Britain's finest dramas are taking the US by storm
|David Brent, in The Office|
But now, it seems, the days of American TV bosses giving British shows the Hollywood makeover treatment are over.
|Call the Midwife|
NBC has recently signed up three seasons of the fantasy-adventure Merlin and given it prime-time billing, which was previously unheard of for a British programme.
This reflects a dramatic change in US viewing habits (perhaps they're getting more used to our accent!).
This show has achieved a cult following, with American fans organising Sunday night viewing parties, buying millions of dollars worth of themed merchandise and chatting endlessly about the plot twists on social media.
The quintessentially British detective show Sherlock, meanwhile, reaches up to four million viewers an episode. The put it into context, home-grown programming such as PBS's own nightly Newshour brings in around 2.7 million viewers an episode.
Now our funny accents seem to be accepted, and our shows are no longer written off as niche and eccentric. People have become used to seeing English accents when watching British programmes and interesting snips on such sites as YouTube so have become more used to hearing our voices.
It helps that British programmes are seen to be of good quality, rather than the formulated rubbish people have been being served.
Amazon is now the exclusive on-line hosts of the ITV shows Mr Selfridge (himself originally an American (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Gordon_Selfridge)) and Downton Abbey and is reaping the rewards. While Amazon and Netflix do not release viewing figures, each show is thought to be in the millions.
A UK tax break introduced in April last year is helping. The credit allows big-budget productions, where costs run to one million pounds and over an episode, to recoup 24% of their expenses.
To American's historically British TV just meant costume dramas and people with funny accents, now it's become part of popular culture. US audiences are looking for something of a better quality than they are finding in the cluttered US media landscape. The UK has a rich history of storytelling, and is delivering some of the best TV currently available anywhere.
From the Sunday Telegraph, 20 July 2014
Historically, not all TV series shown in the US have been 'made over'. For instance, I have a friend who lives in North Carolina and she's always been very keen on the Poldark series, set in Cornwall, and broadcast in the 1970s (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poldark)
To see hilarious (and I don't use that word very much!) spoof video of Downton - made for Red Nose Day in 2011:
Part I: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5dMlXentLw; and
Part II; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3YYo_5rxFE
And whilst we're on the subject of Call the Midwife, the programme reminds me of my mother. Dorothy was called up in 1943 and decided to train to be a nurse. (aside: as part of her training she worked in London,nursing amongst others the famous conductor Sir Neville Marriner (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-28711725)).
Anyway, once qualified (see
(http://smalefamilyhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/nurse) Dorothy trained as a midwife, working in a less well-off part of Plymouth. She looked very much like Jennifer in Call the Midwife.
|Dorothy in mid 1940s when she was studying to become a nurse|