STEPTOE AND SON
UK (1962-1974)This classic British sitcom about a warring father and son who run an unsuccessful rag and bone store in London gave audiences one of the most successful double acts in TV history. Despite in reality only having a 13 year age difference, Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H Corbett were convincing as a cynical father and ambitious son, respectively, who constantly bicker over the failing business and their vastly opposing views on social issues.
The well-loved UK series was renamed Sanford and Son in its American translation, which was set in Los Angeles and starred Redd Foxx. The US show was extremely popular and is considered the precursor to many African-American sitcoms such as The Cosby Show; it is also the program blamed for the cancellation of The Brady Bunch after it gained the coveted 8pm slot.
Created by funnymen Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the series revolves around the working day of employees at the fictional Wernham Hogg Paper Company, with particular focus on the awkward general manager David Brent (Gervais) and his social misdemeanours.
The Office spearheaded the comedic mockumentary style that has since become a popular device in both TV and film, as well as being the only British comedy in 25 years to be nominated for a Golden Globe, and the first ever to win one.
In America The Office has just finished its eighth series (the UK series only ran for two) and is still going strong. The US show has been nominated for 26 EmmysTM and made a household name out of Steve Carell, who won a Golden Globe for his role as general manager Michael Scott in 2006.
LIFE ON MARS
The time-travel mystery series centres on the predicament of Sam Tyler (John Simm), a Manchester police officer who wakes up in 1973 after having a car accident and has to cope with out-dated procedures in order to continue with his job, whilst working out how to return to modern day Manchester. The critically-acclaimed British show won two EmmysTM for Best Drama Series before being rebooted into credible Spanish and American versions.
The American Life On Mars starred Harvey Keitel and was received positively, however an unfortunate two-month hiatus half way through the first season resulted in a cancelled second season. The producers were given enough warning to substantially wrap up the remaining storyline in half the amount of episodes than its original had, and is still considered a success.
Being Human combines supernatural drama with flat share comedy as a vampire, ghost and werewolf attempt to live a normal life amongst humans. The successful series focuses on themes of identity, loneliness and addiction as the extraordinary housemates struggle to keep their secret and remain anonymous, whilst experiencing everyday encounters with the outside world.
Instead of keeping to the UK series’ 6 episode season, the US Being Human has run two thirteen episode seasons; this was reportedly to allow the show to explore new storylines in order to effectively differentiate from the British series. The American program is the most successful winter season series for 6 years on TV station Syfy and was commissioned for a third season in February.
Taking place in the fictional Chatsworth estate, Shameless follows the dysfunctional Gallagher family and their neighbours as they struggle to stay together by any means necessary – even if the methods are not quite legal. The groundbreaking British show launched James McAvoy’s now stratospheric Hollywood career and won a BAFTA for Best Drama Series in its first season.
US Shameless had had similar-levels of critical acclaim since premiering in 2011; Joan Cusack was nominated for an Outstanding Guest Actress Emmy for her portrayal of Sheila Jackson while William H Macy was nominated for a Best Actor Critics’ Choice award for his take on incompetent father Frank Gallagher. The show has established itself as a believable depiction of working-class America, a class notably absent from the majority of US programming, with a realistic balance of humour and heart.