The Big

Telly Debate

Are American remakes of our favourite shows ever better than the original?

The UK has produced some amazing TV shows over the years, steeped in our unique sense of humour and cultural touchstones, so it’s only natural that studios across the pond would want to try and recreate our favourite programmes for an American audience.

The problem is, these remakes don’t always translate quite as well on American screens! But are US remakes always worse than the original?

Or do they sometimes get it right and actually improve upon the homegrown version? And what about shows that move in the opposite direction, starting out life in the States before having a British remake?

We’re going to settle these questions using IMDb ratings in the Big Telly Debate!

Are Us Adaptations

better than British originals?

We analysed 132 British exports from across the board, including sitcoms, dramas, game shows and more and found that just 29% were better received than the original, with 64% being worse.

However, despite the fact that the majority of remakes were less successful, the average US remake only had a rating score of 0.9 less than their British counterparts, suggesting that the majority weren’t complete disasters.

US adaptations to British originals

IMDB Score

US remake

British Original

IMDB Score

The US remakes that are worse than the British original

US adaptations by genre

There is one area that America has the advantage though: talk shows. Talks shows were the only genre where US remakes had a higher IMDb rating than the originals and it’s easy to see explosive shows like Jeremy Kyle perform better in the states.

On the other hand, the genre where American remakes failed to capture the magic of originals was comedy.

British humour can be acquired taste for non-natives, which is why it’s no surprise that American versions of the likes of The Inbetweeners, Gavin & Stacey and Red Dwarf all fell flat.

Are British Adaptations

better than US originals?

It’s much rarer for American shows to make their way to our shores, which often come in the form of game shows, but are they more successful than shows going the other way?

We analysed 40 shows here, with just 32% being rated better than their American originals, which is better than UK to US remakes, but only by 3%!

The average US to UK remake scored 0.5 lower than the programme it was based on, which was again, slightly better than shows going the other way.

British adaptations to US originals

IMDB Score

British remake

US Original

IMDB Score

The British remakes that are worse than the US original

British adaptations by genre

When it comes to genres, there was one stand out type of show which performed better on British tellies than in the US and that was reality TV, which on average, scored 1.2 points higher than their original programmes.

But, as we saw with UK to US adaptations, comedy really doesn’t travel well, with British remakes usually scoring 1.5 points less compared to American originals.

So, which side of the Atlantic can claim to be the true winner of the Big Telly Debate?

Taking into account all of the shows on either side, whether remake or original, American shows had an average IMDb score of 6.5, which is a respectable enough figure considering some of the horrendous remakes we’ve seen!

However, British programmes take the crown, with an average score of 7.0 across each of the country’s remakes and originals.

Average US
IMDB score


Average British
IMDB score



We sourced a list of UK to US and US to UK TV adaptations from Wikipedia, before sourcing the average IMDb rating for each and comparing against the programme which they were based on.

Note that the amount of reworking between the two versions varies, from those which use the same script verbatim to others that completely rework the original premise.