While many people probably assume the UK holds an influence over large engineering factories or car plants, they likely haven’t thought of another significant focus within the UK. Quality television programming has become an international stronghold for UK tv, especially as it relates to the influence it holds over US shows.
More than 600 television shows have been exported globally within the last three years, nearly six times Germany’s total. It seems the UK has quite the hold on US television, with 475 million pounds in sales in 2012. Reports indicate this number has steadily increased since. With over 529 channels available, the United Kingdom is slowly catching up to previously mounting standards America had once set.
British Television Heavily influences America
It seems that Americans owe many thanks to British innovation when it comes to popular television. Many popular television shows originate in the UK, with game shows, comedies, and reality shows taking hold in the hearts of many Americans. Many popular US shows were once borrowed (or purchased) from the UK originals.
Shameless UK Version vs. American Version
The famous Gallagher clan is the world’s most loved poor TV family. Whether it’s Frank’s shenanigans to make a few bucks or Fiona’s repeated failures at finding love, fans continually watched throughout the years. The British version debuted in 2004, with the US following in 2011. However, the stories might seem similar; both versions of this television show a large turn in different ways. One of the most significant influencing factors between both series was the production budget. Add in influential pop culture with product placement and marketing, and it’s no question that the US version has blown the UK version out of the water for elaborate aspects of the show.
It seems that extra budget doesn’t necessarily equal longevity when it comes to television series; Shameless in the UK ran from 2004-2013 (producing 11 seasons and 139 episodes). The US version ran from 2011 to 2021 (with ten seasons and 140 episodes).
Downton Abbey UK Version vs. America Version
Yet another example of UK influence on US television is the show Downton Abbey. Originally aired in the UK in 2010, it follows a fictional Yorkshire country estate between 1912 and 1926. The series was a massive success on US networks, with the show becoming a household name across America after its debut in 2011.
Children’s Television Shows
The reach of television influence isn’t just for adult genres. Those wanting to watch free TV might be looking for a show with a younger appeal. Many popular children’s shows originated in the UK, bringing new programs for younger audiences. Recently, the explosion in popularity of Peppa Pig has little ones giggling over a silly pig family, with a collection of family friends on the screen. This isn’t the only television show that’s gained traction within the US; Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is another long-running program about a playful train through the town. The program is still running today, with toys, merchandise, and theme parks popping up throughout the United States for fans to explore their favourite characters.
Reality Television Influences
With the enormous success of reality television in the UK, American networks quickly followed suit, producing captivating programs like American Idol, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Survivor. The UK was accredited for expanding reality programming within the United States between the 1990s and 2000s. American Idol imitated the popular British show Pop Idol, created by Simon Fuller. With the addition of telephone voting, backstories, and soap-opera-like episodes, the American Idol name was quickly a success.
The influence of reality television extends beyond music genres and well into other aspects of contestant-style games. As the rise of reality television sweeps significant networks, it seems the UK inspires American networks by setting the precedence from across the world. While American remakes can periodically become inferior in quality and popularity, the original British shows seem to occupy a niche market.
Many popular sitcoms produced in the UK (called Britcoms for short) have audiences within America. Although they are smaller in nature, they are loyal viewers that bring humor and drama series into the homes of the US. Father Ted, The Young Ones, and Absolutely fabulous are examples of Britcoms that developed a strong following within American households.