UK-to-US TV imports that deserved better

Feature Mark Harrison 27 Feb 2014 - 07:00

Doctor Who and Downton may have been welcomed with open arms, but here are the UK imports to the US that didn't fare as well...

A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the UK market for US television has changed, with the competition of streaming and subscription services seeming to have put broadcasters off their appetite for imports and acquisitions. It's also interesting to note that advances in technology may have had the opposite effect on some American viewers' enthusiasm for imported UK television.

The particular knack for cultural imperialism that Hollywood expresses all over the world has also been brought to bear on certain UK TV imports. There aren't that many examples of British remakes of American shows, but it's been a different story for some UK shows that have crossed the pond.

We're not talking about entertainment formats, like The X Factor, Deal Or No Deal or Big Brother, which are easy to adapt for international audiences, in comparison to the more nuanced, scripted formats of drama and comedy. Over the years, we've adapted Family Fortunes, The Apprentice and Total Wipeout for audiences in Blighty, but have tended to import scripted shows rather than re-imagining them, (with the notable exception of Law & Order: UK, the first series of which was based on episodes and stories from the parent series.)

Historically, shows like Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and Are You Being Served have been shown in their unexpurgated format on PBS, a public service broadcaster which is funded by corporate grants and viewer donations, as opposed to the UK's mandatory television licence fee.

But the whole production model is different in the USA. There are twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers in existence, and they're all brilliant. There have been twenty plus episodes of Two And A Half Men every single year for the last decade, and even the biggest fan of that show would have to admit that there are episodes where the misogyny isn't quite as sharp as usual.

While PBS would broadcast British shows from their library of acquisitions, it's fair to say that most successful British comedies have endured some tinkering at the hands of just about every other network. Infamously awful pilots have been made for sitcoms like Red Dwarf, Coupling and The IT Crowd, all of which hit a brick wall in trying to translate the sense of humour of the original.

More recently, ABC produced a pilot for King Of Van Nuys, a remake of Only Fools And Horses starring John Leguizamo as Del Boy, Dustin Ybarra as Rodney and Christopher Lloyd as Granddad. After several years of trying to revamp the format, it didn't get this far until 2012 - the series is beloved in the UK, but in terms of hitting something at the height of its popularity, that's like going out and selling Piers Morgan Live t-shirts this afternoon, (or, actually, at any time during the last thirty-six months.)

But of course it's not all bad news. Some US remakes have completely distinguished themselves from the original, and gone on to be very successful. The fondly remembered Sanford & Son re-developed the premise of Steptoe & Son with African-American characters; NBC's take on The Office was a success both in the States, and on Ricky Gervais' home turf; and HBO's award-winning Veep is arguably an American spin-off of The Thick Of It, although it actually adopts most of its cast from the 2009 film spin-off, In The Loop.

Likewise, it's not all bleak on the drama front. For every US Life On Mars, (SPOILER: in which the whole series was contrived to be the collective hallucination of a crew of astronauts on a “gene hunt” on the red planet) there's a US Shameless, (in which certain Mancunian idiosyncrasies are discarded in favour of a focus on “trailer trash” characters, to the tune of four successful seasons on Showtime so far.)

Happily, it's the distinctive remakes that have lasted. While shows like MTV's Skins don't make it past the first season, until recently, Syfy's Being Human was able to continue unabashed for four seasons without even having to play the “anyone can die” card that sustained the BBC Three original through a whole bunch of seismic cast changes.

While there's no questioning the success of certain remakes, it's not fair that brilliant original UK shows have had their chance of marketability in the States diminished by dodgy, cack-handed pilots. It's to the immense credit of Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes and Edgar Wright that they weren't having any of this nonsense when McG decided to remake Spaced.

Wright coined the name McSpaced, to distance the failed pilot from the original, and has told Q&A audiences that McG even phoned him personally to try and get him on board, at one point saying “Listen, I really sympathise with you. If I heard somebody was remaking Charlie's Angels, I'd be pissed off.” Aside from that hilarious lack of self-awareness, it's not even like the series needed to raise its profile with an American spin-off.

The series accrued a loyal fanbase from those who discovered it on DVD after Wright-Pegg collaborations Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, and benefited from endorsements by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, who provided DVD commentaries on the US special edition. Spaced may not have been a stratospheric success, but it found its audience when it was made available to them.

According to Jeanette Steemers in her 2004 book, Selling Television: British Television In The Global Marketplace, “For the vast majority of Americans, British TV is marginal, and factual co-productions and the British formats adapted for mainstream US television are not recognised as anything other than American shows.”

She further commented: “American broadcasters are resistant to foreign-sourced programming like no other nation.” Granted, that was ten years ago, and we all know that viewing habits have changed with improved availability, but it's not like this attitude has been massively changed.

A number of big UK TV hits of recent years are either planned, or currently in production. ITV's Broadchurch will be reconstituted as Gracepoint, with showrunner Chris Chibnall and star David Tennant going along with the transition. David Fincher and Gillian Flynn recently announced that they were redoing Channel 4's Utopia for HBO, and Robert Downey Jr won a heated bidding war for the film rights to the Black Mirror episode, The Entire History Of You.

Even the aforementioned factual co-productions aren't immune - the BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs was nominally adapted into a dreadful kids' movie, voiced over with all the finesse of an unfunny YouTube video, at the end of last year. Even the acclaimed series, which featured a voice over from Kenneth Branagh in its original form, was re-dubbed by Avery Brooks (Deep Space Nine's Sisko) for its US transmission on the Discovery Channel.

It seems that the only internationally marketable show that is completely remake-proof in the States is BBC Two's Top Gear. The massively popular format has been re-purposed in other territories, but the commercial entanglements of featuring different car manufacturers would appear to have stumped a market where product placement goes an awful long way towards the budget, and so Americans are most familiar with the Clarkson-May-Hammond dynamic of the UK version.

We deliberately haven't mentioned Top Gear, or dramas like Doctor Who, Sherlock or Downton Abbey, up until now, not because the topic of the article is intended to exclude their phenomenal success, but because they're examples of how well a show can do without being compromised. We knew that Downton had made it big when it got a running gag in Marvel's Iron Man 3, and it's brought PBS the kind of rapt attention it hasn't had in a while.

Still, that kind of visibility is tough for British shows to build and maintain, in competition with the larger marketing allotment for domestic programming. Aside from the vastly different model of production, and what Steemers perceived as apathy for foreign programming, it's just a much bigger market than the UK, and the budget isn't always there.

One major force for representing British television on air is BBC America, the cable network operated by BBC Worldwide. Early on, BBCA basically repeated lifestyle shows and formats like Ground Force and Changing Rooms, but has since branched out into original programming, and also brings new episodes of Top Gear, Sherlock and Doctor Who to audiences.

We could write a whole other article on Doctor Who's broadcast history in the States, but Who is perhaps the best example to illustrate the transition, having been on air back in the 1970s too. Tom Baker is automatically the most iconic Doctor over there, because PBS ran his first four seasons in a cycle, throughout the late 70s and 80s. But lest we forget, Doctor Who could have had its very own American remake in 1996.

The TV movie, starring Paul McGann, got through just well enough to be considered canonical with the one true series, but if it had been a bigger ratings success, there was a whole plan to go to series with remakes of classic serials like The Tomb Of The Cybermen, The Gunslingers and The Dalek Invasion Of Earth. Imagine the continuity debates, and quiver.

But another effect of American viewing habits can be seen in the direction that the 2005 series took. Russell T. Davies was greatly influenced by Buffy The Vampire Slayer, up to and including the 45-minute episode format, which leaves just enough space for ads to round out an hour on US commercial channels. US fans have sometimes complained that longer episodes have been cut down for time, but BBCA seem to have phased this out during their transmission of the series, and extended the allotted timeslot when necessary.

The show really broke out in America during the Matt Smith era, with an increased marketing budget, increased focus on international co-production, and heavy presence at conventions, and on Who-friendly talk shows like The Nerdist and Late Night With Craig Ferguson. And nowadays? You have Graham Norton (whose own chat show has endeared him to new audiences on BBCA) greeting Peter Capaldi on-stage, in full costume as the Doctor, at the BBC Worldwide buyers showcase just this week, representing the international profile that the series currently enjoys.

The bottom line is that if something eccentric and quintessentially British as Doctor Who can find an audience in the States, when promoted right, then there's a whole bunch of British shows that deserve better than an abortive or poorly received remake.

It all comes down to audience sensibilities, of course. The Danish version of The Killing is a big hit on UK telly, while American viewers got AMC's frequently cancelled English language remake, starring Joel Kinnaman, but that's not the same. Whether the new version of successful or not, it's merely a transition from English language to American language, and shows that can and have broken through go to prove that not all British shows are considered marginal.

But once again, we come back to the current state of affairs- viewing habits are changing. Hulu has offered new and classic British content direct to US viewers since September, and previously hosted US exclusives like The Thick Of It and Misfits (both of which had failed US pilots, pre-Veep in the case of TTOI) and there are plenty of similar services for viewers who are so inclined to seek out UK shows.

Hopefully, this will mean that we eventually see the decline of US broadcasting networks trying to put their own mark on existing UK brands, because narrowcasting the original has only left series struggling to amass support that anyone would class above that of a cult favourite. As for remakes, while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it can be seen that the new versions lose much more in translation, than they gain in production value.

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It should be pointed out for the TV Movie that they never intended to remake any stories from the past, they were simply highlighted in the show's Bible as ideas that could be developed on had it gone into full production. This was pointed out in one of the extras on the DVD.

Also Top Gear has been remade for the US market, although it's true that most US viewers only associate it with the UK show.

Otherwise a very good article.

As an objective viewer (neither UK and neither US) I have to agree completely about the US remaking british television. Most of the time it's just a complete and utter failure. One of the most recent ones I watched was The Inbetweeners, which was basicaly just a copy of the british one with american actors. Awful. But then again has MTV made anything worth watching in the last decade or so?

MTV's Teen Wolf is actually pretty great, but you're completely right about The Inbetweeners remake - just awful.

I agree with this article there are a lot of British shows that should not be remade and should just be aired as they were originally created.While there are few success that I've enjoyed as a US viewer (Being Human & Shameless that you mentioned) There are so many good shows I feel should have not been changed or should not currently be changed. I loved Utopia, the British Inbetweeners, and Broadchurch. I try to watch as many British shows as i can in their original forms. I might not get every little reference to British culture but they are still great shows. If i had heard of the UK versions of Shameless and Being Human first i definitely would have tried those versions first. The reviews on this site have definitely helped me find new shows to watch. Hopefully these newer shows that are in production get proper care that they deserve

Inbetweeners and Skins are two examples of great UK TV shows turned in to American trash.

No love for House of Cards? That has been a very successful remake of the UK original (dare i say potentially superior). I think the likes of Netflix and Amazon in the US may be changing the viewing habits and appreciation of UK telly and now newly minted remakes.
If you go onto Netflix US (in a wholly legit way of course, not from the uk at all ....... *cough*) and scroll through What's Popular, then a number of UK programmes pop up.

I wrote and rewrote this a lot of times and kept forgetting to mention it, and I still forgot to mention it in the final thing. Ah well! Thanks for the comment :)

The IT Crowd pilot is on You Tube and is utterly shambolic. They even use the same opening credits but superimpose someone into certain parts of it.
I don't understand why there is a need to remake shows. I would rather watch the original and just enjoy it as is. That applies to American, British, Danish or any other nation.

Ahhh fair enough Mark, great article btw ........... however thanks a whole bunch for resurrecting the memory of those damned Red Dwarf US pilots ...... *shudder*

I had to smile at the mention of Coupling not making it in the States, seeing as it was effectively a British version of Friends in the first place. TV can only take so much dilution before it turns into pish.

America already successfully revamped Only Fools and's called Fraiser.

Don't believe me?

Fraiser is Del Boy - full of him self, clever and witty
Niels is Rodney - not a hit with the lady's in his brothers shadow but smarter
Martin is Grandad/Uncle Albert - different vue on life but supportive of the boys.

They all congregate mostly at the apartment/flat

Only differences are the setting and plot, Del and Todney both settle down Fraiser doesn't.

The only real similarities between Friends and Coupling was the 6 characters and that it was a sitcom. The entire set-up was different with some of the characters not even liking each other to begin with and the whole programme being sex and relationship based rather than the Friends main selling point being the Ross and Rachel will they/won't they and a monkey. Of course the biggest difference was that Coupling was funny and had some truly innovative episodes.

Just imagine if they had got the whole Red Dwarf film thing of the ground and the men in Hollywood got hold of it.... Arrhhh no don't imagine its far too painfull!!!

Spaced was and is great, but as a show it would have to be totally re-written for the US market, so many elements just scream british way of life, which for me made it a enjoyable watch. Now where are my Spaced DVDs....

I don't really understand the need to 'remake' a UK series using US actors. Part of the rich cultural exchange between our nations is the fact we consume each other's TV and movies without having to get them 'spoon fed' into our native tongue. If you take something like The Wire for example it is extremely American and the Baltimore dialogue is indecipherable at times without subtitles. Would I want it remade in a British setting to help me out? NO! My point being that sometimes part of the enjoyment comes from the 'foreignness' of a show.

Just to add, I don't think American TV networks give their viewers enough credit, I am sure the vast majority of people there would understand and appreciate good UK shows just fine without having them remade.

I think Community in a way is America's version of Spaced. Quirky Characters, Subtle to not Subtle film references, over the top Paintball shenanigans.

What was the BBC show that USA's "All in the Family" was based on? There was a successful run!

TOTALLY enjoyed a marathon viewing of "Peep Show" on USA's Netflix here in America. Never knew about it and its 10+ year run. Hilarious! Getting as many folks here on board with it!

Arguably, How I Met Your Mother has borrowed many of the storytelling tropes of Coupling and applied them to a new concept, to great success. Far better than simply rehashing the script for Coupling's UK pilot without thought for how it doesn't travel.

Top Gear clearly isn't remake-proof. Top Gear USA's had 4 seasons and is still going!

I am dying to see McSpacedm can I find it anywhere?

Spaced was terrible IMHO

BBC America bringing new episodes of 'Sherlock' to America? I get the confusion but 'Sherlock' is a Masterpiece co-production meaning that new episodes air on PBS in the USA.

Having not seen the Inbetweeners remake, I can't speak about it, but the Skins one is actually pretty solid. The first episode was an almost shot-for-shot remake of the UK version, so indeed quite pointless, But afterwards, even for episodes sharing similar plot points (the camp one for example), the story and characters went in totally different directions.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Skins US was a masterpiece but calling it "American trash" is odd if you like the UK version, since it has the same spirit and isn't as tame as people expected it to be. And I actually found it to be more engaging than UK series 5 and 6.

It's all about the monies, they potentially make more from remaking it than airing the original. The Getting On remake seems to have been well received on HBO but we can't get a fourth series of the original commissioned despite nothing but critical acclaim. Where's the justice

Hmm, American Trash is harsh I guess but exactly, why make the first one shot for shot only to go completely different. It would have been better off if the first episode was an original and completely change the title so that it is not perceived as a knock off. Inbetweeners done the same. The first 2/3 episodes were exactly the same but then it went its own way. It got better but was still rather pointless. I can't understand why they want to pay all that money to remake it when they can show the great originals. I get annoyed when they do the same for movies but in the movies case, change it from foreign language. Some are good but most are inferior e.g. Quarantine to Rec.

Yeah if purse but the family dynamic the, two brothers as best friends and occasionally at each other's throats. Dead mother. Exploits into looking for success.

I wish BBC America would start a "BBC America 2". I've loved British programs shown on PBS stations throughout the decades, but BBC America doesn't show any of them. In fact, BBC America could change it's name to "The Top Gear Channel" since they air so much of it nearly around the clock. I watch nothing on BBC America other than Doctor Who. All the wonderful comedies, old and new, that the channel could be airing, and there are absolutely no comedies at all on the channel.

I have to take a moment here to write about the American pilot for "Red Dwarf". That American pilot was in fact my introduction to "Red Dwarf". I was able to see it at the Visions 1993 convention in Chicago. While others around me, who had seen the original Red Dwarf, all moaned and groaned, I thought it was funny and showed promise. Jane Leeves as Holly was perfect. Also, there's a joke about Kryten's head's reading material (over a 1 Million year period) that is one of the funniest jokes in any "Red Dwarf". That American pilot made me search out Red Dwarf on video (it was never aired on the local PBS station.) Because of the American pilot's introduction, I got to appreciate another wonderful British televisual production.

They marketed Coupling as the new Friends but the whole thing was different.

I watched the first few episodes and it was a word for word copy of the original. Where it died is the characters had no chemistry between them.

A couple if shows have gone the other way. A good example of this is Who's The Boss which was remade as "The Upper Hand". Of course then there is Brighton Bells which was a remake of "The Golden Girls" which died horribly.

Because ideas are hard to come by so if you can translate something it is easier then coming up with an original.

"The Gunslingers" lel

So as an ex brit living in the UK I have watched a lot of comedy shows attempt to be translated. Comedy shows outside of reality shows seem to be the most popular for remakes. Each one that failed to work forgot to ask itself these questions in development.

1) Does the type humor translate?

Although US and UK humor have a lot of overlap there is a big difference. Coupling is an example of where the sexual humor did not translate.

2) Does the premise translate?

Only Fools and Horses is very British premise. Dads Army being another. Where as The Office is a premise that works in different countries. Same with Who's the Boss? which is a basic will they/won't they plot.

3) Do the people in the remake have the same chemistry as the original.

This killed Coupling stone dead.

4) In the remake did you remove the thing that made the original successful.

Men Behaving Badly in the US got translated into Men Behaving slightly badly.

5) What do you do when the material runs out?

UK shows are generally written by one or two people. Which means at best 6 episodes a year. The upside is the show and the characters get developed more.
In the US since 20+ episodes of a show per year is required. A team of writers is used and the approach becomes formulaic and gag based.

6) Did you mess with the Characters too much?

Jeff from Coupling, Lister from Red Dwarf, Uncle Bryn from Gavin and Stacey basically made their shows. In the US versions they changed them so much the essence was lost.

Run is not over yet. A final season is due in 2014.

The is apparently a US pilot. It did not use POV camera shots and did not go any further than the Pilot.

I was so happy when they launched BBC America. However it turned into a big disappointment.

The first iteration showed Benny Hill and Are You Being Served on continuous loop. Thankfully they finally stopped it and the channel was relaunched the channel.

The new version is a bit better but you simply get better UK content from different sources. I really do not understand why they show Start Trek.

I literally just shouted "FIGHTERS" when I realised. I blame A Town Called Mercy.

I've been a Whovian since 1978 when a local independent station (not a PBS station) started showing the Tom Baker episodes. I had no idea what was going on and wondered about their funny accents, but even at 7 years old I knew it was a HELL of a lot better than "Sesame Street". So I was delighted when DirecTV started carrying BBC America. Doctor Who! Monty Python! Dave Allen! The Goodies! But it seems like all they show is Top Gear, Gordon Ramsey, and Star Trek: The Next frickin' Generation. What a disappointment.

Australia's Outrageous Fortune (six seasons), crime family drama, reboot on ABC failed several years back. Australian dramas really get no play in UK or US markets. Though, I think they are trying to air The Almighty Johnsons on the SYFY channel and not trying to recreate it. Granted there are a lot of references and accents in foreign shows, but that's half the fun. I wouldn't mind them coming up with a foreign tv or webstream of French, Isreali, Polish, and Japanese programs with subtitles. Finding them online without region and language barriers is like pulling teeth.

Also a UK series generally only consist of 6 episodes. Some more successful shows will have 12. This does not fit well into the US requirements of 20+ and the concept of syndication which does not exist in the UK.

The low number is to do with how shows are written. Most UK shows have 1 or 2 people writing each episode. This means 6 episodes is a big undertaking for the writers. Those that do 12 tend to have a show runner who writes some episodes and sets the tone for the other writers. US shows have teams of writers to allow them to make some many episodes a year.

Some things like the Office did work well. However for every success there are a lot of failures. I guess they still feel it is worth while.

When it first started it was Benny Hill and Are You Being Served.

There has been some good stuff Doctor Who (no classic), Orphan Black etc. However far too little to justify what is costs to get. On ATT $77 with 10 more for HD.

For that kind of cash I can get the stuff from iTunes.

I think, apart from the fact US production companies want to capitalise on shows by making their own versions, they seriously underestimate the American Audience.

UK shows like The Inbetweeners and Skins etc were wildly popular with the younger audience in America simply because there is nothing like that over there for them. We tend to push boundaries, be edgier and tackle real teen/early 20s issues in a way American shows don't. Friends I have State side have told me this and even groaned in dismay in the same way we tend to when they heard these 2 shows were getting US remakes. As far as they were concerned it wasn't necessary and they knew they'd get watered down/Americanised versions of the show ... which isn't what they wanted.

There is a reason UK shows are popular with US audiences and often fail when remakes are attempted, that's because they are so different and what makes them different can't be translated if remade with for an the American audience.

Just look at Red Dwarf and the well documented screw up that was. Even with Rob and Doug on board to help write it, the rest of the team completely missed the point of the show and tried to write it to a strict US sit-com formula, and thus it fell at the first hurdle. The way Doug talks about it it really is like the series Episodes. And what do you know, Red Dwarf has found success on it's own in the US without it being messed about with.

It'll be interesting to see how their version of Only Fools... comes out, considering that show at is core is about poverty and the working class, trying to find their way in life in 80s Britain. I look forward to seeing how that is translated and modernised to a US setting, but fear it will suffer the same fate as many other shows.

On a side note, what are peoples thought on VEEP? I watched the first few episodes and really couldn't get into it, though maybe I don't know enough about what they are trying to parody (i.e. the US Government) in the same way I did with The Thick of It ... which is another shows I know our American friends to love, especially In The Loop.

It is a shame shows like 'Til Death Us Do Part' will never be repeated. Yes I understand the humour is not PC but that was the idea to show how stupid racism was.

I think it all down to marketing and pushing that marketing to the maximum. An it doesn't have to be expensive marketing, in today world, marketing on the internet can be fairly cheap. I also think it up to British channels to defend their products and push them into the American market rather than take the easy way out of just selling them to American broadcasters for remakes material.

BBC America is a channel to watch, not only are they trying to get distributed into more homes they are ramping up their original programming productions and moving away from repeats. Orphan Black is there biggest success to date but I expect they are working on more, in fact I think some of the Orphan black staff have move onto to creating their own separate series for BBC America.

Harry Potter books got rewritten for the American audience.

It mostly down to marketing budget, HP had a virtually unlimited marketing budget, UK TV show less so.

An in the past it was the fear that American wouldn't understand our accents that led to broadcasters remaking shows, they even subtitle some shows in the past.

BBC America seem to working on the premise of attracting the science fiction audience, thinking there isn't much real competition in this area, they are probably correct. Which is why they are showing cheap to buy, reasonable audience numbers like STNG to fill out the channel schedule with something everyone has heard off, whilst supplying new scifi shows in the form of Doctor Who and Orphan Black and I believe they have commission other science fiction shows as Intruders, BBCA would be smart further expand this by buying science fiction imports such Real Human from Sweden.

It remake proof in that UK Top Gear is still by far the better known show,

One would have thought UK shows be cheaper to import than making one off summer shows such as Siberia or the terrible, haven't got a clue how it got a second season Under the dome.

Most of them have to do with budgets, UK boardcasters can't afford to commit themselves to 12 episodes shows when it isn't guaranteed to be successful or they can recoup their costs overseas.

Very good point. A lot of the more successful shows are co productions.

I recently heard on NPR someone from Downton Abbey saying it was the money from the US that allows the show to do what it can.

This is not unique I believe the Australian soap opera Neighbours was basically saved by the BBC when its home popularity decrease meant it was looking at cancellation.

It basically UK tv that have kept both Home and Away and Neighbours alive. Both would be dead now if it wasn't for BBC and Five.

There are lots of UK series on US tv, at least where I live. Lark Rise to Candleford, Cranford, Bletchley Circle, Foyle's War, Last Tango in Halifax, Call the Midwife, Attenborough Life Stories, The Paradise, the Hollow Crown, Wallander, MI5 (I think it's called Spies in the UK), Doc Martin, DCI Banks, Death in Paradise, After You've Gone, inspector Lewis, Death Comes to Pemberly, The Cafe, Vera, George Gently, the Agatha Christie's series', Father Brown, Midsomer Murders, Vicar of Dibley, East Enders, Scott and Bailey, Prime Suspect (which was inexplicably remade as something completely different on US tv), Broadchurch, Luther, New Tricks, the original Life on Mars -- these are just off the top of my head. We also have what I call the comfy bathrobe shows that have been playing endlessly for years -- As Time Goes By, Keeping Up Appearances, Are You Being Served and All Creatures Great and Small. I think the NY area would go into a deep depression if these old standbys were cancelled for long.

BTW, Sherlock is not shown on BBC America; it's on PBS. Oh, and the old Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series is still shown on PBS for some reason. BBC America programming is about 75% reruns of Top Gear.

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