Gavin and Stacey is heading to America - but it's a long way from Essex to New Jersey

US studios assume a lack of open-mindedness on the part of their audiences by constantly "adapting" hit foreign shows.

Share
Related Topics

Yo! Wassappening? It could catch on but it’s hardly “Oh, what’s occurring?”, is it? When the American version of Gavin & Stacey hits screens, though, a rehashing of Nessa’s laconic catchphrase is the very least we can expect. This week, it was announced that Fox was remaking the much-loved BBC sitcom for US television. Already, the names of the protagonists are facing the axe (“I haven’t met any Gavins here,” said the head of BBC Worldwide, ominously.) Of course, the geography will need to change, with New Jersey and South Carolina mooted as alternatives to Billericay and Barry Island. And as for trips to the pub, curry nights and football banter, they will probably have to go, too.

It shouldn’t be too painful for James Corden and Ruth Jones, though, because they won’t be writing the scripts. That job will go to David Rosen, writer of the MTV sitcom I Just Want My Pants Back (no, me neither).

So in the end, “Kevin and Stacee” (Maybe? You can have that one for free, Fox) probably won’t resemble the Gavin & Stacey we know and love very much at all. It might very well be a hit. I hope so. But it might be a terrific miss. It can be hard to tell with American remakes.

Competitive formats such as The Weakest Link and The X Factor cross the Atlantic with ease. Comedies and dramas have a harder time, probably because no other nation is quite as obsessed with class and manners as the UK is and those cultural fixations rarely translate.

Men Behaving Badly, Only Fools and Horses and The Inbetweeners are just a few of the comedy corpses that have washed up limply on American shores. There are exceptions – The American Office is now in its ninth season; Shameless, set in South Side Chicago, is drawing critical acclaim – but they are rare.

And yet over here, we swallow American sitcoms, dramas and reality shows whole, without the need for remakes or even a simultaneous translator. While the odd reference to Twinkies and faucets may fly over our Limey heads, we generally get the joke, and the appetite for the latest US shows remains enormous.

Corden and Jones are set to earn £5m if this latest instance is a success

Why, then, do American studios bother to remake shows that are already proven hits back home? It assumes a lack of open-mindedness, stupidity even, on the part of audiences and inevitably draws sniffy comparisons with the original. Take The Killing, recently translated to the US and widely held to be inferior to the Danish version. As Sofie Grabol, its star, says in Radar today. “I wish they’d try to read subtitles, but if they won’t then it’s fine to do their own thing. But I really didn’t relate to it.”

The fact is, US remakes are rarely relatable to. By the time the homegrown references have been smoothed out, they’re pale imitations on a theme. Gavin & Stacey is a simple love story of two young romantics from rather different families. I’m sure I saw a Shakespeare play about that. And I’m sure I’ll see another sitcom about it soon – BBC2’s new family heartwarmer Hebburn, for example. Television is constantly remaking itself, with or without lucrative contracts. Still, the BBC does very well out of these transatlantic deals and Corden and Jones are set to earn £5m if this latest instance is a success. We should probably be thankful that America keeps buying up the best of British. It gives British television plenty of cash to buy every last one of their hit shows in return.

Don’t be too quick to spill the beans

It can’t be often that Costa thanks its lucky stars for Starbucks but it must have done so this week. While its American rival stole the headlines with its UK tax-dodging, Costa was quietly having a Ratner moment as Bruno Costa declared that he prefers Nespresso.

In an interview with the Croydon Advertiser, the co-founder of the company also bemoaned coffee chains’ colonisation of the high street. Costa is preparing to open its sixth outlet in his home town of Purley (population: 72,000), which will bring the total nationwide to 1,390.

I find Costa coffee appalling and there is far too much of it sloshing about – but Bruno Costa should be wary what he says about the product. When Gerald Ratner declared his sherry decanters to be “crap”, the value of the company plummeted by £500m and almost went under. Ratner resigned and the company relaunched itself as the Signet Group. Already outside the company he created, Mr Costa is only a frothy rebrand away from being written out of coffee history altogether.

Estate-agent lingo: let’s put it in a box

Estate-agent code has been stupidly easy to crack for years. “Colourful area” means muggers’ paradise; “period features” turn out to be maroon Artex ceilings and a roof with more holes than a sieve, while “bijou” is short for blinking tiny. It’s fine as long as you know how to interpret it but there’s something particularly irritating about the latest coinage.

In an interview designed to encourage Londoners to embrace “confined space living” and stop being so “squeamish” about petty things like having space to swing a kitten, a spokeswoman for Savills estate agents introduces the idea of “designer shoebox” homes.

“The shoebox is a solution that should not be ignored,” she said. “A shoebox can accommodate bespoke designer shoes.”

The feet or bodies of their owners are another matter, perhaps. A little sales patter is to be expected but describing tiny shoebox studios as “Jimmy Choo flats”? That’s an embellishment too far.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style