Leading article: The empire strikes back

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The Independent Online

American television viewers must be wondering what's hit them.

Time was when the British presence on their screens comprised impeccably executed costume drama like Brideshead Revisited or lovable zany comedy, very often featuring John Cleese. It's true that equal reassurance could be derived from the recent delights of Downton Abbey, but in the past week American notions about what we are like have been seriously challenged. We've gone a bit edgy, and we're paying the price.

First, Ricky Gervais made enemies of the Hollywood elite with a thoroughly irreverent turn as host of the Golden Globes. Then Piers Morgan – admittedly more fawning than anything else – had the audience puzzling over how he'd come to inherit the throne of Larry King. And now a remake of the Brighton-set drama Skins – an uninhibited portrait of adolescence at its lairiest – has proved so shocking that broadcasters have ordered it to be toned down.

American cultural imperialism has been felt more in Britain than anywhere else. But it's nice to know that we can still give back – and how.