"The British are coming!"


It was one of those things that just made me go “What?”.

I had pulled up alongside a bus shelter and saw a poster advertising “Life on Mars – New series – starts Feb 5”. Wow! Great! A new series of “Life on Mars”.

But hold on – something wasn’t right. The “new series” was starring Jason O’Mara and Harvey Keitel – not John Simm and Philip Glenister. And the “new series” was to be on Channel Ten, not on the ABC. And then I looked and saw that the “coppers” had NYPD on their uniforms…

What had happened? Had I been hit by a car and woken up to a world which was strangely familiar and yet just that little bit different? Had someone stepped on a butterfly 30 million years ago on the other side of the world?

My wife was rather more blasé about the whole thing. “They’re just copying the British again.”

What is it with the US and the Brits when it comes to film and TV? It is so common to find British actors in US made films – but a whole lot rarer to find US actors in British films. Is that because the Americans love the British and the British don’t have much time for the Americans? Is this some new sort of cultural colonisation going on between the Mother Country and the Colonies? Or is it just that the Brits can’t afford American actors?

But then look what the Americans do to our best loved British actors. Take “House” for example.

They take one of our most loved and funniest British actors, Hugh Laurie, and make him into a sour, dour grump. I bet there are millions of “House” fans in the States who have never seen an episode of “Blackadder” or “A Little Bit of Fry and Laurie” or “Jeeves and Wooster”.

I guess doing America pays better than England. The creator of one of Laurie’s past characters, P.G. Wodehouse, certainly knew that.

Well, we will have to take a look at this new bit of American colonialism starting at 9:30 this Thursday. But first I will have to see if I can tune our TV set into to Channel 10. The dial appears to be rusted onto the ABC.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “"The British are coming!"

  1. matthias

    Unlike the appalling US directed “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” film-is the meaning of life still 42 -,the Yank version of Life on Mars looks at the first instance as good as the Pommie version.
    By the way did anyone see the episode of THE BILL in which Hugh Laurie was a barrister for a defendant,this would have been about 5 years ago,just before he went onto bigger things in HOUSE

  2. Terry

    What about era colonisation? The 70s stunk. Let’s hear it for the 00s! Except for that part of it still acting like it’s the 70s!

    Judas, I’m posting as me. It’s Past Elder really.

  3. Terry

    You’ve got a TV with a dial?

    Now that is 70s!

  4. Anonymous

    SBS had an American remake of a British series about homosexuals – the original wasn’t fit to pass the TV censor even today and the remake was pretty explicit.

  5. matthias

    SBS-to quote Cardinal Pole-Sodomite Broadcasting Service.

  6. Schütz

    PE (aka Terry Maher): Gotcha!

    Actually, I was a bit confused there until the name of Jesus’s least popular disciple appeared in the commentary…

    RE the dial on the Schutz-Beaton’s TV set – the set is old, but in fact it is not old enough to have a dial. I just added that for 70’s effect.

    I understand the US series aired last October. Did you see it? Or the original? I would be interested in your assessment.

  7. Past Elder

    Life on Mars, this season, comes on right after my absolute favourite, but also only, prime time series, “Lost” — which btw has a number of Aussie characters.

    So of course they ran teasers to keep you watching, and to me they looked good — hard hitting, grit, etc. Harvey Keitel always plays characters like that, and it seemed well cast. So I was interested in watching, until I saw it was set in the 70s. Then I passed, having quite enough of the 70s in the 70s.

    Here, British TV shows generally are not seem except on the “public” or “educational” channels usually associated with each state’s university. I was not aware of its British original.

    Cop shows here have been defined by “Hill Street Blues” ever since, and this one with its strong ensemble seemed to fit that.

    King of the Hill is “Law and Order”, in several different ensemble versions. You might get a kick out of this — when Cardinal Law was in Boston and Cardinal O’Connor in New York, they were sometimes called “Law and Order”.

    As to TV cops, Kojak man, all the way. Hey, that was the 70s!!

    Who loves ya, baby.

  8. Past Elder

    BTW —

    Harvey Keitel guested on Kojak, as did Daniel J Travanti of “Hill Street Blues” and the fabulous Jerry Orbach of the original and long running “Law and Order”.

    You don’t lie House, MD? Try the blog House, MDiv — he hasn’t posted since October, though.

    housemdiv.blogspot.com

    As to the two female cops, the British one can cuff me anytime.

  9. matthias

    Yeah i like the British female PC . Origin of the English term for copper ‘THE OLD BILL ,may have originated only after WW1 when a Bruce Barnesfather -a cartoonist and a participant in the 1914 Christmas truce- created a character OLD BILL ,who worea moustaches in the same manner that apparently London Bobbies also use to wear.
    His account of that unusuaL Christmas Day ends with the sight of a German soldier cutting the long hair of a Scot.

  10. Schütz

    Lost is my favourite too. Don’t know when the new series will start here locally. It shows on
    Seven however, not Ten. Only time I need to get the wrench out to change the dial from the ABC…

  11. matthias

    Schutz how about ABC 2 do you get a chance to look at that?

  12. Past Elder

    It just started here, so who knows?

    So which Lost character are you?

    I’d say I’m John Locke, except I might be Sayid, except that might be John Locke’s problem too, so I might be John Locke.

  13. Tony Bartel

    “They’re just copying the British again.”

    Actually a lot of it has to do with economic viability. If Australia had a population of 300 million we would probably adapt British shows for our culture as well. It is simply not viable to reproduce some shows for a population of 20 million.

    On the other hand we do just copy the Americans and the British when shows have a lower production cost – think of the really ghastly shows we have copied such as Big Brother, Australian (American) Idol and Biggest Loser. Yuk.

    Humor is very peculiar to culture, so it is natural that it will be adapted when it is possible to do so.

  14. Past Elder

    There’s an “Australian Idol”?

    Oh man. Sorry, guys.

    The closest I get to American Idol is if I happen to be in an “emerging church” or “contemporary worship” service.

  15. matthias

    AS i tried to write yesterday we have Ausssie Idol but given the economic crisis it could soon become Australian Idle

  16. Louise

    Lord, have mercy – there is just so much crap on TV.

    Only now we can watch it in surround sound on bigger and bigger screens.

    And don’t get me started about “House.”

  17. Bruce

    What’s a TV? I have turned one on in my house for the past three years. I can’t say I miss it, and I still don’t have time for anything…

  18. Past Elder

    I got into Lost quite by accident. When the Summer reruns of the first season started, I went in to my bedroom TV to see if the little icon for a tornado watch was still there at 2100 on a Thursday, when it aired then, and saw no icon but saw this plane break up in mid-air with people falling everywhere.

    I said Holy (expletive derived from the magnificent Anglo-Saxon side of English)! Which brought my younger son running to see what was up, and then my older doing the same.

    Been watching ever since. Hey, it’s on tonight!