Wednesday, October 17, 2007

American TV gets imperfectly Frank

There's a long and glorious tradition of British TV shows being adapted for US networks. For example, the East End rantings of Alf Garnet begat Archie Bunker, star of the hit series All in the Family. Some American incarnations have ended up running far longer than their UK progenitors, such as Queer as Folk and The Office. And there's more on the way, with Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley developing a US version of acclaimed hit series Life on Mars.

Recently there's been a flood of gameshows and light entertainment hits developed in the UK attracting big ratings in the US, such as Dancing With the Stars [Strictly Come Dancing in Britain]. Not all Atlantic crossing are successful, of course. Coupling died a death in the US, while new American versions of Wild at Heart and Viva Blackpool are struggling across the pond - but the trend continues.

Now Fox has announced a stunning new acquisition. It is developing a new sitcom based on one of Britain's most popular shows of the 1970s, a comedy that gets repeated to this day on the BBC and still attracts audiences. A show that launch a thousand feeble imitations, a clutch of catchphrases and rocketed its star to a level of notoriety he probably never thought possible. What could possibly be the next great British export to American television?

Here's the unlikely answer: Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Yes, bumbling Frank Spencer is on the development fast track, according to today's issue of entertainment trade paper Variety. Judging by the terms of the deal, it's more than likely the show will get picked up for series and broadcast in the US sometime during 2008 [strikes permitting].

An unlikely choice? Well, there's some slightly George W. Bush about Frank Spencer. He's a loving family man, a devouted Christian and he aspires to success. The fact he's also likely to blunder into situations beyond his ability to cope, without first thinking of a plan or an exit strategy - well, that's probably just coincidence.

Anyway, watch out for Frank Spencer on American TV next fall. Will berets suddenly come back into fashion? Is the trench coat about to undergo a renaissance? How long before the people across the pond learn to say, 'Ooohhh, Betty'?

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