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Brits who didn’t translate in the US


Between The Inbetweeners, Spaced and The IT Crowd, the list of British exports to fail in America is as long as it is maddening.

And it doesn’t end with sitcoms, either, as Piers Morgan's recent departure from his flagship CNN show verifies. With this news fresh in mind, and to salute those triers before him, we've picked a few examples of when home-grown talent crossed the Atlantic but didn't quite cut the mustard.


Piers Morgan

One rule worth remembering when trying to win over Americans: don’t refute their right to bear arms. Indeed, during his tenure on CNN, Morgan became a one-man PR machine for gun control in the wake of subsequent national shooting tragedies, making his anti-weapons rhetoric a regular topic on the show whenever he wasn't massaging the egos of Hollywood stars. And while an admirable cause, Middle America was never going to warm to him.


Ant and Dec

“Why does he always stand on the left, and he on the right”, probably uttered by many confused households as the British duo fronted new game show Wanna Bet? in 2008. A ratings dud, it was shelved after six episodes, with US audiences never really understanding the brilliance of the Geordie double act - something confirmed by this tumbleweed-strewn footage of the pair plugging their series on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show.


Michelle Ryan

When US TV execs announced a big budget reboot of The Bionic Woman in 2007, few would have expected former EastEnder Michelle Ryan to be handed the lead role as Jaime Sommers. Clearly more used to trading punches in Walford than Hollywood, the role never felt right; and sure, while the blame for the series’ demise after a paltry eight episodes can’t be laid entirely on Ryan, what with the writers’ strike putting a dampener on proceedings during filming, she’s barely made a splash across the pond since.


Jeremy Kyle

“Jeremy was amazing and showed all of us why he is such a rock star in the UK,” read the network press release which broke the news that Jeremy Kyle’s transitory US talk show had been axed after two seasons in 2013, and roundly patronising a man whose acidic brand of fulminating toward undomesticated teen mothers and love cheats alike should surely have translated in a country already known for daytime TV dust-ups. The ratings, on the other hand, suggested otherwise.


Robbie Williams

Poor Robbie has become shorthand for European pop not translating well in the US. Not that he hasn't given it a go - following on from Take That’s own US snubbing (despite 40m album sales worldwide), the former boy band singer turned solo star has plotted numerous campaigns to crack the States, even racking up appearances on major TV shows and releasing a special ‘best of’ album entitled The Ego Has Landed to help his most fruitless of causes. The ego was bruised.


Vernon Kay

We like Vernon Kay. Who doesn't? With teeth whiter than the Moon, and a hairstyle worthy of Beverly Hills 90210, he should have been the ultimate US TV host. sadly, however, his work on Skating With The Stars, critically panned and now no more, was utterly forgettable. His Lancashire accent and over-the-top gestures made it feel more Peter Kay: Top Of The Tower than the "Hollywood" he loudly announced viewers were entering.


Steve Jones

Another T4 alumnus here and yet another ill-fated attempt to break the US, as Jones, handpicked by Simon Cowell to present America’s version of The X Factor USA, left shortly after its first season. Still, at least he managed longer than judge Cheryl Cole, who conversely lasted less than an episode being replaced at the 11th hour when producers feared the audience wouldn’t understand her accent.


(Images: YouTube, Rex)



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