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HomeNewsMost Successful TV Shows that America Copied from the UK

Most Successful TV Shows that America Copied from the UK

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America’s global theatrical and home entertainment market hit US$99.7 billion in 2021, reports Motion Pictures. Spurred on by the increase in pay-TV subscriptions, this figure is justifiably eye-watering.

But did you know that America copied many of its successful shows from the UK? Let’s take a look at the most successful TV shows America stole from the UK.

Whose Line Is It, Anyway?

This improvisational comedy show features celebrities taking part in on-the-spot acting scenes, songs, and even sound effects. Whose Line Is It, Anyway? has the same creators, Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, on both sides of the Atlantic, but a different cast and production crew.

Audiences loved it in the UK and the USA. The British version aired in 1988 and ran until 1999 with 136 episodes over 10 series. Its presenter was Clive Anderson throughout.

The American version aired in 1998, ran until 2007 and then made a comeback on CW in 2013. It was first presented by Drew Carey, but the CW version is hosted by Aisha Tyler.

The Office

The Office, written by Rick Gervais and Stephen Merchant, aired in the UK in 2001. It ran for 2 seasons and produced 14 episodes. Viewers praised this mockumentary sitcom for its socially-awkward humour and satirical depiction of UK office life.

Greg Daniels, of Saturday Night Live fame, adapted The Office for the American market. It aired in 2005, spanned 201 episodes, and ceased production in 2013. After mixed reviews of its first season, The Office US became a hit, praised for Steve Carell’s performance and its script.

Home entertainment market tv shows


The comedy-drama Shameless was first set in Manchester, UK, and followed the exploits of Frank Gallagher (David Threlfall) and his family in working-class, benefits-laden Britain. Praised by the media, this show became a hit in the UK, from 2004 to 2013.

The American version of Shameless ran from 2011 to 2021 and starred William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher. Set in Chicago, Illinois, the show follows its predecessor’s premise of working-class dysfunction. In 2019, it became the longest-running show ever on Showtime Networks.

House of Cards

Think House of Cards, and you tend to think of Kevin Spacey’s sociopathic depiction of Frank Underwood’s rise in the American political system. But House of Cards was a British TV show first, set at the end of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as prime minister in the late 80s to early 90s.

The British House of Cards aired in 1990 to critical acclaim but spanned just 4 episodes on the BBC. In America, House of Cards aired 73 episodes across 6 seasons, earning both Emmy Awards and Golden Globe nominations, a first for a TV show streamed entirely online.

Long Live the British TV Show

Despite the behemoth American media industry having the most viewers, many hit shows start in the UK. The British media industry is ever evolving, and for producers, crew and marketers, now is an exciting time to get noticed.

Hybrid media, TV, web streaming and podcasts, have opened up new ways to reach your viewers. And with that, you have the exciting advertising opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic, especially when you partner with an AVOD advertising agency. With innovation, analysis and targeted campaigns, these platforms can be leveraged to your advantage.

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