Sitcoms have been part of the fabric of British society since the 1950’s. We’ve seen some classics over the years, but it’s not just Britain that likes it’s sitcoms.
As well as many of it’s own home grown classics such as Cheers, Frasier, Friends etc that we here in Britain love, there are a good number of our classics that have made it to the US, some successful, some not, so for this post we’ll look at some of the great British sitcoms that have been adapted for the US market and see how they faired.
Hit US comedian Roseanne Barr had the characters from Absolutely Fabulous appear on her hit US sitcom Roseanne. She was keen to produce a US version and even went as far as producing a pilot episode Ab Fab. Another attempt was made by Jennifer Saunders who created the UK original. Both versions failed to make it after US censors rejected it.
It was announced on 7 October 2008 that an American version of the series was in the works.
The series was to be relocated to Los Angeles. Saturday Night Live writer Christine Zander worked on the new scripts and would have been executive producer along with Saunders and BBC Worldwide’s Ian Moffitt. Sony Pictures Television, BBC Worldwide, and indie Tantamount were producing the new series for Fox, which greenlighted the pilot as a possible Fall 2009 (US version of Autumn) with Kathryn Hahn as Eddy and Kristen Johnston as Patsy.
In May 2009, Fox decided not to commission a full series.
A popular sitcom here in the UK in the late 70’s early 80’s, starring Maureen Lipman. Adapte in 1985 for the US and running for one series as The Lucie Arnaz Show, starring Lucie Arnaz. It followed the same plot line as it’s UK counterpart.
Are You Being Served ?
Hugely popular here a US remake in 1979, entitled Beane’s of Boston, written by the show’s original creators Jeremy Lloyd & David Croft and starring John Hillerman, who would go on to fame in Magnum, P.I., the series never made it past an un-aired pilot episode.
Birds Of A Feather
This sitcom has just finished a hugely successful comeback series here in the UK, after two successful stage adaptations and 10 TV series on the BBC.
In 1992, Nancy Steen and Neil Thompson created a US Version entitled Stand By Your Man. It starred Melissa Gilbert Brinkman and Rosie O’Donnell. It followed the same plot line as it’s UK original, but only ran for 1 series of 8 episodes.
A classic piece of British sitcom as much loved today as it was in it’s day. Original writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft adapted one of their most popular episodes ‘The Deadly Attachment’ for the US market, as a pilot for a potential full series.
Entitled “The Rear Guard” it followed a band of men in the American Civil Defense (circa 1942) who were part of an auxiliary force in the event of an invasion of the USA.
This one actually made it to the screen. It was broadcast on Tuesday the 10 August 1976, simultaneously with American Broadcasting Company channel 7 and 8.
Despite the popularity of Dad’s Army in the UK, it never made it past its pilot to become a series.
As it was a failure, the original tapes the show was recorded on were wiped. However copies of the show are in the possession of the show’s director Hal Cooper and other producers that were associated with the show.
In Part Two we’ll look at some more US re-makes, including a certain famous hotel and a famous Father and Son.