US remake of sitcom Coupling scrapped

The American version of the British sitcom Coupling has flopped after being ridiculed by critics and shunned by audiences. The NBC network pulled the programme after only four episodes.

First made by London-based Hartswood Films, the show had moderate success on BBC2, but there had been hopes the American version could become the new Friends, with which it shared a three-men, three-women formula.

NBC gave the show a high-profile slot - 9.30pm on Thursdays - but it was panned by critics the moment it went on air just over a month ago.

Chuck Barney of the Contra Costa Times in California said: "NBC wants you to believe Coupling is cutting edge and racy, a buzzworthy show along the lines of Sex and the City. But don't buy it. The truth is, it's just trashy, shallow and, believe it or not, rather boring."

Having commissioned 13 episodes of the show, NBC brought down the axe after only ten had been made. Production is not expected to resume.

Sue Vertue, director of Hartswood Films, said the show had been a victim of its own hype. "You say it's going to be all about sex and it's going to replace Friends, a hugely successful show that has been on for years. But people don't want to be told what they are going to like," she said.

NBC executives will now start to look again for a replacement for Friends, which has just begun its ninth and final series.

The original version of Coupling has established a strong following on BBC America. But local stations in conservative parts of America, including Salt Lake City and Indiana, decided Coupling was too risque for their conservative viewers.

The demise of the American version of the sitcom leaves the British television industry still dreaming of a crossover sitcom success to match Till Death Us Do Part, which was remade as All in the Family for US audiences, and Steptoe and Son (Sanford and Son).

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