A refreshing lack of deference: why Brits challenging the establishment are muscling in on US media

Media commentator David Carr identifies 'British invasion' of talent

Fair play, an unfathomable class system and lousy teeth might all form part and parcel of the British stereotype in the eyes of our transatlantic cousins.

Yet it seems a new and surprisingly subversive national trait is taking the American media world by storm - our desire to challenge rather than cosy up to the establishment.

Influential New York Times media commentator David Carr has identified a new "British invasion" of talent of which Birmingham-born comedian John Oliver - currently earning rave reviews as stand in for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show - is only the latest and most high profile example.

And while the British accent continues to deliver a perceived IQ premium in the minds of the listener, the real reason for the success is a refreshing lack of deference, it is claimed.

"The one question all young reporters on Fleet Street are taught to keep foremost in their mind when interviewing public figures can be best paraphrased as, "Why is this jerk lying to me? The news that flows from that mind-set is often far more interesting than American media, which frequently bow to power even as they seek to hold it accountable," wrote Mr Carr.

Stewart joins the likes of fellow Brits Piers Morgan, who replaced Larry King at CNN, former BBC director general Mark Thompson at the New York Times and Deborah Turness, president of NBC News, in occupying some of the biggest jobs in the US media industry.

"The easy answer is the triumph of British charm and politeness set against American brashness and confrontation. I actually think it is exactly the opposite," he added.

According to Mr Carr, Americans look on the often febrile nature of our national discourse with something like envy.

"As the hacking scandal revealed, it's a very small tree house in which the various elites not only know one another but socialise as well. Newspapers and radio still play a central role in the civic life of Britain, and Parliament is a kind of gladiator pit that can make Congress seem like a Montessori school," he concluded.

Enterprising journalists have long been wise to the opportunities stateside. David Frost's 1977 interviews with President Nixon have gone down in TV legend. Harold Evans and Tina Brown became the British media power couple of the 1980s whilst Anna Wintour has been at Vogue for more than 20 years.

Newspaper stalwarts Colin Myler and Gerard Baker now edit the New York Daily News and Wall Street Journal respectively whilst Joanna Cole, helms Cosmopolitan. Meanwhile, a slew of former BBC chiefs lead the mighty US networks and British conceived formats dominate the American reality TV landscape.

Author and an associate professor of journalism at New York's City University, Jeff Jarvis, said America offered Britain's media best and brightest to apply their skills to bigger and more lucrative markets.

"British (journalistic) brands are aware of how small the market and the island is at home so they see the opportunity for world domination again. There is a colonial element there," he said.

"When TV killed the second and third newspapers in every city in the 1950s the monopolies that survived adopted a one-size fits all voice. In the UK there is a spectrum and a cacophony of voices. That competitive landscape became intrinsic to the British media as opposed to the dull voice of the US media.

"It is the same as it has been in the past - the voice, the attitude, the sense of advocacy and asking the hard questions. That is the advantage British people bring to the US media," he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Life and Style
love + sex
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
books
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Fay Weldon suggested authors should tailor their work for Kindle readers
books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers