17 American TV Shows I Had No Idea Were Originally British

17 American TV Shows I Had No Idea Were Originally British

So similar, yet so different!

1. Antiques Roadshow

2. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?


The UK version first aired in 1998 on ITV and it was hosted by Chris Tarrant. The US version came a year later in 1999 on ABC, and it was hosted by Regis Philbin.

3. Kitchen Nightmares

Channel 4 / NBC

I knew Gordon Ramsay was British, but I had no idea his reality show first aired in the UK. The American version has nearly three times as many episodes as the British version, despite first airing a few years later.

4. Undercover Boss

Channel 4 / CBS

5. American Idol

ITV / Fox

It was originally called Pop Idol in the UK, and Simon Cowell was a judge on both.

6. Veep


Yup, Veep is an adaptation of The Thick of It, a British TV show that satirized the inner workings of government. Both shows were created by Armando Iannucci and shared a handful of the same writers.

7. Cash Cab

ITV / Discovery Channel

The American version, hosted by Ben Bailey, takes place primarily in New York City, while the UK version, hosted by John Moody, is set in several large cities around the UK.

8. Three's Company


It was based on the UK show Man About the House, which followed Chrissy, Jo, and Robin, two single women and a man, sharing a London flat. Three's Company and Man About the House even shared some of the same dialogue.

9. Shameless

Channel 4 / Showtime

The American version currently on Showtime and starring William H. Macy is actually a copy of the British version of the same name, which ran from 2004–2013 on Channel 4.

10. Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Channel 4 / ABC

It actually started off as a BBC radio series, which made its way to TV in 1998. While both series had Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles on them, the UK version was hosted by Clive Anderson and the US version was hosted by Drew Carey and Aisha Tyler.

11. Dancing with the Stars


It was based on the UK show Strictly Come Dancing, where celebs also partnered with professional dancers. Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli were judges for both the US and UK versions.

12. Trading Spaces


The American DIY show was based on the British show Changing Rooms, which first aired in 1996. Trading Spaces first aired on TLC in 2000.

13. Wife Swap

Channel 4 / ABC

14. Sanford and Son


The show was based on the UK comedy Steptoe and Son, which aired in 1962. Sanford and Son premiered about a decade later for US audiences.

15. All in the Family


The US show was based on Till Death Do Us Part, a UK series that first aired in 1966. Both All in the Family and Sanford and Son were adapted from their respective British counterparts by American writer Norman Lear.

16. Who Do You Think You Are?


The genealogical show where celebrities trace their family trees originally aired on the BBC. The American version started in 2010 on NBC.

17. The Office


OK, OK, I know most of us ~know~ it was originally British, but I feel like you'd yell at me in the comments if I didn't include it. The UK version had 12 episodes, with Ricky Gervais playing the general manager David Brent. The American version had 201 episodes with Steve Carell as regional manager Michael Scott. The two bosses even crossed paths in Season 7 of the US version of the show.

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