens of US offerings that follow detectives, but not many manage that tricky balance between high drama and quintessential country life. “Law and Order” this most definitely is not. And the less said about the hypothetical “CSI Midsomer”, the better.

#5: “Doctor Who” (1963-)


Although it has gained fans world-wide, “Doctor Who” is undeniably, incontestably British. From the iconic police box of the TARDIS to the prominence of British locations throughout the series, this sci-fi show and the general British ‘way of life’ seem intrinsically linked. And to a certain extent, we’ve already seen why moving it across the Atlantic would be a pretty bad idea. The 1996 TV movie – with Paul McGann – was a US-Canadian-British co-production, but it’s rarely regarded with much fondness… And did precious little to revive the series at that time.

#4: “Peaky Blinders” (2013-)


Cillian Murphy’s iconic turn as gangster Tommy Shelby is placed in the backdrop of 1920’s Birmingham – and feels about as British as a TV drama can possibly be. We’ve seen (and enjoyed) hundreds of gangster films from America, but “Peaky Blinders” sets itself apart by placing ‘hard-as-nails’ characters in a setting that audiences aren’t perhaps used to… And by portraying them in a truly realistic way. A US remake would inevitably have to change the setting to a stateside location, and this would not only take away one of the show’s main drawing points, but also its unique feeling.

#3: “The Crystal Maze” (1990-1995; 2017-)


There’s no other game show quite like this one. Recently returning to UK television, “The Crystal Maze” challenges its players in four different ways for each and every mini-game. An undisputed cult classic, it's not so much that America couldn’t remake the series, it’s just that they couldn’t possibly have half as much fun doing it. The programme’s hosts and contestants are very self-aware, and the fun comes from failing the challenges as much as winning them. The whole thing is self-deprecation at its very best. Never taking itself too seriously, the Britishness is especially strong here.

#2: “I’m Alan Partridge” (1997-2002)


Steve Coogan’s painfully funny portrayal of Alan Partridge has become an icon of British pop culture. Outrageous yet realistic, the Norwich radio host is a character that just couldn’t be done properly by anyone other than Coogan. A remade version of this show would surely struggle to bring the awkward confidence and the lovable unlikability of its main character to life in the same way. Whether it’s critiquing an English breakfast or desperately failing to be stereotypically masculine, there’s only one Alan. Accept no imitations.

#1: “Blackadder” (1983-89)


Through four series, “Blackadder” took audiences across four different historical eras with predominantly the same cast. As such, it became a sitcom set apart from the rest. A brilliant example of the dry, ironic humour that has become synonymous with the UK, it is hard to imagine an American version doing the original justice. True, it might be interesting to employ the same idea against US history… But this feels like another classic that really shouldn’t be remade. Any attempt to do so would struggle to strike that balance between chaotic hilarity and cutting poignancy. It would not be a ‘cunning plan’, at all.
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