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13 British TV Shows That America Completely Ruined

Lets just say they were lost in translation.

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From Dad's Army to The Thick of It, to Fawlty Towers and Shameless, we Brits have a fine TV heritage that would make other nations jealous. So its no wonder that our cultural allies, the Americans, are always paying homage (ripping off) to our shows.

1. Skins


Skins has become such a cult favourite, it managed to last for seven seasons with three generations of characters. The series tackled important adolescent issues such as dysfunctional families, mental illness, sexuality, death and bullying. The show was well received and critically acclaimed worldwide. But when MTV decided to make an American version, it all went downhill and was a disaster from start to finish. It was badly received and was also slammed for its sexual references. MTV didn't renew the show for a second season.

2. The Inbetweeners


No. Just no. I'd say watch it for yourself, but thats probably not a good idea considering how awful it was. The show was short lived on MTV, mainly because the British humour was just not understood on the other side of the pond. Along with changing some of the shows most famous lines such as "bus wankers" to "bus turds", the show just didn't translate very well.

3. Dad's Army


Dad's Army is one of the most beloved and treasured British comedies ever, so luckily we never got to see the mess of a show ABC made in 1976. Mainly because the American version, The Rear Guard never made it past its pilot episode. So thankfully all recordings of the show have been wiped from existence.

4. Fawlty Towers


Fawlty Towers is so loved and respected, America tried to recreated the show no less than three times. First was Snavely in 1978, starring Harvey Korman and Betty White, but after the pilot it was never picked up. A few years later in 1983 came Amanda's, starring Bea Arthur, this version managed to get a full season of 13 episodes, but only 10 aired before it was cancelled. Then finally in 1999 came the show Payne, starring John Larroquette and Julie Ben. It was cancelled after 8 episodes.

5. Spaced

Channel 4

When Spaced first aired, the show introduced to Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright for the first time, who would then go on to make Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. But when America try to remake the show, it became the most obnoxious case of copycatting ever. Wright said "they never bothered to get in touch but still splashed mine and Simon's names all over the trade announcements to imply that we're involved in the same way Ricky & Steve were with The Office."

6. Life on Mars


Life on Mars is one of the those shows that should just never have been made. While its good that the show actually made an effort to come up with something new to differentiate itself from the original, but what they came up with though was awful. The show managed to take an overly complicated sci-fi turn where Sam turned out to be an astronaut in the year 2035, there were brain robots and the actual planet Mars. Needless to say the original creators hated it.

7. The IT Crowd

Channel 4

The IT Crowd is one geekiest and funniest shows to have ever come out of Britain, Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade and Katherine Parkinson's characters are both lovable and adoring. Its basically what the The Big Bang Theory wishes it could be. But when it was remade it essentially became what The Big Bang Theory already is. So its no surprise that NBC didn't even pick up the pilot as they said it had "no spark".

8. Red Dwarf


The original BBC version of Red Dwarf has become such a cult hit in America, was there ever a need for a remake? Apparently there was. But a 1992 pilot didn't even a showing. If you do want to watch the pilot, there are several versions floating around on YouTube out there.

9. The Vicar of Dibley


Dubbed Minister of the Divine, the show was produced by Frasier stars Jane Leeves and Peri Gilpin, so how could it go wrong? Well it turns out they changed the premise so much, all the quirky characters from the original had been stripped away. This proved to be the biggest mistake as the show was never picked up by Fox after its pilot.

10. Coupling


Originally created by Steven Moffat, Coupling was a hilarious sitcom and was basically the British version of Friends. So American had the great idea to remake it when Friends was still on the air, which was a terrible mistake. Along with horrible casting choices and interference from NBC the show was cancelled after four episodes. If only they had waited until Friends had finished.

11. Free Agents

Channel 4

The British version starring Stephen Mangan and Anthony Head, was a dirty, black comedy that frequently used the word "fuck" and "cunt" a few times as well. Much to the displeasure of the media watchdogs. But the American version was very toned down in terms of its language, and had for some reason forgot to bring the "black" part of the comedy along with it.

12. Top Gear


Even though we may never see another episode of Top Gear again after Jeremy Clarksons "fracas" with a producer, its safe to say no one would want to suffer and watch the American version. Its three hosts just aren't as offensively lovable as Clarkson, Hammond and May, because who really watches Top Gear for the cars?

13. Being Human

Remember the days when remakes were made years after the original show has aired? Well say goodbye to those says because the American version came a mere 3 years after the original has started. While both shows have found some very loyal followers, I just never got why we needed another version, this time just set in Boston instead of Bristol.

But don't worry, sometimes America does manage to remake some shows which end up actually being good. Who'd of thought?



Like many American remakes of British shows, a lot of people were skeptical when Shameless was to be remade. However halfway through the first season, it began to breakaway from the original show and eventually found its own voice, becoming one of the most underrated comedies on TV. Thanks to its amazing cast which includes William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum.



Its not technically a remake, Veep is actually a spin off to The Thick of it set in the same universe. Creator Armando Iannucci just transferred the same premise and brand of comedy, set it in America and added Julia Louis Dreyfus. What was the outcome? Well its probably the smartest comedy on TV right now with Dreyfus winning two Emmys.

House of Cards


Being Netflix's most popular original show, there's overwhelming proof that creator Beau Willimon has managed to successfully create one the best shows that's not even on TV (traditionally speaking). But long before Netflix adapted House of Cards, it was already a highly successful BAFTA and Emmy nominated BBC show. They both even share the same starting point and character names.

The Office


The pilot of the American version was a scene for scene remake of the British series which caused the six episode first season to be mediocre at best. But once the show had broken free from the British original and before the departure of Carell and Pam and Jim's marriage, very little could come close to The Office's perfect and perfectly awkward observational comedy.

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