5 British TV Shows That America Did Better


The UK had them first but the US did them better!

There are many iconic television shows in the USA but it may surprise you to hear that some of these iconic shows were adaptations from the UK. While the British may have created the idea, we found five television shows that America did better. Check out these 5 TV shows that America improved upon.

5. Pop Idol vs American Idol


Pop Idol vs American Idol

Many may consider “American Idol” to be the start of this decade’s TV talent competitions, but you’d be surprised to hear that it started with the U.K.’s original concept titled “Pop Idol.” “Pop Idol” premiered in 2001 and was short-lived as it was put on “hiatus” in 2003 due to the start of Britain’s “The X Factor.” This probably happened due to Simon Cowell being a host on both “Pop Idol” and “American Idol.”

“American Idol” became a national phenomenon and (sadly) has been one of the most popular U.S. TV shows to date. When compared to “Pop Idol,” “American Idol” was the clear winner with 14 seasons and 533 episodes. Some may say that Fox has been “beating a dead horse” by keeping the show alive for so long but the ratings remained consistent so it proved people were still watching.

4. Man About the House vs Three’s Company


Man About the House vs Three’s Company

“Man About the House” was a U.K. series that ran from 1973 to 1976 for 6 seasons with 39 episodes. It was ranked as 69th in a poll about Britain’s Best Sitcom and was also the basis for the more popular American TV series, “Three’s Company.”

Both series coincided on a plot that was controversial for the time. The idea of three single people living together consisting of two women and one man went against many conservative ideals during the 1970s in both the U.K. and the U.S. While the controversy may have driven the ratings for both shows, it’s John Ritter and Suzanne Summers who are remembered between the two shows. While the U.K. version would be considered a success, “Three’s Company” is known as essential and iconic television.

3. Steptoe and Son vs Sanford and Son


Sanford and Son Vs Steptoe and Son

“Steptoe and Son” was a U.K. series that had two runs from 1962 to 1965 and from 1970 to 1974. It was the basis for the American hit TV show “Sanford and Son” which aired from 1972 to 1977. Both shows centered around a father and son salvage business and the conflicting relationship between the two. They also both touched on social issues based on the hard working yet low income status of both shows’ main characters.

While many areas of the shows coincide, “Sanford and Son” also tackled racial issues by making the father and son duo African American. There were few African American led TV shows at the time and “Sanford and Son” became iconic by pioneering this concept and also by introducing the world to the iconic Redd Foxx.

The British version of the show (“Steptoe and Son”) was definitely a success with its 8 seasons and 57 episodes but “Sanford and Son” is consistently regarded as the superior of the two. The American show ran for 6 seasons with 135 episodes and is still syndicated today. Not only was it a comedic success but also a staple in American television for racial progress.

2. House of Cards vs House of Cards


House of Cards: US vs UK

Both versions of “House of Cards” follow a similar premise. They both highlight one man’s journey for political leadership through a variety of corrupt and vindictive methods. Both have also received critical praise but unfortunately only one came out on top.

The British version of “House of Cards” was highly regarded by critics but the show unfortunately did not grasp the attention of audiences. It ran for only one season despite its praise but certainly paved the way for the hit Netflix series.

The U.S. release of “House of Cards” on Netflix was and continues to be a huge success. With iconic actor Kevin Spacey as the lead and iconic director David Fincher as executive producer, this show exudes quality. The characters are intriguing and the cinematography follows a familiar Fincher tone. Timing could be the reason why the British version of the show didn’t take off but with multiple award wins/nominations and high viewership, it’s obvious that the “House of Cards” American adaptation is the undisputed winner.

1. The Office vs The Office


The Office: UK vs US

Ricky Gervais gave us the foundation for the Steve Carell version of The Office that we know today. But while the Gervais series gave us the basis, it was the United States adaptation that flourished.

The U.K. version of the series definitely had its funny moments but the production quality was noticeably inferior to the U.S. version and did not create the same lasting appeal. The U.S. version had an appeal that many would consider to be timeless labeling it as one of the the greatest television series of all time.

The U.K. series had a surprisingly short run of 2 seasons with 12 episodes and 2 specials. The U.S. version on the other hand ran for 9 seasons with 201 episodes aired. That’s almost 17 times the amount of episodes in comparison to the U.K. series.

While the U.K. version of “The Office” may get the credit for the U.S. version, the United States ultimately proved that they could take that idea and make it better.


Author: Ryan

Ryan has been fascinated with film and pop culture since childhood. Throughout college he "played it safe" taking the more lucrative route of being a computer programmer while squeezing in film related courses where he could...but even during his post college career, he could never escape his true passion. After following one of his favorite blogs for a long time, he approached the site's Editor about writing and they reluctantly gave him a shot. He later became their Senior Writer which led to a variety of other projects, radio show appearances, features, and high profile celebrity interviews. Despite his success with blogging, he still wanted more so in order to expand his creative addiction, he merged his IT skills and blogging know-how to create FilmFad.com which has continued to grow into a creative Mecca of pop-culture fun and integrity.[email protected]   Film Fad

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  • Richard Dingle

    How is Shameless not on this list?! I don’t even understand. Ryan, I’m disappointed lol.

    • filmfadRyan

      I personally love the US version of Shameless but it has yet to surpass the UK version of the series as far as accreditation goes. With 11 seasons under its belt, 11 awards won, and 37 nominations, the US version of Shameless still has a lot to live up to.

      Whether or not it is more enjoyable than the UK version is subjective. Even though I personally prefer the US version and the talented cast tied to the show.

  • Jay Robson

    I would wholeheartedly disagree with three of your five, and half agree with one (The Office – athough your comment on production standards misses half the point of the original series).

    However you got one thing totally wrong. House of Cards (UK) ran for 3 series. The follow ups were To Play The King and The Final Cut.

    You can keep Idol though 😀

  • filmfadRyan

    Which would you disagree with other than the stated?

    • Jay Robson

      It all depends what you mean by ‘made better’. I can agree with The Office as the US version hasn’t only been popular in the US, but is well thought of in the UK as well which is quite rare for a remake.

      That isn’t the case with Steptoe and Son becoming Sanford and Son, both were massive successes in their respective countries. Steptoe and Son is an iconic TV comedy and extremely highly regarded as one of Galton and Simpsons best (they also wrote for Tony Hancock) and so in my opinion cannot be bettered. The humour is very British though, so it’s pretty amazing the concept translated so well.

      As I mentioned, House of Cards, the UK version was 3 (short) series. It was pretty much perfect but was very centred around UK politics. The US version is good, however I can’t agree it’s better.

      Man About The House was a pretty generic sitcom as was Threes Company. I might give you that one actually having thought about it.

      All of these are better than the UK version of The Golden Girls called Brighton Belles. It was an abomination.

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